Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sprint Cars, Late Models Headline Southern Oregon Speedway Show

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Sprint Cars, Late Models Headline 
Southern Oregon Speedway Show

White City, Oregon...The season is nearing an end at Southern Oregon Speedway, but there is the matter of some track championships left to be decided. This weekend, Southern Oregon Speedway welcomes back the exciting Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Late Models, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets and Valley Store All Late Model Lites. If this five-division lineup isn't enough for you, Friday night will offer a full complement of Outlaw Kart racing at little Southern Oregon Speedway.

David Hibbard may be the leader in the Sprint Car division, but he got a lesson in recent weeks about how quickly things can slip away from you. The Iron Head Nationals race back on August 11th was a $2,000 to win event. After neglecting to go to the scales and getting disqualified from a heat race win, Hibbard had worked his way halfway through the pack in the 18 car field, only the blow a motor. The good news on this was that since there were no points on the line, the Top 3 finish that Jeffrey Hudson achieved wasn't going to count in his bid to overtake Hibbard.

But it went from bad to worse for Hibbard, who was participating in Week Of Speed at various Oregon and Washington race tracks. Just a couple of races into the series, he flipped and destroyed his chassis. He'll be back to try and finish his season in a different car, and he holds a 45 point lead over Hudson. He could clinch the championship just by starting the Main Event.

Hibbard has won an amazing five times in seven races, finishing second on the two nights he didn't win. The only two drivers to beat Hibbard in the Main Event are his son Bailey Hibbard and 2016 champion Jake Wheeler. Hudson meanwhile, is knocking on the door to his first win of the season. With a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds, he holds a 19 point lead over the division's top rookie, Blaine Cory, in the battle for second. Hudson also impressed by taking off his wing at the Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge and finishing a $1,500 second that night.

With two seconds and two thirds of his own, Cory managed to move ahead of Bailey Hibbard by 10 points for third after some recent bad luck for the younger Hibbard. The Top 4 drivers are anticipated this week along with other notables such as Aaron Miller, Enrique Jaime, Charlie Thompson and TJ Winningham.

The Late Model championship is heating up after two-time winner and current point leader Nathan Augustine retired from the most recent race with a flat tire. When John Dees scored his fourth second place finish of the season that night, he moved to within 13 points of Augustine. Dees has one win to his credit and was going for a second win at the most recent race when he was overtaken by the division's top rookie, Miles Deubert. With two wins, Miles is just 11 points behind Dees with an outside shot at the championship. Hard charger Dave Foote is a one-time winner who ranks fourth in the standings, 14 points behind Deubert and nine ahead of 2016 champion Bob Dees. These five are anticipated this week along with Mike Linder, Don Garrett Jr, Garrett Dees and Brian Bowman.

The closest championship battle at the speedway is taking place in the JOAT Labs Hornets division. Rookie Bree Tritchler has used one win and four second place finishes to maintain a six point advantage over 2016 champion Tim Hedges. Hedges, who is a one-time winner this year, managed to hold on to third last time out despite nearly rolling his car in Turns 3 and 4. There's another close battle taking place for the third position. With two wins and a division-leading five second place finishes, Brandon Wonsyld is four points ahead of two-time winner Chris Boynton and 21 points ahead of the most recent winner, Dylan Irving. These five will be racing hard this week along with Jenna Hedges, Dylan Sauer and John Ferreira.

In the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock division, David Steele has been unstoppable. Steele has an amazing  eight wins and one second place finish in his nine starts and will clinch his first Southern Oregon Speedway championship just by starting the Main Event on Saturday. After scoring his third second place finish of the season last time out, Hunter Magnan took a 27 point lead over reigning champion Kristopher Mix in the battle for second. However, Megnan wants what Mix already has this year. He'll be looking to get his first career Main Event win this week. On the strength of four second place finishes, Steve Goetz is closing in on Mix. He trails by 15 points. Other drivers to watch for this week include Garrett Fredrickson, Michael McLeod and Ashtin Hedges.

Rounding out Saturday's program will be the Valley Store All Late Model Lites. Three-time winner Charlie Eaton could clinch his first championship merely by starting the Main Event. He leads one-time winner Greg Arnold by 52 points. Only 23 points behind Arnold is Dusty Aos. Dusty leads his father, Eric Aos, by 11 points. After scoring his first win of the year, 2016 champion Lee Doty moved into fifth in the standings. Lee is the only driver to win a Main Event in this class in each of the last three years. Other drivers to look for this week include reigning champion Bob Burkett and Danny Prewitt.

On Friday night, there will be a full complement of Outlaw Kart racing on the little track. It appears as if young Vinny DeBenedetti will parlay his two feature wins into the 250 Kart championship. He holds a good lead on reigning champion Trevor Grimes, but he needs to start Friday's Main Event. Steve Rambo has been unstoppable lately and is headed for the UAS Speedway Kart championship. The closest battle at the track in between leader Carson Henson and four-time winner Malachi Johnson for the Beginners Box Stock title. Keaton Augustine is also having a good battle with Ryan Hirschbock in the Box Stock class. The kids put on a great show every time they're on the race track.

Gates open both nights at 5 with the first race starting at 7. Admission to the Outlaw Kart program is $10 and gives you pit access and a bleacher seat to enjoy the show. On Saturday, General Admission will be $12 with Veterans, Seniors and Juniors (7 to 12)  $6 each. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to

Southern Oregon Speedway point Standings
Kendall Oil Sprint Cars

3    David Hibbard    236
L88    Jeffrey Hudson    191
94    Blaine Cory    172
1    Bailey Hibbard    162
2m    Aaron Miller     107
48e    Enrique Jaime    103
101    Charlie Thompson 90
17m    Merissa Henson    82
42    Theron Smith    76
04    Todd Whipple    71

Late Models

24    Nathan Augustine 221
16    John Dees     208
38    Miles Deubert     197
75    Dave Foote     183
6    Bob Dees     174
22    Mike Linder     114
05    Don Garrett     99
66    Garrett Dees     83
7    Eric Massey     76
222    Brian Bowman    45

Bobbio’s Pizza Mini Stocks

67    David Steele    340
33m    Hunter Magnan    269
89m    Kristopher Mix    242
55    Steve Goetz    227
45g    Garrett Fredrickson 168
3    Michael McLeod    148
14t    Ashtin Hedges    125
0    Gary Anderson    112
11    Marilyn Yawnick    39
90    Mike Whitaker    38

Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites

5    Charlie Eaton    206
39    Greg Arnold    154
3    Dusty Aos    131
66    Eric Aos    120
7    Lee Doty    101
43    Bob Burkett    93
99    Danny Prewitt    57
18    Terry Hadley    24
16    Krista Hadley    24

JOAT Labs Hornets
17    Bree Tritchler    298
14t    Tim Hedges    292
7    Brandon Wonsyld    255
28    Chris Boynton    251
11    Dylan Irving    234
27j    Jenna Hedges    170
54d    Ashtin Hedges    163
007    Jason Stoutenburgh 139
26    Zach Nelson    135
7s    Dylan Sauer    103

Pit Stops

The second running of the R Charles Snyder Salute is in the books, it can only be classified as a success. The longtime voice of Southern Oregon racing and popular radio DJ for over 40 years would be proud to know that the race that bears his name had the biggest car count Southern Oregon Speedway has seen in over a decade. It was also watched by the biggest attendance of the season. Combining the IMCA Sport Modifieds and Modifieds, there were over 90 cars. Combining all of the classes, nearly 140 cars filled the pits during the weekend.

Because this is an IMCA sanctioned event that awards points, it meant there was quite a bit of pressure on the local drivers to perform. This was very apparent in the IMCA Modified division where the big Labor Day event has been known to affect the point race in the past. Albert Gill came into the weekend as the point leader, and he knew he needed to make the Main Event to maintain that advantage. He came into the night in a battle with Zach Fettinger and Nick Trenchard for the point lead.

In Trenchard, you have a driver who has been known to come up big with the money on the line. His long list of big wins includes the Beads Shipwreck Nationals, the John Arnberg Memorial, the Roger Haudenshild Tribute and the Lon Skinner Memorial. Unless something bad happened, it was pretty much a given that Nick would be putting his #54 car into the big show. The pressure was on Gill and Fettinger to do the same. Gill was a heat race winner on qualifying night, but his point total left him just outside the Top 16 point earners. Therefore, he had a front row start in one of the two B Mains on Sunday.

Fettinger, meanwhile, had a disastrous heat race effort that would put him in the back of his B Main. The one thing you can say about Zach is he is a prime candidate for Most Improved Driver honors this year. His three Main Event wins leads the Winner's List at Southern Oregon Speedway this year. He was driving like a winner as he battled his way all the way up to fourth in his B Main. Preston Jones was holding the valuable third position, and though Zach was gaining on him, he needed a yellow flag to make a move. The race would go without one down the stretch, leaving him on the outside looking in.

Gill, meanwhile wasn't about to let the opportunity slip away from him. He led his B Main from the start and picked up his second win of the weekend. By making it into the Main Event, he had more opportunity to gain points. Though Gill didn't move too far forward in the Main Event, Trenchard fell back a little bit and was only a few positions ahead of Gill. What it comes down to is if Gill starts the Main Event at the September 22nd season finale, he will likely win his third Southern Oregon Speedway championship in the last five years.

Drivers were coming from everywhere to compete for the $5,000 first prize. In fact, the money was pretty nice throughout the Top 5 in the Main Event. Bobby Hogge IV is usually money in these situations, and he put himself into a really nice position by winning both of his heat races on Saturday night. In fact, he came very close to picking up the $1,000 Invitational Feature win, but CJ Putnam was just a little bit faster and grabbed an impressive victory. Putnam, who has been doing quite a bit of racing at Cottage Grove this season, got started racing at the little Southern Oregon Speedway track before moving up to become a Dwarf Car champion. He is just as skilled behind the wheel of the Modified.

As one of the Top 8 point eaners, Hogge got to be a part of the redraw and got a front row start for the Main Event. This was bad news for the competition. Once Hogge gets the lead in a race, unless something happens to his car, you don't see him lose it very often. Merced, California Speedway point leader Darrell Hughes II, like Hogge, is a third-generation racer. These two drivers enjoyed a spirited dual for the lead in the Ed Parker Tribute race at Merced a few weeks ago, won by Hughes. Hughes, however, had to work his way up from 10th starting in the Main Event. Once he got to second, he ran with Hogge, but he couldn't quite make the move. Hogge, combining his lap money and Invitational Feature money, picked up over $6,000, while Hughes pocketed $2,500 for second.

Passing honors go to Bricen James. He was definitely the hard charger of the weekend. Because he's competing for points at Willamette Speedway and also leading the IMCA State of Oregon point race, James had to make the commitment to Willamette on Saturday and showed up on Sunday to try to make the big show. He made the transfer out of the B Main and steadily worked his way through the field to an eventual $1,500 third place finish. Not a bad performance as he appears headed for State championship honors this year. James, like several of his peers at Willamette, is fast behind the wheel of whatever car you put him in. This includes Late Models, Modifieds and even Sprint Cars.

From California, two surprise visitors came from the Bakersfield area and occupied the fourth and fifth positions in the Main Event. They were 2nd generation racer Clint Reichenbach and Robby Sawyer. Reichenbach collected $1,000 for the fourth place finish, while the current second place ranked Bakersfield Speedway competitor Sawyer ended up a $700 fifth. To even be in the Top 10 in a talent filled field like this is something to be proud of, and 2016 Speedweek champion Kellen Chadwick ended up sixth, followed by Cottage Grove point lead or Jake Mayden, B Main winner Collen Winebarger, Trenchard and seven-time Southern Oregon Speedway champion Mark Wauge.

In the IMCA Sport Modified division, all of the championship contenders found themselves on the outside looking in for the Main Event, meaning not much will change in the point battle heading into September 22nd. This is good news for 2015 Mini Stock champion David Marble, who is poised to win the championship just by taking the green flag in the finale. Marble has been very consistent with mostly Top 5 feature finishes this season, and he's earned these honors. Branden Wilson came very close to making the transfer in his B Main, but unfortunately he slipped up just a little bit and ended up third.

This happened to be the biggest paying IMCA Sport Modified show on the West Coast with a $2,000 first prize to the winner. For this show last season, the division produced a then track record 31 cars. This time, they obliterated the record with 53 drivers signing in to go racing. Drivers came from all over to take a shot at the win, and this included the return of two-time champion Jorddon Braaten, who was the race champion last season. As the track went dry slick on Sunday, it seemed to be the type of racing condition that would favor the track's All Time winningest driver in this division's history. What he didn't count on was the driver from Antioch, California.

Guy Ahlwardt comes from a racing family. His father Steve was a track official for several seasons at Antioch Speedway and a member of a few different pit crews. Guy built a beautiful Hobby Stock for the 2016 season at Antioch and won the championship that year. A year later, he made his move to the IMCA Sport Modified class. To challenge himself, he started running at different tracks, and he's continued that trend this year, even picking up a win at Watsonville. He had his sights set on the big prize at Southern Oregon Speedway, but it's a fair bet to say that nobody saw him coming.

Ahlwardt picked up a heat race win and a second on Saturday before finishing fourth in the Invitational Feature. After accomplishing that, he made it into the Top 8 and redrew a starting spot on the front row of the Main Event. He moved into the lead from the waving of the green flag. Within the first 8 laps, he had the #84 car of Jorddon Braaten in close pursuit. However, even with several yellow flags sprinkled over the remaining 22 laps, Ahlwardt kept his cool and picked up a well-earned $2,000 victory. Braaten had to be content with a $1,000 second place finish.

Because Jorddon has accomplished so much at Southern Oregon Speedway, he has spent this year on the road testing himself against other drivers and currently leads the points at both Cottage Grove Speedway and Willamette Speedway, while also leading the Oregon IMCA State point race. The second place finish will certainly help keep him in the lead in the State. Daniel Ray has been tough on the circuit this season with multiple wins and he did well in finishing third in the Main Event ahead of second generation leadfoot Braxton Possinger.

The fifth position in the Main Event featured a spirited dual between Jimmy Ford and Matt Sanders. Ford kicked things off on Saturday with a heat race win, and he also finished second to the impressive Tyler Rodgers in the Invitational Feature. Unfortunately, his point totals weren't good enough to put him into the show, and he had to win the B Main that he was in to get into the future. Jimmy made it up to battle Sanders closely in the waning laps for the fifth position, but Sanders made him settle for sixth. Ford said afterwards that he enjoyed the race and looks forward to coming back to Southern Oregon Speedway whenever possible. As a side bit of trivia, only three drivers have been at all of the big Labor Day Weekend Sport Modified events, and they include Ford and two-time champions Dwayne Melvin and Mike Medel.

Merced Speedway racer Tanner Thomas looked very impressive in his battle with fellow Californian Andrew Peckham for a B Main transfer spot. While Justin Foux was doing a stellar job of leading the way in that race behind the wheel of his father's car, Thomas had the second spot, briefly lost it to Peckham, and gained it back. Coming from back in the pack, the second generation racer Thomas finished seventh in the Main Event, followed by Doug Coffman, Bruce Ray, Rodgers and 2016 Yreka champion Jimmy Lipke. Considering how many cars were in the pits, just making the Main Event for the Sport Modifieds was a big accomplishment. If you finished in the Top 10, you can certainly brag about that.

The show ran a bit late, but it also ran with very few breaks. Management wanted to keep the show going, and Race Director Bob Valencia endeavored to make that happen. Travis Snyder dropped the green flag on the IMCA Modified race, and Mark Wauge did the honors of running the Memorial Lap for R Charles Snyder before Sunday's racing began. There was much enthusiasm for this event and great support coming from several great sponsors. It was a team effort, and certainly people like Travis Snyder, Travis Hoppes, Steve Kerstulovich and Claudia Linker made a difference in helping make the show that much bigger.

The Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association got to be a part of both nights of racing. The Sunday portion was more of a bragging rights situation as the association chose not to make it for points. However, Camden Robustelli didn't want to let an opportunity to race go to waste. He finds himself in a tie with two-time champion Josh King and Chad Cardoza for the lead heading into the September 15th finale. Much like Cardoza, Robustelli has finished as high as second, but he's hoping this will be his year. He picked up his fourth feature win of the season on Sunday in an impressive drive to victory, followed by Nevada visitor Tim Fitzpatrick. It was nice to see the Mod Lite of Jesse Lorentz running up near the front of the pack. He's worked very hard to get the car dialed in, and he did a good job and battling Michael Johnson and John Chrisman for the third position after two-time champion Brock Peters fell out midway through the race. For Johnson, fourth was his best finish yet, and the young rookie also picked up his first ever heat race win after a good race with Fitzpatrick.

Saturday is when the points were on the line. The drivers not only get Main Event points, but heat race points are also factored in. There's a two race throw away rule in case drivers have bad nights or are unable to make a race or two. In fact, Robustelli has missed two races running his Sprint Car. Josh King won a heat race as did title contenders Kalvin Morton and Brock Peters. King was running in contention when Ryan Smith and Morton both fell out near the midway point of the race. Morton is still very close in the championship battle, currently fourth. Once King got the lead, he held off fellow two-time champion Brock Peters for an impressive win. Robustelli finished third, followed by Chad Cardoza and Mason Lewman.

A lot can be said about the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars this season. They've been bringing great fields of cars, and they have several new drivers joining their ranks. Car count is getting to the point now where B Mains will be needed as they're getting too many cars on the track in these Main Events. They had 24 cars on hand on Saturday, and 23 of them started the Main. Anytime these Dwarf Cars are on the schedule, they are a welcome addition to the program.

Speaking of welcome additions, the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks have been a part of the great tradition of Southern Oregon Speedway racing since the track opened in 1996. The bit of trivia that might interest people is the all time winningest driver in the Speedway's history is eight time Pro Stock champion Frank Word III with over 60 wins. Scheduling didn't quite go as well as hoped in regards to the Pro Stocks, but they were booked for the Roger Haudenshild Tribute and the R Charles Snyder Salute. Wanting to show just how good they could be, there were 22 drivers that showed up to race.

An interesting addition to the field was Chico, California Silver Dollar Speedway point runner up Gary Newman. Newman is a name that fans of Vallejo Speedway may remember in the Stock Car and Hardtop classes. He's 76 years old, he's still running wheel-to-wheel with the best of them and he ended up third in his heat race after starting at the back of the 11 car field. He also got a third in what ended up being an abbreviated Main Event.

After 2016 champions Steve Borror and current point leader and reigning champion Dr. Scott Lenz won their respective heat races, it looked like it might be a shootout between the two drivers. Lenz got caught up in an early race tangle. Because of the time taken to get the race restarted during the yellow flags, the early yellow flags had the division on the track for over 20 minutes before two laps had been completed. This left the division under a time limit crunch, and it was decided to drop the checkered and yellow flags on the Main Event when the yellow flag came out as the drivers were working the third lap. Subbing for Julia Flowers, Dave Quick found himself in the lead at the end of the race, followed by Dan Randall, Newman, Borror and Lenz.

This was not the sort of return the Pro Stock drivers were looking for, but they got some good news during the week. Management has invited the Pro Stock drivers back, and they will be a part of the season finale on September 22nd. They are on the road to Yreka for the next two weeks to settle their championship battle, which is being led by Lenz over Scott Flowers and Borror. The finale at Southern Oregon Speedway will not be for points, but most of the competitors are anticipated. There's even word that there could be some other visitors, including 2018 Billy Geyer Memorial race winner, Mike Learn Jr.

The Outlaw Kart program will be wrapping up point racing this Friday night, and there are some close battles left to be decided. The Beginners Box Stocks have had a battle all season long. Young Carson Henson is just a few points ahead of four-time winner and reigning champion Malachi Johnson. Henson has been very consistent this year and seems poised to get his first win. He finished a very close second to Chayce Smith at the most recent event.

Meanwhile, the Box Stock battle has been a spirited dual between three-time winner Keaton Augustine and two-time winner Ryan Hirschbock. These drivers have been running very closely all season long, but Hirschbock put a whooping on the field last time when he got into the lead and the drivers got jammed up coming out of Turn 2 on the opening lap. By the time Augustine gained second, he was a straightaway behind. These two drivers and Jacob James have been running well all season, and young Taylor Fuller, after winning the opener, has since moved up to focus on his Top 3 effort in the 250 Karts.

Speaking of which, Vinny DeBenedetti is on the cusp of picking up the division championship. The talented second generation racer has done a good job in what has been his first full season in this class, and he's been making the rounds at other tracks as well to gain valuable experience. He leads reigning champion Trevor Grimes. Grimes is only a few points ahead of Fuller in a closer battle for second. But should DeBenedetti fail to start the Main Event for some reason, it's still possible for Grimes or even Fuller to overtake him for the championship.

The UAS Speedway Karts have been an interesting class. They are certainly about as fast as the 500 Open Karts, but it seems sometimes that these Karts are a little bit sensitive and have the drivers feeling every bump on the race track. Larry Fuller, who may have the fastest Kart in the field, missed the last race as he didn't want to beat himself up on the racing surface too much. Steve Rambo, meanwhile, has been on a mission to win everything in sight. He's won the last three Main Events and is on the cusp of the championship. Lori Fuller, meanwhile has done a stellar job of running a 4 Cycle against the faster UAS Speedway Karts and is holding down second in the standings.

Though the Kart program has had its ups and downs in the last couple of years, this season has been a good one for the most part. Count has been up as many of the drivers have run all or most of the season. We've seen an increase in drivers in the Beginners Box Stock class and this is good news as that class will feed drivers into the Box Stocks and beyond. This is the 20th Anniversary season of Little Southern Oregon Speedway, and the outlook is good for the future.