Tuesday, April 9, 2019

IMCA Modified, Late Model Season Previews, Pit Stops

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
Can Be Heard HERE

IMCA Modifieds Back For 24th Season 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...Racing season is just around the corner at Southern Oregon Speedway. The 24th season of racing on the 1/3 mile clay oval will kick off on May 4th, and the IMCA Modifieds will be a part of the show. The Modifieds have been a featured division at the speedway since it opened in 1996.

Many great competitors have come through the gates. Some of the early greats of Modified racing include two-time champion Tom Glover, Dennis Silva, Jay Hinton Jr and Don Estremado. When it came to setting the bar on Main Event wins, Estremado was the man. The 1999 champion racked up some 27 feature wins in his time during the early years of Southern Oregon Speedway, which included an impressive 14 wins in one season.

The Modified career win record stayed in place until Mark Wauge began to hit his stride. Wauge has won some 50 Main Events in his career at Southern Oregon Speedway, and he has racked up an impressive seven Modified championships along the way. Anytime there's a big race on the schedule at Southern Oregon Speedway, Wauge's name comes up as one of the top local drivers who should contend for the win.

There are many big events sprinkled throughout the season at Southern Oregon Speedway, but the Modifieds will continue to offer up some of the showcase events, which will include the Roger Haudenshild Tribute race on June 1st, the annual Wild West Speedweek visit on June 22nd and the Third Annual R Charles Snyder Salute on August 31st and September 1st. All three events pay bigger purses than normal, and the win in the Snyder Memorial will net somebody $5,000.

Wauge had people talking during the offseason when he put his race car and trailer up for sale. He hinted at the possibility that if everything sold he would be giving Late Models a try. Recently, Mark has declared his intent to compete for an unprecedented eighth career Southern Oregon Speedway IMCA Modified championship. This would also match him with Speedway all-time Pro Stock feature win leader Frank Word III as an eight-time champion if he could accomplish it.

There was speculation heading into last season that Mark would be the driver to beat in the championship chase. When he won the season opener, people were talking. Unfortunately, his luck went downhill from there after blowing a motor in the second race. Mark has put everything in place in the hopes that he can bring the championship trophy back home this year.

The championship trophy in three of the past five years has had the same address. That would be the home of Albert Gill. Gill was involved in a very close battle for the championship last season, but he used consistency to get the job done. He finished as high as second on multiple occasions, but he is hoping to return to the Main Event Winners Circle for the first time since 2017.

Zach Fettinger had the opportunity to buy the Monte Bischoff car prior to last season, and it's a purchase that enabled him to step up his game. Fettinger scored three feature wins during the year and made himself a serious title contender. It's just possible that had he not missed the Speedweek race, Zach would have won the title. Anybody who thinks he can't win the championship this year may be in for a surprise.

The bounty hunter of the field is Nick Trenchard. Nick has won some of the biggest Modified races ever at Southern Oregon Speedway, but the lure of the big prize money being offered at other tracks sometimes takes him out of the field. Trenchard has certainly shown that he has what it takes. He's a championship contender if he wants that, and he is certainly a threat to win on any given night in which he appears. He also has a brand new car for this season.

Jantzen Knips and David Satterfield are two drivers who did well in the standings last season. Both were Top 5 ranked, and Satterfield, who is a past Pro Stock competitor, was the top rookie. Not wanting to lose his point status, Knips was left scrambling after a hard crash destroyed his car, but he came back with another car to keep things going. Both of these drivers have been working hard to get faster, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them score wins at some point during the season.

The Duste family has been a part of Southern Oregon racing for many decades, and last season saw Dave Duste Jr make several appearances. He is a past feature winner and championship runner-up who reportedly will be in a newer car this season. You would have to consider him to be one of the contenders to win on any given race date.

Jesse Bailey and Preston Jones are two others to contend with. Bailey may have been a surprise in 2017 when he notched his first career championship with a very consistent season. He is certainly a driver to watch anytime he's there. Jones finally stepped up and showed everybody last season what he can do. He's done well in Sprint Cars and Late Model Lites in the past, but he won a crowd pleasing battle to win the season finale last season.

"Cowboy" Duane Orsburn has worked very hard to a step up his racing program, and the two-time Street Stock champion will be a threat anytime he's in town. Among the many talented racers to watch for during the course of the season are Jeremy Ohlde, Andy Freeman, Brett Provost, Ray Kniffen Jr, Stan Gunderson, Bo Shields, Jon DeBenedetti and division rookies Jimmy Lipke and Justin Foux.

Car count wise, the numbers were up last year over the proceeding few seasons, and there is a buzz within the community that Southern Oregon Speedway is the place to be to race IMCA Modifieds this year. The speedway continues to reaffirm its commitment to close, competitive racing under IMCA sanctioning. You definitely won't want to miss the show anytime these fast, open-wheel Stock Cars are in action. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.

2019 Southern Oregon Speedway IMCA Modified Schedule
April 13 - Playday
April 27 - Playday
May 4
May 25
June 1 - Roger Haudenshild Tribute
June 15
June 22 - Wild West Speedweek
July 20
August 10
August 17 - Hall Off Fame Night
August 31 - R Charles Snyder Salute
September 1 - R Charles Snyder Salute
September 14

2018 IMCA Modifieds Points
89 Albert Gill 299
88 Zach Fettinger 275
211 David Satterfield 256
54n Nick Trenchard 251
7 Jantzen Knips 248
1m Mark Wauge 215
0 Duane Orsburn 193
73m Dave Duste Jr. 187
68 Jesse Bailey 181
21 Jeremy Ohlde 165

Past IMCA Modified Champions
1996  Tom Glover
1997  Dennis Silva
1998  Tom Glover
1999  Don Estramado
2000  Mark Wauge
2001  Jay Hinton Jr.
2002  Jon DeBenedetti
2003  Jeremy Richey
2004  Brad Alfrey
2005  Mark Wauge
2006  Brian Poppa
2007  Mark Wauge
2008  Justin Holt
2009  Mark Wauge
2010  Travis Peery
2011  Mark Wauge
2012  Mark Wauge
2013  Dustin Knight
2014  Albert Gill
2015  Albert Gill
2016  Mark Wauge
2017  Jesse Bailey
2018  Albert Gill

Southern Oregon Speedway Modified All Time Win List
Mark Wauge 49
Dan Estremado 27
Brian Poppa 23
Dave Duste Sr. 21
Scott Lenz 18
Tom Glover 16
Dennis Silva 14
Jon DeBenedetti 12
Nick Trenchard 11
Bobby Hogge IV 10
Albert Gill 9
Dave Duste Jr. 9
Travis Peery 8
Matt Duste 7 
Jeremy Richey 7
Bruce Rayburn Sr. 7
Jesse Williamson  6
Brad Alfrey 6
Justin Holt 5
Ken Scales 5
Monte Bischoff 4
Rich McCoy 4
Richard Papenhausen 4
Markey James 4
Kevin Hewitt 4
Jesse Bailey 3
Jay Hinton Jr. 3
Bud Walberg 3
Zach Fettinger 3
C.J. Putnam 3
Dustin Jenks 2
Scott Weldon 2
Dane Smith 2
Collen Winebarger 2 
Duane Orsburn 1 
Preston Jones 1
Travis Holt 1 
Steve Aprin 1
Jerry Severson 1 
Lenny Toolanen 1
Derek Nance 1
Kevin Putnam 1
Justin Estremado 1
Dustin Knight 1
Anthony Restad 1
Tom Berry Jr. 1 
B.J. Wild  1
Andy Freeman 1
Kellen Chadwick 1
Ryan Scott Gaylord 1
James Welshonse  1
Danny Lauer 1
Zach Fettinger 1
Troy Foulger 1
Chris Biggs 1
Roger Lorenzini 1
Steven Croucher 1
Rob Gavin 1
Mike Phillips 1

Late Models Offering Bigger And Better Things 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...For many years, Late Models ruled the racing scene in Medford. At the old Posse Grounds race track, some big-name drivers and big events made a night at that historic venue something people didn't want to miss. Sadly, the gates closed for the final time in 1989. When Southern Oregon Speedway opened in 1996, the Late Models were a surprising omission from the regular schedule.

While the speedway has offered some big Late Model races through the years, there hasn't really been much of a commitment from track management to cultivate a division of their own. Though the track did have a couple of champions in the later part of the last decade, it wasn't until Mike McCann of KJE Enterprises stepped into the picture that a new commitment was made. The Open Stock division was added in 2016.

When the drivers overwhelmingly threw their support behind the Late Model idea, the Open Stock class became Late Models in 2017, and the division has begun to pick up momentum since then. Management has taken notice, which has led to the addition of the $4,000 to win Cottonwood Classic event, set for August 24th. This race has gotten so much attention that drivers from Northern Oregon all the way down through California have expressed interest in supporting the show.

Some things are still in the works for the Late Model division in 2019, which will include an increased purse from last season. Other announcements regarding the division will be forthcoming very soon, but the word in Medford is that drivers are wanting to support this division in the coming season. Oregon has a thriving Late Model division, and it's high time that Southern Oregon Speedway takes its seat at the table.

One of the drivers leading the charge into 2019 will be 2018 champion Nathan Augustine. Augustine has not committed to point racing at this moment, but he plans to start things off and see where it goes. After winning the Coos Bay championship in 2016, he won the championship here a year later. Nathan was on his way to getting it done again last year when an unfortunate crash left him scrambling to get a new race car. If not for blowing his motor in the season finale, the championship could very well have been his. Nathan is a threat to win Main Events whenever he's there, and he's certainly a championship contender if he chooses to be.

The man who surprised everybody last year to win the title is second-generation racer John Dees. Dees improved quite a bit in his second full year of competing in this class, and this included five second-place finishes and his first career wins at both Sunset Speedway and Southern Oregon Speedway. Word is that John may be looking to race up north as he has moved there, so we're not certain how much will be seeing the #16 car.

Not only do we know that we're going to see the #38 car of Miles Deubert, we know that the 2018 "Rookie Of The Year" and two-time feature winner has a new ride after purchasing the former Bill Egleston car from California. Racing Late Models has been a dream come true for the 2014 Street Stock champion, and he would love to be able to make a challenge for another division championship. To do that, he knew he had to step up his game.

Two drivers who have fought hard to establish Late Models again in Medford are 2016 Open Stock champion Bob Dees and Mike Linder. Though Bob's two sons may not be seen around the speedway as much this year, it's likely that we'll see him competing for victories in the #6 car. Linder, however, has sold his car to Chris Biggs. Biggs raced a couple of years ago, and he's looking to come back again. Furthermore, another car is being prepared by the team for the return of 2010 champion Jeremy Richey. Richey's return will certainly make things more interesting in the battle for victories.

Since moving to Oregon as one of the top Nevada Street Stock racers, James Welshonse has competed in Mini Stocks, Sport Modifieds and Modifieds and has been fast in all three classes. Welshonse is preparing to take on the next challenge as he has purchased the former Deubert car to make his Late Model debut this season. If his history is any indication, you can expect James to be a quick study and become one of the faster drivers in the field.

Two drivers with new cars this year are Eric Massey and John David Duffie. Massey ran about half the season last year before a change in location took him out of the field. He has a new car this year. Duffie has won many Pro Stock races through the years at Southern Oregon Speedway and has been putting together a Late Model for a move up. Past Pro Stock champion Dave Everson moved up last season, and word is that he is stepping up his game to try and be more competitive this year.

Two drivers who showed up and scored feature victories last season, Trent Elliott and Darren Coffel, are reportedly planning to do more racing at Southern Oregon Speedway this year. In the event that either one of these drivers makes a full-time commitment, they could very well be the drivers to beat for the championship. Both drivers scored their victories in very impressive fashion last season.

One racer who could answer that call and challenge the fast guys from up north is Dustin Knight. Reportedly, the Rapp Racing Team has picked up a pair of Late Models, and one of those cars would be driven by the past Southern Oregon Speedway Modified and Pro Stock champion Knight. When he ran Late Models two years ago, at times he was very dominant. It all depends on what the team decides to do with these cars, but Knight certainly becomes a threat to win anytime he's in the race.

We heard that California-based racer Paul Guglielmoni will be bringing multiple cars to Southern Oregon Speedway, and this isn't just about the Cottonwood Classic. He's hoping to work the track into his schedule several times. Paul is a two-time Petaluma Speedway champion. It's possible that there will be other teams from California coming on various nights as well. Though we've heard that Dave Foote will be racing closer to his Coos Bay home, we hope to see the two-time 2018 feature winner on some occasions this year. longtime Southern Oregon competitor Don Garrett Jr is selling his car, but he'll likely be out there racing until it sells. It's likely that we'll see Brian Bowman and Garrett Dees at least a time or two.

We've also recently heard that 2018 Late Model Lites runner-up Greg Arnold will be moving up to the Late Model class. Arnold is also a past Southern Oregon Speedway Truck champion.

There's been lots of talk about Late Model racing at Southern Oregon Speedway, and for good reason. There are some big things on the horizon and more exciting news to be announced very soon. There's nothing quite like watching Late Models go side-by-side around the 1/3 mile clay oval, and it's a show that the hardcore Late Model fans do not want to miss. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.

2019 Southern Oregon Speedway Late Model Schedule
April 13 - Playday
April 27 - Playday
May 11
May 18
June 1 - Roger Haudenshild Tribute
June 15
July 6
July 20
August 3
August 17 - Hall Of Fame Night
August 24 - $4,000 To Win Cottonwood Classic
September 7

2018 Late Model Points
16 John Dees 274
24 Nathan Augustine 270
38 Miles Deubert 263
75 Dave Foote 250
6 Bob Dees 226
22 Mike Linder 132
05 Don Garrett 99
66 Garrett Dees 83
7 Eric Massey 76
40 Dave Everson 47

Past Late Model Champions
2008  Chris Salyer and Roger Lorenzini Jr.
2009  Andy Freeman
2010  Jeremy Richey
2016  Bob Dees
2017  Nathan Augustine
2018  John Dees

All Time Late Model Winners
Nathan Augustine 5 
Dustin Knight 4
Trevor Glaser 4
Rob Mayea 4
Chris Salyer 3
Richard Papenhausen 3
Bob Boyd 3
Darren Coffell 3
Bob Dees 2
Trent Elliott 2
Clay Daly 2
Jon DeBenedetti 2
Mike Linder 2
Jeremy Richey 2
Mikes Deubert 2
Dave Foote 2
Jason Wines 2
John Dees 1
Casey Vitale 1
Steve Croucher 1
John Silva 1
Bill Pearson 1
Steve Moore 1
Ron Haggard 1
Jeremy Shank 1
Dane Smith 1
Jim Whisler 1

Pit Stops

There's a Garth Brooks song about unanswered prayers. You may not have been asking for what happened, but it turns out it's a good thing. Southern Oregon Speedway Mini Stock racer Kristopher Mix was going into the 2016 season with high hopes when he took his car down to Yreka for a practice event. Unfortunately, that was the last time he drove that particular car. Chris was sharing a memory on social media recently regarding the crashing of that car.

But as his father, Keith Mix, pointed out, it turned out to be a good thing. He was left scrambling, but he got himself a newer and better car. He had a good season that year, and he followed that up with the championship the next year. Last year, though he had his share of bad luck, Mix also got his first career win. Kris has been very blessed in recent years as he and Carrie Weiser are expecting their second son this year, life has been good to them, the race car is ready and racing season is only a few short weeks away.

The Annual Pear Blossom Parade is coming up on the 13th, and Tony Incerty of the Southern Oregon Speedway safety crew has been organizing all of the drivers who will be a part of the parade. They will be showing off their cars to people who in some cases are not even aware that Southern Oregon Speedway exists. It's great exposure for the track and it also shows speedway support for the community at large.

The grounds of Southern Oregon Speedway are looking better than they have at this time of the year in many years. This is because Matt Butler and Kelly Minter have been working very hard at trimming the trees, reducing the blackberry bushes, keeping the grass trimmed, landscaping and just whatever they can do to make things more pleasing to the eyes. Their work also helps in the efforts to dry the pits should weather cooperate. Matt and Kelly have even put a new shade of blue on the handicap parking curb.

All that is needed now is dry enough weather during the week to allow for the pit area to be accessible, and then the cars could return to the 3/10 mile clay oval as well as the 1/8 mile dirt oval that the Karts will be racing on eight times this year. The inaugural playday that is scheduled for April 13th isn't looking so good right now, though it's too early to tell. The track had considered a practice on April 20th, but as it's Easter Weekend, this was decided against. Optimism is high that if the weather doesn't allow the first playday, the one on April 27th will happen. Stay tuned for news on that.

The Little Southern Oregon Speedway track gets eight races this year. All of the usual Kart classes are scheduled, which will include the 500 Open, 250s, Box Stock and Beginners Box Stock divisions as well as UAS Speedway Karts. Management is working on establishing a program for both Flat Track Motorcycles and Quads as a way to get more vehicles onto the track. Promoter Mike McCann will continue to oversee things on the little track.

Another point of concern surrounds the JOAT Labs Hornets division. Last season, there was some discussion about cars being too dominant in the field and the need to adjust rules. Initially, management took the PSI Rule and dropped it down to 160. However, this has been raised to 185 after further discussion and review of notes. What seems to be a concern is that the division does not get out of hand and it remains an entry-level point for drivers to get into racing without spending too much money.

In the old rulebook, prior to KJE Enterprises taking over Southern Oregon Speedway and growing this class, it was pointed out that these aren't race cars but rather cars that the drivers race. Consider that statement and what it means. Yes, drivers are racing around the track in these cars, but when you start putting more money into performance things on these cars, the costs go up. One way we gain new drivers into the field at Southern Oregon Speedway is to have a good entry-level division that doesn't require a big budget to maintain.

The Hornets division has a growing, dedicated group of competitors, and we are starting to see more drivers venturing into other divisions from here. For instance, after a rather dominant performance in 2016 and early 2017, Joby Shields went Sport Modified racing. After last season, we have seen both Ashtin Hedges and Dylan Irving make the move up to the Mini Stock division.

Longtime Mini Stock supporter and reigning champion David Steele has expressed his thoughts in the past about whether the Hornet division might be affecting numbers in the Mini Stock class. The Mini Stocks left alone would be the entry-level division, though now drivers have a division that allows you to do less and might be just a little bit cheaper on the wallet. This isn't to suggest that the Mini Stock division is getting too expensive, which it really isn't. However, it is hoped that more drivers get a year or two of experience in the Hornet class and give Mini Stock racing a chance. As drivers can do just a little bit more with their Mini Stocks, the racing its just that much more competitive.

Of course, the pinnacle of 4 Cylinder racing at Southern Oregon Speedway is the Valley Store All Late Model Lites division. Recently, we got word that 2018 runner up Greg Arnold was preparing to make a move up to the Late Model division. Arnold would be taking the car he has and putting a Late Model motor in it. We were wondering what this might do for car count, but we know of two drivers that were not mentioned in our recent season preview article who are going Late Model Lites racing this year.

One such driver is Jim Cunningham. Jim took the wheel of the #99 car last season and did well enough to become one of the Top 10 drivers in the standings. He has gotten his hands on a rather competitive car. This would be the #40 car that both Randy Hansen and Late Model Lites legend Andy Westcott had driven to victories in 2017. Cunningham becomes a driver to watch in the race for victories this season.

Mike Cloud has had his frustrations with rules. He had wanted to return to Mini Stock racing, only to find that the rules no longer involved the inclusion of Mini Trucks. After running his truck with the Late Model Lites a time or two, he went out and got himself another car to run with the Late Model Lites. Mike has done well in Mini Stocks in the past and felt that this was the right challenge for him. We're happy to see that he will be joining the Valley Store All Late Model Lites division the season.

Through the years, Late Model Lites racing has been pretty exciting when there have been enough cars on the track. The fans have seen great racing from the likes of Brian Johnsen, Terry Hadley and Parker Jones, and now we've got another great crop of racers that will include stars such as Eric Aos, Ross Payant, Dusty Aos and reigning champion Charlie Eaton. These cars are fast, and there are some good drivers to entertain the fans this season.

Entertainment will be the order of the day for the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars. The banner race for the division is the $2,000 to win Ironhead Nationals on August 10th, but there are plenty of other racing opportunities. We've been a little concerned where the car count might be as drivers like Jeffrey Hudson, Blaine Cory, Enrique Jaime and Merissa Henson may not be on hand when the season opens on May 4th.

However, the roster is growing with new drivers. We had reported in the recent season preview of the addition of past 500 Open Kart champion Johnny Burke to the roster along with reigning IMCA Sport Modified and past Mini Stock champion David Marble. We've also heard about the addition of California racer Anissa Curtice and Jared Hood of the famous Hood family. Don Hood is a Southern Oregon Racing Hall of Famer, inducted in 2017. Jared will be continuing the family tradition. Curtice has been racing 500 Open Karts in California as she hails from Eureka.

We have continued to hear rumblings of other drivers putting cars together, but as we haven't seen names, it's difficult to say anything else. We're hopeful that there will be some surprises in the field. Southern Oregon Speedway has made a commitment to Sprint Car racing, and this has led to more variety for the fans to enjoy on any given week when they are there.

Not to be forgotten in the discussion are the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars. The group will once again be doing a barbecue, car show, fan meet-and-greet at Granger's Accounting on April 20th. Some fans may not be familiar with this group of racers, but they are some of the nicest people you'd want to meet. This will be an opportunity for everybody to get an up-close-and-personal look at the race cars and get to talk with the people who drive them.

Everything going around the community now has been very positive in terms of drivers getting ready. All they're looking for right now is some clear weather and the go-ahead to do some racing. The April 13th practice day might be 50/50, but there should be a better chance of a practice taking place on April 27th. After that, it's time to get down to business on May 4th with a show featuring IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks and JOAT Labs Hornets. Are you ready for racing season to get started?