Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Southern Oregon Speedway Brings The Speed
This Saturday Night
White City, Oregon...Saturday at Southern Oregon Speedway is Willamette Valley Bank night. It's also a night that will showcase the track's fastest divisions on the Jim Rodgers prepared m 3/10 mile clay oval. The Late Models are back this week along with the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars. It will be night of fast racing action. If you're looking for more, Friday night at the Little Southern Oregon Speedway will offer a full slate of Kart racing along with Flat Track Bikes, Quads and Three Wheelers.
The Late Model division at Southern Oregon Speedway has everybody talking. Last time out, the division again had a big 16 car field with some top-notch talent. Darren Coffell picked up a win in rather dominant fashion, joining Bobby Hogge IV, Preston Luckman and point leader Trent Elliott as feature winners this season. Coffell missed the season opener, but he has rapidly climbed his way up to second in the standings. However, he trails the consistent Elliott by 33 points in the battle. Elliott made sure he didn't lose too many points to Coffell as he finished second last time out after winning both his heat race and the Trophy Dash.
Coffell and Elliott bring their a-game every time they're in town, meaning everybody else needs to step things up just a little bit. Past Outlaw Pro Stock champion Dave Everson looked very impressive last time when he out-dueled Coffell to win his heat race and then finished third in the Main Event. This has enabled Everson to move into third in the standings, 12 points ahead of Dave Foote and 19 in front of Miles Deubert.
There's plenty of opportunity for drivers to move up the point ladder. Mark Wauge had his sights set on second in the standings and looked very impressive in leading his heat race last time out before a broken rear end put an end to his night. Wauge does have a pair of third place finishes this year and would have to be considered a threat to win this week. Other drivers to watch for include 2016 champion Bob Dees, the rapidly improving Eric Massey, Chris Biggs and Jason Schultz.
The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars are being led by Mike Wheeler after four races. Wheeler has won the last three Main Events and is looking very difficult to beat so far. He has stretched his point lead to 30 over Enrique Jaime. Jaime finished fourth last time out and a season-best third the race before, but the young asphalt Kart champion is still searching for his first win. With Bailey Hibbard and Charlie Thompson trailing him by less than 10 points in the standings, Jaime may need a win to hold them off. Hibbard look very impressive in finishing second to Wheeler last time and seems on the cusp of getting his first win of the season.
Rookie Anissa Curtice scored a crowd-pleasing heat race victory last time out, and she held off Wheeler to do it. The 17 year old is making the trip from Eureka, California to come race at Southern Oregon Speedway. Like several of the other drivers in the field, she moved up from the Outlaw Kart ranks. There are some good drivers in the field, and others to watch for this week include TJ Winningham, David Marble and reigning champion David Hibbard. Plus, you never know when rising young star Tanner Holmes may show up.
We haven't seen the IMCA Modifieds since June, but point leader Zach Fettinger made a big statement that night as he made the big Speedweek show and finished in the Top 5. The effort gave Fettinger a 22 point advantage over 2017 champion Jesse Bailey and a 24 point lead over the tied three-time reigning champion Albert Gill and Justin Foux. Though all four drivers have had some Top 5 success this year, only Bailey has managed to win a Main Event. Gill has finished as high as second, but he is looking to end a winless streak that goes back to 2017. He may need to get that win to really make a move in the standings.
The IMCA Modifieds have proven to be very popular at the speedway as the cars are fast and they have some of the best racing you'll see. Jeffrey Hudson made everybody take notice when he won the season opener, but a crash at the Speedweek race in Willamette has forced the Don Roemer team to get a new car. They will be back soon, and other racers to watch for this week include impressive rookie Jimmy Lipke, Preston Jones, Ray Kniffen Jr and Nick Trenchard. There have been four different winners in the four races held so far.
In the IMCA Sport Modified division, Jorddon Braaten holds a nine point advantage over Matt Sanders in another good battle. Sanders is coming off of a win at Willamette Speedway last week. However, it's his brother Isaac Sanders who won the most recent race at Southern Oregon Speedway. As a result, Isaac is only 12 points behind Matt in close race for second. These three drivers certainly lead the charge in the race for victory, but there are some top notch racers looking to get the win this week.
Two-time champion Mike Medel is still looking for his first win of the season and hasn't had a podium finish yet. This could be his week as he has steadily gotten faster with each start. Other drivers to watch this week include Branden Wilson, the rapidly improving Steve Lysinger, Wyatt Westfall, Willie McFall and Jesse Skidmore.
The Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars round out what's sure to be an exciting program. The three races held so far this year have seen wins scored by Camden Robustelli, two-time champion Brock Peters and three-time reigning champion Josh King. Robustelli picked up the win in the most recent association race at Coos Bay. We haven't seen a point list from the group recently, but it's likely that these three drivers rank high. Other drivers who could be a threat for victory include Chad Cardoza, Fred Hay, Ryan Smith, Jesse Lorentz and Cody Peters.
For fans of Kart and Motorcycle racing, Friday should be a good show at the little track. Trevor Taylor has competed in multiple classes in the Flat Track Bikes, and he's won several races already. He may come into the night as the rider to beat, but Mya Maffei and Theo Lount are two riders who are likely to give him some good competition this week. Younger brother Brody Taylor has looked good with three-straight wins in the Small Bike class.
The Three Wheelers have been entertaining this year with Mike Burson Sr, Ryan Comstock and Garrett Stookey among the stars, but it's the young competitors of the Beginners Box Stock Kart class who are really putting on a show. Jayme DeBenedetti now has three wins this season as she leads Isaac Grimes in the standings, but Caleb Ranney may be the biggest threat to beat DeBenedetti after back-to-back second-place finishes.
Meanwhile, Isaac's older brother Trevor Grimes leads the 250 Karts on the strength of three wins in his four starts. Jacob James, Vinny DeBenedetti and Cadyn Smith are among those hoping to evict Grimes from the winner's circle this week.
On Friday night, the gates at the little track open at 5 with the first race starting at 7. Admission is $10 and gets you pit access and a bleacher seat.
On Saturday night, gates open at 5 with Trophy Dashes starting at 7. General Admission Adults are $13 with Seniors 62+, Veterans and Juniors 7 to 12 $7 each. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
The Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock Association got a rare opportunity to headline a show at Southern Oregon Speedway. This was also their second of three scheduled appearances. Though they're not at the track as often as they'd like to be, the three times in which they are included happen to be three big shows for them. This one was special because they were headlining, and it brought out several past champions to do battle. When you add in the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets, Valley Store All Late Model Lites and OTRO Hardtops, you've got a fun night that attracted well over 50 competitors.
There's just so much going on at Southern Oregon Speedway these days. More people are coming out to check out the show and more racers are coming out to be a part of it all. What's interesting is that the roster lineup at the speedway has grown so much that all five of the divisions present last week will not be a part of the Willamette Valley Bank Night scheduled for this week. This will be a week where they bring the speed, led by the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars.
The coming show has been previewed elsewhere, but there's been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the Late Model division. We are now four races into the season, and the last two races have produced 16 car fields. Everybody is wanting to get involved in this division as it seems to have taken on a life of its own this year. Part of the buzz centers around the $4,000 to win Cottonwood Classic, which happens on August 24th. There were rumors of a second show happening. Though that show may not happen this year, it's possible it will be a part of things next year.
People are wondering what the purse is, and though we haven't seen official numbers yet, we believe that the start money for the event will be a minimum of $200. That information will come out very soon. We know the win money is $4,000, and second place could be in the area of $1,500 to $2,000. Once we get that information, we will pass it along as there are many eager drivers from north and south of Southern Oregon Speedway who want to be a part of that show.
Two drivers who have become a part of the regular show this year and have made it that much more interesting are Trent Elliott and Darren Coffell. Both drivers account for a win each, while Bobby Hogge IV and Coos Bay point leader Preston Luckman are the other winners so far. There are some drivers on the cusp of victory, and a few of those may actually surprise you. After notching a third place finish last time out and beating Coffell to win their heat race, seeing Dave Everson get a win won't surprise anybody.
Likewise, Mark Wauge, who has scored a pair of third place finishes this year, won't be a surprise in the winner's circle. Mark has won 50 Main Events at Southern Oregon Speedway, and he has a Late Model victory in his sights. Perhaps the only thing that stopped him last time out was a broken rear end, which ended his night prematurely as he led his heat race.
The biggest surprise in the field could be Eric Massey. Massey sped to a Top 5 finish last time out. He has a new car this year from the shops of Rapp Racing, and he is quite a bit faster. Massey was among the Top 10 in the standings last year, although he never quite got that car to run the way he'd hoped. The team still fields that car with Cliff Massey behind the wheel. We're still anxiously awaiting the return of Dustin Knight. When Rapp Racing went to pick up the car for Massey, they also picked up a car for Knight. However, they've been so busy at the shop, that Knight's return has been delayed. It could happen at any time, and the past Modified and Pro Stock champion is sure to be fast.
Something's going on with the Late Model division. There seems to be quite a bit of excitement surrounding the class right now. This has been a division that promoter Mike McCann has believed in from the start, and some would say it's been long overdue for the track to really make an effort to establish this division. There are still a few cars in production that we could see soon.
However, it's because of the efforts of people like 2016 champion Bob Dees and Mike Linder, who was the runner-up that season, 2017 champion Nathan Augustine, 2018 champion John Dees, Garrett Dees, Don Garrett, Dave Foote and Miles Deubert that this division has steadily gained momentum each season. These are the racers who believed enough in this class in the beginning to get involved in getting it established.
The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car division has seen a slight dip in car count this year, but there's been some good racing at the front of the pack. It's Mike Wheeler leading the way on the strength of three-straight victories. Having his brother Vern Wheeler Jr on the crew has certainly been a positive. The Wheeler family also has a presence in the Winged 360 Sprint Car effort at Cottage Grove Speedway, where Vern's son Jake is competing for a championship. Having somebody like Vern on the crew to impart his knowledge has certainly helped Mike, but Mike has always proven himself to be a good wheelman in the Outlaw Kart ranks.
At some point, you would think that Wheeler has to get beat. Even David Hibbard and Kyler Barraza, as dominant as they were during their championship runs, got beat. Bailey Hibbard has picked up five wins at Southern Oregon Speedway since 2016 and his father David has won more. Young Tanner Holmes is always a threat when he comes to town, and he won the season opener. They seem to be the most likely candidates to win, but it just could be that we'll finally get another brand new winner in the class.
Enrique Jaime has been on the roster since 2017, and he appears to be on the cusp of his first victory. He has a third place finish and won the Scramble two races ago. Another young competitor, 17 year old Anissa Curtice, was a heat race winner last time out after a good battle with Mike Wheeler. These two could be the prime candidates to become first-time winners in this week's event, but you can't count out past champions Charlie Thompson or TJ Winningham in their quest to return to the winner's circle. The racing at the front of the pack should be good this week.
It's interesting to note that we are four races into the IMCA Modified season and only 2017 champion Jesse Bailey of the Top 4 competitors is a feature winner so far this year. Leader Zach Fettinger, three-time reigning champion Albert Gill and rookie Justin Foux are searching for that win. The drivers made it through the challenging Speedweek race, which does tend to affect the local point battle. Fettinger made sure he didn't suffer. Last year he didn't even show up for the race, and this time out he got a Top 5 finish to increase his point lead. As good as he's been looking, it's only a matter of time before he gets a win. The IMCA Modifieds seem to be that clutch division that delivers good Main Events week in and week out.
Getting back to last Saturday show, the spotlight was shining brightly on the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks. With the exception of Dave Everson, every driver who can call themselves a Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock Association champion was accounted for. This included two-time reigning champion and current point leader Dr Scott Lenz, 2016 title winner Steve Borror, 2015 champ Jeffrey Hudson and two-time champion Ken Irving. Irving had a constant presence in the Top 5, though he never quite made it into the lead battle.
The lead battle saw plenty of Lenz, Borror and Hudson, who found himself having to come from the back of the pack a couple of times. Borror gave Lenz the biggest challenge that he's probably seen all year and had his car glued to the bottom of the track. It's only because Lenz found the traction he needed on the outside when it counted that he notched his seventh win of the season. The big winners on the night were the fans as they saw another great show by the Pro Stocks.
Dan Randall might not have been expecting to get a win during the course of the night. He's one of those competitors who is just happy to enjoy a night at the track when he can, and the format ended up putting him in the B Main. It's been awhile since the group has had one of those races, and Randall did pretty much what Borror did. He kept his car running smooth and consistent on the bottom groove. Ryan Smith was giving it a great effort on the outside, but he was unable to make the pass and would surrender second to Bryan Hammond on the final lap. However, Randall managed to go flag the flag for his first ever victory. The icing on the cake came afterwards as the track presented him with a B Main Event winner's trophy.
The Flowers team always gives a good accounting of themselves. Saturday was no exception as James Flowers won both his heat race and the Trophy Dash. He led some of the early laps in the Main Event before his motor expired on him. Seems only a matter of time before James wins a Main Event. His father, Scott Flowers, was running along in the Top 10 for most of the race, but good things kind of came his way as he found himself in third in the final laps. Scott Flowers is consistent and knows how to play the point game as he currently ranks second. It's been awhile since he's won a Main Event, but you know he can strike at any time.
Matt Harlow is another one of those competitors who has his moments, but unfortunately Saturday wasn't one of them. It was a disastrous night for the Top 5 point competitor from the word go. After a bad heat race, he was scheduled to run the B Main, but he dropped out on the pace lap. This was not the kind of night that Matt and car owner Maurie Skaggs were hoping for, but they'll go back to the drawing board for next time.
Unanimously, the Pro Stock drivers want to be a part of the program at Southern Oregon Speedway whenever possible, and the track is open to the possibilities next season. The fans do enjoy having a taste of Pro Stock racing as part of the program. They'll be back on September 1st to be a part of the show that pays tribute to a man who was known to have been a supporter of their class, R Charles Snyder.
The Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks seem to be gathering some momentum. Car count sort of took a hit last year and didn't start off so strong this year, but racers appear to be coming back. There's even a few teams looking to get involved. When they get there, they know that the black #67 car will be somebody to beat to get the glory. Reigning champion David Steele reported that after his recent win in Yreka, he has won 75 career Main Events. Over 30 of them have occurred in Medford.
Ashtin Hedges is doing everything he can to hang with Steele, and even though Steele has been coming out ahead lately, Hedges has been the one chasing him across the line. The point race is still close, but Ashtin knows he'll need to get his second win soon if he wants to make this thing a little bit closer. Steele had another clean sweep effort with wins in the Main Event, Trophy Dash and heat race. He trailed Hedges for a few early laps in the Main before taking over.
He has a ritual that he goes through before every race, which sees him walking the race track as usually the first or second guy to get there. This also enables him to make an assessment of how the track is looking and help the track if there's things he sees that he can remove from the surface. David knows that one of the things that leads to victory is knowing the racing surface and how to set your car up. Though he is good with a motor, he knows it takes more than that to get the win.
Hunter Magnan is rapidly rising up the point list. After his latest third place finish, he now counts himself among the Top 5 point competitors. If not for a disastrous start with motor issues, he would probably be in the battle with Steele and Hedges. As it is, he is closing in on third-ranked Kristopher Mix. This could be a battle that goes all the way down to the end.
Mix headed down to Yreka for the 4th of July and left with the Trophy Dash winner's hardware and second in the Main Event. Buoyed by that success and hoping to erase the bad taste of a disappointing night at Southern Oregon Speedway two days later, he headed back for the July 8th race in Yreka. He was in the thick of the battle in the Main Event, but he got into a crash that left him with some serious front end damage. Fortunately, the team was able to get that straightened out, but there was still a question. How would the car work?
Mix was closing in on fifth in the later stages of the Main Event. After rolling his car the week before, top rookie Dylan Irving was hopeful of holding on to his Top 5 spot, but Mix had other ideas. Mix charged into the final turn very hard, and there was a little bit of contact between the two drivers. They both kept it going, and Mix scored a much-needed fifth place finish. Knowing how fast Magnan has been, Mix knows that he needs to step up his game a little bit more. He still has hopes of getting a feature win this year, and Saturday showed that the car still has a little bit of get-up-and-go in it.
It was steady as she goes for Steve Goetz. Though he doesn't quite have everything the way it needs to be, Goetz is still able to run with the leaders. On this occasion, he rebounded from the previous week's non finish with a fourth place effort. It's been a couple of seasons since Steve has grabbed a feature victory, and he too will be somebody to keep an eye on. The fact is, there are some good drivers in the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock division.
Likewise, the drivers are getting a bit faster in the JOAT Labs Hornets class. Dylan Sauer served notice to the others when he kicked off the season with four consecutive wins. This has given him the point lead, but he hasn't been able to shake the presence of 2016 champion Tim Hedges. These two drivers seem to be the fastest, but rookie Quinton Tritchler is also in the hunt. As Quinton has gathered momentum in the last couple of races, he's also closing in on Jenna Hedges for third in the standings and very much mixing it up in the battle for victory.
It was Tritchler and his son, Chris Boynton, winning the heat races on Saturday, which put them at the front of the pack. Tritchler got a good start and raced into lead, but Tim Hedges and Dylan Sauer were right there with him. Even as a rookie in the field, Tritchler is not intimidated by the competition, and he looked good early on. It was when Sauer was making his run on the outside to try to get the lead when Hedges sneaked by on the inside and took over. Tritchler settled for a second place finish, but everybody in the field knows he's a threat to win now.
Hedges was driving his car hard, and there were a couple of times when it looked like it could get away from him in the turns. Knowing how fast Sauer has been this year, Tim is not holding anything back. The battle between those two drivers is another one that could go down to the end of the season. Even though Dylan didn't get the win, he won the Trophy Dash and didn't lose too much ground as he continues to lead the points over Hedges.
With Tim Hedges running as hard as he is, we might tend to forget that his wife Jenna Hedges is out there running strong as well. She had another solid night with a fourth place feature finish as she continues to hold on to third in the standings. Chris Boynton continues to maintain fifth in the standings after his latest fifth place finish and heat race win, but he knows he can get even better results out of his car. Last season he was a two-time feature winner, and it's only a matter of time before he makes a real strong run at the victory.
A win is something Ryan Nelson has in his sights. Last time out, the second-generation racer picked up a fifth place finish. He was in the hunt to do it again this time, but he had to settle for sixth. The Nelson team continues to field two cars as brother Zach Nelson piloted their father Derrel Nelson Jr's car. Derrel is helping Zach situate his own car, so there is a possibility of seeing the father and his two sons back on the track together at some point before the season is over.
The Valley Store All Late Model Lites saw the return of the division's all-time Main Event win leader, Terry Hadley, and his wife Krista Hadley. They were a welcome sight, and they helped increase the field to eight cars. We continue to hear rumblings of other cars that we might see soon, but the drivers that did show up gave the fans some exciting racing by some of the fastest cars on the track on Saturday night.
When you see Lee Doty bring his #7 car to the track for Ross Payant to drive, you might think this is the guy that's going to win. Payant didn't dissuade those thoughts when he won the Trophy Dash ahead of Greg Arnold. Arnold didn't like finishing second all that much, so he corrected the situation by holding off Payant to win both the heat race and Main Event.
Payant isn't in the championship battle this year, though he could still finish third in the standings. However, reigning champion Charlie Eaton is in the point chase. Both Arnold and Eaton are feature winners this season, but it seems like the two are alternating when they have really good nights. Eaton found himself trying to get around Krista Hadley for the third spot, but she didn't budge as she made her season debut with a podium finish. The Hadley team plans to have both of their cars there for the remainder of the season, and Terry Hadley has indicated that there could be a third car out from the team soon.
Getting back to Eaton, as he was only able to take third in the Main Event, Arnold used his second feature win of the season to regain the point lead. It's been about 17 years since Greg last won his championship in the Super Truck division, and it looks like he's intent on adding another championship trophy to his mantle. The thing is, this Arnold-Eaton battle will probably go down to the final checkered flag, and it's anybody's guess who will prevail.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that the Old Time Racers of Oregon Hardtops aren't actually out there racing. A few of the newer drivers do you tend to tiptoe around the track as they run on slick tires and don't want to crash. Chris Mehrer, who was absent from the most recent race, found that out the hard way when the group ran their first race at the track in 2016. After winning the Trophy Dash that night, he got on it a little too hard in the heat race and put the Bill Trotter truck into the front wall. Newcomers generally take it easy and get a feel for the track.
One driver is new to the group, but he is by no means a newcomer. Darryl Haugh has raced Midgets and Micro Sprints through the years, but he's been absent for about 15 years. He donned his old fire suit and was ready to go racing again in the former Dusty Trotter car. He won the Trophy Dash and his heat race that night, but his Main Event didn't go quite as well. Last week was a bit different. It was in the heat race that saw Darryl leading Dean Cast when there was a bit of contact that resulted in a Haugh spin. Cast hit the brakes, but he didn't stop soon enough.
Later on, Cast saw his Main Event win streak snapped at two in a row as he settled for second. Haugh managed to get up to third, but he didn't have much of a chance of mixing it up with the leader in the non-stop event. He's definitely one of the drivers in the field who is not afraid to race these cars. However, there was a moment that occurred in the pits that was reminiscent of something you might see in the movie Days of Thunder. OTRO officials have made the call to suspend Haugh for the rest of the season. Though he was not involved in the situation, it was a member from his crew and Cast.
The OTRO takes a different approach from other Hardtop groups. Whereas the Hardtop groups in Bakersfield and Roseburg compete for points, the OTRO runs what you might call an exhibition style race. They do not compete for points or championships. They race, but they try to race respectfully without putting the race cars at too much risk. They do mix it up at times at the front of the pack, but drivers like Bill Trotter, Dean Cast and Mark Minter are generally used to running with each other and know each other's driving styles. There is a bit of respect among the drivers who have raced with each other.
Dan Fouts was the driver of the hour as he got behind the wheel of the Dusty Trotter #26 car. Fouts had no problem picking up wins in the Trophy Dash and his heat race, and he stayed out to lead flag to flag in the next heat race, though he wasn't officially part of that particular event. He was never really threatened in the Main Event as he won.
The tradition that has gone on with the OTRO for a few years now sees them giving the newer drivers who are getting up to speed an opportunity to race for a Trophy Dash win, while the more established drivers wait for their time in the Main Event and heat race. Bryan Weberg II drives the yellow #18 Coup, and he did pick up a pair of second place finishes in his heat race and the Trophy Dash before finishing fourth ahead of Bill Trotter in the Main Event.