Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds Back At Southern Oregon Speedway This Week

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds Back 
At Southern Oregon Speedway This Week

Winged Sprint Cars and IMCA Modifieds are racing at Southern Oregon Speedway this Saturday night.  They are part of a six division show that also includes Mini Stocks, Hornets, Open Stock Cars and OTRO Hardtops.  The weekend also offers Friday night racing at the Outlaw Kart Track.  After two previous rainouts, the kart racers are anxious to finally do some racing.

The IMCA Modified community is buzzing following the amazing performance of six time champion Mark Wauge in last week's Roger Haudenshild Tribute Race.  Wauge found himself in the B Main after suffering a mechanical failure in his heat race.  After getting it fixed, nobody could stop Wauge.  He won the B Main and came from a last row starting spot to win the $1500 prize in the Main Event.

Despite only one caution flag, Wauge's car was glued to the bottom groove in that race.  He grabbed the lead on lap 20 and didn't look back.  He now has two wins and a four point lead over Jesse Bailey.  Bailey has gotten off to a good start with two thirds and a win in last week's Trophy Dash.  A feature win is what Bailey is after now, and he could get it this week.

Wauge knows he's going have to be at his best. Last week saw the debut of three fast cars at the speedway. There was Brian Poppa, Curt Coggins and C.J. Putnam. Putnam is one of those drivers who rose from the ranks of the Outlaw Kart track to become a Dwarf Car champion, and now he has moved up to the IMCA Modified division. Poppa holds the distinction of being a Pro Stock and IMCA Modified champion in the same season. Coggins has raced Modifieds for a number of years and is fast wherever he goes. At the moment, he's dialing the bugs out of his new car.

Nick Trenchard and two time defending champion Albert Gill are looking pretty good so far this year as these two hard chargers sit third and fourth in the standings. However, the way Wauge is running, they will need to step up their game to keep up with him.

The question in the Pennzoil Winged Sprint Car division is can anybody keep up with Vern Wheeler Jr?  Vern and his son Jake have finished first and second, respectively, in the first two events of the season. However, 2009 champion Charlie Thompson is set to make his return to the division this week.

So, can anybody beat The Wheeler Boys? On Saturday night, the fans will get an answer to that question early on with the Trophy Dash. Young gun Camden Robustelli and Wayne Kniffen will be on the front row of that race. The Trophy Dash is nothing new to Dwarf Car ace Robustelli, but Kniffen hasn't run a Trophy Dash since his Mini Stocks days about 15 years ago.

The one thing the Winged Sprint Car division at Southern Oregon Speedway has done is allow the new drivers to get some good laps. Robustelli and 15 year old Jeffrey Hudson have been looking good so far. Todd Whipple continues to get better as he's making more laps than he has in his Sprint Car since he got the car a few seasons ago.

The Open Stock division merges the Late Models with the Street Stocks, Outlaw Pro Stocks and even Super 4 competitors in an open rules setting. Two Late Model drivers who are anticipated for this race are Mike Linder and Steve Lemley. Linder comes with Sprint Car experience, while Lemley is a Street Stock champion at Cottage Grove Speedway.

Because the purse is a little better than what they usually get, there are Outlaw Pro Stock drivers looking to come and compete.  Word is at least one Pro Stock champion will be in the field. The division also offers Street Stock drivers an opportunity to bring their cars back to the race track. Open engine, tire and other rules makes this a very intriguing division.

The Mini Stock division continues to be a battle between Bob Burkett and Gary Anderson. The two drivers have each won a Main Event and finished second in the other, and the question is can anybody beat them? Two drivers looking like they could are third and fourth place point competitors Marissa Henson and Andrew Hall. The 14 year old Henson will be starting her second Trophy Dash on Saturday night. Hall has already picked up two straight heat wins in his Pinto Mini Wagon.

Eric Hanson seemed poised for a breakout season this year. He improved from 8th in 2014 to 4th last year. So far, however, Hanson has been unable to start either Main Event due to mechanical issues. In the first week, he had a fuel pump problem. The last time out, he and his crewman were working right up until the last minute trying to get the car ready, but he was unable to make it fire. With a fourth place finish in a recent race at Coos Bay Speedway, it appears as if Eric may have figured out his motor problems.

We also get our first look at the Hornets division. The division has been around the speedway for the last three years, but it has sort of been floating around. Track management is committed to building this division, and Derrel Nelson Jr. was the first driver to throw his hat into the ring for this season.  Heather Menzel will be back as well. Anywhere from 6 to 10 cars are anticipated for the first race.

About a half-dozen drivers from the OTRO Hardtop group of  Northern Oregon have made the decision to run some dirt races. Normally, these cars can be seen on the pavement at Roseburg. The first race was rained out a couple weeks ago, so this will be their first of four scheduled events.

For the fans wanting to get a look at some race cars on Friday night, the next generation of speedway stars will be competing on the Outlaw Kart track. Divisions range from the Beginners Box Stock division of 5 to 8 year old kids all the way to Micro Sprints. The little 1/8 mile dirt track has sort of become the "Field Of Dreams" for young racers looking to get started in racing.

The Friday night ticket will be $10. Children 6 and under are $5.  General admission entries are allowed to visit the drivers in the pits. As with the Saturday night program, the gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race scheduled to start at 7 p.m. On Saturday night, adult tickets are $12 with Juniors and Seniors $6. Again, children 5 and under are free. 
Pit Stops

As if last weekend wasn't enough for IMCA Modified fans, June 11th offers something even better. It will be the return of the Wild West Shootout. Drivers come from throughout Oregon, Washington, California and other states to compete in this series of seven races at seven different tracks in an eight day period. As was the case last week, the IMCA Modifieds should have a full field that will require a B Main. Simply put, drivers will have to earn their Main Event starting spots.

Last season, Jesse Williamson used his win at Southern Oregon Speedway to help him win his third series championship in five years.  If not for Chowchilla, California racer Alex Stanford in 2014, Williamson might have won four in a row. The series launched in 2012 with Medford's Brian Poppa winning that championship.

The drivers compete for a piece of the $3500 in point fund money offered up at the end of the series. Each race also pays $1000 to win.  Williamson beat Stanford for the championship by a 635-587 margin last year as Travis Peery 522, Ryan Scott Gaylord 521 and Collen Winebarger 514 made up the Top 5.

As if that isn't enough, the IMCA Sport Modifieds and Outlaw Pro Stocks will make this a very exciting race that you won't want to miss.  An inflated car count is anticipated for the IMCA Sport Modifieds as some drivers are trying to make a case for having their own seven race series as part of the Speedweek event.  Jorddon Braaten continues to be the point leader following his third place finish last week.  Bob Nelson and two time champion Dwayne Melvin make up the current Top 3 in the standings.  Jimmy Lipke keeps the Top 4 drivers within nine points of each other, and he is coming off of a nice win in last week's Trophy Dash.

The Outlaw Pro Stock division has belonged to Steve Borror so far.  Borror has dominated all three races for the group, leaving the big question.  Can anybody stop this guy?  The Flowers Family seems to be at the head of the list of competitors.  Past champion Scott Flowers is coming off of a Top 3 finish at Yreka, while his son James has a pair of Top 4 finishes.  Others to watch for include Roy Bain, two time champion  Ken Irving, Johnny Cobb and Rick Lukens.  Word is that past champion Dave Everson is set to debut his car soon. 

Point Standings

2016 IMCA Modifieds **
Mark Wauge 80
Jesse Bailey 76
Nick Trenchard 70
Albert Gill 68
Duane Orsburn 61
Kyle Casson 59
Matt Duste 54
Lloyd Speer 51
Zach Fettinger 50
Jeremy Ohlde 49

2016 Winged Sprint Cars
Vern Wheeler Jr.    74
Jake Wheeler    64
Camden Robustelli    57
Jeffrey Hudson    53
Todd Whipple    46
Wayne Kniffen    26
Bill Hopper    6

2016 IMCA Sport Modifieds **
Jorddon Braaten     78
Bob Nelson     73
Dwayne Melvin     72
Jimmy Lipke     69
David Marble     63
A.J. Parker     62
Mike Medel     62
Tony Bartell     58
Randy Fernandes     88
Todd Cooper     40

2016 Mini Stocks
Bob Burkett    72
Gary Anderson    64
Marissa Henson    59
Andrew Hall    54
Kristopher Mix    49
Devon Weiser    42
Mike Cloud    40
Dillon Lausen    35
Ethan Killingsworth 30
Michael Johnson 21

** Unofficial.  IMCA releases official points on Friday