Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Seven Division Program Set For Saturday At Southern Oregon Speedway, Plus Pit Stops

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Seven Division Program Set For Saturday 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...After the excitement of the Malicious Monster Truck Tour last weekend, racing gets back in gear this Saturday night at Southern Oregon Speedway. The 1/3 mile clay oval will see a seven division program, led by the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets and the OTRO Hardtops. Fans looking for more racing will be able to go to the little Southern Oregon Speedway track on Friday night to see the Motorcycles and the Outlaw Karts.

It's been a month since we saw the Sprint Cars in action, and it was long-time racer and past champion TJ Winningham having a crowd-pleasing battle with rising young star Tanner Holmes. Winningham is one of the drivers who hopes to make a challenge for the championship this season, and the second place finish he earned that night will certainly help. Another driver in the hunt for the championship and a victory this week is Outlaw Kart star Mike Wheeler. Wheeler earned a Top 5 finish in the opener and is only six points behind Tanner Holmes in the championship chase. 2009 champion Charlie Thompson will also be a factor in the battle this week, and other drivers to watch for include Enrique Jaime, Aaron Miller, Jared Hood and David Marble.

The Late Models are causing a sensation at the speedway after two races. There have been nearly 20 competitors to turn laps at the speedway so far this year with several drivers still set to debut. With a pair of Top 5 finishes, Trent Elliott holds an 18 point lead over Dave Everson. Elliot is still looking for his first win, and Everson had his best finish yet in fifth last time out. He leads last season's top rookie, Miles Deubert, by just one point in the battle. IMCA Modified star Mark Wauge looked impressive in his division debut two weeks ago. He finished a strong third. If that's any indication, he will be in the hunt for victory this week and in the weeks ahead. Other drivers to watch for include Dave Foote, Tony Bartell and Jason Schultz.

The IMCA Modifieds have a close battle happening in the point race. With a win in the season opener and a fifth last time out, Jeffrey Hudson holds a slim one point advantage over the tied Zach Fettinger and Justin Foux. Foux has a pair of Top 5 finishes, while Fettinger impressed with his last turn pass of Nick Trenchard to finish second last time out. All four of these drivers are a threat to win, and others to watch for include Preston Jones, Ray Kniffen Jr, three-time reigning champion Albert Gill and Jesse Bailey.

Not to be outdone, the IMCA Sport Modifieds are providing big car counts so far this year. Last time out, it was two-time champion Jordan Braaten scoring a very impressive win. In doing so, Braaten now holds a two point advantage over Justin McCreadie, who has a pair of Top 5 finishes so far. Season-opening winner Matt Sanders is only seven points out of the lead and another threat to win this week. Rookie Wyatt Westfall has been looking good this year and is only 10 points out of the lead. Other stars in the field to watch for this week include two-time Late Model Lites champion Brian Johnsen, Branden Wilson, Jantzen Knips and Willie McFall.

Last time the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks were in action, it was Ashtin Hedges holding off reigning champion David Steele for his first career win. Despite that, Steele holds a five point lead over young Hedges. 2017 champion Kristopher Mix is only nine points behind Hedges in third as he hopes to return to the winner's circle this week. Michael McLeod, Dylan Irving, Hunter Magnan and 2013 champion Steve Goetz are others to watch for this week.

Not to be outdone by his son, Tim Hedges finds himself leading the JOAT Labs Hornets point race after two events, despite still searching for his first feature win. Tim has done well enough in the preliminary events to hold a slim one point lead over two-time feature winner Dylan Sauer in another close battle. Rookie Quinton Tritchler is looking good in third in the standings as he leads Derrel Nelson Jr, Jenna Hedges, Chris Boynton and Lacey Sauer by just two points. The beauty of the Hornets division is you never know who can win from week-to-week.

The OTRO Hardtops round out an exciting program with their beautiful old Coups and Sedans. Mark Minter and Bill Trotter were multi-time winners last season, and they lead the group into their season opener. Some of the competitors to watch for this week include Dusty Trotter, Dean Cast, Matt Butler, Justin Krossman, Jay Smith and Chris Mehrer.

If this exciting seven-division lineup doesn't do enough for you, the little track on Friday night will offer plenty of racing for you to enjoy. In addition to all of the various Outlaw Kart divisions, Motorcycles, Quads and Trikes will be competing in a show that will offer non-stop action from start to finish. Gates will open at the little track at 5 p.m. with the first race starting at 7. It is a $10 admission that gets you access to the pits and a bleacher seat.

On Saturday night at the big track, the gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race starting at 7. General Admission is $13 with Seniors, Veterans and Juniors 7 to 12 $7. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to that's the way you go

Pit Stops

Southern Oregon Speedway is about ready to get very active over the next two weekends. Not only is the big track going to be offering a seven division lineup this Saturday and hosting the second leg of the IMCA Modified Wild West Speedweek Tour a week later, the little track will be hosting a full complement of Outlaw Karts and Motorcycles this Friday and next Friday. For fans wanting to get their racing fix, this is your chance.

The thing that should give Sprint Car racing fans hope is the fact that many of the drivers who make up the roster are younger competitors under the age of 25. Anissa Curtice comes to us from Eureka, California after logging many laps in Outlaw Kart racing at Red Bluff and other venues. That's another theme as young competitors such as Bailey Hibbard, Enrique Jaime and Tanner Holmes have also moved up from Karts. Word is that we will be seeing the debut of Johnny Burke soon.

The ruleset for the Sprint Car class actually keeps the cars pretty competitive. Reigning champion David Hibbard may be fast, but fellow champions Charlie Thompson and TJ Winningham as well as Mike Wheeler and David Marble are keeping pace. As this division gains traction, the drivers are getting faster and the competition is getting that much tougher. This show just keeps getting better, and the future is looking bright for Sprint Car racing in Southern Oregon.

Late Model fans had been clamoring for this division to be restarted in Southern Oregon. At the old Posse Grounds Speedway, Late Models were king and had a strong car count. The third year of the current run of Late Models, fourth counting Open Stock, is seeing the numbers increase. What's also interesting is that some of the drivers who have been fixtures at the speedway, such as Nathan Augustine, John Dees and Bob Dees, might not be seen as often this year, but other new drivers are still increasing the count.

Trent Elliott has shown a remarkable level of commitment to Late Model racing in Southern Oregon. He certainly makes the longest trip from Northern Oregon. It would be much easier for Elliott to race closer to home, but he's finding the racing conditions at the Medford track to be to his liking. In each of the two previous years, he was a feature winner in his lone appearances, and that was enough to get the team interested in trying to race regularly this year. He picked up a second place finish in the opener, but he's going to be racing hard in an effort to pick up the win this week. It's also possible we'll see Darren Coffell again this week. Coffell ran a strong second at the most recent race and was a feature winner a year earlier.

With that kind of competition coming from up North, the locals know they need to step up their game. Last season's top rookie Miles Deubert was so concerned that he actually purchased a newer car. He is still dialing things in, but he proved last year with his two wins that he can strike for a victory at any time. As Elliott leads the standings, Deubert is in a closer race with Dave Everson and Dave Foote for second.

Everson has won several Pro Stock Main Events in his career and was also the 2013 Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock champion. He hadn't been racing for the past couple of seasons, but he found the Late Model division to be too tempting to pass up. Last season, it was about figuring things out with the car and dialing out the bugs. This year, he's already looking very competitive, and the fifth place finish that he earned the last time out would indicate that you can't count him out in the race for a win this season.

We've watched Mark Wauge win many Main Events in IMCA Modifieds through the years as well as seven championships. Wauge probably would have been in the hunt for an eighth title this year, but he has been watching the Late Model division with interest. When he found the deal he was looking for, Wauge didn't hesitate to trade his Modified in for the Late Model he now runs.

However, there are differences in set up and driving techniques involved with an IMCA Modified versus a Late Model. How would Mark do behind the wheel of a Late Model for the first time? The answer is, he would do quite well. When you've got drivers like Bobby Hogge IV and Darren Coffell in the field, and you are new to the class, that's almost like having two strikes against you. Of course, it was those two drivers battling for the win, but Wauge watched it all unfold in front of him. Had the breaks gone his way, he could very well have been the winner instead of the very close third that he finished.

Wauge was pleased with the finish. Through his illustrious Modified career, you wouldn't hear him celebrate too much about finishing third in a race, but he was proud of his effort. The fact is, he should be. Wanting more seat time, he headed up north to Willamette during the off week and promptly finished third once again. Mark is not content to just be somebody in the pack. He races to win, and he's got a Main Event victory in his sights.

The IMCA Modified division does not suffer for lack of competition. There are some really good drivers in the field battling it out. It's starting to take on a different look with two newcomers in a field, Jeffrey Hudson and Justin Foux. Hudson has already amassed some impressive credentials on the big track, including second place rankings and Rookie Of The Year honors in the Sprint Cars and the 2015 Pro Stock title. Don Romer knew very well that Jeffrey could drive a race car when he put him behind the wheel of his fast number #83r car.

The season opener gave people a glimpse of the changing look in this class as Hudson and Foux both had their time at the front of the pack. Hudson would end up winning, and Foux still finished third. After another Top 5 effort, Foux is holding onto second the standings in a tie with Zach Fettinger. These two drivers make things very interesting with returning stars such as Nick Trenchard, reigning champion Albert Gill, 2017 title winner Jesse Bailey and Fettinger in the group.

Trenchard is wheeling a new car this year, and he is still getting it dialed in. He looked a little bit better in the Haudenshild race, an event that he's won three times. However, it wasn't quite where he needed it to be. He held second in the later stages of the race until Fettinger surprised him by making a last turn pass for the win. Fettinger seemed to get quicker in the waning laps as his car came to him. He was also a Trophy Dash winner and used this race to remind everybody that he will still be a factor in the battle.

Gill, meanwhile, has had a rough go of it. He's as fast as ever, but mechanical issues have derailed him just a little bit. Gill is also anxious to return to the winner's circle, a place he hasn't been since 2017. If we've learned anything about the three-time champion, you can't count him out. It could be that this week will be his week to shine.

The talent level in the IMCA Sport Modified pool is so deep that it's no exaggeration to say that any one of a dozen drivers could get a feature win on any given week. All it requires is the right brake to go their way. In a moment, it can get away from you. Mike Medel knows that story. A flat tire kept him from being competitive in the season opener, and he was involved in an early front straightaway crash in the most recent race. Medel is as fast as anybody in the field, but the breaks haven't gone his way. He's been around long enough to know that it can go your way on any given week, and he'll be a threat to win on Saturday.

The youth movement is also in effect in the IMCA Sport Modifieds with Braxton Possinger and Justin McCreadie in the mix. McCreadie has looked very impressive in two races, and he's in the hunt for the championship. It's tough to be on the losing end of a photo finish for the win, but McCreadie still looked strong in the season opener. His fourth place finish last time out keeps him in the hunt in the championship chase, and it also serves to remind everybody that he is still a serious threat to win.

After missing the opener, Possinger nearly missed the Main Event at the Roger Haudensild race. He found himself stuck in the B Main, but he dodged the wrecks and made all the right moves to pick up a fifth place finish. Much like McCreadie, Possinger was a feature winner last season. This second-generation racer will surely be a threat to win when he gets back on the track.

We still don't know where Jorddon Braaten might head from week to week. Will he run for the points at Southern Oregon Speedway? That's the mystery. About the only thing the racers and the fans know is that when they see that #84 car out on the track, they know that it can be driven to the winner's circle. Jorddon has now amassed over 100 feature wins in his racing career. As good as he's done, the best is yet to come.

Three drivers doing well in the early goings of the standings are division newcomers Wyatt Westfall, Jantzen Knips and Brian Johnsen. Westfall is a rookie this season with a pair of Top 10 finishes already. Knips was one of last season's Top 5 IMCA Modified racers, but he decided to detune his car and run with the Sport Mods this year. He's been doing pretty well so far as he tries to zero in on a feature victory.

Johnsen has most recently driven Pro Stocks but is a two-time Late Model Lites champion. Since he sold his Pro Stock, he's done what several Pro Stock racers have done in recent years, joined the Sport Modified division. Given how competitive he's been in the past, seeing him win a feature won't be a surprise.

Motor issues have hurt the car count in the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock division this season. Last season's championship runner-up, Hunter Magnan, was at the opener, but he came into the night with motor problems. He enlisted the help of David Steele to try to get everything situated, but unfortunately he was still unable to start the Main Event and missed the next race. He still managed to get further along than Steve Goetz. Goetz was at the Yreka opener in April and blew a motor there, resulting in him missing the first two races.

Having two hard chargers such as this duo absent from the field has affected  the show. Goetz is the 2013 champion. After missing a couple of seasons, he returned in 2017 and was a feature winner during the season. The win eluded him last year, though he did finish as high as second. He's hoping his engine woes will be resolved and he can return to his winning ways once again. For Magnan, he had multiple runner-up feature finishes last season, and he seems to be on the cusp of getting his first career victory. Hopefully, he'll have his motor issues resolved and be able to race this week.

Despite the car count, Steele and Ashtin Hedges put on a great battle at the front of the pack last time out. Steele watched as Hedges charged past him late in the race to get his first career win. These two drivers figure to be the favorites to win this week, but 2017 champion Kristopher Mix is hoping to have something to say about that. He did win a heat race that night and was only one of two different drivers to actually beat Steele for a future win the year before.

The competition remains close in the JOAT Labs Hornets division, but so far Dylan Sauer has been just a little bit faster than everybody else. Sauer has won both features this season, and he's left the rest of the competition scratching their heads. Tim Hedges and wife Jenna Hedges both have new cars this year, and the hope of both of them was that they would be winners this season. Tim did get a win out of his car last year, but the motor gave up on him later in the season and forced him to retire that particular car. His new car has definitely been fast and he leads the points thanks to his strong preliminary efforts. However, Tim is hopeful that this will be his week to get the win.

Jenna Hedges is one of three talented ladies out there running competitively. Reigning champion Bree Tritchler blew a motor in the season opener, but she came back strong last time out as she finished fourth in the Main Event ahead of Jenna. These two drivers could be in line for a victory this week. Lacey Sauer, meanwhile, is only two races into her rookie season, but she's been doing well. The first step towards getting a win is getting it to the finish line, and she has done that in both Main Events.

It's been a couple of years since Derrel Nelson Jr got a win, and he's hoping to get better results than his most recent start. Things didn't seem to be running quite up to snuff for the #8g car that night, but he did have a Top 5 finish at the opener. Quentin Tritchler, meanwhile, is another of the rookies in the field this year. He's driving his daughter Bree's championship car and took it to a third place finish last time out. The one thing about the Hornets division is that most of the drivers in the field could win on any given week. It makes for an exciting race.

Over 30 years after the Old Time Racers of Oregon Hardtop Association was founded, and the group is still carrying on. A rift in the organization might have done it in, but the Minter and Trotter families have remained committed to this effort. The late Harold Minter was one of the founding fathers of the group, and the car he built back in the 1980s is still being wheeled by his grandson, Mark Minter. Mark presides over the group these days, and it was the late Vic Bridges who negotiated with Mike McCann to get the group race dates starting in 2016.

The Trotter family brings several cars to the show. Bill Trotter fields his car and a truck, which was wheeled very impressively by Jay Smith last season. Jay picked up a pair of Trophy Dash wins and second place finishes, making him the best driver to pilot that truck since the group started racing at Southern Oregon Speedway. He also showed that the truck is capable of competing for wins. Meanwhile, Bill's son Dusty joined his father as a feature winner last year. Dusty's old car is being wheeled by Justin Krossman, who was a Trophy Dash winner last season.

Dean Cast has competed in other divisions at Roseburg in the past, and he jumped at the opportunity to go Hardtop racing when he was able to purchase the #40 car a few years back. Cast is another driver with the potential of getting a win this week. Newcomers and relative newcomers such as Matt Butler and Chris Mehrer are helping this division grow. Rumor has it that the Harlon Cox Hardtop has been purchased in a trade with one of the Sport Modified competitors in Medford, though the name has yet to be revealed.

The OTRO Hardtops are not racing for championship points or big prizes. They do race, but they do so respectfully. Nobody's getting rich doing this. They are having fun and giving people a glimpse of a style of racing from days gone by. They take a lot of pride in these race cars, as they should. They are some of the nicest looking cars on the track. Southern Oregon Speedway is the track that proudly showcases this group for most of their race dates.

Little Southern Oregon Speedway needed a shot in the arm. The Outlaw Kart program it's still the centerpiece of the show, but management has been looking at ways to stimulate the numbers. It had been hoped when KJE Enterprises took over the facility prior to 2016 that a 600 Micro division might get started, but that never really materialized. The track even offered the local Lawnmower competitors from Eagle Point an opportunity to go racing, but nobody really got on the bandwagon.

Over the past couple of years, however, Mike McCann has been looking at Flat Track Motorcycle racing. Because KJE Enterprises put in the MX track during the offseason, the Motorcycle culture in the area has a place to ride. They've been having practice events, and the inaugural one had over 100 riders. Naturally, there is some interest among the group of riders in doing oval track racing. The Motorcycles, Quads and Trikes were put on the schedule this year, but there was some question as to whether anybody would even show up.

It was only three days before the season was set to start when several riders in the three disciplines committed to coming to the little track to race. With their support, the numbers in the pits swelled to roughly 50, which is the second highest total in the pits for a show at Little Southern Oregon Speedway since McCann took over. It was rather interesting watching the show. It wasn't just the Motorcycles, but the Trikes that got some attention.

There were just five competitors who showed up in a group, but the Trikes were flying around the 1/8 mile dirt oval. Garrett Stookey and Ryan Comstock seemed to be the fastest, but Comstock was just a little bit quicker as he wrote his name into the record books as the first ever winner. However, the other interesting occurrence was happening in the Motorcycles where Pro Rider Bobby Ingle became the first winner of a Motorcycle race on the little track. Ingle is the oldest rider in the field at 69 years old. There was the possibility of another old veteran coming out and running this Friday night, and chatter suggests that there will be more riders this time around.

As this aspect of the program is just being established, it's not really known who might show up and run this Friday night, but representation is anticipated in Motorcycles, Quads and Trikes once again. If things continue to progress, big things can happen for Motorcycle racing at Southern Oregon Speedway.

The Karts are still a staple of the little track. It was 21 years ago when racing begin there, and it has continually turned out some great racers who have gone on to compete in different classes on the big track. As the 500 Open Class continues to struggle to get enough cars to have a show, the 250s have sort of taken over the top status. Management has put the call out to deliver a minimum of four driver's in the 500 Open class to race for the standard purse. If the racers want to see other things happen for the class in the future, support now will go a long ways towards making things happen.

Last season, reigning champion Vinny DeBenedetti and 2017 title winner Trevor Grimes had a good battle for the 250 Kart title. Ultimately, motor issues derailed Grimes' effort to repeat, though he won four Main Events during the season. DeBenedetti shined brightly on two occasions where he led the pack in victory. These two drivers figure to continue their battle this year, but the division also saw the addition of Box Stock graduate Jacob James.

James has won Main Events in both the Box Stock and Beginners Box classes, and his first start in a heat race resulted in victory, preventing Grimes from scoring a clean sweep on the evening. The James family has been a staple of Southern Oregon racing going back to the 1950s with Cecil James, continuing on with Markey James, Bret James and now Young Jacob. Racing is in his blood. Also joining the class last time out was Box Stock graduate Emma Rodgers. We saw her a few years ago as one of the Top 5 competitors in that class, and she is excited about the move up and the challenge it presents her.

The Fuller family continues to support this effort with several UAS Speedway Karts and Four Cycle Karts in addition to the Cage Karts being run by Taylor Fuller and his older sister Brionna. Taylor continues to race in the 250 Kart class, but he also made his very first laps in the 500 Open class last time out. He did well as he took a checkered flag behind his sister in the Main Event. Another driver who has recently graduated to the 500 Open class is Brenden Bartlett. Bartlett had some mechanical issues keep him from finishing the feature. If these three 500's show up on Friday and are joined by just one more competitor, they can compete for purse money in addition to a trophy and points.

Keaton Augustine was a bit disappointed to show up to race at the opener and see that a couple of his top rivals from the year before, Ryan Hirschbock and Jacob James, were not there in the class with him. Past Beginners Box Stock champion Malachi Johnson has joined the class, and Kiley Grimes is still a part of the show. Augustine does have Mikey Wheeler Jr to contend with, and though he's just getting started in the class, Wheeler will likely be a factor in the weeks ahead.

After demonstrating how well he can handle his Kart, Albert Gill Jr will be graduated into the Box Stock division for the next show and could provide Keaton some stiff competition. It's hoped that there will be a few more Box Stock competitors this time around.

The Beginner's class has a few drivers who are still getting up to speed, and it's likely that we will see another Novice race this week. Urijah Boardman, Talia Colley and Saige King are currently trying to get up to speed and would be a part of the Novice class this week. Word has it that Caleb Ranney may be in the field this week as well. Bhaltaire Edwards won the first Novice race last time out and seems to be on the cusp of graduating into the Beginners class.

With Gill moving into the Box Stock division, the Beginners class should be very interesting. Jaymie DeBenedetti seems poised to make a run at the championship in a battle with Novice graduate Isaac Sanders and Hunter Granger. It's a pretty good matchup between these three drivers right now. It's anticipated that the group of Beginners should see an increase in count for the show this Friday.

The Flat Kart racers round out what is a very interesting show. When it comes to the UAS Speedway Karts, these drivers are getting around the 1/8 mile oval about as fast as a 500 Open Kart, and they do it with an open cockpit. Steve Rambo has been doing double division duty as he also brings a Four Cycle. Lori Fuller is the reigning UAS Speedway Kart champion, but she's more at home running in the Four Cycle class, where she lost a close battle with her daughter Brionna in the season opener. Brionna also has a ride in the UAS Speedway Kart class, but mechanical issues sidelined her at the opener.

We've seen the appearance of decorated 500 Open Kart champion Mike Wheeler, and he won the UAS Speedway Kart feature in impressive fashion at the opener. Larry Fuller and past Yreka champion Ed Grubb continue to support the Speedway Karts, and the Fuller's will usually have a couple of extra Karts on hand for different drivers who show up to run them. Last time out, Nathan Augustine had a ride in one of those Karts, but his night ended after a heat race.

Outlaw Kart and Motorcycle racing on a Friday night is a relaxed atmosphere. There's some good racing happening on the track, but it's certainly not a high-pressure situation. The kids are out there having fun and giving it their best, win, lose or draw. It's all about fun and family at Little Southern Oregon Speedway. Hopes are high that we could see the biggest turnout of vehicles for this show in the promotional run of KJE Enterprises the track.