Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Southern Oregon Speedway Ready For Traditional Saturday Wild West Modified Sopeedweek Date On June 22nd
By Ben Deatherage
White City, Oregon- The second scheduled round of the 2019 IMCA Wild West Modified Shootout is to be held at Southern Oregon Speedway on Saturday, June 22nd. It is a familiar battleground to many as it has been a staple on every WWMS schedule, except for 2014. SOS over the years has opened and closed many speedweeks, but since 2017 the track has taken the role as the subsequent race to the opening round. But one fact that has remained unchanged is that it has always been ran on a Saturday.
Saturday marks the eighth WWMS event at SOS and in the previous seven features there have been six different winners. Jesse Williamson is the only repeat victor, with two trips to victory lane, while Ryan Gaylord, Danny Lauer, Brian Poppa, Anthony Restad, and most recently Collen Winebarger have gotten the job done once. In 2019 local competition Bobby Hogge, Jeffery Hudson, and Jesse Bailey have all accumulated one win to their credit.
Front Gates open at 5:00 PM with Racing kicking off at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $15.00 for General Admission, Veterans/Juniors (7-12) $10.00, and Kids (6 & Under) FREE. For additional information log on to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
As has been the case for the past few Wild West Modified Shootouts the fine folks at Speed Shift TV will be providing live lap-to-lap coverage of every single round. Be sure and stay tuned to the Wild West Modified Shootout Facebook page for the latest news and updates.
2019 IMCA Wild West Modified Shootout Schedule
Friday, June 21st-Siskiyou Motor Speedway-Yreka, California
Saturday, June 22nd-Southern Oregon Speedway-White City, Oregon
Sunday, June 23rd-Coos Bay Speedway-Coos Bay, Oregon
Monday, June 24th-Cottage Grove Speedway-Cottage Grove, Oregon
Tuesday, June 25th-Cottage Grove Speedway-Cottage Grove, Oregon
Wednesday, June 26th-Sunset Speedway Park-Banks, Oregon
Thursday, June 27th-Travel Date/Driver Appreciation Party presented by FinishLine Graphics
Friday, June 28th-Willamette Speedway-Lebanon, Oregon
Saturday, June 29th-Willamette Speedway-Lebanon, Oregon
Past Wild West Modified Shootout Winners At Southern Oregon Speedway
2011- Brian Poppa on June 18th
2012- Jesse Williamson on June 16th
2013- Anthony Restad on June 22nd
2015- Jesse Williamson on June 13th
2016- Ryan Gaylord on June 11th
2017- Danny Lauer on June 24th
2018- Collen Winebarger on June 23rd
Former IMCA Wild West Modified Shootout Champions
2011- Brian Poppa
2012- Jesse Williamson
2013- Jesse Williamson
2014- Alex Stanford
2015- Jesse Williamson
2016- Kellen Chadwick
2017- Jesse Williamson
2018- John Campos
All-Time IMCA Wild West Modified Shootout Win List
Jesse Williamson- 12
Alex Stanford- 6
Kellen Chadwick- 4
John Campos- 1
Former Southern Oregon Speedway Modified Track Champions
1996- Tom Glover
1997- Dennis Silva
1998- Tom Glover
1999- Don Estremado
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
Wild West IMCA Modified Speedweek Series Comes
To Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...Southern Oregon Speedway is set for another big event this Saturday night. The IMCA Modified Wild West Speedweek Series is coming to town, and that means there will be a bigger field of competitors in the class. Joining them on the card will be the IMCA Sport Modifieds and Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars. It's sure to be another exciting event.
This is the ninth season for the popular Speedweek Series. It was created as a means to bring together some of the top competitors on the West Coast in the spirit of good competition. They will compete in eight different events in a nine race span at six different race tracks. After the final race at Willamette Speedway, they will crown a champion of the week-long series.
The Speedweek Series was kicked off in 2011 with Medford star Brian Poppa winning the championship. In three of the next four years, Jesse Williamson emerged with the championship, interrupted only in 2014 by Chowchilla, California's Alex Stanford. The last three seasons have seen the championship honors go to Oakley, California's Kellen Chadwick in 2016, Williamson for the fourth time in 2017 and last season to John Campos.
The format calls for two sets of heat races with the starting lineup for the first heat race inverted for the second heat. Drivers earn finishing and passing points to determine who makes it into the show and who is forced to run B Mains and Last Chance Qualifiers, if necessary. Just making it into the show can be a challenge, and this also plays into the track's own championship battle.
Going into each season, the racers know that the Speedweek race and Labor Day Weekend's special R Charles Snyder Salute will have a huge impact on the track championship. With the increase in top name drivers coming from out of town, just making it into the show and therefore earning points can be a challenge. After three races, feature wins have been earned by Jeffrey Hudson, Bobby Hogge IV and Jesse Bailey. Fettinger currently leads the standings by two points ahead of rookie Justin Foux and six in front of Preston Jones. Reigning champion Albert Gill and Bailey are within 11 points of the lead. This will be the first test for the local racers.
Last season, Collen Winebarger scored the Speedweek victory at Southern Oregon Speedway. Winebarger, along with Williamson and Campos, made it a close Speedweek championship race last year before Campos emerged with the title. Winebarger has done well in the Southern Oregon Speedway race with third place finishes in 2017 and 2016 and a fourth in 2015. He's looking forward to coming to town and making a run at his second-straight victory. Williamson and Campos are sure to make their presence known. Chadwick will be back to make a run at another Speedweek crown, and the car count could reach into the 30s in this division alone.
Car count has been on the rise in the IMCA Sport Modified division, prompting some of the racers to lobby to be included in the entire Speedweek Series. Southern Oregon Speedway has remained supportive of the class and included them in the show for the past three seasons. Point leader Jorddon Braaten has the hot hand coming into the night after posting back-to-back clean sweep efforts. His win last week came ahead of Isaac Sanders, and it's Matt Sanders running second to Braaten in the standings by 10 points. Rookie Wyatt Westfall is surprising a few people as he holds down third in the standings.
Saturday's race could see an increase in drivers in the IMCA Sport Modified division as well. Jantzen Knips had a strong effort last week with a third place finish, while two-time reigning champion Mike Medel had his best effort of the year in fifth. Both will be looking to get the win this week, and others to keep an eye on include Branden Wilson, Willie McFall, Rich McCoy and Braxton Possinger.
The Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars round out what is sure to be an action-packed evening. Feature winners so far this year at Southern Oregon Speedway include two-time champion Brock Peters and Camden Robustelli. These two drivers come in as favorites to win, but three-time reigning champion Josh King has been on a roll with wins in Yreka, Willamette and Winnemucca, Nevada already this year. Beating this trio will be difficult, but ageless veteran Fred Hay, Chad Cardoza, Kalvin Morton and Jesse Lorentz will be among those hoping to get the job done.
To those looking for more racing, there is another full lineup of Outlaw Karts and Flat Track Motorcycles at the little track on Friday. The gates will open there at 5 p.m. with the first race starting at 7 pm. $10 gets you pit access and a bleacher seat.
On Saturday, the IMCA Wild West Speedweek Series show will see the gates open at 5 with the first race starting at 7. General Admission Adult tickets are $15 with Seniors, Juniors and Children 7 to 12 $10. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
Due to the lateness in which this column is being written, we're going to be a little bit briefer than usual. We are trying to keep our deadline and have been fighting that battle all week.
Southern Oregon Speedway had a test last Saturday night. It was what we call a kitchen sink event. Seven of the ten divisions that get rotated in the lineup were all competing, meaning it was a full program of racing. Conservatively, a car count of somewhere between 70 to 80 cars was anticipated, but there ended up being 93 drivers for the show. While track officials were able to keep the show moving and keep cars on the race track, other factors slowed it down.
Track conditions were a little bit challenging for some of the racers, resulting in yellow flags and making the show go later and later. The fans who hung in there were treated to some really good racing by the time the Late Models, IMCA Modifieds and Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars rolled onto the track. Even the IMCA Sport Modifieds put on a good show as Jorddon Braaten came from the sixth row to get the lead, putting on a passing clinic.
It seems like every time the IMCA Modifieds are called upon to run a fast and exciting program, they do just that. In this case, it was a battle between 2017 champion Jesse Bailey and three-time reigning champion Albert Gill. Gill was never quite able to attempt a pass on Bailey, but he ran with him in a race that had a complete restart and then no yellow flags after that. Third place went to division rookie Jimmy Lipke, who has been a star and champion in Yreka in the IMCA Sport Modifieds. He is adapting quite well to this division.
With a couple of the championship contenders opting to go elsewhere, other racers are more than willing to step up and be counted. Being a championship contender with IMCA can be a blessing and a curse. The bad part is your high average will put you deeper in the pack, which is where Zack Fettinger found himself at the start. He was able to get as far as fifth behind Jeremy Ohlde. The finish was still good enough to move Fettinger into the lead in the standings by two points ahead of rookie Justin Foux, who finished sixth. Only one point behind Foux is Preston Jones, while Gill is now ten points out of the lead, making this a close battle.
It's been highlighted that the Wild West Speedweek format makes it a challenge for the local point competitors, as does the R Charles Snyder Salute that will take place on Labor Day Weekend. You'll have a big group of drivers coming in from out of town to race, meaning the local drivers aren't assured they're going to get into the show. They have to race hard, and some drivers won't make the cut. Saturday night's Speedweek event will not only offer some of the best Modified racing seen all season, it will certainly test the locals.
The Late Models made a big statement on Saturday night with 16 competitors pulling through the gates. Never has Southern Oregon Speedway seen such a big car count for a regular Late Model show, though there have been huge gatherings for special events. Two drivers making a long trip to go racing at Southern Oregon Speedway are point leader Trent Elliott and Darren Coffell. These two drivers figured to be tough to beat this year, and they didn't prove that speculation wrong on this occasion.
The battle between Coffell and Elliott at the front of the pack was epic as they worked slower traffic. Coffell was doing fine until he got slowed up just a bit on the bottom groove, allowing Elliott to make a pass on the 24th lap to take the lead and victory. In doing so, Elliot has managed to stretch his point lead to 31 points over Coffell. What's interesting, however, is there is a very close battle going on for second.
Coffell isn't the only driver who missed the season opener that is still in the hunt. Mark Wauge also didn't join until the second race, an event that saw him finish third. Last Saturday, he won the Trophy Dash and then won a good battle with 2017 champion Nathan Augustine to finish third in the Main Event once again. This will keep him five points out of second in a tie with 2012 Coos Bay champion Dave Foote. Wauge is definitely finding Late Models to his liking.
Dave Everson and Miles Deubert are both within seven points of Coffell. To highlight just how much the Late Model division is growing, last Saturday saw the season debut of both Eric Massey and Chris Biggs. Massey has a car that came out of the shop of Rapp Racing. We should be seeing another car from that shop, driven by the hard-charging Dustin Knight, in the future. As for Saturday, Biggs managed to grab a seventh place finish, followed by Massey.
What's nice is there is an excitement surrounding the Late Model division, and other drivers are wanting to join the fun. When Promoter Mike McCann added the class in 2016, it was with the hope and belief that something could develop in the Medford Area. Fans and racers have been starving for some Late Model racing, and now they're getting it.
The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car division is proving something this year. It doesn't appear to just be a one-man show at the front of the pack. The racers are stepping up their game, and it's making for some exciting racing. Mike Wheeler has set the Outlaw Kart world on fire through the years, but he's always wanted to go Sprint Car racing. He's finally getting his chance, and he served notice last season when he led most of the Main Event in the season finale before finishing second. Early in the race, Wheeler ran a close third behind the season debut of Blaine Cory and Bailey Hibbard.
Where Wheeler may have learned the lesson last year that helped him this time was his willingness to put his car up on the outside. He lost the lead last year in that race to an outside pass. This time, he made not one, but two outside passes to get around Hibbard and then eventually Cory to grab the lead. Wheeler led the second half of the race for a well-earned first career victory and has moved into the point lead. Wheeler had some help from his brother Vern Wheeler Jr. Vern has won several Main Events at the speedway through the years and is able to impart his knowledge in helping Mike be more competitive.
Drivers are still jockeying for position in the Sprint Car battle, meaning that two past Southern Oregon Speedway champions, TJ Winningham and Charlie Thompson, are both within 11 points of the lead. Thompson did a good job of getting his car to a fourth place finish last week ahead of Enrique Jaime.
Looking at the field that competed last week, it's fair to say that most of these drivers can strike for a win at some point. Even rookie Jared Hood looked good in preliminaries when he finished second in his heat race, though he joined Johnny Burke in the pits early in the Main Event.
It's still unclear whether Jorddon Braaten is going for points at Southern Oregon Speedway. The only clear message that he's sending everybody is that he will be difficult to beat any time he's in town. Nobody would doubt that as he approaches 50 career wins at Southern Oregon Speedway in his impressive career. The two-time Southern Oregon Speedway and reigning Oregon State champion started back in the sixth row while Jantzen Knips and Mike Medel mixed it up at the front of the pack.
Medel has had two races that he'd rather forget, but it was plain to see that he had things figured out with his car this time. No sooner had Medel taken the lead from Knips then Braaten came charging past him to take the lead. For Braaten, it would be another clean sweep performance as he stretched his point lead to 10 points over Matt Sanders, who would finish a respectable fourth ahead of Medel in the Main Event. It was another Sanders, Isaac, taking second from Knips before the finish. Rookie Wyatt Westfall is surprising everybody as he is third in the standings, right behind Matt Sanders.
The IMCA Sport Modifieds are probably the most competitive division at the speedway, and they are certainly delivering the biggest car counts. It's making for some great racing on the track as the drivers have to be on their game or they're certainly not going to be in the hunt. Since the IMCA Sport Modifieds are on the card this week, it's possible that we could see an increase in car count.
Several stars from Oregon and California have been vocal about their desire for the Sport Modified class to be included as part of the IMCA Speedweek Series. For the record, Southern Oregon Speedway is not opposed to this idea and has booked the class for the past three years as part of this date. In any case, Top 10 competitors such as Branden Wilson, Willie McFall and Steve Lysinger will be out giving it their best this week. Lysinger is in his second year, and he's shown quite a bit of improvement as he takes aim at his first Top 5 finish.
Other things that sparked the car count increase at the speedway last week included the season-high 10 car field that the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks delivered, the 12 that came from the JOAT Labs Hornets and the 10 OTRO Hardtops. For the Hardtops, this was the biggest count they've delivered since being a part of the schedule in 2016.
The one thing you can say about the Hardtops is if other things seemed to be slowing the program down last week, it certainly was not the drivers in this class. Dean Cast won the Main Event, but it's likely that those honors would have went to Mark Minter. Minter led 13 laps, but mechanical issues sent him to the pits. Driving the Dusty Trotter car, Justin Krossman made a last turn pass on Bill Trotter to finish second, while Jay Smith did his usual competent job of driving the truck to a fourth place finish. Chris Mehrer has a new motor in his green #17 car, and he took a lead lap finish in fifth.
OTRO generally puts drivers who don't get much glory into the Trophy Dash to give them a shot at a trophy. In this case, it was Matt Butler holding off the debut of Brian Weberg II to get the win. Unfortunately for Weberg, his night ended after the heat race. Eric DeRamus saw his night end after a crash in the Trophy Dash when he hit the wall hard. His car suffered damage, but fans donated money to help him get the car repaired. The car Eric is driving was driven by his father, Teddy DeRamus, in years past.
David Steele is still proving to be formidable in the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, but he's finding some good competition from Ashtin Hedges. Though Ashtin is not a rookie, he is in his first full season and was coming off of an impressive win last time out. Ashtin did lead briefly in the race, but a pit stop had him playing catch-up in the closing laps. Steele won, and Hunter Magnan was a happy second after winning his heat race earlier in the evening.
Much like 2013 champion Steve Goetz, Magnan has been battling motor problems. However, Goetz still didn't have them sorted out as he scratched after the heat race. He was joined on the sidelines by 2014 champion Gary Anderson, who also had motor issues. Megnan seems to have the #33m car running strong once again, and looking as good as he did last week, you have to believe a feature win is just around the corner
With his third place finish, Hedges is still just five points behind Steele in a close championship battle. It was not the best of nights for some of the racers, but despite losing a lap in the pits, 2017 champ Kristopher Mix still holds down third after his Main Event run. He leads Mike McLeod by four points and fourth place finisher Dylan Irving by six. Mix was joined by teammate Andrew Hall, who is back in action with a new Ford Pinto. Andrew was fast all night, but it looks like he's got some handling issues to sort out.
The JOAT Labs Hornets have the same thing going on these days. Dylan Sauer just keeps winning. Last Saturday he roared to his third straight victory. After having some problems early in the race, 2016 champ Tim Hedges had worked his way into second before being eliminated in a crash involving Derrel Nelson Jr. Hedges will still hold second in the standings, seven behind Sauer. For Nelson, it was a third place finish as he was passed late by Trophy Dash winner Jenna Hedges. However, Derrel seems to be back in form again. He is fourth in the standings, six behind Jenna Hedges and four ahead of rookie Quinton Tritchler.
The bad news for the Hornets was that the race was rather brutal as there was much contact. Only four of the 11 starters took the checkered flag, including a career-best fourth-place effort for Shawn Nelson. One who didn't take the checkered flag was Bree Tritchler, despite debuting a new car. The reigning champion commented prior to the races that she's looking at making a move up and hopes that this will happen in the Dwarf Car division. No timetable is set, but Bree has certainly accomplished what she set out to do in the Hornet class.
Little Southern Oregon Speedway had an event last Friday night and will be back in action again this Friday. The addition of the Flat Track Bikes has certainly helped the program as the Kart count has sort of struggled during the past 3 seasons. The Bikes were also important as there were several Kart teams who were not competing Friday. The Kart racers who did show up certainly put on a good race, but it is hoped that the numbers will increase across the boards and things can start to happen that people have been looking for at the little track in the future.
The 250 Kart class has been putting on a good show all season long. Trevor Grimes is back to see if he can return to championship form. He was forced to settle for second last season behind Vinny DeBenedetti, but he did win the 2017 title. This year, Grimes is finding some tough competition from rookie Jacob James.
James shared heat race winner's honors with Grimes and then proceeded to lead 17 laps of the Main Event. There was a bit of contact in Turns 1 and 2 as Grimes passed James for the lead and went on to victory. James was second. One would have to believe that a win is just around the corner for him. Cadyn Smith was also a welcome return. Though there were mechanical issues early in the night for him, he still took a checkered flag in third in the feature.
Jayme DeBenedetti had her best night yet. Hoping to see her get more aggressive, her father Jon DeBenedetti put her in the Novice class for last season's finale, and she promptly won that race. In the Beginner's class on Friday, DeBenedetti got the lead and then she promptly pulled away from the rest of the pack. She was never challenged as she got her first win in this class.
Also looking very good last week was Urijah Boardman, who had a career-best second ahead of Bhaltair Edwards in his best finish in the Beginners class in third. Another driver showing marked improvement was Isaac Grimes. He led much of the first heat before finishing second to DeBenedetti, and then he won his first career heat race next time around. His Main Event didn't go as hoped, but it was still a good night.
Keaton Augustine was able to win another Box Stock Main Event. The reigning champion got the lead early on and left Kiley Grimes and Albert Gill Jr to battle for second. Gill would eventually wrestle the position away from Grimes for his division debut second place effort, but Grimes still looked good in her third place finish. Hopefully, there will be a few more competitors next time around.
The Flat Track Bikes had 19 competitors and ran four different classifications. The star of the night was clearly Trevor Taylor, who turned in a rather dominant performance in winning the Open Bike, 450cc Bike and 250cc Bike Main Events. Theo Lount competed in all three classes as well and finished second in both the 250 and 500 classes, while Mya Maffei got a third in the 250s and a second in the Open Bike class. Another Rider looking good was Brooke Lozano, who finished third in both the Open and 450 Bike classes.
Word is getting out there about the Flat Track Bikes program being established at the little track. One of the riders who showed up this week was Carl Tresser, the owner of Worden Speedway. Tresser was the founding force behind the Sportsman Sprint Car division that ran in Yreka in the 1990s. Unfortunately, he had mechanical issues, but Tresser should be back this week. Another of the older competitors was Steve Williamson, who came in from Willits, California and finished fourth in both the 450 and Open Bike classes.