Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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$4,000 To Win Late Model Race
At Southern Oregon Speedway Saturday Night
White City, Oregon...On the heels of the successful Hall of Fame night, Promoter Mike McCann has another big event set for Southern Oregon Speedway this Saturday night. It's the $4,000 to win Cottonwood Classic Late Model race. Some of the best drivers on the West Coast are anticipated for this show. Also competing will be the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets, Valley Store All Late Model Lites and OTRO Hardtops.
McCann has been committed to establishing a stronger Late Model presence at Southern Oregon Speedway, and this is the best year yet in that endeavor. The purse money offered for Saturday's big show is the biggest for any Dirt Late Model event on the West Coast. Not only will the drivers receive a nice $4,000 first prize, but second place pays $2,000 and third is worth $1,000.
Hoping to stake a claim on the big prize will be point leader Trent Elliott. Elliott leads the standings on the strength of three feature wins and a second place finish last week. To get second, he had to come from the back of the pack twice after a bad heat effort put him at the back for the start. When he got to third, there was contact between he and Mark Wauge, resulting in a Wauge spin. Elliott had to restart at the back as well, and he managed to get back to a second place finish.
The driver leading the way from start to finish last week was Darren Coffell. After his second win of the season, he is feeling pretty good about his chances of winning the big money. Last week saw a pair of competitors from the Willamette track, which included second ranked Doug Elkins, who finished fourth. Elkins is competing with Joey Tanner for the Willamette title, and Tanner leads after winning the championship the year before. Tanner is anticipated this Saturday as well.
The bigger prize money is getting the attention of some California racers, which includes two-time IMCA Modified Speedweek champion Kellen Chadwick. Chadwick will be piloting the Chris Biggs car this Saturday night. Car owner Paul Guglielmoni will reportedly be bringing three cars for this occasion. Guglielmoni is a two-time Petaluma Speedway champion, and the team had their cars at Placerville last week with Clark Guglielmoni getting the win there. The other driver is Bobby Hogge IV, who won a Late Model race at Southern Oregon Speedway earlier this year. Hogge has won some of the biggest races at Southern Oregon Speedway and on the West Coast throughout his decorated career and may be this driver to beat on Saturday.
Two local standouts hoping to bring the prize money home are Mark Wauge and Dave Everson. Seven-time IMCA Modified champion Wauge overcame recent motor woes by winning his heat race last week and earning his third third place finish of the season. Likewise, 2013 Pro Stock champion Everson has earned a pair of third place finishes this season and currently ranks second in the standings. Other regulars to watch for this week include Dave Foote, Miles Deubert, reigning champion John Dees, Bob Dees, Eric Massey and past Dirt Modified and Pro Stock champion Dustin Knight.
The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars will also be bringing the speed Saturday night. On the strength of his three victories, Mike Wheeler holds a good lead in the standings, but he's not about to get too comfortable with three point races remaining. Wheeler saw his win streak snapped last time out by Kinzer Cox, but he finished a close second. Trailing him in the standings is Bailey Hibbard, who only has a four point advantage over Enrique Jaime and past champion Charlie Thompson in a closer race for second. All three of these drivers are still looking for their first win of the season.
Likewise, reigning champion David Hibbard is still looking for his first win this year, and other stars to watch for include 2016 champion Jake Wheeler, top rookie Anissa Curtice, Johnny Burke, TJ Winningham and David Marble. We may also see an appearance by Tanner Holmes, who recently won the Week of Speed Series championship.
David Steele has hit his stride, and that's bad news for the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock competitors. The reigning champion and current point leader grabbed his fifth feature win of the season last week, and he did it while also picking up his third-straight clean sweep. This has put the pressure on second ranked Ashtin Hedges to get another win. Hedges managed to finish second last week ahead of heat race winner Steve Goetz, who was enjoying his best night of the season. Other stars to watch for this week include 2017 champion Kristopher Mix, Hunter Magnan, top rookie Dylan Irving and Mike McLeod.
Following his third feature win of the season, Greg Arnold managed to increase his Valley Store All Late Model Lites point lead just a little bit more over reigning champion Charlie Eaton. Like Arnold, both Eaton and Ross Payant are feature winners this year. They may be leading the charge to get the victory this week, but others to watch for include recent Trophy Dash winner Krista Hadley, Eric Aos, Dusty Aos and the division's all time feature win leader, Terry Hadley.
Dylan Sauer had an impressive clean sweep performance last week, capped by his fifth JOAT Labs Hornets Main Event win. This enabled him to double his point lead over 2016 champion Tim Hedges. Hedges will be hoping to get his third win of the season to make up some ground, but his wife, Jenna Hedges, is also hoping to take it up a notch after finishing a season high second last week. Other stars to watch for this week include top rookie Quinton Tritchler, Shawn Nelson, Chris Boynton, Ryan Nelson and newcomer Zachary Tener.
Rounding out an exciting program will be the OTRO Hardtops. These classic old Ford and Chevy Coup and Sedan race cars from the 1940s always put on an entertaining show. Wins so far had been recorded by Mark Minter, Dean Cast and Dan Fouts. Minter is the only driver in the group to win a race in each of the past four seasons. Other racers to watch for this week include Bill Trotter, Jay Smith, Eric DeRamus and Bryan Weberg II.
For the big Late Model show alone, this event will be worth checking out. The other divisions make it that much more exciting. The gates will open at 5pm with the first race at 7pm. General Admission Adult tickets 13+ are $15, Seniors 62+, Veterans and Juniors 7 to 12 are $10. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
Hall of Fame night at Southern Oregon Speedway is in the record books, and by all accounts it was success. It's seemed like the community was more excited about the event this year as six Southern Oregon racing legends were honored. Sadly, the only surviving member of the new group going in was Dave Shinn. Dave was very excited about the occasion and brought some of his old clippings and photos to display for the fans to see. He was also given the opportunity to drive the Mark Wauge Late Model for some hot laps. This was the first time that Dave had been behind the wheel of a race car in thirty years, and it looked like the 1987 POSSE champion still has it.
Within the span of the last year, the community has mourned the passing of Markey James, Jim Walker Sr and most recently Jay McCleary. These three racers were among the biggest stars at the speedway in their time, and all were inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was nice to see the outpouring of love and respect shown to the new members, which also included long time flagman Freddy Higginbotham and Sam Dykes.
The Late Models had an opportunity to tune up for this weekend Cottonwood Classic, and this proved to be a very interesting night. After winning his heat race, Darren Coffell wasted little time getting the lead and reminded everybody that he is still a player in the coming big show as he sped to his second win of the season. Coffell missed the previous race, which enabled Dave Everson to move into second in the standings with just one point event remaining. Everson did his best to protect his point status by finishing a respectable fifth in the Main Event.
You might have expected that Coffell was the big star at the front of the pack, but all eyes seemed to be on Mark Wauge and point leader Trent Elliott. First of all, people were wondering how the motor would hold up in the Wauge car. He looked impressive in winning his heat race, and he settled into an early second in the Main Event. Elliott, who has won three Main Events this year, seemed to be piloting a rocket ship. A disastrous heat race forced him to start last on the grid in the Main Event, but he wasted little time getting to the front of the pack. This is where things got interesting.
As they motored into the first turn at about the midway point of the race, Elliott made contact with Wauge, resulting in a Wauge spin. It didn't take long for a call to come down sending Elliott to the back of the back with Wauge for the restart. Neither driver stayed back there for long as they made a mad dash to the front of the pack. All eyes were on the two drivers, wondering what might happen next. What happened was Elliott managed to get the second place finish, and Wauge scored his third third place finish of the year. The one positive Mark could take out of the race was that he managed to get through the night with his motor intact and ran very well. Could he be a threat to win some of that big money this weekend?
Doug Elkins, who is in the midst of a potential championship effort at Willamette Speedway, made a surprise visit along with BJ Donofrio. Both drivers ran in the Top 5, but only Elkins was able to get it to the finish line with a fourth place finish as Donofrio finished further back in seventh. It's possible that the man Elkins is competing with for the Willamette championship, Joey Tanner, could be on hand for this week's big race. It was also nice to see reigning champion John Dees back again. John has moved and has been racing at the tracks up north, but he did a respectable job in finishing sixth in the featue race. He could be another driver to watch in the big money race. Another driver looking good was Late Model Lites point leader Greg Arnold, who got as high as third before ending up eighth at the checkered flag.
Track officials are anticipating a car count reaching into the high twenties or possibly even the thirties this Saturday night with the big money that's at stake. This will include some top notch competitors from California, including Bobby Hogge IV, Richard Papenhausen and Kellen Chadwick. Chadwick will be piloting the Chris Biggs owned car. Hogge will be part of the Paul Guglielmoni team. That team was in Placerville last weekend, and it was Clark Guglielmoni getting the win on that occasion. Fans have been wanting to see a big Late Model show at Southern Oregon Speedway for a while now, and Saturday night will be their opportunity. It's going to be good.
IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modifieds will take center stage the following weekend for the big Labor Day Weekend R Charles Snyder Salute. The money will be on the line as the Modifieds compete for $5,000 to win on Sunday, while the Sport Modifieds get $2,000 for the win. Local stars are hoping to get a piece of the big money. As usual, the local point race could be affected based on the outcome of that weekend. Several top drivers will be coming in from Oregon and California for a shot at the money, so last Saturday was the final tune up opportunity for the regulars.
It seemed as if incoming IMCA Modified point leader Zach Fettinger had a rocket ship in preliminaries. He was about to attempt a last lap pass on Jesse Bailey to win the Trophy Dash, but he ended up spinning as Bailey one. He won his heat race, but his high point average meant he was starting further back in the Main Event. Bailey wasn't starting much further up, but he seemed to have figured out that there was a nice groove on the outside for the taking. Both drivers found their way to the front, but the luck ran out for Fettinger, who was eliminated in a crash that also saw three-time reigning champion Albert Gill end up on the sidelines after they had been competing for Top 3 positions.
Andy Freeman hasn't been seen too often this year, but he has his eyes on the big September 1st prize. Freeman's low point average put him up on the front, and he proceeded to lead 23 laps of the Main Event with another of the top stars from the past, 2003 champion Jeremy Richey, in pursuit. It was during the final 10 laps when Bailey started making his move on the outside, and a high pass in Turn 4 on the 24th lap is what secured him the lead and victory. Not only was this the second win for the 2017 champion, but with Fettinger on the sidelines, Bailey cut into the point big lead. The R Charles Snyder Salute will be very important in this battle as only that event and one more remain on the schedule.
Nick Trenchard has won some big shows at Southern Oregon Speedway and has become somewhat of a bounty hunter, rather than a point chaser, in recent years. The new car seemed to work well in his heat race win, but Trenchard had problems early on in the Main Event, forcing him to come back from last in the 19 car field. As the race wore on, the #54 car was picking off cars one by one. While Bailey was making his move around Freeman for the win, Trenchard finally got into the Top 5 and would settle for fourth behind Richey. Paul Rea was making his second start at the speedway and the Cottage Grove racer had a respectable fifth place finish ahead of Jeremy Ohlde and Jimmy Lipke. Lipke is one of two rookies in the Top 5 in the standings, and the 2016 Yreka champion has been doing a good job this year.
There was also a bit of a point shake up in the IMCA Sport Modifieds, where two-time reigning champion and point leader Jorddon Braaten is on his way to a potential third title. Braaten broke out the broom as he won both the Trophy Dash and his heat race. He started back in the fifth row of the Main Event, while the surprising Austin Petray and Jentzen Knips ran at the front of the pack. On this occasion, Braaten wasted little time getting the lead on the sixth lap. Once he got it, he brought it home to his third win of the season. There was further good news as the man coming into the night ranked second, Matt Sanders, was out of the Main Event early. Braaten will therefore increase his lead as the next closest driver, Isaac Sanders, will be trailing by over 20 points.
If you think Jorddon might be worried about just playing defense and getting a respectable showing in the R Charles Snyder Salute, you don't know him very well. This is a race that has been in his sights for the past couple years, and he's looking to score the big victory. He knows the competition will be tough, but if the way the #84 car was looking last weekend was any indication, you can expect Jorddon to come out strong that weekend.
Branden Wilson, meanwhile, managed to pick up another Top 5 effort as he tries to strengthen his hold on a Top 5 point position. This hasn't necessarily been the smoothest season for last year's top rookie, but Wilson seems to be dialing things in. In this case, he battled Mike Medel before Medel settled for a sixth place finish. However, Mike did manage to get a heat race win earlier in the evening in one of the more exciting races as he battled Rich McCoy. McCoy would also finish seventh in the Main Event and is somebody who shouldn't be counted out for the big $2,000 prize next weekend. Two other drivers who continue to get our attention this year for their improvement are Brian Knorr and Steve Lysinger. Brian managed to get an eighth place finish, while Steve finished 10th. Both drivers continue to rank in the Top 10 in the standings.
It's difficult at times to even describe how impressive David Steele has been in the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks. With all of the experience he carries, he is probably the best prepared driver in the division. Not only is he skilled at motor tuning, he also knows how to set the car up. It shows as David can put the black #67 car anywhere on the track, and it seems to be going to the front. For the third-straight race, Steele scored a clean sweep, and this was also his fifth win of the season as he has his eyes on his second-straight championship. With that kind of performance, it's very difficult to be anywhere near this guy when it comes to points, but there is a driver still hanging in there.
Ashtin Hedges has also done a good job, and if you didn't have a guy like Steele in the field, he would be leading the standings. This young up and coming star has been consistently finishing in the Top 3 in the Main Event and has a win to his credit. Hedges finished second in the latest race with 2013 champion Steve Goetz in close pursuit in third. Though Hedges lost a few more points to Steele, should Steele stumble in the last two races, he still has a shot at the championship. For Goetz, motor problems saw to it that points weren't going to be a thing for him this year, but he still hopes to get a win in his yellow #55 car. Overall, it was a good night for Steve as he won his heat race and finished third in the feature.
Kristopher Mix may not have much of a shot in the championship chase without some real serious luck coming his way, but the third podium position in the standings is still within his grasp. Mix was looking good in his heat race before he spun. In the Main Event, he battled the guy he's trying to keep behind him in the standings, Hunter Magnan. It didn't seem as if all was well with the Magnan car as he settled for fifth, but unlike Mix, Magnum is a feature winner this year. He's also still not far behind Mix as not much changed in their battle for third after this show. Mix did punch his ticket into the next Trophy Dash by finishing fourth.
We're hearing quite a bit of talk about potential new Mini Stock drivers for next year, and two of them could be coming up from the Hornets division. Reigning Hornet champion Bree Tritchler and Derrel Nelson Jr could be in the class next year. Nelson just sold his car to Zachary Tener, who scored a respectable fifth place finish in his first start. After the Hall of Fame ceremonies were concluded, the grandson of Jim Walker Sr confirmed that he's looking at making his racing debut in this class soon. It could be that we'll see the numbers go up a little bit in the Mini Stocks next season, which would be nice to see.
The JOAT Labs Hornet division battle took a turn for the good for point leader Dylan Sauer Sauer had a rare occasion where he shared a heat race with Tim Hedges and he managed to hold him off for the win there and the Trophy Dash as well. Hedges had Sauer in his sights in the Main Event, but a flat tire would cost him laps. This caused Hedges to lose a little bit of ground in the point battle. Sauer, though not dominating the Main Event, scored his fifth win of the season to double his lead. It was another Hedges, Jenna Hedges, who gave him some good pressure down the stretch before she settled for a season best second.
Quinton Tritchler had been in the hunt, but his son, Chris Boynton, managed to bump him from the podium as Boynton finished third ahead of Tritchler at the checkered flag. The Hornets division saw the debut of a new competitor as Cole Gillespie ran the #53 car. Unfortunately, Gillespie had mechanical issues after the heat race and scratched from the feature. Shawn Nelson, meanwhile, debuted a new car. He had been driving the Hedges Racing #4t car and was doing a respectable job with it this year. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the other car once he works the bugs out.