Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Third Annual Wingless Sprint Car Challenge
At Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...After the one week break, Southern Oregon Speedway comes back with a big event this Saturday night. This is the Third Annual Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge race, presented by Herz Precision Parts. This begins a string of big races at the speedway throughout the month as the winner will collect a $3,500 paycheck. Joining the Sprint Cars on the program will be the Late Models, Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars, Valley Store All Late Model Lites and OTRO Hardtops.
Wingless Sprint Car racing is popular in California and throughout the country. However, there haven't been too many big events for the class in Oregon. Promoter Mike McCann decided to change that with the introduction of this race in 2017. The lure of the money brought the team of car owner Ted Finkenbinder and his driver Geoff Ensign. The duo have left the speedway these past two seasons with the $3,500 prize, and they enter this weekend as the team to beat.
Last season, past Antioch and Petaluma Speedway Winged Sprint Car champion Shawn Arriaga had a good showing for several laps before contacting the front wall and flipping out of second. Arriaga hopes to challenge Ensign this time. Also returning is Cody Fendley, who finished second in the show two years ago to earn $1,500. Some of top drivers from Oregon, including Lindsay Barney, Lance Hallmark, Guy Weedman, Tim Alberding, Jonathan Joregenson and Mark Herz, will be battling with Californian's such as Petaluma Speedway champion Shayna Sylvia, Steve Hix, Ryan Stolz, Jeremy Wilson and Ricky Brophy.
The question of whether any of the local stars has what it takes to take their wings off and make a run for the money has been answered. Late word is that 2018 Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car "Rookie Of The Year" Blaine Corey has a ride and will competing in this big show.
Trent Elliott looked impressive in scoring a clean sweep victory two weeks ago. Elliott continues to hold a decent lead over Darren Coffell in the Late Model championship battle. Coffell is one of four different winners so far. He managed a second place finish last time out. Though the two drivers from Northern Oregon may be the ones to beat, local standout Dave Everson is making waves lately. Following his second-straight third place finish, Everson has taken hold of third in the standings. Some people are saying the 2013 Pro Stock champion may be the one to beat the two Late Model heavyweights.
Seven-time IMCA Modified champion Mark Wauge was another racer being touted as a contender, but he suffered his second straight mechanical failure last time, in this case a blown motor. Wauge has gone back to the drawing board to try and get his effort situated. Some of the stars to watch for this week include Miles Deubert, Dave Foote, 2017 champion Nathan Augustine, 2016 champion Bob Dees, and Eric Massey.
After claiming his third Southern Oregon Dwarf Car championship last season, Josh King is showing no signs of slowing down. King picked up a clean sweep victory last time out as he is in the thick of the championship battle. Last weekend, he had a strong showing with a victory on Friday night at Grays Harbor, making it five different tracks that he's won at so far this year.
Camden Robustelli and Brock Peters are two other winners on the circuit with their sites set on the win this weekend. The competition level is high with over 20 competitors showing up on average to the Dwarf Car races, and some of the stars to look for this week include Chad Cardoza, Jesse Lorentz, Kalvin Morton, Ryan Smith, Mason Lewman and ageless veteran Fred Hay.
Greg Arnold served notice to the rest of the competition in the Valley Store All Late Model Lites class that he is making a serious bid for the championship. Arnold turned in a rather impressive performance in winning his second Main Event of the season last time out. He took the point lead from reigning champion Charlie Eaton, but this figures to be a battle that will go down to the wire. All time division feature win leader Terry Hadley is back in competition and could be a factor this week. Others to watch for include Ross Payant, Krista Hadley, Jim Cunningham and Eric Aos.
The OTRO Hardtops have been having a good year with more competitors showing up than the previous two seasons. Last time out, it was Dan Fouts driving the Dusty Trotter Sedan to victory. He snapped the two-race win streak of Dean Cast in the process. These two drivers could be the ones to beat, but some of the standouts to watch for this week include Mark Minter, Bill Trotter, Jay Smith, Brian Weberg II and Chris Mehrer.
Southern Oregon racing fans don't get to see much Wingless 360 Sprint Car racing, and the prize money will bring some top notch talent this Saturday night for what should be a packed five division program. Gates will open it 5 p.m. with the first race starting at 7 p.m. General Admission Adults are $15. Senior 62+, Veterans and Juniors (7-12) are $10. Children 6 and under our free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
The final race of July at Southern Oregon Speedway was Willamette Valley Bank night, and it proved to be a big success for the speedway. One of the biggest crowds of the year was in attendance on a beautiful evening for a race that would feature the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, Late Models, IMCA Sport Modifieds and the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars. Over 80 competitors were on hand across the five divisions.
Perhaps it was the challenge of ending the three-race win streak of point leader Mike Wheeler, but whatever the case, Cottage Grove Speedway star Kinzer Cox made a surprise appearance. This helped grow the car count to 15 competitors for the show as Tanner Holmes was in town, fresh off of his 500 Open Kart win in Yreka a night earlier. Holmes and Cox picked up heat race wins to start their evening, and David Hibbard looked better than he has for much of the year in winning both his heat race and the Scramble. These three drivers looked like good prospects to beat Wheeler.
Though he had the pole position, Hibbard quickly surrendered first to Cox. Holmes was giving Hibbard all kinds of pressure for second before getting the position. Unfortunately for the reigning champion Hibbard, he pitted late with more mechanical issues as Wheeler began another charge to the front of the pack. It seems like no matter what the track conditions, Wheeler and his team are very prepared. Wheeler made the move around Holmes and was quickly on the rear nerf of Cox with two laps to go.
Traffic impeded the progress of Wheeler just enough coming out of Turn 2, and though he made a last turn bid to get by, Cox would hold off Wheeler for the victory. Still, Wheeler is showing that he is the real deal as he increased his point advantage that much more. Cox, meanwhile, has thrown his hat into the ring as a serious player in the $2,000 to win Ironhead Nationals event that is set to happen on August 10th.
While Holmes was earning a respectable third place finish, it was 2016 champion Jake Wheeler making a surprising start and finishing fourth. Newcomer Ron Osborne was set to drive the #42 Sprinter, but the team decided prior to the Main Event to let Jake put the car through its shakedown run. The nephew of the current point leader is also a championship contender in the Winged 360 Sprint Car division at Cottage Grove Speedway. Should Jake get an opportunity to drive the car again on August 10th, you would have to consider him a threat to win.
Bailey Hibbard had a respectable showing in fifth ahead of Charlie Thompson and top rookie Anissa Curtice. Unfortunately for Bailey, he is trailing Wheeler by more points than you can earn in one race night. Though there are a few races left to go, the younger Hibbard will need a break to go his way to really have a shot at Wheeler.
Zach Fettinger isn't just content to lead the IMCA Modified point race. After four events, he was still searching for his first win of the season. Fettinger didn't just come to win the championship, he came to win some races. One of his biggest challengers in the championship battle is three-time reigning title winner Albert Gill, and Gill had a terrible night with motor issues causing him to load up before the Main Event.
The point average makes a difference in IMCA. Though the high point earners may battle for heat race wins, the average they hold onto for the Main Event lineup will still put them deep in the pack at the start. Fettinger was working on a sweep with wins in the Dash and heat race, and he started back in the fifth row for the feature. Undaunted by the challenge, Fettinger struck to fourth within two laps.
Running at the front of the pack was second-generation star Dave Duste Jr. Duste has won several Main Events through the years, but he only recently pulled his car out of the garage and had some good finishes on the Speedweek Tour this year. The #73 car seemed to be running well, and he led the Main Event or 12 laps before being overtaken by Fettinger. Despite that, Duste followed Fettinger on the bottom groove not too far behind. While Fettinger become the fifth different winner of the year, Duste was earning a respectable second.
Justin Foux would seem to be somebody to watch as the potential next new winner in the class. He's had his moments in the IMCA Sport Modified division in recent years, and he is already looking like a seasoned veteran in the IMCA Modified class. He managed to hold off 2017 champion Jessie Bailey to get another good finish in third, which keeps him in the lead in the rookie battle. Bailey had a good heat race with Jeremy Richey before getting the win. Duane Orsburn ran second in the early stages of the race, but he would end up spinning. He made it back up to sixth, but he was unable to overtake fifth place finisher Andy Freeman.
Back in seventh was second-generation racer Ray Kniffen Jr. Kniffen is breaking in a new car this year, but he's been finding it a bit challenging getting the set up just right. Things seemed to go a little bit better on this occasion, though he was hoping for better results. There's always next time. All in all, it was a smoothly run race for the IMCA Modifieds once again.
The two toughest drivers to beat in Late Model competition these days are point leader Trent Elliott and Darren Coffell. In fact, this duo may be the favorites to win the $4,000 Cottonwood Classic on August 24th. Coffell spotted Elliot a week as he missed the season opener, but he is running second in the standings. Unfortunately for him, Elliott is showing no signs of slowing down. To highlight that, Elliott scored a clean sweep of his heat race, Trophy Dash and the Main Event.
Elliott bolted ahead at the waving of the green flag with heat race winner Coffell holding second throughout the feature race. Coming off of an impressive third place feature finish last time out, 2013 Pro Stock champion Dave Everson did it again with another podium effort. He's making a serious claim for third in the standings, and he was never really challenged in the Main Event. Could Everson be the driver to beat the dynamic duo of Elliott and Coffell? Mark Wauge had hopes of being that driver, but he blew a motor in hot laps to end his evening way too soon. The last two races have not been kind to the seven-time IMCA Modified champion.
The battle turned out to be for fourth, where 2016 champion Bob Dees, 2017 title winner Nathan Augustine and Late Model Lites point leader Greg Arnold took their turns in the position. Arnold finally grabbed the spot and had hopes of possibly reeling in Everson for third, but a broken axle sent him to the pits. Augustine and Dees continued their battle with Augustine prevailing at the checkered flag. It was a good night for both drivers as they had good finishes and drove their cars up on the trailers.
It looks like Tony Bartell is selling his Late Model. The past IMCA Sport Modified and Late Model Lites competitor has not had a good go of it so far. Past Pro Stock and Modified champion Dustin Knight put his trademark number #77 on the Bartell car and gave it a go. Though he looked fast at times, his night ended early in the Main Event to put him last. Knight has his own new car, which he hopes to debut very soon. Coming off of his Top 5 finish a race earlier, Eric Massey held off Dave Foote and Miles Deubert to finish sixth. It wasn't really the kind of night that Massey was hoping for as he didn't quite get up to the speed he had at the previous race.
If there's a place where the high point average can really hurt you, it's in the IMCA Sport Modified ranks, where the car count has been up this season. Some would say that two-time champion and current point leader Jorddon Braaten is the fastest driver in the field, but despite winning his heat race, all he got out of that effort was retention of his point average, which put him back in the sixth row for the Main Event. Braxton Possinger hasn't had a lot of luck in his visits this year, earning him a start much further up in the pack.
Possinger had the lead from the moment the green flag waved. The second-generation leadfoot did an exemplary job of leading the pack through eight different restarts during the race. The battle took place behind him between the hard-charging Braaten, Isaac Sanders and Matt Sanders. They swapped the second position a few times during second half of the race, and it was still very close at the checkered flag. Isaac Sanders prevailed over Braaten and Matt Sanders. This meant very little change would happen in the standings as Braaten continues to lead Matt Sanders and Isaac Sanders.
Branden Wilson has not had the kind of season he would like to have so far. After being the top rookie and a feature winner last season, Wilson has seen several things go wrong during the course of the year. However, he perseveres, and he enjoyed some good racing with two-time champion Mike Medel and Joby Shields last time out. Shields is another driver who hasn't had much luck this year, but he recently had a Top 5 finish down in Yreka. Coming to town with a bit more confidence, Shields managed his best finish of the year at his home track in sixth, followed closely by Medel. Wilson, meanwhile, finished fifth. Branden continues to take a look at a possible move up to Sprint Cars in the future.
it seems like all the glory in the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars this season has being hoarded among three-time reigning champion Josh King, two-time champion Brock Peters and Camden Robustelli. It's not a surprise to see these three drivers at the front of the pack. When they get there, you know you're going to be on the edge of your seat as they slice and dice for the lead. In this case, Peters was leading in the later stages before a mechanical issue took him out of contention.
King, who won his heat race and the A Dash, led the way throughout the first half of the race with Robustelli in tow. When Peters headed pitside, King was there to take the lead and score the victory. He's had quite an impressive season so far with wins at several different venues. Though we have yet to see a Southern Oregon Dwarf Car point sheet, it would not be a surprise to see King's name listed high on that list. Robustelli had his hands full trying to hold on to the second position, but he managed to keep hard charger Chad Cardoza behind him at the checkered flag.
Cody Peters, meanwhile, isn't chasing points as seriously this year, but the past Dwarf Car Nationals winner is always a threat when he's on the track. Peters would battle another longtime Southern Oregon Dwarf Car hard charger, Ryan Smith, before finishing fourth ahead of Smith. It was a couple of old veterans, Steve Walker and Fred Hay, battling with young up-and-comer Ashleigh Strain for the sixth position. They finished in order, but it was certainly a good race all around.
Kalvin Morton had his sights set on a Top 5 finish. He was looking good throughout the first half of the race before he too had to pit with mechanical issues. This has certainly not been the kind of year that the perennial front runner had hoped for. Mason Lewman looked good in holding off Morton for the B Dash win, but he didn't have the kind of Main Event he was hoping for either. He still managed to salvage a ninth place finish ahead of Michael Johnson. The Dwarf Cars impressed with a strong 25 car turnout on Saturday, and a great field of competitors made this a very entertaining show.
At the little track on Friday night, the fans were treated to a very exciting program of Karts, Flat Track Bikes and Trikes. There were 42 competitors spread across nine classifications of divisions.
What's interesting about the Kart division is watching as younger drivers get more confidence and begin to race harder. The evolution of young Caleb Ranney from a kid scared to get in his Kart last year to a hard-charger willing to put his Kart up on the outside or the inside has been something to see. Ranney was coming into the night off of back-to-back second place Main Event finishes but he saved his best for this occasion as he won both his heat races and the Main Event, snapping a three-race win streak for Jayme DeBenedetti.
DeBenedetti continues to hold command in the point battle, and her effort for the night didn't really hurt that. Jayme had a third place finish behind another season best effort for Isaac Grimes, who currently trails her in the point race. Both drivers also had second and third place finishes in their two heat races, meaning there isn't much of a change happening in the standings. Ranney, meanwhile, has his sights set on the third point position, which is currently held by Talia Colley. All six of the young Beginners Box Stock competitors who ran during the course of the night did a good job.
Keaton Augustine was hoping for more people to come race in the Box Stocks, but the only driver showing up to do battle with him was Albert Gill Jr. Gill did a good job for the most part and took a checkered flag in second, but Augustine swept all of the events once again as he appears to be headed for a successful title defense. Word from the Augustine camp is that young Keaton could be moving up to the Junior Street Stock division at Madras Speedway next year. This particular program allows the younger kids to race with each other and gain experience in bigger cars. The closest thing other than that in Oregon appears to be the Junior Stinger class happening at Coos Bay Speedway.
Trevor Grimes appears to be headed for his second 250 Kart championship, but you won't catch him taking it for granted. In fact, Grimes knows that if he wants to win on any given week he will have to earn it. Young Vinny DeBenedetti did a great job presenting challenges to Grimes all night. The reigning champion led the first half of the Main Event and led several laps of both heat races. Unfortunately for DeBenedetti, he was overtaken by Grimes in each event and would settle for second. Cadyn Smith, meanwhile, earned his fourth-straight podium finish. The two-time Beginners Box Stock champion has been doing a good job this year.
It can be a bit scary and yet quite exciting watching the Flat Track Bikes. As the riders have gotten used to the one-eighth mile oval, they are racing harder and not holding anything back. You watch them slice and dice for position on the outside and the inside, and one of the riders who seems to be racing the hardest is Trevor Taylor. Taylor was on a course for another sweep of all of the Main Events in which he'd entered.
It started with Taylor winning his fourth-straight 250cc Bike race ahead of Mya Maffei and Theo Lount. He took advantage of the misfortune of teammate Maffei, who saw her bike fail to start on a restart four laps into the 450cc Bike race. Taylor would gladly pick up the winner's hardware in that race, followed Brooke Lozano and Alex Hanakahi.
The night wasn't necessarily very kind to some of the riders. Early in the evening, Big Trike competitor Mike Burson Sr crashed on the back straightaway. He appeared to hurt his leg, but he was still attempting to walk it off. His night was over. Another rider taking a tumble over his handlebars on the frontstretch was Shawn Vernier. Hanakahi crashed entering Turn 1 early in the 450cc Bike race, but he still recovered for a third place finish
For the Open Bike class, which like the 250 Karts races for a purse, Hanakahi led the way as Taylor quickly swooped in for second. As the two were fighting for the lead entering Turn 3, they might have touched wheels. In any case, Taylor crashed and was down on the ground for several minutes as the EMT tended to him. He did take a trip to the hospital, and the report was bruised ribs and a concussion.
At that point, the five riders left from the eight that started huddled and decided to finish the show for the fans. Hanakahi continued to lead the way ahead of Maffei and Lozano. Theo Lount and Zach Burkdoll completed the finishing order. The one thing you can say about these riders is they are brave and tough competitors.
The Small Bike class had four riders. Though Jeremiah Pruitt disrupted Brody Taylor's winning ways in their heat race, Taylor resumed command for his third feature win in the class. Pruitt ran a good race in second. Seven year old Jax Taylor finished third, but he's no longer the youngest rider in the field. Aiden Egan is six years old, and he took a checkered flag to complete the finishing order.
The Trikes completed the program, and Ben Herbert brought vehicles to compete in both the Big and Small classes. In the Small Trike class, Herbert had quite a battle going throughout the race with Daniel Ward as they swapped the lead. Herbert made his winning move on the last lap to grab the winner's trophy, followed by Ward and previous feature winner MiKayla Burson.
Garrett Stookey has certainly looked impressive as one of the winners in Trike competition this year. Stookey led the Big Trike race for nine laps, but Herbert overtook him on the 10th circuit and brought it home to his second win on the night. Sam Desimone made his first visit and finished third. It was quite entertaining to watch the way Stookey and Herbert were throwing their Trikes into the turns and racing as hard as they did.
A night at Little Southern Oregon Speedway is certainly taking on a whole new dimension with the addition of the other classes. If you haven't checked out a show there recently, it's worth the visit to see all the excitement. There are two events left at the little track, August 9th and August 16th.