Drivers show plenty of flair at the LoanMart Madera Speedway By Ronald Montez

While taking the lead position in a race can certainly be a difficult task for drivers, the real challenge is having the composure, patience and knowledge to maintain it especially in a very competitive division.

On Saturday night (July 26, 2014) at the LoanMart Madera Speedway, seven drivers found themselves in that particular situation and all of them came out victorious including Matt Erickson, who won the Open Late Model Series 100-lap headliner main while drivers in the Open Hobby Stocks, Legends of the Pacific, MST's, Toyota Sedans, 4-Bangers and WSRA Mini Cup also claimed big wins after the establishing themselves in the front of their respective races.

Despite having a huge lead ahead second place finisher Emma Tucker, Erickson wasn't going to take anything for granted.

"I was getting told to slow down to save my tires but you just have to go out hard every lap," Erickson explained to the Speedway fans after dominating the race. "It's a lot fun and I worked my butt off on this car. I've been working on this car for the last two months, day and night up until 2 a.m. We put new tires on it and I just want to thank everybody that comes out and helps me at my house or at the track."

Erickson trailed early in the race as Ryan Hart led for the first nine laps before a spinout by top qualifier Jim Putman (15.625) forced a caution. On the Lap 9 restart, Erickson passed Hart to get into first.

After another restart on Lap 16, Erickson pulled ahead of Hart to stay in first.

While Erickson took the lead, Hart didn't go away and remained in second place through the first 50 laps with Brian Herzog and Tucker following behind in the third and fourth positions as the cars rode back to the pits.

After returning to the track to complete the rest of the race, Erickson once again took off like a rocket-ship and gradually increased his superior lead.

With Erickson clearly ahead of the rest of the 14-car field, Tucker, Hart and Herzog were next in line.

With less than 10 laps to go, Hart's car began to heavily spark flames which prompted him to stop after Turn 1 while Tucker finished strong in second place.

"I was really nervous because people usually take me out because they don't respect me but now they better," Tucker proclaimed. "I was really excited that I had Matt on the outside of me but I really couldn't keep up with him. Eventually I'll be able to beat him."

Herzog took third while Tyler Garland was fourth and Aaron Mullins rounded out the top five.

Taking a page out of Erickson's driving book, Open Hobby Stocks winner Josh Weitfield took command of the 50-lap race after working his way to the front.

Despite setting the fast time (16.520) during qualifying, Weitfield had to overcome a quick start by worthy adversary Mark Blanton.

Blanton, who took second overall, led for the first nine laps before Weitfield used his low inside position on Turn 2 of Lap 10 to spring ahead into the lead role.

To start the second of the split 25-lap race, Blanton regained his lead only to see Weitfeld burst ahead of him and fly past the remaining cars on the track.

Shelden Cooper (third), Howard Holden (fourth) and Erick Ray (fifth) all had productive nights as well.

In the 4-Bangers class, Ed Taranto easily dictated the 15-lap main after zipping past Miles Humphreys to jump into the lead. After posting the best qualifying mark in the class (19.440) and winning the 6-lap heat race, Taranto led virtually the entire race and showed his amazing speed to prevail overall while Humphreys finished second.

Appropriately, five vintage fire trucks circled the track for two laps after Taranto's blazing race.

While Weitfeld, Erickson and Taranto led for a majority of their races, it was quite a different story for MST driver Rick Thompson and Tim Curtis in the Toyota Sedans.

Thompson followed up his July 5 win with another triumph as he took the 30-lap main.

However, it wasn't easy for the division's fast time setter (17.247) as he had a number of quality drivers to face including main runner-up Jason Bowersox.

Both Thompson and Bowersox each won 6-lap heat races earlier in the day and both were vying for the MST points lead. In the main, Bowersox led for the first 19 laps while Thompson battled tooth and nail with Bowersox' dad John.

On Lap 17, John Bowersox' car began to leak fluids onto the track which momentarily stopped the race. On the restart, Thompson steadily flew to the front and led Jason Bowersox for the rest of the race.

Just like Thompson, it took Curtis awhile before he captured his third straight win in the Toyota Sedans division.

The current points leader Curtis had to wait as Dean Gould established the early lead when he passed Thomas Magray. Gould led Jason Lawton and Tyler Johnson after the first five laps while Curtis, who won the 6-lap heat race prior to the main, started near the end as the green flag was waved.

Between Laps 12-14, Curtis managed to catch up to Gould and swooped into the lead where he held onto it for the duration of the 30-lap main. Gould placed second while Lawton was third. Donnie Large, who had the No. 1 qualifying time (17.835) and also won a 6-lap heat race, came in fourth while Johnson ended fifth.

Cameron Legue (WSRA Mini Cups, 20 laps) and Cameron Austin (Legends of the Pacific, 35 laps) each took home a first place trophy after seizing the lead for good in their respective mains.

The closer the season gets to Championship Night in September, the more crucial races become as they will continue next Saturday (August 2, 2014) on Valley Children's Kids Night presented by JBT FoodTech featuring the LunkerDaddy Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, 4-Bangers, Toyota Sedans, MST's and 18-Second Bracket Race.



Open Late Models - 100 Laps
1. Matt Erickson
2. Emma Tucker
3. Brian Herzog
4. Garland Tyler
5. Aaron Mullins
6. Ryan Hart
7. Rick Thompson
8. Adam Coonfield
9. Del McIntosh
10. Jason Aguirre
11. Matt Wendt
12. Jim Putman
13. Larry Pasquale

Open Hobby Stocks - 50 Laps
1. Josh Weitfield
2. Mark Blanton
3. Sheldon Cooper
4. Howard Holden
5. Erick Ray
6. Ivan Scorsur
7. Les Wasson
8. Chuck Aguirre
9. Travis Tucker

Legends of the Pacific - 35 Laps
1. Cameron Austin
2. Tony Mangini
3. Brandon Weaver
4. Tim Mangini
5. Logan Zampa
6. Eddie Garone
7. Keith Clement
8. Geoff Shaw
9. Brian Malin
10. Hunter Corbitt
11. Pete Pierce
12. Bob Kuebler
13. Justin Eddleman
14. Mark Bailey

Toyota Sedans - 30 Laps
1. Tim Curtis
2. Dean Gould
3. Jason Lawton
4. Donnie Large
5. Tyler Johnson
6. Chris Altuvilla
7. Brennen Mankin
8. Thomas Magray
9. Matt Doran

MST's - 30 Laps
1. Kevin Thompson
2. Jason Bowersox
3. Donnie Large Jr.
4. Tim Kammerer
5. John Benedict
6. Zackary Cook
7. Patrick Geiger
8. John Bowersox

WSRA Mini Cups - 20 Laps
1. Cameron Legue
2. Austin Herzog
3. Lance Halm
4. May Gilmore
5. Dillon Blaton
6. Joshua Strandwold
7. Matt Strandwold
8. Andrew Payne

4-Bangers - 15 Laps
1. Ed Taranto
2. Miles Humphreys
3. Kelly Brownell
4. Chris Williams

Heat Races

Toyota Sedans (Heat 1) - 6 Laps
1. Donnie Large
2. Chris Altuvilla
3. Dean Gould
4. Brennen Mankin
5. Thomas Magray

Toyota Sedans (Heat 2) - 6 Laps
1. Tim Curtis
2. Tyler Johnson
3. Jason Lawton
4. Matt Doran

Legends (Heat 1) - 8 Laps
1. Keith Clement
2. Bob Kuebler
3. Brian Malin
4. Geoff Shaw
5. Pete Pierce
6. Justin Eddleman

Legends (Heat 2) - 8 Laps
1. Hunter Corbitt
2. Logan Zampa
3. Cameron Austin
4. Brandon Weaver
5. Eddie Garone
6. Tony Mangini
7. Tim Mangini

MST'S (Heat 1) - 6 Laps
1. Kevin Thompson
2. Donnie Large Jr.
3. Tim Kammerer
4. John Benedict

MST'S (Heat 2) - 6 Laps
1. Jason Bowersox
2. John Bowersox
3. Zackary Cook
4. Patrick Geiger

4-Bangers - 6 Laps
1. Ed Taranto
2. Chris Williams
3. Kelly Brownell
4. Miles Humphreys

Trophy Dash - 4 Laps

WSRA Mini Cups
1. Dillon Blaton
2. Austin Herzog
3. May Gilmore

Qualifying - 2 Laps

LoanMart Late Model Open
1. Jim Putman 15.625
2. Matt Erickson 15.759
3. Brian Herzog 15.814
4. Ryan Hart 15.867
5. Joey Sterns 15.881
6. Jason Aguirre 15.911
7. Garland Tyler 15.930
8. Emma Tucker 16.078
9. Adam Coonfield 16.294
10. Rick Thompson 16.387
11. Del McIntosh 16.447
12. Aaron Mullins 16.468
13. Larry Pasquale 16.508
14. Matt Wendt 16.811

Hobby Stocks
1. Josh Weitfield 16.520
2. Mark Blanton 16.776
3. Howard Holden 16.850
4. Sheldon Cooper 16.894
5. Erick Ray 16.973
6. Chuck Aguirre 17.019
7. Chad Holman 17.073
8. Les Wasson 18.002
9. Ivan Scorsur 18.214
10. Kyle Fortney 23.129

Legends of the Pacific
1. Cameron Austin 16.414
2. Logan Zampa 16.464
3. Tony Mangini 16.491
4. Brandon Weaver 16.526
5. Tim Mangini 16.542
6. Hunter Corbitt 16.551
7. Eddie Garone 16.694
8. Brian Malin 16.886
9. Geoff Shaw 16.892
10. Keith Clement 16.960
11. Pete Pierce 17.068
12. Justin Eddleman 17.427
13. Bob Kuebler 17.545

Toyota Sedans
1. Donnie Large 17.835
2. Tim Curtis 17.864
3. Chris Altuvilla 17.944
4. Tyler Johnson 17.975
5. Dean Gould 18.018
6. Jason Lawton 18.067
7. Brenne Mankin 18.212
8. Matt Doran 18.712
9. Thomas Magray 18.776

1. Kevin Thompson 17.247
2. John Bowersox 17.291
3. Donnie Large Jr. 17.295
4. Jason Bowersox 17.371
5. Tim Kammerer 17.739
6. Zackary Cook 17.746
7. John Benedict 17.824
8. Patrick Geiger 17.956

WSRA Mini Cups
1. Andrew Payne 17.851
2. Lawrence Massone 17.964
3. Cameron Legue 18.045
4. Lance Halm 18.094
5. Austin Herzog 18.174
6. Dillon Blaton 18.523
7. Mya Gilmore 18.625
8. Matt Strandwold 19.763
9. Joshua Strandwold 20.054

1. Ed Taranto 19.440
2. Miles Humphreys 19.652
3. Kelly Brownell 19.887
4. Chris Williams 19.972

Daring driving defines Speedway's Gerhardt Classic
By Mark Smith
The Madera Tribune

In a once-a-year LoanMart Madera Speedway race that runs 70 laps longer than the circuit's norm, it's undeniable that absolutely anything can happen.

Such an adage was more true than ever Saturday night during the Gerhardt Classic 100-lap United States Auto Club/Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets race, which saw Chad Nichols easily hold the lead for more than 50 laps, but - to the gasps of the crowd - drop out in the last five.

The race - like all others Saturday - was held in tribute of legendary auto racing engineer Fred Gerhardt and, fitting to a mechanic who built cars in the wild days of racing's past, packed with awe-inspiring moments.

Whether it was Jerome Rodella in the electric blue five car making a potential suicide dive through five opponents in lap traffic to hold onto his then-lead, David Goodwill and Michael Snider exchanging the second-place spot three times in one lap, or of course, Nichols cruising to a lead measured by seconds, there was something for every fan in what could, without a doubt, be called a truly classic event.

Within four laps, Nichols found himself in second place behind Rodella, who put on a great display from the lead position for 42 turns around the "Fastest One-Third Mile in the West."
However, in that 42nd lap, Rodella - who spent the last several laps fending off the rising Nichols - made contact with the 98 car of Jarred Bondel, which sent him to the back of the pack.

That put Nichols firmly in the lead as several other strong contenders, such as Tanner Swanson and Cody Gerhardt, were already out due to motor troubles.

For the next 53 laps, it looked to be all Nichols for the checkered, though Goodwill and Snider battled for second behind him.

But in lap 95, everything changed when Nichols's engine apparently blew and forced him from the race.

"I'm pretty sure it's my motor," Nichols said. "The car was running perfect until ten laps ago I was hoping it would limp across for five more but it just couldn't."

Ultimately, it was Snider that took home the checkered flag and the annual race's coveted silver trophy.
"I feel so good," Snider said with a sheepish grin in the winner's circle. "I'm amazed because I thought (Nichols) had it in the bag and then I look up and see I'm on top I was like alright, I can't spin out, I can't make any mistakes, I have to have the smartest race I can with five to go."

The USAC/BCRA midgets wasn't the only race with their share of excitement Saturday, of course.
In the 360/410 race, which pits super modifieds against winged sprint cars, Jim Birges - like Nichols - looked unbeatable.

But in lap 34 of the 50-lap event, Birges's car failed him too, and he was sent to the infield as smoke billowed forth from his engine.

That left Kyle Vanderpool, a perennial contender and Madera native, in a comfortable lead to the easy finish.

Vanderpool said he was disappointed Birges had to drop out but pleased with the win all the same.
"It sucks to see him get out because it was good racing but it is what it is," Vanderpool said. "Racing's racing and anything can happen." Vanderpool remains the points leader in the speedy series.
In the USAC HPD Midgets, top qualifier Dylan Nobile proved unstoppable once he overtook Tom Patterson in lap three.

After Nobile swiftly swooped past Patterson in turn one, he increased his lead by as much as two-tenths of a second each lap on the way to a victory nearly three seconds ahead of all challengers.

"I feel great," Nobile said. "Last race we had some trouble with my brakes but they held up for today and I was just on it. Feels good."

Behind him, though, the battle for second place raged on.
For much of the 30-lap event, Patterson fended off the seven car of Shawn Buckley until lap 19, when Buckley spun out in turn two for the event's lone yellow flag.

On the restart, the double-zero of Cody "Slim Shaggy" Jessop and three car of Duke Love zipped past Patterson.

Jessop, a 14-year-old Maderan who consistently finishes in the event's top three spots, kept Love at a distance until lap 22, when Love pushed hard for second place.

Love moved right up to Jessop's bumper for five laps, and in lap 27 made a clean move onto the inside line of turn one for a second spot he wouldn't relinquish.

"I just knew right then I had to get around Cody Jessop," said Love, happy with the finish in only his third race for the HPD class. "I've known Cody for 10 years, he's a great driver, he's not going to make a lot of mistakes. So at a certain point I had to stick to it and wait for my shot."

Jessop said he was glad to take third as he almost wasn't in the race at all.
"Yesterday the drive line and everything was all bent, my clutch was kind of messed up, so we didn't know if we were going to race," Jessop said. "But we pulled the motor out, put it back in, and top three today. I can't ask for more than that."

For the Northern California Modified Association sprints, Audra Sasseli used consistent, solid lines to overtake Eric Humphries in the race's last five laps to the cheers of the crowd.

Humphries, for his part, used a courageous maneuver in the very first lap to snag the lead when, in turn three, he darted underneath two cars in a very short window of opportunity.

However, though Sasseli was about eight-tenths of a second behind, she made up the difference little by little - a half-inch or so each lap.

By lap 25, she pulled the trigger on a daring move of her own and went underneath Humphries on turn one and, in a flash, the win was hers.

"I got an icky start there but I was kind of pacing myself," Sasseli said. "So I tried a few different lines and I saw (Humphries) was getting a bit looser. So I knew if I hit my marks perfectly every time I was going to catch up I looked up, had five laps to go, and so I thought I'm just going to nail in and see what happens. And it worked!"

Other winners on the night included Courtney Burks in the USAC HPD restricted midgets, and Ohio driver Ricky Bowers in the Twisted Tea Modifieds.

The Speedway will go dark next week and return July 26 for a jam-packed night.
Races scheduled for that evening include: Race #5 of the $1,000-to-win LoanMart Open Late Model Series; Race #5 of the Hobby Stock Open Series; Legends of the Pacific; MST's; Toyota Sedans; 4-Bangers; Mini Cup; and the 18-Second Bracket Race.



360/410 Super Modifieds/Winged Sprints (50 laps)
Kyle Vanderpool
Tim Skoglund-(-4.682)
Ken Hamilton-(1 lap)
Eric Humphries-(1 lap)
Joey Aguilar-(2 laps)
Art McCarthy-(3 laps)
Donnie Large-(3 laps)
Steve Johns-(3 laps)
Jim Birges-(16 laps)
Jeff Collins-(22 laps)
Chad Nichols-(44 laps)

USAC/BCRA Midgets (100 laps)
Michael Snider
David Goodwill-(-10.195)
Jarred Bondel-(1 lap)
Gary Conterno-(1 lap)
Chad Nichols-(5 laps)
Floyd Alvis-(7 laps)
David Pricketts-(7 laps)
Jerome Rodella-(47 laps)
JR Williams-(53 laps)
Lauren Snider-(63 laps)
Cody Gerhardt-(80 laps)
Tanner Swanson-(86 laps)
Rick Holbrook-(97 laps)

Twisted Tea Modifieds (60 laps, 30-lap split)
Ricky Bowers
Dave Campbell-(-0.368)
Mike Regelman-(-0.718)
Micheal Mitchell-(-1.178)
John Manula-(-1.427)
Rodney Tripp-(-1.855)
Scott Alves-(-2.339)
Jerry Toporek-(-3.076)
Victor Machado-(-3.546)
Elliott StJerne-(-4.449)
Kevin Nichols-(20 laps)
Robbie Knittel-(29 laps)

USAC HPD Midgets (30 laps)
Dylan Nobile
Duke Love-(-2.629)
Cody Jessop-(-3.130)
Shawn Buckley-(-6.337)
Tom Patterson-(-6.682)
Annie Breidingar-(-8.330)
Toni Breidingar-(-8.539)
Joel Rayborne-(1 lap)
Christine Breckenridge-(12 laps)

USAC HPD Midgets (Restricted, 15 laps)
Courtney Burks
Joel Rayborne-(-0.223)
Jesse "James" Burks-(-0.757)

NCMA Sprints (30 laps)
Audra Sasseli
Eric Humphries-(-0.456)
Denny Burell-(-14.588)
David Burcett-(1 lap)
Steve Amador-(1 lap)
Bud Trumble-(28 laps)


360/410 Super Modifieds/Winged Sprints
Jeff Collins-12.574
Jim Birges-12.617
Kyle Vanderpool-12.811
Tim Skoglund-12.908
Chad Nichols-12.950
Eric Humphries-13.211
Ken Hamilton-13.246
Donnie Large-13.424
Joey Aguilar-13.435
Steve Johns-13.500
Art McCarthy-13.838

Twisted Tea Open Modified Series
Scott Alves-15.408
Victor Machado-15.491
Mike Regelman-15.552
Robbie Knittel-15.608
Dave Campbell-15.611
Ricky Bowers-15.626
Michael Mitchell-15.641
Elliott StJerne-15.696
Rodney Tripp-15.724
John Manula-15.768
Jerry Toporek-15.863
Kevin Nichols-16.311

Chad Nichols-13.793
Tanner Swanson-13.986
Cody Gerhardt-14.059
Jerome Rodella-14.120
Michael Snider-14.206
David Goodwill-14.232
Jarred Bondel-14.368
Gary Conterno-14.425
JR Williams-14.675
Floyd Alvis-14.881
David Pricketts-15.029
Rick Holbrook-15.540

USAC HPD Midgets
Dylan Nobile-14.950
Shawn Buckley-15.021
Tom Patterson-15.149
Toni Breidingar-15.397
Antonia Boscacci-15.417
Christine Breckenridge-15.463
Annie Breidingar-15.492
Cody Jessop-15.792
Jesse "James" Burks-16.066
Courtney Burks-16.069
Joel Rayborne-16.070

NCMA Sprints
Audra Sasseli-14.401
Eric Humphries-14.439
David Burcett-14.907
Steve Amador-15.332


360/410 Super Modifieds/Winged Sprints (Heat 1, 6 laps)
Jim Birges
Jeff Collins-(-1.495)
Kyle Vanderpool-(-1.850)
Tim Skoglund-(-4.555)
Chad Nichols

360/410 Super Modifieds/Winged Sprints (Heat 2, 6 laps)
Eric Humphries
Joey Aguilar-(-0.672)
Ken Hamilton-(-2.628)
Art McCarthy-(-4.142)
Steve Johns-(-5.524)
Donnie Large-(3 laps)

USAC HPD Midgets (Heat 1, 8 laps)
Dylan Nobile
Tom Patterson-(-2.101)
Antonia Boscacci-(-2.522)
Annie Breidingar-(-3.159)
Joel Rayborne-(-9.316)

USAC HPD Midgets (Heat 2, 8 laps)
Shawn Buckley
Cody Jessop-(-2.688)
Christine Breckenridge-(-3.210)
Toni Breidingar-(-3.668)

USAC HPD Midgets (Heat 3, Restricted, 8 laps)
Jesse "James Burks
Courtney Burks-(-0.432)
Joel Rayborne-(-1.599)

NCMA Sprints-(Heat 1, 8 laps)
Audra Sasseli
Eric Humphries-(-0.641)
Denny Burell-(-2.946)
David Burcett-(-2.978)
Steve Amador-(-6.778)