Shepherd blazes his way to remarkable Speedway victory
By Mark Evan Smith
The Madera Tribune
Two hundredths of a second is the amount of time that separates Olympic-level runners from gold medals and world records.
It's often quicker than a camera's shutter speed when snapping a perfect shot.
But for 15-year-old Buddy Shepherd, in a miraculous, literal last-second victory at the LoanMart Madera Speedway Saturday night, it marked his second
straight win in likely one of the most competitive auto racing divisions in the Western United States.
Through double-digit caution flags and a worn-out tire that forced him from first, Shepherd worked out of eighth place when he returned for the checkered
flag during the LoanMart Open Late Models, barely beating Rick Thompson's 0.020 second finish and Ryan Hart, who kept it close as well at only 0.215
In March, during a similarly-heated race where Shepherd managed to wrest a win over Kyle Gottula by only 0.062 seconds, the young driver was ecstatic at
his first-ever victory.
Saturday night, with a win that makes him undefeated at the Madera Speedway this season, Shepherd was filled with even more happiness which he gave to his
pit crew instead of himself.
"My guys just gave me a great car," Shepherd said. "They worked on it all week and it's just amazing when I drive it."
Thompson, Hart, and Shepherd, among 17 other drivers in the main event, certainly gave fans an electric race that will undoubtedly be played on cable
racing channel MAVTV in the future.
In the first 50 laps of the 100-lap race, Shepherd started in second place behind Thompson at the pole, with Trevor Schlundt and top qualifier Garland Tyler
in his rearview mirror.
As the race roared its beginning, Shepherd dropped back into fourth place with Thompson, Schlundt, and Joey Sterns ahead.
Tyler began to make his entrance as he vigorously pushed the rear of his opponents' cars around turns, at one point apparently causing Thompson to spin out
in turn 3 of lap 12.
That contact gave Shepherd the chance to retake the lead, which he held the remaining 38 laps of the split.
When the race picked up again, Shepherd was faced with Jason Aguirre, Tyler, and Hart behind his bright orange number 22 car.
For more than 20 laps, Shepherd looked untouchable but by lap 72, Tyler managed to work his way onto the inside line, and gained the lead going into lead
Shepherd's car began to slow to a racing crawl and he left the race to replace a tire, and from there it looked like he might be out a win.
Tyler, whose division-lead qualifying time of 16.092 led Shepherd's 16.105, could have had a chance at the victory instead but on a restart from a caution flag
in lap 75, he went high in turn 1 and slammed into Aguirre, which forced Tyler from the race while Aguirre finished in ninth.
At that point, Hart led the pack while Thompson sat behind, with Shepherd returning to the race in eighth place.
A slew of yellow flags began to fly from that point, with at least four leading up to the final lap.
Up to the white flag, Shepherd had driven like a menace with a mission into second place, though Thompson and Hart's agile veteran driving skills had kept the
young tiger largely at bay as the two exchanged lead positions.
But coming into turn 1 and 2, Shepherd drove hard underneath Thompson in the top spot, eked out a tiny lead, and the two absolutely floored their gas pedals
towards the checkered flag.
Afterwards, all the competitors and their crews thanked each other for a clean, hard race.
"I kind of got my nose in there a little bit," Shepherd said of his move onto the inside line. "But (Thompson) gave me the room and we drag-raced down the
back straightaway. I drove her in there pretty deep … but it pulled out just enough across the straightaway."
"I got beat by a great competitor," Thompson said. "He raced it pretty clean, and our car was working better than it has in years so I'm really, really happy."
"We had a car to win," Hart said. "Those cautions killed it at the end. It seems like when you don't want them, they come, and when you need them, they're
nowhere to be seen. But this was an excellent run … with the help of my crew and all my sponsors, we got this thing up to the podium and hopefully this is a
preview of things to come for the rest of the season."
The three winners added they couldn't wait to put on another fantastic race.
Other winners at Saturday's Speedway event included: Cameron Legue in a strong WSRA Mini Cups performance; Kevin Thompson in a return to top form
during the MST's; Brennen Mankin in his first-ever Toyota Sedans victory which ended the undefeated streak of Tim Curtis; and Josh Whitfield during an Open
Hobby Stocks race that could have left two of his opponents close to blows.
In that event, Whitfield earned his win cleanly but Howard Holden, who finished second, and third-place Ben Lewis Jr. made repeated contact that ended with
Holden being dragged across the checkered flag smashed into Lewis Jr.'s hood.
Up to that moment, the race had been run relatively clean but in the final lap of the 30-lap event, Holden and Lewis Jr. went at each other.
Going into turn 2, it looked like Holden pushed Lewis Jr. fairly hard on the inside line, but Lewis Jr. recovered and the two drove towards turns 3 and 4.
As they swooped around the turn, Holden appeared to take the inside lane on the way to victory but Lewis Jr., maybe returning the favor of that prior
contact, crunched into Holden and took him down the straightaway wall.
Immediately, with heavy damage to his car resting against that barrier, Holden stepped out of his car and began to walk towards Lewis Jr., his helmet off and
his emotions flying.
The two argued for a period but never got physical, though both said "this isn't over."
"I've run with him for a lot of years, a lot of racing, and I've never done what he did to me right there," Holden said. "Yeah, I got into him coming out of 2, I
loosened him up a little bit and let him go. But we're going for a white flag and then what he did? IF he wants to drive like that we'll see what happens when he
"He said he didn't hit me coming out of four but he hit me," Lewis Jr. said. "He got me sideways and pushed me into him."
The two will likely add their own excitement to the LoanMart Madera Speedway when the Open Hobby Stocks return in late May.
One could call this victory the return of Kevin Thompson.
Without an MST win in 2015, Thompson, the 2014 season champion, cut into the lead by lap 17 of the 30-lap main and earned a victory over fellow former
champ John Bowersox after both drivers worked hard to overtake John Benedict, who led the race until then.
"It's been a tough year but a great night," Thompson said. "Really good to get the first one of the year. It was just a great race with (Bowersox) and (Benedict
out here … as tough as the competition is, it's going to be a difficult time to end up with a win. We had 10 cars out here and every one of them deserves a win."
"Thompson reminded me of the good old days we had out there," Bowersox chuckled after the race. "I could have given him a bit more run for his money but I
was happy to take second and Thompson to get first."
Both Thompson and Bowersox lauded the efforts of Benedict, who finished fifth.
Brennen Mankin won his first-ever race during an electric Toyota Sedans that ended the so-far undefeated season of Tim Curtis, who in a rare move appeared
to cause a collision that cost him any chance at victory lane.
Mankin, Curtis, and top qualifier Donnie Large Jr. with a time of 18.129 began the race in seventh, eighth, and ninth place.
That did little to dissuade both Mankin and Large Jr. from finishing strong, as Mankin took the checkered and his teammate Large in third behind Jason
Lawton in second.
By lap 4, Mankin made his way to third place with Curtis and Large Jr. right behind.
Dean Gould, who started in the pole, worked to fend off the rising Mankin but by lead lap 9 Mankin squeezed his way to the top of the pack.
After a Matt Doran spun out in lap 12, Curtis began right behind Mankin and, by pushing onto the inside line, took the lead only a lap later.
For the next four laps, it looked like Curtis, the three-straight-win points leader, was going to continue his winning streak as he slowly eked away from Large
Jr. and Lawton, but after another restart thanks to a spinout by Thomas Magray, the race's tone changed dramatically.
On the lap 17 restart, Large Jr. immediately moved forward for the lead on the outside line while Curtis was pushed onto the infield track but recovered in
Curtis continued to fight for the checkered but in lap 20, as Large Jr. moved down from the outside going into turn 1, it appeared Curtis attempted to dive into
the inside spot which caused both drivers to spin out and end up in the back of the pack.
For Curtis, who was rarely seen in on-track collisions both this season and last year, his move was a complete surprise to many, including Large Jr.
"I was in front of him, I can't tell you what happened behind me," Large Jr. said. "I got in the middle of the corner, my car looped, and from then on it was pure
aggression in the seats … what are you going to do? Come back, that's what you're going to do."
From the lap 20 restart, the race was all Mankin's though Large Jr., his passion likely incited by Curtis possibly costing him the lead, roared his way back into
"I should have been up there in first but hey, it's a team, and (Mankin) won," Large Jr. said. "That's great."
"I feel great," Mankin added in victory lane. "It was just awesome to come out here and finally get a win. It's been a season and a few races coming so we finally
Mankin said it was unfortunate Curtis and Large Jr. made contact, but he was happy with the checkered flag.
"It worked out for me and (Large Jr.) came in third so it's great," Mankin said. "A one-two punch. Great night."
WSRA Mini Cups
In the mini cups, Cameron Legue, who began the 20-lap race from seventh place, took away the checkered flag through great utilization of on-track vision.
Multiple drivers exchanged the lead through lap 11, but Legue, taking a chance underneath lap traffic, squeaked into the lead.
Through the rest of the race, the young driver held his spot despite Lawrence Massone, the top qualifier, slowly gaining strength.
"We put up a great race," Legue said of all WSRA Mini Cups drivers. "I'm just glad at the end I came out with a victory."
The Speedway will come back Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2 for two major events.
On May 1, the USAC HPD Midgets will hold a national event at the track, while on May 2, the trademark Vukovich Classic will bring a massive schedule
including the King of the Wing Sprint Series, Open Super Modifieds, BCRA Midgets, NCMA Sprints, Twisted Tea Modifieds, and the second day of the USAC HPD
Midgets, among others.
For information, visit www.racemadera.com, call (559) 673-7223, or visit the Speedway's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/maderaspeedway for free
ticket giveaways, photos from the track, and posts about upcoming events.
Open Hobby Stocks (30 laps):
Ben Lewis Jr.-(-1.754)
Richard Herzog-(1 lap)
Verg Beatty-(1 lap)
Sheldon Cooper-(2 laps)
Les Wasson-(2 laps)
Steve Schermerhorn-(5 laps)
Kyle Fortney-(17 laps)
Eloy Bazan-(18 laps)
MST's (30 laps):
Tyler Herzog-(1 lap)
Patrick Geiger-(19 laps)
Toyota Sedans (30 laps):
Donnie Large Jr.-(-0.926)
Kevin Ballard-(3 laps)
Alex Odishoo-(14 laps)
WSRA Mini Cups (20 laps:
Jared Cronk-(1 lap)
AJ Jahr-(1 lap)
Joshua Terry-(5 laps)
Justin Scantlen-(10 laps)
MST's (Heat 1, 6 laps)
MST's (Heat 2, 6 laps)
Toyota Sedans (Heat 1, 6 laps)
Donnie Large Jr.
Toyota Sedans (Heat 2, 6 laps)
WSRA Mini Cups (Dash 1, 4 laps)
LoanMart Open Late Models
Open Hobby Stocks
Ben Lewis Jr.-17.098
Donnie Large Jr.-18.129
WSRA Mini Cups
THE LOANMART LATE MODEL SERIES HITS MAVTV IN JUNE!
Madera, CA. (4.16.15) - The LoanMart Late Model Series is being televised from Madera, California in 2015, and the TV series is set for a June launch on
MAVTV. The show will air on MAVTV on Thursdays at 1pm and in primetime at 7pm.
"MAVTV presented us with an option of holding our first three shows and then releasing this as a TV series in June verses us just releasing a show randomly
from our LoanMart Late Model Series. This is big for our series, and is a very big deal for our drivers" added LoanMart Madera Speedway GM Kenny Shepherd.
As additional shows are filmed they will be released into the Thursday time slot on MAVTV. With this format the action packed LoanMart Late Model Series
will be in front of race fans on MAVTV week after week, and this provides the energy race fans are craving.
The concept for the LoanMart Late Model Series is minimum rules with maximum competition, with extreme exposure for the drivers. For the fans the format
is tour like race events at local ticket prices, so the series is a homerun for fans and drivers alike. The series is eight races in total for the championship, and
operates once a Month with the October 10th race paying $10,000.00 to win!
The next LoanMart late Model race is April 25th, here is the balance of the schedule for the series for 2015; April 25th, May 30th, June 20th, July 25th,
August 29th, September 30th, and October 10th. All tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and military, $7 for youth ages 6-12 and kids five and under
MAVTV is your Motorsports destination! The MAVTV Motorsports Network will entertain Motorsports enthusiasts whether you prefer Sprint Cars, Dirt Late
Models, Short Course Off Road, Desert Racing, Drag Boats, Pro Pulling, and everything in-between. Motorsports is at our core, but we also have a fantastic line
up of original programming and shows and automotive reality you know and live like Dave Despain along with Stacey David's Gearz, Full Custom Garage, My
Classic Car and more! MAVTV is geared up to deliver excitement for all racing and automotive enthusiasts. You be the judge. Check it out or visit
www.getmavtv.com for a preview of our awesome lineup and don't miss a minute of the action! MAVTV IS Motorsports.
Monster trucks delight Madera Speedway crowd
By Mark Smith
The Madera Tribune
The LoanMart Madera Speedway's 51 Fifty Spring Monster Smash meant mayhem, mayhem, mayhem, Saturday night, as for the first time in track history a
complete class of monster trucks showcased their roaring, soaring machines during a full infield show before skilled drivers in the USAC HPD Midgets and
Enduro divisions earned checkered flags.
Needless to say, an audience that filled the grandstands loudly cheered every move seen along the way.
For the monster truck show, four of the gargantuan motorized beasts, their wheels alone more than five feet high, ripped across the Speedway's infield.
In fact, Darren Migues from Kansas City behind the wheel of the purple-and-green Nitro Menace warned the Speedway before the event it better prepare to
resod its field.
"We're going to rock this place," Migues said. "And when we're done, they're going to need about $4,000 of grass seed to replace this lawn."
The show lived up to his words, as the trucks crushed cars and a van, flew over barricade walls, and deeply tore up the dirt with massive donuts, including a
double-donut of Jimmy Creten in the well-known Bounty Hunter and Russell "Wheeler" Steeley in the Knucklehead that earned a standing ovation.
First up was a wheelie contest, where drivers in the monstrous machines that also included Matt Clark in the patriotically-painted and named Freedom
Keeper, used upwards of 1,500 horsepower to launch the trucks in the air, bounce on their shocks, and roar into a full-blown wheelie.
Creten's Bounty Hunter managed to pull away with the win, as he often reached wheelie distances of more than 120 feet to the crowd's applause.
In a separate showing, Robert Hagler in the Hooligan, a regular-sized sedan, then performed the steel-wall crash when he slammed into two cars stood up by
wooden poles. One of the target cars flipped through the air which caused its own share of cheers.
After that was the freestyle portion, where the trucks crushed cars and leaped through the air to incredible heights, with Creten again earning victory for
knocking the doors off of cars and crushing cones in his way.
But even all the exciting driving wasn't enough for the monster truckers to give the crowd.
When Creten announced he'd give away a dart board courtesy of Madera Hobby, one of many prizes awarded throughout the night, a host of young fans
chased him throughout the grandstands and up the stairs.
Creten's eyes finally settled on 4-year-old Jayden Skurja, smiling wildly atop the shoulders of her father Jordan and who earned her prize.
"This is really good," the exuberant young fan said. "I'm super excited!"
When asked if she had a favorite truck, Skurja nodded with enthusiasm then pointed out the Knucklehead, adorned in one of her favorite colors, red.
"They're all amazing," Skurja smiled.
Creten said he was happy to be in Madera to put on a show for fans like Skurja.
"I go up and down the (highway) 99 all the time, at least 15 times a year," Creten said. "I look at this track and I always think it'd be a great place to do a
monster truck show and I'm finally doing one. It feels really good to be here in Madera for all these great fans."
USAC HPD MIDGETS/ENDURO
Not to be outdone, the United States Auto Club HPD Midgets and Enduro then took to the track to put on their own show.
In the midgets, Toni Breidingar started in the pole with Annie Breidingar in second and 16-year-old Tom Patterson, the event's second-top qualifier who
would take the checkered flag, in third.
By the end of lap 1, Patterson managed to zip ahead of Annie Breidingar, then battled to pass Toni Breidingar in the lead by lap 3.
After the 44 car of HPD Restricted Midgets driver Jesse Love - in a class set up with slower engines for drivers ages 10 to 12 - spun out, the race restarted with
Patterson on top and his Breidingar duo opponents close behind.
What remained at question was the work of 15-year-old Cody Jessop, who topped qualifying times with 15.261 to Patterson's 15.321.
Jessop, who started in fourth, was seen hard at work to move into the third-place position, which he was unable to do due to the wall-like Breidingars until lap
Patterson, deep in the lead with plenty of room to increase his lap times up to 15.185 which beat all qualifiers, steadily built a lead while Jessop had trouble
getting by Annie Breidingar.
Eventually, Patterson's efforts to increase his top spot by more than a half second each alp pulled away with the victory in the 30-lap main and Jessop in
"This is a great way to start the season," Patterson said of his first win in Madera. "I couldn't do it without my crew … we made some adjustments to the car
when we came out earlier today and it was loose, sloppy loose, so we tightened it up."
For the150-lap Enduro, Richard Herzog proved practically unstoppable as he earned his first-ever victory in the division, which throws no caution flags as
drivers slip and spill about the track.
Herzog managed to push his way into third place by lap 9 with his number 7H car while the 80D of David Etheridge, one of the Enduro's top performers, kept
the lead from the pole.
What proved Herzog's unmatchable efforts were his lap times, as even while Etheridge managed to slide around a host of lap traffic including Rick Anderson,
James Cooke, and Antonio Mentzer all in a pack, Herzog continued to catch up by more than three tenths of a second.
In lead lap 70, Herzog was right on Etheridge's rear when the 151 car of Jake Kirby spun out.
Both drivers chose different paths around the spun-out driver, and Herzog then swooped into the lead on the inside lane.
After the break at lap 75 for drivers to enter the pits, Etheridge restarted back in the lead because he chose to leave the pit area first.
"The gameplan coming in was come in, gas only, get back out there," Etheridge laughed later while he celebrated his second-place finish in victory lane. "I
knew we'd be slower so I wanted to start out front and try to hold it as much as I can … but (Herzog) just had a a better car and there's nothing I could do about
it. He was really great tonight."
Herzog started in fifth place on the restart, but proved his power as he moved into third within one lap.
Then, by lap 77, Herzog was in a strong second place as he moved ahead of Jason Sitton.
In lap 79, Herzog was again right behind eventual runner-up Etheridge and as the two moved around another spun-out car, the 19 of Robert Smith, Herzog
retook the lead by going underneath Etheridge on the outside.
The move made it seem like Herzog was unable to lose, until in lap 84, another spun-out vehicle caused him to spin out as well which put him 5.7 seconds
behind Etheridge going into lap 85.
But the spinout wasn't even an issue, as Herzog regained more than 4 seconds of the difference by 10 laps and easily moved into first in lap 101, less than 20
laps after he fell behind, and from there, the victory was his.
In the winner's circle, Herzog said he was "kind of on a mission" to get his first Enduro win.
"I'd won in every other class I'd been in so I really wanted one of these bad," Herzog said. "(Etheridge) was giving me a real good run, really hard … but I'm a lot
better when I chase a rabbit than I am being the rabbit."
Herzog said his brakse and power steering went out in the second half of the race so he had to muscle through victory.
"Turning through one and two I was using my knee and both of my hands," Herzog said, "and I usually drive with one hand. It was a handful. My arms are going
to be sore tomorrow."
Herzog said ultimately, he would look to earn another Enduro win in Madera when the class returns May 9.
The Speedway goes dark next Saturday, but returns April 25 with a full racing schedule including: Race #2 of the $1,000 to win LoanMart Open Late Model
Series; Race #2 of the $500 to win Super Hobby Stock Open Series; MST's; Toyota Sedans; 4-Bangers; Mini Cup; and the 18-Second Bracket Race.
For information, visit www.racemadera.com, call (559) 673-7223, and visit the Speedway's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/maderaspeedway for free
ticket giveaways and photos from all events.
Enduros (150 laps):
Britt Wasson/Mike Robinson-(2 laps)
Jason Sitton-(11 laps)
James Cooke-(13 laps)
Antonio Mentzer-(17 laps)
Robert Smith-(19 laps)
Marisa Odgers-(36 laps)
Brock Boswell-(59 laps)
USAC HPD Midgets (30 laps):
USAC HPD Midgets, Restricted (30 laps):
Jesse Love-(1 laps)
USAC HPD Midgets (8 laps):
USAC HPD Midgets, Restricted (6 laps):
USAC HPD Midgets:
Jesse Love (restricted)-15.798
Ethan Lesser (restricted)-16.550
Nichols runs clean in Pombo/Sargent Classic at the LoanMart Madera Speedway
By Ronald Montez
The Madera Tribune
Madera, Ca - For Chad Nichols, there wasn't much down time in the pits for the BCRA Midgets driver.
Before Nichols could capture the 30-lap headlining win at the LoanMart Madera Speedway, he and his racing team were consumed with making last minute
adjustments to the No. 17 car.
While Nichols was understandably occupied in the back getting ready for his main, the loyal fans in the grandstands were treated to a mix of competitive open
wheel racing and a trip down memory lane with blast from the past race cars in the annual Pombo/Sargent Classic presented by Allied Storage and Containers
on Saturday night (March, 28).
Prior to the BCRA Midgets race, the crowd saw Audra Sasseli (NCMA Sprints), Dylan Nobile (USAC HPD Midgets), Lance Tatro (360 Super Modifieds), and
Ethan Lesser (USAC HPD Restricted Midgets) each earn victories on the night while the Vintage Open Super Modifieds, Vintage Midgets and Vintage 360
Super Modifieds also completed laps on "The Fastest 1/3 Mile in the West."
On a night that remembered legendary short track drivers, the late Al Pombo and Marshall Sargent, respectively, every driver in each class helped put on an
admirable show for the spectators.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NIGHT
After Michael Snider and David Goodwill each won an eight-lap heat race, there was a bit of a wait for Chad Nichols and the rest of the drivers heading into the
"I think I was so busy with the problems that we were having earlier in the night that I couldn't worry about timing or trying to keep a rhythm," Nichols
explained. "We just had a lot of fuel problems tonight trying to get the motor running and get the car better, so I think it probably worked to an advantage and
kept me busy enough."
Prior to the race going green, the division lost its top qualifier Cody Gerhardt (13.955), who made a trip to the infield with car problems and could only watch
the 30-lap main.
With Gerhardt sidelined, Nichols led the 12-car field out of the gates with Frankie Guerrini, Mark Maliepaard, Tanner Swanson and Goodwill following in the
Although Nichols led from the first lap to the final one, his grip on the lead was never secure.
Nichols had to fight to keep his lead on three restarts including one on Lap 14 when the race was momentarily stopped.
"The problem came when we were in the lead and kept getting yellows," he said of his biggest obstacle in the race. "I kept getting nervous because I knew I had
a good rhythm and kind of a decent lead but on the yellows, you never know. Anything can happen on the first few laps. That was more stressful than the
waiting around for the long night."
Because of the car's quick burst of speed, the exposed open wheels and close proximity to each other, Nichols had to keep a watchful eye out for cars spinning
around on the track.
"There were two right in front of me at the end, so that was a little close," he said. "I wasn't right up on them but I was maybe 25-40 feet behind them, so close
enough that if they got off the brakes wrong or spun the wrong way then they were going to collect me. That was a little nerve-racking but I didn't see the ones
behind me. I know some good cars got collected tonight behind me and unfortunately that's a bad luck night for them but it kind of works out for us."
Two spinouts that invoked cautions on Lap 5 and 21 didn't have an affect on Nichols' take-off on the restarts.
Even when Swanson and Snider's cars got into each other and tumbled sideways on Lap 14 that caused the race to go red, the veteran driver called on his
experience once it resumed to stay ahead of Goodwill, who made his way to second after passing Guerrini and Maliepaard from Laps 10-14.
"I know this track and it's my favorite," Nichols said. "I've been running it for 20 years, so I'm just trying to make sure I hit my spots and get off the corner well
for the first few laps and get in a rhythm. It just kind of worked out well tonight."
On the restarts, Nichols knew he had to time them just right to maintain his lead.
"Absolutely I was," Nichols responded when asked if he was concerned about getting clipped from the back on the restarts. "I've had it happen to me before.
The biggest time you worry about is going into Turn 1 after a restart because you're never quite sure how you get off a corner. If other cars really want to kind
of banzai in there, it's usually when they'll give it a shot. You can't give them too much room and leave it wide open but you don't want to pinch them off and
let them get into your left rear. I'm just trying to find a good rhythm on Lap 1."
After a caution on Lap 21, Nichols finished strong in the final nine while Goodwill took second.
"Early we were pretty down and had a really rough night with the car, so this win goes to the crew," Nichols said in a victory lane interview with track
announcer "Outback" Andy Foster.
Maliepaard got by Guerrini down the stretch to finish ahead of him in third while Snider bounced back from that early contact with Swanson to finish an
In the NCMA Sprint main, it was Audra Sasseli who prevailed despite trailing with eight laps remaining.
In her No. 77 car, Sasseli outlasted the rest of her competitors in the 30-lap main and finished ahead of runner-up Denny Burell and Pat Ariaz, who took third
and also won an eight-lap heat race.
Sasseli began the day with a strong start by posting the top qualifying mark (14.711) and also winning an eight-lap heat race.
While Sasseli stayed in the top two for most of the main, it was a rocky start for the entire class.
Within the first seven laps, the race stopped twice after Justin Kawahata, David Burcett, and J.R. Brown were involved in scary crashes. All three drivers were
reported to be okay with Kawahata and Brown valiantly returning to complete the race.
Once track officials cleared up the raceway, it was Sasseli and Eric Humphries battling for the top spot on the restart.
After Lap 10, Humphries claimed the clear lead and set the pace for the rest of the race.
However on Lap 22, Humphries relinquished his position when he pulled into the infield which left Sasseli back in first.
Sasseli closed out the race strong with Burrell, Ariaz, Bud Trumble and Brown finishing in second, third, fourth and fifth.
USAC HPD MIDGETS
Although he was the division's No. 1 qualifier (14.866) and won the eight-lap heat race earlier in the day, drivers in the USAC HPD Midgets didn't make it easy
for Dylan Nobile to claim the 30-lap main.
It wasn't a runaway for Nobile, who had to work hard for his victory after trailing for 26 out of the first 30 laps.
However, once Nobile crossed the finish line and parked his No. 40 car in the winner's circle, he climbed to the top of it and showed those in attendance just
how excited he was with his well-earned win.
Nobile had plenty of reason to celebrate his comeback victory.
Tom Patterson, Annie Breidingar, Cody Jessop and Toni Breidingar all began the race ahead of Nobile, who sat in fifth.
In the first 10 laps, all five were in a group together going steadily around the track - no more than a car length apart.
Patterson started to create a little separation between the pack but Nobile, Annie Breidingar, Toni Breidingar and Jessop were still within striking distance.
After Turn 4 on Lap 26, Nobile caught up to Patterson before assuming the lead on the next lap.
For the final three laps, Nobile stayed ahead while Patterson finished in second and Annie Breidingar rounded out the top three.
360 SUPER MODIFIEDS
In the 360 Super Modifieds division, multi-winning track champion Lance Tatro showed his skill and control with a 30-lap main win over second place Lance
Tatro, the top qualifier (13.429) also bested A.J. Russell in the eight-lap heat race.
Although Russell kept it close early in the main, lap-by-lap Tatro began to create space and won by 12 seconds.
Jackson eventually passed Russell to finish second.
USAC HPD RESTRICTED MIDGETS
It was a classic 15-lap battle between winner Ethan Lesser and runner-up Jesse Love in the USAC HPD Restricted Midgets main.
Love began the main with the division's fastest qualifying time (15.894) and had a six-lap heat race victory under his belt.
He appeared to be heading to a main win too before Lesser, who refused to go away and stayed close to Love in the entire race, suddenly took the lead on the
final lap to finish in first.
The Madera Speedway returns to action on Saturday, April 4 with the Easter Egg Hunt for the Kids on the Race Track, Madera Late Models, Madera Hobby
Stocks, NCPRO 4 Modifieds, MST, Toyota Sedans, 4-Bangers, and the 18-Second Bracket Race.
BCRA Midgets - 30 Laps
1. Chad Nichols
2. David Goodwill
3. Mark Maliepaard
4. Frankie Guerrini
5. Michael Snider
6. Kevin Morris
7. Gary Conterno
8. Floyd Alvis
9. Marvin Mitchell
10. Alan Beck
11. Tanner Swanson
12. Lauren Snider
13. Cody Gerhardt
NCMA Sprints - 30 Laps
1. Audra Sasseli
2. Denny Burell
3. Pat Ariaz
4. Bud Trumble
5. J.R. Brown
6. Justin Kawahata
7. Eric Humphries
8. David Burcett
9. Jeff Burrows
USAC HPD Midgets - 30 Laps
1. Dylan Nobile
2. Tom Patterson
3. Annie Breidingar
4. Toni Breidingar
5. Cody Jessop
6. Ron Hazelton
7. Ashley Hazelton
360 Super Modifieds - 30 Laps
1. Lance Tatro
2. Lance Jackson
3. A.J. Russell
USAC HPD Restricted Midgets - 15 Laps
1. Ethan Lesser
2. Jesse Love
3. Blake Brannon
BCRA Midgets (Heat 1) - 8 Laps
1. Michael Snider
2. Chad Nichols
3. Mark Maliepaard
4. Alan Beck
5. Cody Gerhardt
6. Ron Hazelton
BCRA Midgets (Heat 2) - 8 Laps
1. David Goodwill
2. Tanner Swanson
3. Frankie Guerrini
4. Gary Conterno
5. Kevin Morris
6. Floyd Alvis
7. Marvin Mitchell
NCMA Sprints (Heat 1) - 8 Laps
1. Pat Ariaz
2. David Burcett
3. Jeff Burrows
4. Bud Trumble
NCMA Sprints (Heat 2) - 8 Laps
1. Audra Sasseli
2. Eric Humphries
3. J.R. Brown
4. Denny Burell
5. Justin Kawahata
USAC HPD Midgets - 8 Laps
1. Dylan Nobile
2. Cody Jessop
3. Toni Breidingar
4. Tom Patterson
5. Annie Breidingar
6. Ashley Hazelton
7. Ron Hazelton
360 Super Modifieds - 8 Laps
1. Lance Tatro
2. A.J. Russell
3. Lance Jackson
USAC HPD Restricted Midgets - 6 Laps
1. Jesse Love
2. Ethan Lesser
3. Blake Brannon
Qualifying - 2 Laps
1. Cody Gerhardt 13.955
2. David Goodwill 13.965
3. Chad Nichols 14.197
4. Tanner Swanson 14.247
5. Mark Maliepaard 14.367
6. Frankie Guerrini 14.377
7. Michael Snider 14.573
8. Gary Conterno 14.664
9. Lauren Snider 15.087
10. Floyd Alvis 15.104
11. Ron Hazelton 15.464
12. Marvin Mitchell 15.654
13. Alan Beck 15.662
1. Audra Sasseli 14.711
2. J.R. Brown 14.833
3. Justin Kawahata 14.881
4. Eric Humphries 14.905
5. David Burcett 15.176
6. Jeff Burrows 15.608
7. Bud Trumble 15.740
8. Pat Ariaz 15.776
USAC HPD Midgets
1. Dylan Nobile 14.866
2. Cody Jessop 14.904
3. Toni Breidingar 14.950
4. Tom Patterson 15.171
5. Annie Breidingar 15.195
6. Ashley Hazelton 15.564
360 Super Modifieds
1. Lance Tatro 13.429
2. A.J. Russell 13.912
3. Lance Jackson 13.915
USAC HPD Restricted Midgets
1. Jesse Love 15.894
2. Blake Brannon 16.210
3. Ethan Lesser 16.236
Shepherd earns first Late Models win in Speedway season opener
By Mark Smith
The Madera Tribune
The roar of racing powerhouses came back to life Saturday night as the LoanMart Madera Speedway revved up its 2015 season with a slew of high-flying
No race lived up to the expected action of a season-opening event more than the Open Late Model Series, where a $5,000 prize was earned in Buddy
Shepard's first-ever win at only 15 years old, but not without major costs.
Instead of a night where races were mostly defined by clean driving, the last 12 laps of the Open Late Model class could best be called a chaotic frenzy, as even
crossing over the finish line fans saw Shepherd and other drivers spinning across the "Fastest 1/3 Mile in the West" and responded with huge cheers.
In lap 113 of the event's 125 laps, then-leader Brian Herzog - who finished the first two 50-lap splits in the lead - refused to be denied victory as Shepard, with
the third-top qualifying vehicle out of 19 entries, continued to press for the lead on the outside line for numerous previous laps.
As Shepherd looked to again take the lead after numerous caution flag restarts, it appeared that Herzog purposely pushed Shepard into the front-end
straightaway wall which sent both Herzog and Shepard spinning down the line.
Shepherd managed to regain control of his car as it spun, but Herzog's momentum - in the race's second-top qualifying vehicle - caused him to flip around and
slam into the 90 car of Toni McCray, who was then forced from the race.
Cheers from the crowd exploded when race officials announced Herzog, a driver with a local history of turbulent driving, would be sent to the back of the pack
and essentially forced from victory.
At that point, it looked like the $5,000 was Shepard's to win, but Kyle Gottula made an incredible entrance to the top of the pack.
In lap 120, when the 3 car of J.R. Courage sent sparks into the air on a yellow-flag restart, it appeared Shepard chose the outside line while Gottula was on the
inside track of a double lineup.
Immediately, with five laps to go, Gottula appeared to drive as focused and furious as Herzog, squeezing Shepard close to the wall on the outside lane.
The final lap lead to such intensity.
As Gottula and Shepherd went into the final turn - after the 73 car of Garland Tyler tried to squeeze into the middle of the two drivers but backed out - it
looked like Gottula and Shepherd slammed into the wall for the second time.
But Gottula's car held Shepherd in place as the two went across the finish line, and Shepard finished ahead by less than a tenth of a second, only six hundredths
in the lead for the checkered flag and less than three tenths in front of Tyler.
As all three cars went three-wide over the finish line, numerous drivers spun out and Shepherd, still trying to keep control, bashed into the turn two wall on
his driver's side.
All the damage to his car - multiple scrapes and a crushed rear end - did little to dissuade Shepherd from celebrating his first-ever Open Late Models victory
after a rookie season in 2014.
"I feel great," Shepherd said. "I can't do it without my good group of guys. They've been working their butt off on this car and I was finally able to do this for
them. It's awesome."
Coming into the final lap, Shepherd said his car actually almost cost him the victory.
"That last lap, going into turn two, the cat got all weird and funky on me going into the corner," Shepherd said. "It got loose, and I thought, oh, it might be over
from here. But I was able to pull it off, and pull it off for the win."
Gottula said after the race his move wasn't intentional, it was simply a product of short-track racing.
"I thought I could do something to get the win over (Shepard) on that last-race restart but I gave him some room on turn four," Gottula said. "I guess people
saying stuff about it haven't been around short-track racing much."
Other winners included: Andrew Payne in the WSRA Mini Cups; Darrell Herzog in a close MST's win; Josh Whitfield in a dominant Open Hobby Stocks
performance; and Tim Curtis in the always-popular Toyota Sedans.
The sedans provided an excellent race as Curtis, the 2014 champion and 2013 champion Donnie Large fought for first and second place.
Large's main opponent came in last-year rookie Jason Lawton, who held the lead for nearly the entire race before Curtis zipped ahead in lap 25 as he shaved
off more than four-tenths of a second time each lap.
Lawton then attempted to fend off Large from second place as they finished neck-and-neck for their final spots after a couple caution flags.
In victory lane the third-place Lawton grinned as he discussed the fun of the Toyota Sedans class.
"Better racing means a better show for the fans," Lawton said of Large's second-place finish. "It's better for us too. We'll all be testing and tuning up our cars for
the next one, for sure."
Curtis - who won last year by nearly 200 points - agreed but said he didn't expect to win out as easily as before.
"We're starting a good year," Curtis said. "A lot of people rebuilt their motors last year and they're getting a whole lot faster. I definitely won't have a track
record like I did. I mean, once I got out in front tonight, it was easy, but their stuff isn't broken in yet. Once it is, it's going to be a totally different story out
Large said he felt he had a chance at beating Curtis, but his tires needed to be replaced.
"Tires would have made a tremendous difference," Large said. "By the end on the bottom they wash up every time and I couldn't hold it down, so I took it to
the top and held it."
Despite that, Large smiled as he noted the sedans were going to be a great class this year.
"(Curtis) is the '14 champ, I'm the '13 champ," Large said. "We'll settle this deal."
In the WSRA Mini Cups, some of the track's younger drivers - starting around 8 years old - provided a strong show as drivers went three-wide around several
turns, and finished when Payne took the lead on turn 3 into lap 16 and held it for the checkered flag.
Whitfield made the Open Hobby Stocks look easy, as he started from the pole as the top qualifier and finished with the victory.
In the MST's, Darrell Herzog managed to fend off approaching 2014 champion Kevin Thompson and 2013 powerhouse John Bowersox.
"I have great competitors bringing some great racing," Herzog said. "I saw Thompson chasing me down, but the camaraderie, the racing here, it's all been great
Numerous drivers repeated that theme and said they couldn't wait to race again at the LoanMart Madera Speedway after what appears to be an amazing
On Saturday, March 21, the Spears Southwest Tour returns to the Speedway for one of the top yearly events. The Legends of the Pacific, SR2 Late Model
Series, Toyota Sedans, MST's, and Race #1 of the $1,000-to-win Twisted Tea Open Modified Series join the Spears tour on the schedule.
For information, go to www.racemadera.com, call (559) 673-7223, or visit the Speedway's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/maderaspeedway for free
ticket giveaways, photos from the track, and posts about upcoming events.
Open Late Models Series (125 laps, two 50-lap splits and 25 sprint lap finish)
J.R. Courage-(5 laps)
Toni McCray-(12 laps)
Justin Philpott-(58 laps)
Blaine Rocha-(65 laps)
Emma Tucker-(65 laps)
Loren Kutz-(66 laps)
Del McIntosh-(75 laps)
Ryan Phillpott-(89 laps)
Parker Stephens-(112 laps)
Justin Westmoreland-(120 laps)
Open Hobby Stocks (70 laps, 35-lap split)
Ben Lewis Jr.-(-0.819)
Nick Silva-(1 lap)
Jim Earl-(1 lap)
Les Wasson-(2 laps)
Richard Herzog-(15 laps)
Joseph Riechmuth-(34 laps)
Howard Holden-(45 laps)
Toyota Sedans (30 laps)
Sarah Vivian-(1 lap)
Lucy Carmona-(1 lap)
Jillaun Holden-(2 laps)
Larry Alarcon-(9 laps)
MST's (30 laps)
Zackary Cook-(1 lap)
Dave Lander-(1 lap)
WSRA Mini Cups (20 laps)
Larence Massone-(4 laps)
Joshua Terry-(6 laps)
Toyota Sedans (Heat 1, 6 laps)
Toyota Sedans (Heat 2, 6 laps)
MST's (Heat 1, 6 laps)
MST's (Heat 2, 6 laps)
Patrick Geiger-(1 lap)
WSRA Mini Cups (Race, 4 laps)
LoanMart Open Late Model Series
Joey Stearns - No Time
Open Hobby Stocks
Ben Lewis Jr.-16.779
WSRA Mini Cups
BIGTIME TV TIME, ALL 2015 LOANMART LATE MODEL SERIES races from Madera will air on
Madera, Ca (1.23.15) - It's official, all eight of the 2015 LoanMart Late Model Series races from LoanMart Madera Speedway will air on MAVTV! There will be a
ninth episode in the TV series and this show will be a documentary about our 2015 LoanMart Late Model Series champion.
The LoanMart Late Model Series is in its fourth season, and it has become the place to be for a driver on a budget that wants to build a name and have a lot of
fun behind the wheel of a late model. In 2015 drivers will have another benefit from competing in the LoanMart Late Model Series at Madera, TV time.
The LoanMart Late Model Series season begins with a $5,000.00 to win race on March 14th and ends with the big $10,000.00 to win LoanMart Short Track
Shootout on October 10th. There are six races in between the season opener and the big end of year show, they will be held on April 25th, May 30th, June
20th, July 25th, August 29th, and September 26th.
There will be a total of nine episodes in the LoanMart Late Model TV series airing on MAVTV, eight races and a feature show on our 2015 champion. When
you include the two Lucas Oil Modified races, and the King of the Wing National Sprint Car race we will have a total of twelve races televised from the
LoanMart Madera Speedway in 2015!
"We are excited about the TV Series for the LoanMart Late Model Series, and we are very appreciative of our relationship with our marketing partners that are
helping us make this show a reality, partners like LoanMart, Lucas Oil, and MAVTV. MAVTV is the go to place for grass roots racing, and we feel our speedway
produces some amazing pavement short track racing that is made for TV." Kenny Shepherd
The hallmark of the series is close competition, fans will see big name drivers like former NASCAR champions Eric Holmes and Mike David, local stars like
Jason Aguirre and Garland Tyler going wheel to wheel with up and coming stars like Buddy Shepherd, Trevor Huddleston, Emma Tucker and many more.
Kenny Shepherd adds "the series provides a place for drivers on a budget to compete with well-funded teams, and this gives the ability to measure a driver's
true talent level. Now we are putting the drivers on the best racing TV channel for everyone to see that talent level."
For more information on the LoanMart Late Model Series go to www.racemadera.com, or contact Kenny Shepherd at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on his
cell phone at 209-769-9581.