Awards Banquet Honors Antioch Speedway Champions

By Don Martin II

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Photo by Paul Gould: Jeff Decker, Cameron Swank, and Mike Corsaro.

Antioch, CA — John & Donna Soares wrapped up their 20th season of promoting at Antioch Speedway with the awards banquet.  Eight champions and “Rookie Of The Year” awards and the Top 10 drivers in all eight divisions were honored.  The Top three drivers also received point fund money, and the champions received two championship jackets sponsored by Hoosier Tire and the track.

Soares went to the podium before the awards were handed out.  He thanked all of the racers for their support and talked a bit about the state of racing.  Soares noted that he feels the track is on the upswing.  “At many places, racing is down.  We’re doing okay and the numbers are coming around, ” said Soares.

For those keeping track of the history of the track, John & Gladys Soares, the current promoter’s parents, opened the gates and ran the track from 1961-1980.  This means a Soares has promoted the track for 40 of its 57 seasons.  “Dad built this track, ” Soares explained, ” and I felt I should keep the family name here.”

Ageless veteran Art McCarthy won his second Winged 360 Sprint Car championship at Antioch. Photo by Paul Gould

Art McCarthy made the biggest comeback of the season by making up over 60 points to win the Winged 360 Sprint Car title.  McCarthy won three Main Events en route to his second Antioch championship season.  Marissa Polizzi had a great season in second, and Burt Foland Jr. was third.  Jake Tuttle finished fourth in points and was this year’s top rookie.

Jeff Decker skipped the speech, letting his six wins and his third Antioch Speedway DIRTcar Late Model championship do the talking for him.  The battle for second went down to the wire, and David Newquist edged Shawn DeForest to finish there.  Kimo Oreta finished fifth in the final standings to win “Rookie Of The Year” honors.

Bobby Motts Jr. added his A Modified championship to his 2004 Street Stock title. Photo by Paul Gould

Bobby Motts Jr. set out to win the A Modified championship in dedication to Steven Cunningham, a family member and fellow racer who died prior to the season.  Motts, who has teamed with Mike Ferry for years, is a past Antioch Speedway Street Stock champion.  One win and four second place finishes helped propel him to the championship.  Sean O’Gara had his best season in second, and Eric Berendsen claimed “Rookie Of The Year” honors with his third place point season.

Bryan Grier needed his fourth win of he season to wrap up his Wingless Spec Sprint championship.  Grier won a very close battle for the Spec Sprint title three years ago at Watsonville.  He remarked that it is very difficult to win a points race before thanking his crew for their hard work.  Rick Panfili was just two points out of the lead going into the finale, but an opening lap crash ended his race.  Second is sill Panfili’s best season as he has been a part of the Spec Sprints since they were added to Antioch in 1999.  Five time winner Bob Newberry ended up third.  Abigail Gonderman finished seventh in points and won the “Rookie Of The Year” award.

Kimo Oreta was already set to drive the Sun Drop Racing Late Model for his rookie season.  When Larry Damitz died before the season, they picked him to pilot Larry’s #15 championship Limited Late Model as well.  Oreta responded by winning four Main Events, finishing second five times and giving the team their eighth division championship between Antioch and Merced.  Oreta thanked the Sun Drop team for letting him drive their cars.  He also recalled how he had switched from racing pavement to dirt and how Damitz was there to help him win his first Hobby Stock championship.

Jim Freethy had a solid season and held off Mark Garner in a close battle for second.  Freethy won three Main Events, while Garner won two.  Garner maintained an impressive double division effort, and he used three wins to finish second in B Modified points.  Chad Hammer finished sixth in Limited Late Model points to win the top rookie award.

K.C. Keller had more Top 5 finishes than anybody as he won the B Modified championship. Photo by Paul Gould

K.C. Keller had an amazing B Modified season that saw him only miss the Top 5 once during the year.  He scored four feature wins and won the championship.  Following Garner was Chuck Golden in third.  Two time winner Todd Gomez was seventh in the standings and won “Rookie Of The Year” honors.

Another of the close battles took place in Hobby Stocks.  It was a four car battle for much of the season before Chris Sorensen and Chris Long faded.  Cameron Swank had two wins late in the season after he had four seconds.  This resulted in him winning the championship.  “Rookie Of The Year” Brent Curran won two races.  Though he had four of his five second place finishes in the last four races, Curran settled for second in points ahead of fellow rookie Chris Bennett.

Mike Corsaro won his first Dwarf Car championship on the strength of three wins.  He was quick to thank long time Dwarf Car racer Charlie Correia for getting him involved in the sport and all of his support.  Devan Kammermann was the top rookie and second in points after a close battle with David Michael Rosa.

Soares is already at work planning the 2018 season.  You can go to www.antiochspeedway.com for more information.

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