Antioch, CA — All Star Series racing action continues at Antioch Speedway this Saturday night with a four division lineup on the schedule. Originally scheduled for early September, the Chet Thomson Memorial Hardtop Race was moved to this Saturday night to encourage a higher car count. Joining the Hardtops will be the popular All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints and Limited Late Models.
The Chet Thomson Memorial Hardtop Race began as a special event at the old Vallejo Speedway. Thomson was a Hardtop champion in the 1960s. Just a couple of years after his championship season, he passed away. This race was held in his honor and continued from the late 1960s to the final season at the track in 1979. It was Chet’s son Tommy Thomson and Dave Mackey who brought the race back to the Antioch Speedway schedule in 2016.
California Hardtop star Jason Armstrong was the winner of the first Antioch race with Ken Retzloff driving a borrowed car to a second place finish. A year later, the Top 2 positions were the same with Armstrong holding off Retzloff once again. Both drivers are feature winners on the Hardtop circuit this year and are two favorites to get the win again this year.
Another driver to watch for will be Terry DeCarlo. Terry raced Hardtops at Vallejo Speedway in its final seasons and picked up a feature win at Antioch this year in a car with the body that was originally on a Harold Hardesty Hardtop raced at Medford Raceway in the 1960’s. Speaking of division originals, Tommy Thomson still has the car that he raced at Vallejo Speedway and won with. He’s been making preparations to make the car faster when he returns on Saturday night. There are some good competitors anticipated this week, including Dave Mackey, Ron Ruiz, Dave Reed, Ken Clifford, Dennis Armstrong and Dan Williams.
The Sprint Car point race has three drivers with a mathematical shot at the championship going into Saturday night. Leading the charge with two feature victories is Matt DeMartini. DeMartini holds a 23 point lead over reigning champion Art McCarthy, who is still searching for his first win of the season. However, there was some doubt as to whether McCarthy would be ready for this race after blowing a motor and losing the point lead at the previous event. Running third as an unlikely division championship contender is Tim Burcher. Burcher is basically a rookie in this division and has made every race. However, he’s had a mixed bag of results. He trails DeMartini by 40 points and will be eliminated by DeMartini merely starting the final race. Other drivers to watch for this week include last season’s top rookie, Jacob Tuttle, David Dias and Jeff Strole.
Bob Newberry is knocking on the door to his second Wingless Spec Sprint championship at Antioch Speedway. Newberry got off to a strong start this season with his four feature wins happening in the first seven races. Shannon Newton has had the hot hand of late with two wins and three second place finishes in his last five starts. Newberry’s lead over Newton going into the finale is 33 points, meaning unless he stumbles badly, he should be able to win the championship. However, it’s still not over yet.
27 points behind Newton is Brandon Burd. The past Chowchilla Speedway champion has yet to win this season and has finished as high as third three times in the last five races. Other drivers to watch for this week include ageless veteran Roy Fisher, Scott Martin, division original Rick Panfili and Mackenzie Newton.
The closest championship battle at the speedway is happening in the Limited Late Model division. Kimo Oreta scored his sixth feature victory of the season last time out. Despite being the leader in feature wins, he only ended up with a two point lead after that night. Mark Garner finished third at the last race and is a three-time winner. He’s been very tenacious in the championship battle as the second-ranked competitor, and his knack for winning heat races has served him well so far. Still hanging in there in the championship race in third is four-time winner Mike Walko. Walko trails Oreta by 28 points.
Ryan Cherezian has been having one of his best seasons yet in his fast El Camino. Though he hasn’t won the Main Event yet, he has come close with two seconds and four thirds. Other drivers to watch this week include fifth ranked John Evans, two-time winner Mike Gustafson, Lori Brown and Chad Hammer.
The Hardtops will give the fans a good look at the style racing that headlined many race tracks in the 1950s and 1960s with their Coupe and Sedan race cars. With Sprint Cars and Limited Late Models on the card, it should be an entertaining show. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.