Saturday: Sprint Cars, Modified’s Headline Antioch Speedway Show

By Don Martin II

2010 Hobby Stock champion Chris Sorensen preparing the numbers on his #00 Hobby Stock for Saturday night. Photo by Robbee Sorensen

Antioch CA — People are still talking about the 58 car Sprint Car Challenge event that opened the 2017 season at Antioch Speedway.

After a rain out, followed by a break for Easter, six divisions will be featured this Saturday night on the fast three-eighth mile clay oval.  The Winged 360 Sprint Cars will be headlining the show along with A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Bay Area Hardtops.

The Winged Sprint Cars will be competing in their fourth consecutive championship season.  One of the drivers we’ll be watching for is a driver who has won Sprint Car championships at both Antioch and Petaluma, Art McCarthy.  McCarthy has been a good supporter of Sprint Car racing at Antioch since Oval Motorsports began promoting races here in 1998.  Art finished a close second to Billy Aton in points last season after winning three Main Events.  He also finished second in points in 2015.

Winning the 2015 championship was third generation racer Shawn Arriaga.  Arriaga impressed at the Sprint Car Challenge race a few weeks ago by winning his heat race and then finishing tenth in a talent loaded Main Event.  After his best season yet in the class with a third place ranking last season, Dan Gonderman will be back to try for his first win in the class.  Jenna Frazier was last season’s “Rookie Of The Year” winner, and she will be doing double duty in Sprint Cars and Dwarf Cars.  Several others are anticipated, and Antioch will likely see several young up and coming racers make visits in the quest for their first wins.

Leading the charge for the A Modifieds is likely to be five time champion Scott Busby.  Busby’s big win in last year’s John Soares Sr, Memorial Race moved him to within two wins of J.D. Willis for the track’s all time win record.  Busby could very well be the driver to beat in his quest for an unprecedented sixth division championship, but there are some good drivers lining up for a shot.  Of course, Carl Berendsen II has said he’s not planning to run for points after winning his second championship, but he’ll probably be there this week.

Last year’s “Rookie Of The Year” winner, Bobby Montalvo, has his car ready for a new season, and another of last year’s Top 5 stars, Trent Wentworth, is also ready to go. Wentworth came very close to winning on several occasions, and it won’t be a surprise to see him score a victory this year.  The fact is that this division has several drivers capable of winning on any given week, including two past Top 3 point earners, Mike Salazar and Sean O’Gara.  Other drivers to watch for include hard charger Brian Cass, Nick Viscusi III, Shawn DeForest and 2015 point runnerup Bobby Motts Jr.  Brian Pearce is back in an A Modified after his Top 10 season in a B Modified.

Trevor Clymens comes into the season as the defending B Modified champion who won seven times.  The third generation racer will be hard to beat, but this week he may face some competition in another third generation star, Mark Garner.  K.C. Keller is stepping up his program and could be another driver to watch in the championship battle.  Speaking of champions, we have past Street Stock champion Todd Gomez and 2016 Hobby Stock champion Guy Ahlwardt in B Modifieds this year.  Other drivers to watch for from the growing roster include Danny Jones, Mike Mates, Kevin Brown, Chuck Golden and more.

Hobby Stocks will be an interesting division to watch as we will probably be crowning another first time champion in the division.  Veteran Stock Car racer Danny Jones might be the driver to beat if car owner Ryan Thomason decides to make a run.  Chris Long would seem to be another serious contender after his New Year’s Bash victory.  However, this roster has several racers capable of getting to the front.  Following his second straight Top 3 season, Jordon Swank could be a major player in the battle.  After notching his first career win last season, Frank Furtado may also be ready for a title run.

Michael Cooper was also a winner for the first time last year and was once again a top 5 point runner.  If he makes every show, he’s almost certain to be in the title hunt.  Past Limited Late Model champion Lori Brown is coming to the Hobby Stocks, and rookies such as fourth generation racer Billy Garner, past Mini Stock champion Brent Curran and Chris Bennett are also joining the class.  This season, Steve Perry is getting a car ready so that he can race his wife, Natalie Perry.  The two Perry’s will be joined by such hard chargers as 2016 point runner up Lindsey Buirch, Robert Niven, Cameron Swank, Chuck Templeton, Russell Shearer and Anthony Vigna.  2010 champion Chris Sorensen just confirmed that he will be there this week.

Dwarf Cars never fail to put on an exciting show, and that shouldn’t change when they kick off their 20th championship season this week.  Reigning champion Kevin Miraglio leads another talented roster of drivers that includes 2016 runnerup Mike Corsaro, Josh Miller, Tim Reeder, David Rosa, Brian Gray, Jenna Frazier and Wade Humphrey.  Devan Kammermann will be making his debut in the class with a few other newcomers, and past Hobby Stock champion Robert Coe reportedly has a new car in the hopes of stepping up his program and making a run for some wins.

Some of the local Hardtop racers have made the commitment to Antioch Speedway this year and were given five dates.  Dave Mackey won multiple times last year and leads the charge.  Kimo Oreta takes the wheel of the #100 Larry Damitz car, while Gene Haney has purchased a car from Bill McLaughlin.  Due to another group scheduling a date on top of Antioch, car count will be effected.  Hardtop star Tommy Thomson will be out for a while as he recovers from surgery.  Long time Hardtop supporter Dan Williams, Steve Cloyes and Doug Braudrick are others who could be there.  The local roster is about a dozen cars, and 5-8 cars are anticipated for this race.

The six division show this Saturday night at Antioch Speedway should be a good one.  All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars lead the charge.  The A Modifieds will bring more excitement along with the B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Bay Area Hardtops.

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