DeMartini, Papenhausen, Decarlo, Ryland and Cooper win in the Opener
by Don Martin II Photography by Paul Gould
Racing finally began Saturday night at Antioch Speedway with an exciting five division All Star Series racing program and an Easter egg hunt for the children during intermission. In the Winged 360 Sprint Car division, Matt DeMartini scored an exciting victory. In the early goings, it looked as if Billy Aton was headed for the win. The 2016 champion, Aton set the early pace ahead of David Lindt II. However, Aton spun, collecting Lindt. DeMartini found himself leading Burt Foland Jr, but all eyes were on Aton as he made a charge back through the pack. In the waning laps, Aton slipped past Foland for second, but he could not make the move on DeMartini. Foland finished third as Lindt, Ricky Brophy and Roy Fisher rounded out the lead lap finishers in the 11 car field. Lindt won an eight lap heat race ahead of Foland, while Aton held off Bill Cornwell to win his heat.
Richard Papenhausen was back in prime form as he blistered the dry slick three-eight mile oval and led most of the 20 lap DIRTcar Late Model Main Event. Papenhausen was quickly into slower traffic with a nice advantage over second. Even a late yellow flag could not slow Papenhausen. He resumed command on the restart and earned the victory ahead of reigning champion Jeff Decker, Paul Guglielmani, Rod Oliver, Tyler Lightfoot and Dennis Sousa. The 12 car field was split into two heat races with Decker winning his eight lapper ahead of Rob Norris. Papenhausen won the second heat ahead of Oliver.
Reigning Ocean Speedway champion Nick DeCarlo returned and collected the 20 lap “A” Modified Main Event win. Polesitter Trent Wentworth paced the field for six laps before DeCarlo made his way past for the lead. Once in front, there was nobody stopping DeCarlo from scoring the satisfying victory. Reigning Antioch champion Bobby Motts Jr settled into second by the halfway point of the race and would finish there ahead of Petaluma champion Oreste Gonella, Wentworth and Sean O’Gara. The 15 car field was split into three heat races with Motts winning the first eight lapper ahead of Gonella. DeCarlo held off O’Gara to win the second heat, while two time champion Carl Berendsen II outran Wentworth to win the third heat.
2015 “B” Modified champion Fred Ryland returned in style with a thrilling 20 lap Main Event victory. It looked as if Todd Gomez would win that race. Gomez enjoyed a spirited dual with Ryland, reigning champion K.C. Keller and 2016 titleist Trevor Clymens for much of the distance. Unfortunately, traffic got the better of Gomez and cost him the lead. Ryland was there to take over as he went on to a satisfying victory ahead of Clymens, Tommy Fraser, Guy Ahlwardt and rookie Brent Curran. The 15 car field ran three eight lap heat races with Keller beating Ryland in the first heat. Clymens battled Kevin Brown to win the next heat, and Gomez scored the victory in the third heat ahead of Ron Brown. Clymens came back to dominate the second Sharp Shooter event of the season, collecting the win in the special 12 lap race by a wide margin ahead of Gomez and Keller.
An impressive field of 19 Hobby Stocks came to compete. It was Michael Cooper going flag to flag to win the 20 lap Main Event. Cooper led all the way, leaving the battle between Chris Sorensen and reigning champion Cameron Swank for second. Sorensen held the position until Swank made his way by on a lap ten restart. Ricky Foster turned in his best finish in fourth ahead of Josh Leach, Jim Robbins and Chris Bennett. Sorensen won the first heat race ahead of Swank, while Cooper collected the victory in the second heat ahead of Joey Ridgway. Bennett won his first career heat race ahead of teammate Bill Garner.