Sport Modifieds, Spec Sprints, Highlight Saturday Show At Antioch Speedway

Photo Courtesy Katrina Kniss Photography
By Don Matrin II
Antioch, CA…

After the successful Easter weekend event, racing returns to Antioch Speedway this Saturday night. The IMCA Sport Modifieds are back In action along with the Wingless Spec Sprints, Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks, and Delta Dwarf Cars. It figures to be an action-packed show from start to finish.

After three events, two-time reigning IMCA Sport Modified champion Fred Ryland is tied for the lead with rising young star Andrew Pearce. The duo are just four points ahead of another young gun, Jacob Mallet Jr. 11 points back Tyler Browne, and 12 back is KC Keller. The championship battle is just getting started. Some of these drivers headed to Merced for the big money race two weeks ago. Ryland pocketed $2,000 for his second-place finish that night.

Keller has proven to be a formidable competitor at Antioch since joining the action in 2015. It took him a couple of seasons before winning the 2017 championship. He seems to always be in the mix for a win, and his victory at the most recent race was his 13th at Antioch, keeping him third on the division’s all-time win list behind Ryland and Trevor Clymens. After notching third-place seasons in the championship battle for the last two years, it could be that this will be his year to take it up a notch and win it all again.

The Wingless Spec Sprints got off to a bumpy start for their season opener last week, which was won by newcomer Zack Neeley. Neeley was behind the wheel of the John Hendrickson-owned entry. Hendrickson himself has competed at Antioch in Street Stocks, IMCA Modifieds, and was one of the first drivers to get on board with Spec Sprint racing. Neeley was only making his second start in that car, and he had to hold off Jacob Williams for the win.

Running back in third was Tony Bernard. Bernard hails from Santa Rosa, but he likes coming out and racing against the competitive field at Antioch Speedway. Last season, Tony used consistency to finish third in the standings and only missed second by six points. At his home track in Petaluma, Tony proved to be quite a competitive Street Stock racer in the late 1980s and early 1990s before moving up to the IMCA Modifieds. He’d been away for a few years, but he’s proven that he still knows the fast way around the race track.

Early season favorite Bob Newberry had people proclaiming him the driver to beat in his quest for an unprecedented third division championship. Unfortunately, he started off with some motor issues last week. Bob decided to go out and take a green flag for the points. Somehow, he was still making some passes, but he ended up heading for the pits after being involved in a tangle with another driver.

Likewise, two-time champion Dan Gonderman seemed to get battered a little bit, but he still managed a fifth-place feature finish. Division original Rick Panfili wasn’t as lucky as Gonderman. He suffered motor issues in his heat race and loaded up early.

Some people are proclaiming 2022 to be the year of the ladies in the Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks. Women at the front of the pack are nothing new in this class as Denise McCown and her daughter Megan Ponciano are both champions. Melissa Myers has also claimed the championship glory. As for McCown and Ponciano, the third generation of the family, Aiden Ponciano, is doing quite well. He could be a threat to win this week.

With three wins to her credit, Misty Welborn sits atop the standings by just six points ahead of Michaela Taylor and 12 in front of the tied Taylor DeCarlo and Jess Paladino. Reigning champion Larry McKinzie Jr didn’t finish the most recent race and fell back to fifth, 14 points out of the lead.

Taylor has looked fast lately and ended up finishing a career-best second at the most recent show. Some people are predicting that she could get her first win very soon. However, fellow female leadfoot Taylor DeCarlo is turning some heads after another Top 5 finish last time out.

She is the third generation of her family to go racing. Her father, Terry DeCarlo Jr, races a Modified with his brother Nick DeCarlo and father Terry DeCarlo Sr. There could come a time very soon when all three generations of the family-run a race together. Prior to getting into the Hobby Stocks, Taylor got valuable seat time in Outlaw Karts and Micro Sprints.

Danny Wagner finally met his match in the Delta Dwarf Cars last week. NorCal star Michael “Spanky” Grenert ended the two-race win streak for the two-time champion. Wagner still holds a 16-point lead over Devan Kammermann. 26 points back is Jack Haverty. He leads Chance Russell by 16 points in the battle for third, while David Rosa is 22 points behind him. Wagner’s team includes Kammermann, Haverty and sixth-ranked Ellie Russo, who got her first win last season.

Kammermann has a knack for picking up podium finishes, and he has three of them this year. He had a second-place finish at the opener. In reality, most of the drivers who take the green flag in this class have a legitimate shot at winning, and Kammermann may be the closest to being the next winner.

Wagner brings an extensive amount of experience with him, but he’s also imparting his knowledge to a newer group of races. Those drivers are getting better with each start.

The racing action is sure to be entertaining from start to finish this Saturday night. The grandstands will open at 4:00 pm with the first race firing off at 6:00 pm.

Ticket prices are $20 for Adults
$15 for military, Seniors (60 and over), and children (under 11)
Children five and under are free.

The CoCo Farms Antioch Speedway racing calendar has some great events lined up from now through the end of November. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.

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