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Dirt track racers receive championship crowns at I-37 Speedway

by Jay Hallas | Posted on Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

By JM Hallas

PLEASANTON, Texas – Saturday night ended the regular season for I-37 Speedway just outside of Pleasanton. Several of the local class points battles were still up for grabs, while others were pretty much decided going in. Still others had battles inside the top five or ten, with some drivers on a totally different agenda, trying to find a set-up for the big 2-day Big Buck Shootout in early November.

Some extra money was added to two of the classes for the final points race of the season with the Limited Late Model winner going home with an extra $100 thrown in by the track. The Sport Compacts also had an additional $100 in their purse courtesy of Rachael Plant ‘Picture Taker.

In the Modified class, Talon Minten has a comfortable lead over Cody Leonard (18). Only catastrophic failure and a huge car count can help Leonard catch Minten for the championship, while Jason Borlace holds down third in points.

Looking for a double title, Talon Minten came into action out front of the Sport Modifieds, but by only 5 points on former track champ, Johnny Torres. Even heat race points figure as important for these two as the championship chase comes down to the wire. Cody Leonard is a distant third.

The Limited Late Model points chase is close as well showing Frank Okruhlik a mere 6 points up on Jason Kelly with Howie Marcx 18 back of the leader.

Wade Jones looked to recapture his Street Stock title coming into the evening with a ten point margin over Cody Leonard, while Shawn Moore, in third, can’t make up enough points to catch either.

The Pure Stock battle had been furious throughout the season between the two Dakotas (Heinaman and Hurley), but the last couple races have put some distance between them. Hurley, William Saunders and Aaron Leddy have good points scrap for second with the trio separated by only 3 markers.

After a six-in-a-row win streak, Robert Kelm has a stranglehold on the Sport Compact championship over Jamie Garner and Gordon Dowdy.

Also concluding their 2017 season were the A-Line Dwarf Car Racing Series of Texas. Dillon Coyne heads the pack by 40 points over the second place fight. In that scrum Tyler Folkerts, James Fitzgerald and Dylan Budnik entered action with only 23 separating the trio.

Dinsmores Double Up

Greg and Cameron Dinsmore (Kerrville) doubled up with wins the Modified main and Senior Go-Kart division. G. Dinsmore led every lap of the 20-lap Modified feature chased early by Chris Carroll. Cody Leonard took up the charge briefly until G. Dinsmore eased away through the mid-stages building a comfortable lead by the time the checkers waved.

As green flew on the 10-car Modified field Dinsmore got the lead going into turn 1 trailed by Carroll, Talon Minten, Leonard and Jason Borlace. Minten, who took the championship by starting the feature, Minten began challenging Carroll for second when he looped it for an early caution.

On the restart Dinsmore, Carroll and Leonard started to pull away until Robert Leise spun. Once back to green Leonard and Carroll began swap second while Minten made his way back up. As the duo battled, Dinsmore was able to increase his margin. Carroll would spin from the second place scrap, but keep going with no caution.

At halfway it was Dinsmore, still inching away, Leonard, Minten and Borlace with Carroll, Brad Smith and Jake Rollins three wide for fifth. Carroll picked up the spot and closed on Borlace. Bill Pittaway then joined the Smith-Rollins battle for sixth.

As the white flag waved, Dinsmore had built the distance over Leonard to a half straightaway and easily took the checkers in his Sundowner Performance Diesel Repair, Texas Land Restoration, Performance Towing, Race Safe Technologies, The Alignment Shop, Wehrs, Sanderson Motorsports, Fast Shafts, AFCO, Six-Two Graphics, Friesen crate powered, BMS Chassis.

In the Go-Karts, Dinsmores youngest son, Cameron, swept both the heat and feature wins.

“First would like to say way congrats on the track figuring out there track surface.” replied Dinsmore. “My hats off to their future as a top notch track. They have the heart and drive to make it big.

“On the restarts I just knew one of the cars was going to get me, but once we got a few laps under us I could start just hitting my marks and trying to keep the tires in the moisture. Congrats to all the track champions and to those who tried their best for second. Those close track championships are heart wrenching.”

“Congrats to my son Cameron on a will run race in the Go-karts. With Logan and Cameron coming up I don’t know what my pocket book is going to say but I know they will be great competitors.”

“Would like to say thank you my little sheet metal man, Cameron. He had quite the job after Abilene to straighten the mess out. Then myself, Logan and friends hammered out the front end and other issues. Plus, like to add Nick Roberts, Ben Baker and Kevin DuPont for their extra help. There’s so many people involved in this race car.”

Cash Bred Off Road Modifieds

8g Greg Dinsmore, 12 Cody Leonard, 15 Chris Carroll, 14t Talon Minten—Track champion, 92 Jake Rollins, 88s Brad Smith, 137 Bill Pittaway, 77 Robert Leise jr., 141 Rob Sanderson, 125 Jason Borlace, 29 Jamie Campbell—DNS

Modified heats

Heat 1; 8g Greg Dinsmore, 14t Talon Minten, 92 Jake Rollins, 77 Robert Liese jr., 137 Bill Pittaway, 141 Rob Sanderson—DNTG

Heat 2; 15 Chris Carroll, 12 Cody Leonard, 125 Jason Borlace, 88s Brad Smith, 29 Jamie Campbell

Modified winner Greg Dinsmore. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Modified track champ Talon Minten. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Jennings Joyful in Sport Modified Finale

JJ Jennings (Corpus Christi) has been in somewhat of a slump this year trying new things, but tonight it all paid off. Jennings went wire to wire in the 20-lap Sport Modified feature against a pretty stout field. Jennings had title contender, Talon Minten on his tail throughout most of the race. Marcus Mikulencak got by T. Minten after a late restart, but couldn’t mount a serious challenge on Jennings in the final laps.

As the 21-car field took the green Jennings jumped out front pursued by T. Minten, Cody Leonard, Chris Swenson and M. Mikulencak. After a lap 1 spin by Ray Doyon III, Leonard and T. Minten were side by side for second with M. Mikulencak alongside Swenson for fourth.

Cody Beddoe spun and collected David Meredith on lap 3. On that restart Vince Louden tried to fly over a tractor tire, but was able to keep going. After a couple yellows the racing finally got going with a single file restart. As Jennings cleared the way, T. Minten and Leonard renewed their wheel to wheel battle for second.

A small slip by Jennings gave T. Minten and Leonard the chance to go almost three wide for the lead. Jennings was able to get back in his groove, while Leonard began to slow before pulling off. At the crossed flags it was Jennings, T. Minten, M. Mikulencak, Lawrence Mikulencak and Johnny Torres in the top five.

Mikulenak then got beside T. Minten for second and after a couple laps side by side finally secured the spot. Tom Grothues spun on lap 17 setting up a restart that saw M. Mikulencak try Jennings on the high side. Behind them L. Mikulencak was now challenging T. Minten for third.

At the checkers it was Jennings, in the G&M Oilfield Services, 1st Class Towing, WW Bodies, Diamond Specialties, CBR Racing Shocks, Omega Mechanical, raceontexas.com, PTS Powered, Hughes by 89 Motorsports Chassis holding off M. Mikulencak for the victory, with L. Mikulencak nipping T. Minten at the line for third. As the field crossed the line, Broc Bowen punted Torres which resulted in a pit altercation, capping off a big day for Torres who got married earlier in the day.

With his fourth place finish T. Minten had enough points to take his second track championship of the year even without the Torres disqualification.

“I’ve forgotten what the (checkered) flag even looks like,” joked Jennings. “It’s been a while since I’ve won. I thought I had one won but got taken out by a lapped car. I’m proud to win another one. It’s been a hard year. We’ve been trying a bunch of stuff, springs, shocks, a little bit of everything.”

“When we had that run of eight laps I felt I had it rolling pretty good. Towards the end on the restarts I saw (turns) 1-2 start to black up. From what I was told it was better to run the top there. I kind of felt like a sitting duck on the restarts, but I wasn’t giving up the bottom.”

“If you get your doors blown off by someone in a different line, it’s time to move. If we had another restart I probably would have run the top in (turns) 1-2. Leading the whole race it’s kind of hard to give up your line.”

“We’re really happy the way the car is running right now. My brother has spent a ton of money on parts trying to make this car better. I can never thank him and his wife enough. They’ve put me in the best equipment. It shows. Our car is up front a lot. I’m just the lucky one that gets to drive it.”

Swenson Racing Products Sport Modifieds

26g JJ Jennings, 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 9m Lawrence Mikulencak, 9t Talon Minten—Track champion, 66 Johnny Torres, 56 Broc Bowen, 6 Vince Louden, 55r Rusty Head, 7 Bruce Hinson, 12r Roly Rodriguez, 97 John Witzsche, 11t Tom Grothues, 17 Derrick Gonzales, 25t Michael Keylich, 31 Chase Havely, 48 Chris Swenson, 12 Cody Leonard, 24r Robby Minten, 9 Ray Doyon III, 79 David Meredith, 77 Cody Beddoe, A11 Tony Alaniz—DNS

Sport Modified heats

Heat 1; 9t Talon Minten, 12 Cody Leonard, 9m Lawrence Mikulencak, 77 Cody Beddoe, 66 Johnny Torres, 31 Chase Havely, 9 Ray Doyon III, 55 Rusty Head

Heat 2; 26g JJ Jennings, 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 24r Robby Minten, 56 Broc Bowen, 6 Vince Louden, 79 David Meredith, 12 Roly Rodriguez

Heat 3; 48 Chris Swenson, 7 Bruce Hinson, 11t Tom Grothues, 97 John Witzsche, 17 Derrick Gonzales, 25t Michael Keylich, a11 Tony Alaniz—DNS

Sport Modified winner JJ Jennings. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Sport Modified track champ Talon Minten. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Votion Victorious in Limited Late Models

Multi-time I-37 Speedway track champion Trey Votion(San Antonio) capped off his season with another win, but after missing a couple races came up short in the championship battle. Votion would go flag to flag for the win while the points chasers, Frank Okruhlik and Jason Kelly both got knocked out early. In the closing stages Votion had to fend off Quentin Henderson to secure the victory.

As the feature took the green it was Votion getting a good jump on the field. Henderson and Okruhlik made contact battling for second collecting Kelly and Robby Minten. The crash destroyed the body on Kelly’s car, ending his title chances early. Okruhlik pitted with a flat, but damage to suspension was too great to continue. This would have put Howie Marcx in the cat bird’s seat, but a small car count eliminated him from contention for the title.

Once back to green, Votion controlled the pace while Landon Farquer got by Marcx for second. Votion began easing away from Farquer, Henderson coming from the back, Marcx and DJ Schroat. Henderson was able to get second from Farquer at halfway and began running down Votion.

Henderson kept reeling in Votion as the laps clicked off. Once Henderson got close enough he could get to Votion but lose ground overdriving the corners. This see-saw battle continued to checkers that saw Votion in the ZDT’s Amusement Park, Champion Signs, Mission Race Engines powered, Kelly Racing Chassis, Ford take home the win.

“I never saw or heard Quentin (Henderson),” said Votion. “I was just concentrating on hitting my marks and running consistent laps. Track was real smooth, just made sure not to overdrive car.”

“I thought Frank O had just spun out, I didn’t know he was broke. Hated to see Jason (Kelly) and Robby (Minten) tore up, didn’t know what happened but the cars looked bad, hated to see that.”

“I definitely feel like we had the car to beat most of the year, hate that I missed couple of races that cost me the Championship.”

Nogalitos Gear Limited Late Models

99v Trey Votion, 44 Quentin Henderson, 13 Howie Marcx, 8 DJ Schroat, 15 John Owens, 9 Landon Farquer, 99 Frank Okruhlik—Points champion, 57 Jason Kelly, 43 Robby Minten, 42 Ron Sprayue

Limited Late Model heats

Heat 1; 99v Trey Votion, 44 Quentin Henderson, 43 Robby Minten, 9 Landon Farquer, 42 Ron Sprayue

Heat 2; 99 Frank Okruhlik, 57 Jason Kelly, 13 Howie Marcx, 8 DJ Schroat, 15 John Owens

Limited Late Model winner Trey Votion. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Limited Late Model track champ Frank Okruhlik. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Jourdanton’s Jones Ends Season with Exclamation Point

After losing out on the championship the last season that I-37 was open, Wade Jones has been on a mission, regain his title. Jones led all 20-laps in the Street Stock feature and had a double family win after his son Peyton took home the hardware in the Junior Go-Kart class earlier. Jones had his points rival, Cody Leonard on his tail early, but pulled away in the end to secure the win and championship.

At the start of the 11-car Street Stock feature Jones got the lead with Frank Okruhlik, Allen Torres, Dennis Hilla and Leonard in pursuit. Okruhlik would have a quick spin that saw Jones get out front again, now with Leonard, Torres, defending champ Mike Lyon and Hilla filling out the top five.

Jones and Leonard began gapping the pack while Okruhlik made his way back up to third. After a restart for a spin by Robert Danielson, Hilla and Shawn Moore had a spirited battled swapping fourth lap for lap. At the midway point it was Jones, Leonard, Okruhlik, Lyon and Moore in the top five.

Danielson and Jacob Crow tangled on lap 11 for a caution that had Jones get away on the restart while Okruhlik and Leonard fought for second. As they slugged it out, Jones got a good lead pulling out to a half straightaway advantage with two to go.

The final laps saw the fourth place scrap heat up with Lyon and Moore trading some paint as the white flag waved. At the checkers it was Jones in the SABFI Transportation, Opiela Mechanical, Mission Auto Parts, Chevy Camaro powered by an in-house motor with the comfortable win and points title.

“This championship definitely makes up for the one I lost the last year I-37 raced,” exclaimed Jones. “All these many wins and championships wouldn’t be possible without my grandparents. We’ve been working on the car all year it’s been fast all year and it’s finally dialed back in. This championship is up there with the best because I get to share it with Peyton’s first championship.”

“My boys are my two biggest fans Peyton and Jackson. Peyton’s first year of racing go karts won every race and the championship. I still feel young and until one of the boys are able to drive this class I’ll still be out there trying to win every night.”

SABFI Transportation Street Stocks

41 Wade Jones—Track Champion, 7 Cody Leonard, 36 Frank Okruhlik, 20 Mike Lyon, 18 Shawn Moore, 94 Allen Torres, 87 Robert Danielson, 2x Dennis Hilla, 99 Wayne Wernette, 8 Jacob Crow, 20x Jason Campbell, 81 Doug Ripple—DNS

Street Stocks heats

Heat 1; 41 Wade Jones, 36 Frank Okruhlik, 7 Cody Leonard, 20 Mike Lyon, 99 Wayne Wernette, 18 Shawn Moore

Heat 2; 94 Allen Torres, 2x Dennis Hilla, 8 Jacob Crow, 87 Robert Danielson, 81 Doug Ripple, 20x Jason Campbell

Street Stock winner and track champ Wade Jones. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Montanio Motors to First Ever Win

Coming from an asphalt background, Clint Montanio (New Braunfels) picked up his first ever dirt track win, in only a handful of races. Montanio and Aaron Leddy swapped the lead in the middle stages of the 20-lapper before Montanio finally got the spot. From there he was able to build a good lead and score his inaugural checkers.

As the 22-car Pure Stock field took the green, on the second attempt, Leddy got the lead followed by Montanio, Mason Casteneda, Daniel Preston and track champ Dakota Hurley. As the top five separated out, Josh Sewell and Dillon Gaither were door to door for sixth. A spin by Sonny Kinnaman in turn 2 slowed the action.

On the restart Montanio got a good look low off turn 4 and had the bumper out front on lap 6. Leddy fought back getting the lead back on lap 7, as the two continued to run side by side. Montanio regained the lead a lap later while Casteneda and Preston were door to door for third.

As the leaders ran up on heavy traffic Montanio was able to get an advantage over Leddy and Casteneda. As the white flag was shown Montanio had increased his margin to a half straightaway, a margin he was able to carry to the checkers in his Old Man Icehouse, Longs Machine Shop powered, Chevy Nova.

“It took a lot of luck,” commented Montanio. “I had a good draw for the heat race, smart thinking and smart driving. This is my first year racing here. My first few races I wasn’t hitting the right lines and marks. Tonight I was right on it and got the job done,”

“I raced San Antonio Speedway since 2005 until it closed. I did alright, just never had that ‘luck’. On asphalt you use a little more brakes going into the turns. I got some good advice tonight and stayed in the gas more with just a little brake. I’ve just forgotten about my driving style on asphalt, dirt is totally different. I’ve been trying ideas and pointers from everyone. I’m still learning how to set the car up and drive it.”

“It all worked out tonight!”

All in Design Pure Stocks

09 Clint Montanio, 93 Aaron Leddy, 28m Mason Casteneda, 6 Daniel Preston, 5 Dillon Gaither, 38x Josh Sewell, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 441 Dakota Heinaman—Points champion, 95s Les Bettis, 13 Kris Workman, 14 Mark Pivarnik, 30 Riley Heil, 48k Robert Kelm, 53 Treyler Caulfield, 39 Sonny Kinnaman jr., 98 William Saunders, 9c Caitlin Leonard, 66 Adam Torres, 18 Emet Sevilla, 15 William Cavender, 44k Michael Keylich, 21r Eric Ramos—DNS, 23 Andy Kirkland—DNS

Pure Stock heats

Heat 1; 93 Aaron Leddy, 48 Robert Kelm, 66 Adam Torres, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 13 Kris Workman, 23 Andy Kirkland, 44k Michael Keylich, 21r Eric Ramos

Heat 2; 09 Clint Montanio, 28m Mason Castenada, 38x Josh Sewell, 98 William Saunders, 30 Roley Heil, 39 Sonny Kinnaman jr., 15 William Cavender, 53 Treyler Caulfield

Heat 3; 6 Daniel Parker, 441 Dakota Heinaman, 5 Dillon Gaither, 9c Caitlin Leonard, 95s Les Bettis, 18 Emet Sevilla, 14 Mark Pivarnik

Pure Stock Winner Clint Montanio. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Pure Stock track champ Dakota Heinaman. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Kelm Captures Win and Championship

It’s been a big season for Robert Kelm. After winning a string of six-in-a-row, having a bounty put on him, Kelm completed the season with a win and track championship. Kelm led all but the first lap of the 20-lap Sport Compact feature, but had Trevor Bettis banging on his bumper at the checkers as he capped off the season with another win.

As the seventeen-car Sport Compact feature took the green it was Sergio Hexsel getting the lead trailed by Kelm, Russell Vickery, Jamie Garner and Bettis. Kelm got the top spot on lap 2 with Hexsel and Garner side by side for second. Garner got the spot two laps later while Bettis got by Vickery for fourth.

Garner got ‘picked’ by a lapped car giving Hexsel and Bettis an opening to get by for second and third. The red flag came out on lap 9 when last race winner, Roy Easler hit the infield berm, jumped a tractor tire and rolled a couple times before stopping in his side. He was able to get out uninjured, but was done for the night.

Once back to green, Bettis gave Kelm a look inside for the lead with Gordon Dowdy, Alyson Dorken and Vickery three wide for sixth. Bettis kept the pressure on Kelm giving him a few taps on the bumper as the race wound down. Bettis tried high and low but couldn’t find a way past Kelm in his Oak Hill Motorsports, M&E Automotive, Rachal Plant ‘Picture Taker’, Saturn at the checkers.

Brown Chevrolet Sport Compacts

8 Robert Kelm—Track champion, 57 Trevor Bettis, 3 Jamie Garner, 44 Sergio Hexsel, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 43 Alyson Dorken, 68 Team Boerne, 38 Kirk Ball, 30 Russell Vickery, 53 Caleb Dowdy, 117 Casey Lowe, 13m Jeremy Watson, 56 Bob Caulfield, 69 Felipe Ruiz, 25 Robert Fox, 12 Roy Easler, 6 Ethan Jenkins

Sport Compact heats

Heat 1; 8 Robert Kelm, 3 Jamie Garner, 57 Trevor Bettis, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 12 Roy Easler, 43 Alyson Dorken, 117 Casey Lowe, 38 Kirk Ball, 6 Ethan Jenkins

Heat 2; 44 Sergio Hexsel, 30 Russell Vickery, 53 Caleb Dowdy, 68 Team Boerne, 69 Felipe Ruiz, 25 Robert Fox, 13m Jeremy Watson, 53 Bob Caulfield

Sport Compact winner and track champ Robert Kelm. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Budnik Best in Dwarf Finale

Dylan Budnik (Boerne) took home the victory in the Dwarf Car Racing Series of Texas season-ender. Budnik took over the lead just before halfway from points leader, Dillon Coyne, then was able to hold off early leader, James Fitzgerald to secure the victory.

With his fourth place finish Coyne was able to take home the 2017 DCRST series championship.

At the start of the 20-lap feature it was Fitzgerald getting the lead chased by Brandon Spreen, Larry Carwin, Ty Paxson and Budnik. Coyne made an early charge past Budnik and Paxson for third then got beside B. Spreen for second. Coyne gave up the line and third to Budnik, but retook the spot a lap later.

Paxson would spin from his top five spot that saw Coyne challenging Fitzgerald for the lead on the restart. Coyne grabbed the point on lap 6 with Budnik following to second. Budnik then pressured Coyne for the lead and was able to take the lead on lap 8 with Fitzgerald getting second from Coyne.

Paxson, coming from the back, got third from Coyne as the top three now ran nose to tail. Fitzgerald tried the high side of Budnik for the lead, but ended up losing ground with three to go. As the white flag waved it was Budnik, in the Sky Haulers of Dallas car by a few car lengths over Fitzgerald, a gap he was able to hold on to at the checkers.

A-Line Dwarf Car Racing Series of Texas

25 Dylan Budnik, 6 James Fitzgerald, 15 Ty Paxson, 12 Dillon Coyne—Points champion, 42 Tyler Folkerts, 80 Brandon Spreen, 64 Larry Carwin, 50 Jerry Book, 00 Waylon Scheidt, 27 Dillon Spreen, 4 Rodney Rodriguez, 17 Brayden Becker—DNS

DCRST heats

Heat 1; 17 Brayden Becker, 80 Brandon Spreen, 64 Larry Carwin, 50 Jerry Book, 4 Rodney Rodriguez, 00 Waylon Scheidt

Heat 2; 6 James Fitzgerald, 15 Ty Paxson, 12 Dillon Coyne, 27 Dillon Spreen, 42 Tyler Folkerts, 25 Dylan Budnik

DCRST winner Dylan Budnik (inside) passing Dillon Spreen. Photo by JM Hallas

 

DCRST series champ Dillon Coyne. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Go-Karts

Youth 5-7 years old Heat: Blaine Markgraf, Hayes Bettis, Aubrey Moore, Holden Terry

Main: Hayes Bettis, Blaine Markgraf, Aubrey Moore, Holden Terry

Juniors 8-10 years old Heat: Peyton Jones, Ruby Bettis, Blaine Markgraf, Samuel Markgraf

Main; Peyton Jones, Blaine Markgraf, Ruby Bettis, Samuel Markgraf

Seniors 11-13 years old Heat; Cameron Dinsmore, Faye Bettis, Ryker Hernandez

Main; Cameron Dinsmore, Ryker Hernandez, Faye Bettis 

Youth Go-kart winner Hayes Bettis. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Junior Go-kart winner Peyton Jones. Photo by JM Hallas

 

Senior Go-kart winner Cameron Dinsmore. Photo by JM Hallas

 

I-37 Speedway takes a couple weeks off readying for the Big Bucks Shootout, Nov. 3-4 featuring five of the six regular season classes in action on both nights. The race is slated for two separate nights of racing with separate pay outs each night. The Limited Late Models will run Friday night only and the Modifieds will only be in action on Saturday night.

The Sport Modifieds, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks and Sport Compacts also have a chance to pick up some extra money by winning the A-main events on both nights of action. For more info visit the I-37 Speedway website, http://www.i37speedway.com/ or the tracks Facebook page. 

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