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I-37 Speedway kicks off 2018 points season

by Jay Hallas | Posted on Sunday, March 25th, 2018

By JM Hallas

PLEASANTON, Texas – After having a non-points opener was swept by Mother Nature two weeks ago, it was time for the first points race of the year. The weather couldn’t have been better as 110 drivers and teams signed in to do battle on the ¼ mile, semi-banked, dirt oval just outside Pleasanton.

The points season opener featured the six regular classes at the track, plus the kids Go-Karts. (Cash Bred Off Road IMCA Modifieds, Swenson Racing Products Sport Modifieds, Nogalitos Gear Limited Late Models, SABFI Transportation Street Stocks, All In Design Pure Stocks, Brown Chevrolet Sport Compacts and Russ Parker Construction Go-Karts.)

Who would take opening nights win?

Would it defending champions, Talon Minten(Modifieds, Sport Modifieds), Frank Okruhlik(Limited Late Models), Wade Jones(Street Stock), Dakota Heinaman(Pure Stocks), Robert Kelm(Sport Compacts) or either of the three Go-Kart class champs, Blaine Markgraf(Youth), Ryker Hernandez(Senior) and Peyton Jones(Junior).

Or would it be bridesmaid young gun Cody Leonard, who finished last year second in points in three different classes. With Okruhlik semi-retired and Kelm moving up in class, two classes are guaranteed new champions by the end of the season.

New for this season is pay out for heat races. Using their new transponder system the track will take the top three fastest drivers in the heat races(combined). A little extra cash never hurts the racing budget.

Last Lap Pass Nets Campbell Cash

To say Jamie Campbells(Adkins) road to the winners circle was eventful might be an understatement. Campbell, who started eighth, got clipped in a grinding lap 3 crash taking some extensive body damage to the car. Then, while running third, he narrowly escaped contact with defending champ, Talon Minten who spun directly in his path.

IMCA Modified winner Jamie Campbell. Photo by JM Hallas

That caution, the fifth of the night, saw officials call for a green, white, checker finish on time limit. Race-long leader at the time, Dillon Tindall got a good restart, but Campbell on the top side, quickly closed back in. On the white flag lap they were side by side going into turn 3. Campbell used the momentum off the high line to edge out Tindall at the line by about a bumper to steal the win.

At the start of the scheduled 20-lapper, Tindall from the pole was first into turn 1 trailed by Mike Morris, Rowdy Flanagan, Bill Pittaway and Minten. Minten quickly moved up to third while Morris was looking high on Tindall for the lead. In the pack, Chris Carroll and Pittaway made contact starting a hard, chain reaction crash on the front stretch that involved five cars.

On the restart Minten got by Morris for second, while Campbell was making his charge. Tindall was pressured from Minten until Morris began hounding Minten for second. In the meantime Campbell was closing until a series of yellows slowed the action. Once back to green Campbell got by Morris for third with the top three now nose to tail.

Just as they reached halfway, Minten spun in turn 2. Campbell barely slipped past, but Morris wasn’t so lucky and slid into Minten taking off the right side sheet metal. Now, with the time limit called, it was two laps to go. As green waved Tindall inched out while Rick Green moved up to third. Campbell, in theaplusboats.com, Swenson Racing Shocks, VP Racing Fuels, Mission Auto Parts, JP Speed Secrets, All in Designs, Karls Performance Crate Killer, 09 Dirt Works Chassis then jumped top side to get his last lap run for the win on Tindall.

“That was pretty cool,” explained Campbell on his last lap pass. “I’ve done it here before but it’s been a long time. It means a lot because I struggled so much last year with this car. Especially on the dry slick tracks. We worked on it over the winter, did some testing, went to other tracks and stumbled on some stuff that’s working good.”

“Going down the back straightaway under caution I motioned to Don Banker and he gave me the thumbs up after taking some damage. So I told myself we’re going racing. After the said green, white, checker on that last caution I knew it was time to go.”

“I had to miss Talon(Minten), when he spun in front of me, by only inches on the right rear. I was running just a bit lower than he was entering the corner so I cleared him. I had to run the bottom early because everyone was on the top. I thought I was faster on top, but never got a chance to run it.”

Cash Bred Off Road IMCA Modifieds

29 Jamie Campbell, 86 Dillon Tindall, 82 Rick Green, 58 Rowdy Flanagan, 16 Landon Bednarz, 377 Donald Banker, 137 Bill Pittaway, 18 Sonny Weaver, 14t Talon Minten, 47 Brandon Lawrence, 15 Chris Carroll, 125 Jason Borlace—dns

IMCA Modified heats(top 5 redraw)

Heat 1; 86 Dillon Tindall, 15 Chris Carroll, 377 Donald Banker, 58 Rowdy Flanagan, 47 Brandon Lawrence, 125 Jason Borlace—dns

Heat 2; 29 Jamie Campbell, 3 Jeremy Davenport, 14t Talon Minten, 82 Rick Green, 137 Biull Pittaway, 18 Sonny Weaver, 16 Landon Bednarz

Leonard Limps to Sport Modified Money

Young gun Cody Leonard(Corpus Christi) started his 2018 season adding another win to his impressive, young total. It wasn’t without some suspense as the rear end began to make some noise in the waning laps. In a race that went green to checkers, Leonard built a good margin on Talon Minten to get the win. After the race Leonard had the yoke and flange break off the input shaft while trying exit the track.

Pure Stock winner Allen Torres. Photo by JM Hallas

Eighteen cars took the green in the Sport Modified feature with T. Minten taking the lead followed by Leonard, Monty Nichols, Johnny Torres and Cody Beddoe.

Torres and Beddoe both got by Nichols for third and fourth before beginning their own person battle swapping the spot nearly lap for lap. Up front Leonard was now putting the heat on T. Minten for the lead.

Leonard, using the top, was able go around T. Minten on lap 7 for the lead. At the crossed flags it was Leonard, T. Minten, Beddoe, Torres and JJ Jennings in the top five. As the laps clicked off Leonard increased his lead with Jennings, Hunter Flanagan and Marcus Mikulencak joining the Beddoe-Torres scrap for third.

That quintet had a spirited battle the final five laps with positions changing at almost every corner. At the head of the class it was Leonard in his CD Electric, KR Compressors, Swenson Racing Shocks, Ace Transmission, Duct Tape Wraps by Cody, Wells Racing Engines, 09 Express Chassis first to the finish line. Behind him, Torres held on to third while Beddoe dropped two spots.

“I was running the bottom because I knew it was dominant in the heat.” commented Leonard. “I ran the bottom at the start of the feature. I wasn’t making any progress and went to the top knowing there was a little moisture. I was making a little progress and stayed up there to get by them.”

“Once I figured it out I knew the top would be the way to go. It was just matter if someone could figure it out better than I did and run me down. I knew the top was dominant so I just waited to see.”

“With three or four laps to go, I’d go into the corner, tap the brakes and I could feel the rear end start chattering. So I knew something was about to let go. Luckily we didn’t have a caution or go an extra lap because it would have been done for. That must a custom 40-lap rear end because we ran Edna(TRP) with it too.”

“I don’t know about championships. We just kind of run the season as it comes. Right now my plans are running the Sport Mod and Dan Shroat’s Limited Late Model. We may have the Modified ready to be here about mid-season. We’re going to try the Super Late Model(STLMS) a bit. If we can do good with them we may start traveling.

Swenson Racing Products Sport Modifieds

12 Cody Leonard, 2 Talon Minten, 66 Johnny Torres, 26g JJ Jennings, 58c Hunter Flanagan, 77 Cody Beddoe, 03 Marcus Mikulencak, bd2 Eddy Ross, 31 Chase Havely, 28m Mason Casteneda, 11t Tom Grothues, 55 Rusty Head, 24r Robby Minten, bd3 Monty Nichols III, 21r Eric Ramos, 95 Larry Lewis, 24 Jim Blevins, 87 Lawrence Mikulencak

Sport Modified heats

Heat 1; 66 Johnny Torres, bd3 Monty Nichols III, 24r Robby Minten, 31 Chase Havely, 95 Larry Lewis, 11t Tom Grothues

Heat 2; 2 Talon Minten, 12 Cody Leonard, 58c Hunter Flanagan, bd2 Eddy Ross, 28m Mason Casteneda, 21r Eric Ramos

Heat 3; 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 77 Cody Beddoe, 26g JJ Jennings, 87 Lawrence Mikulencak, 24 Jim Blevins, 55 Rusty Head

Votion Victorious, Then Finds Tractor Tire

Multi-time track champion Trey Votion(San Antonio), who missed last years season opener costing him the championship for 2017, took a step in retaking his title. Votion worked his way up from his fourth starting spot grabbing the lead early from Jason Kelly. Votion would start to ease away for the win. After the checkers he also became the second driver to have problems after the checkers when he hit an infield trying to avoid a slower car.

Limited Late Model winner Trey Votion getting inside Jason Kelly. Photo by JM Hallas

The 13-car, 20-lap feature saw Landon Farquer take the point early but before a lap was complete Farquer slowed scattering the pack. Votion spun himself off turn 3 to avoid contact. On the second start Jason Kelly took the lead chased by Patrick Kelly, Votion, Robby Minten and Howie Marcx.

Coming from the back, Cody Leonard found the top groove and was sailing towards the front, clearly the fastest car on track at the time. At halfway it Votion, P, Kelly, J. Kelly and Leonard side by side for third, with Minten and Aaron Leddy door to door for fifth. With five to go Votion was easing away with P. Kelly slowed in traffic.

Coming to two to go Votion had built a good full straight lead being committed to the bottom while P. Kelly explored the middle and Leonard was still up top. At the checkers it was Votion in his Nogalitos Gear, SRC Performance, Mission Race Engines, Kelly Racing Chassis getting the victory. Admitting he missed the checkered flag, Votion, still on the gas, clouted a track tire trying to miss a slower car.

“I hope this will be my year again, That’s the plan,” said Votion. “It hurt us not making a couple races last year. Still was decent coming in third, but we hope to do better this year. The track was about the same, top and bottom. So I was just trying to go where they weren’t. The car was working really good right up until the time I hit the tire.”

“I had no idea how fast Cody(Leonard) was around the top. I played with the top a little at first, it didn’t seem much better, to my car anyway. Once it opened up I just kept running the bottom. I went to the middle a little. In those lapped cars I was expecting someone to come around on top. I knew there was some grip up there. I get in a zone where the car is working good and I stay there. The car is pretty neutral.”

“Well I can check that one off my bucket list. Wrecking after the checkers. I never saw the checkers come out. I was just trying to get by a lapped car. I thought we were still racing. I’d have never done that if I had known the race was over.”

Nogalitos Gear Limited Late Models

99v Trey Votion, 84k Patrick Kelly, 5 Cody Leonard, 93 Aaron Leddy, 57 Jason Kelly, 43 Robby Minten, 13 Howie Marcx, 53x Matt Fox, 18 Shane Moore, 15 Ron Sprayue, 22 Rene Mares, 44q Quentin Henderson, 78 Landon Farquer, 22t Tommy Grimes—dns

Limited Late Model heats

Heat 1; 99v Trey Votion, 78 Landon Farquer, 13 Howie Marcx, 18 Shane Moore, 53x Matt Fox, 22 Rene Mares

Heat 2; 84k Patrick Kelly, 57 Jason Kelly, 43 Robby Minten, 93 Aaron Leddy, 44q Quentin Henderson, 5 Cody Leonard, 22t Tommy Grimes…dns

Trigg Tops in Street Stocks

Anytime Mike Trigg(San Antonio) shows up with grocery-getter station wagon, he’s always a threat to win. So it was tonight as Trigg in his ‘Shaggin Wagon’ Willie Cotton Race Engines, Snyper Chassis easily out-distancing the field to get the win over defending and multiple time track champion Wade Jones.

Street Stock winner Mike Trigg. Photo by JM Hallas

Trigg jumped out front on green but before a lap was complete Sterling Tausch pounded the front stretch wall. On the next start Trigg again got the lead with Jones, Shawn Moore, Lynn Fox and Mike Lyon in pursuit. After a quick caution Trigg and Jones broke away but yellow waved when Moore got hung up with Dennis Hilla coming from the hot pits.

As Trigg and Jones checked out, Fox, Lyon and Jason Campbell battled for third. At the midway point Jones slipped in turn 2 loosing ground to Trigg and allowing Fox to close, while Campbell and Lyon swapped fourth. As the white was shown Trigg had over a full straight advantage on Jones cruising on to the victory.

(sadly this interview digressed quickly thanks to Mike the class comedian. the replay was just as funny as the original. we finally struggled through a legit one.)

“A good starting,” commented Trigg. “It’s a proven car. The track was pretty slick. We’re getting closer. We struggled here in the past to get the balance on the car. It’s getting better every time we show up. I’m still running the old rules package, at some point I’m going to have to change.”

“We don’t ever stop looking for more. You can’t. It’s a performance deal. Guys are going to do better and we have to keep up. I don’t want to get behind. I really enjoy racing here, they do a fantastic job. I’m just not a ‘points guy’. Never have been or will be. If they’re paying big money somewhere, I’ll go.”

“This is the same car we’ve had for four years. You never stop lovin’ on it and rubbin’ on it.”

SABFI Transportation Street Stocks

4t Mike Trigg, 41 Wade Jones, 14 Lynn Fox, 20c Jason Campbell, 20 Mike Lyon, 2 Wesley Walker, 2x Dennis Hilla, 18 Shawn Moore, 23 Dennis Taber jr., 95s Sterling Tausch, 82 Dwayne Markgraf

Street Stock heats

Heat 1; 41 Wade Jones, 18 Shawn Moore, 20c Jason Campbell, 23 Dennis Taber jr., 82 Dwayne Markgraf , 2x Dennis Hilla

Heat 2; 4t Mike Trigg, 14 Lynn Fox, 20 Mike Lyon, 95 Sterling Tausch, 2 Wesley Walker

Torres Tops in Pure Stocks

Sporting a new car for 2018, Allen Torres(San Antonio) showed it off in fine fashion. It took three tries for Al. Torres to get the lead from Sean Ward as twice the pass was erased due to untimely cautions. Once out front Al. Torres had to fend off Ward, Daniel Preston and a late charge from Aaron Leddy to secure the victory.

Pure Stock winner Allen Torres. Photo by JM Hallas

Ward fired off first as green waved on the 25-car, 20-lap feature. Behind Ward were, Al. Torres, Preston, Sport Compact track champ Robert Kelm and Clint Montanio. Preston and Al. Torres were side by side for second and catching Ward. Preston looked low, while Al. Torres tried the top. Al. Torres got the nose out front, but a caution took away the pass.

On the restart Al. Torres again got a run, this time low, on Ward getting by for the lead, but again a yellow erased the pass. Once back to green flag racing Al. Torres finally got the pass to stick getting the lead on lap 6. This left Ward and Preston door to door with Kelm looking for a third lane. At halfway it was Al. Torres, Preston, Ward, Kelm and Leddy in the top five.

Leddy, Kelm and Preston were three wide for third a lap later which would become second after a Ward spin through the infield. Leddy was able to get second from Kelm. Al. Torres got a scare as George Quintanilla half spun in turn 4 directly in front the leaders. This allowed Leddy to close up and pressure Al. Torres in the Allens 24/7 Towing, crate powered, Swenson Chassis, Chevelle who held on for the checkers.

“Patience and smooth driving was the key tonight,” replied Torres. “I just stuck to my line and stayed near the top. It was kind of tacky up there and it worked for me. I definitely had some concerns with this being a new car.”

“One time I saw someone stick their nose inside me. Aaron pulled up next to me at the end of the race. I knew I was driving too soft. So I needed to get on it.”

All In Designs Pure Stocks

94 Allen Torres, 93 Aaron Leddy, 48 Robert Kelm, 6 Daniel Preston, 09 Clint Montanio, 90 Kenneth Wright, 66 Adam Torres, 91 Johnny Westfall, 98 William Saunders, bd1 Cheryl Gray, 8 Robert Danielson, 9s Jarrett Payton, 9c Caitlin Leonard, 88 Brandy Torres, 19m Mike Horelka, 889 Sean Ward, 36 George Quintanilla, 44k Kathrine Keylich, 57b Les Bettis, 28 Jeremy Ross, 53 Treyler Caulfield, 18r Chris Vincent, 15 William Cavender, 82 Andrew Garcia, 7x Janel Duncan, 5 Dillon Gaither—dns

Pure Stock heats

Heat 1; 48 Robert Kelm, 90 Kenneth Wright, 66 Adam Torres, 28 Jeremy Ross, 44k Kathrine Keylich, 36z George Quinanilla, 88 Brandy Torres

Heat 2; 94 Allen Torres, 6 Daniel Preston, 93 Aaron Leddy, 19m Mike Horelka, 9s Jarrett Peyton, 15 William Cavender, 18r Chris Vincent—dns

Heat 3; 889 Sean Ward, 09 Clint Montanio, 91 Johnny Westphal, bd1 Cheryl Gray, 82 Andrew Garcia, 7x Janel Duncan

Heat 4; 5 Dillon Gaither, 57b Les Bettis, 98 William Saunders, 8 Robert Danielson, 9c Caitlin Leonard, 53 Treyler Caulfield

Garner Grabs Sport Compact Green

Jamie Garner(Cibilo) used lapped traffic to his advantage to get the lead from Brandon McCall in the waning laps of the 20-lap Sport Compact feature. Garner almost got hung up himself by slower cars but was able to keep McCall in his rear view to take the win.

Sport Compact winner Jamie Garner. Photo by JM Hallas

The 17-car main, usually very eventful, went green to checkers in a strange twist. McCall got out front early with Kirk Ball, Garner, Charles Earnhardt and Trevor Bettis in his wake. As McCall inched ahead Ball and Garner had their own race for second while Earnhardt gave up spots to Kasey Krauss and Bettis.

At the mid point McCall had a nice lead while Ball and Garner continued to see who the wind(pun intended) would blow into second, Bettis and Earnhardt completed the top five.

Once Garner broke away from Ball, McCall got slowed by a lapped car. Garner took advantage with a run to take over the top spot on lap 17. The lead duo again caught slower cars on the final lap but McCall wasn’t able to capitalize as Garner in the AustinVeedub.com, Rachel Plant Picture Taker. Sirocco grabbed the win.

“That’s the same car I hit the wall with last year. It still scares me,” said Garner. “It takes a little bit to figure out where to go on this track. I’m used to asphalt where you try to hit the same spot all the time. With dirt racing I’m figuring out you have to go all over the place. It’s crazy.”

“The traffic is definitely how I got the lead. Then they were in front of me and I thought someone would come back around me. There was no picking a line then. It was just trying to get through those guys. I knew that Brandon(McCall) was on me. That was a heck of a race. For every race I win there’s ten I crash and burn”

“I’d like to thank Brown Chevrolet for sponsoring our class, my crew, my car owner and all the people that help us get this done.

Sport Compacts

33 Jamie Garner, 14 Brandon McCall, 57 Trevor Bettis, 38 Kirk Ball, 39 Charles Earnhardt III, 16 Ronnie Schoenfeldt, 13t Trey Friedeck, 17 Casey Lowe, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 121 Roy Easler, 23 Kasey Krauss, 24 Felipe Ruiz, 65 Caleb Dowdy, 01 Ryan Frautschi, 8 Lauren Crow, 4 Ronnie Sparks, 16x Bobby Velaquez, 77 GB Carter—dns

Brown Chevrolet Sport Compact heats

Heat 1; 57 Trevor Bettis, 38 Kirk Ball, 23 Kasey Krauss, 13t Trey Friedeck, 01 Ryan Frautschi, 24 Felipe Ruiz

Heat 2; 14 Brandon McCall, 33 Jamie Garner, 77 GB Carter, 16 Ronnie Schoenfeldt, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 16x Bobby Velaquez

Heat 3; 65 Caleb Dowdy, 39 Charles Earnhardt III, 17 Casey Lowe, 121 Roy Easler, 4 Ronnie Sparks, 8 Lauren Crow—dntg

Russ Parker Construction Go Kart features

Senior

Ryker Hernandez

Hanna Miller

Faye Bettis

Junior

Peyton Jones

Ruby Bettis

Sterling

Youth

Hayes Bettis

Blaine Markgraf

Berkley Keylich

The next scheduled race is April 7th with all six classes, plus the kids Go-Karts providing a full slate of racing. For more info visit www.i37speedway.com or the track facebook page.

Go Kart Junior Div. winner Peyton Jones. Photo by JM Hallas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Kart Senior Div. winner Ryker Hernandez. Photo by JM Hallas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Kart Youth Div. winner Hayes Bettis. Photo by JM Hallas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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