2017 Stories by Paul Vetter

Visalia, Ca.

September 17, 2017

By Paul Vetter

                  It was only fitting that Jake Hagopian, competing in, planning in, and organizing a memorial race for his late father Mark, would win the inaugural Mark Hagopian Memorial event at Keller Auto Raceway.  The win in the Super 600 USAC Micro’s paid a whopping $5,000 to the feature winner.

                  After winning Friday night’s preliminary event, Hagopian along with Mason Daniel, Cody Christensen, T.J. Smith, Raio Salmon and Austin Stone automatically transferred to Saturday’s feature as did the two fastest cars from Saturday night qualifying.  Joey Ancona and Heath Duinkerken joined the top six and competed in a “pole shuffle” for the top eight starting spots in the 50 lap feature.

                  Pole sitter Hagopian jumped into an immediate lead followed closely by teammate Christensen. Smith settled into third behind the leading duo after a multi-car tangle on lap two slowed action.  Salmon raced her way into third, near lap ten, with the lapping process in the 22 cars starting field about to begin. 

                  Ben Worth stalled for a yellow with Daniel moving into third ahead of Duinkerken and Smith as Salmon fell back.  Just past the halfway mark, Salmon tangled her way out of contention with a lapped car.  Brayden Trigueiro fell out as did Duinkerken from fourth.

                  A final yellow occurred with just six laps remaining as second running Daniel spun in turn one.  Hagopian led the final six circuits to take the popular win ahead of Christensen, Brandon Carey, Ancona and Brooklyn Holland.

                  The Non-Wing 600 feature for 30 laps was laced with no less than six yellow flags.  Double duty racer Smith started up front and led the opening lap ahead of Brody Fuson and Tristan Guardino.  Once settled down, Smith continued to lead with Guardino into second ahead of Fuson at lap ten.

                  Just past the halfway mark top five racer, Daniel pitted.  Undaunted by the action behind him and a pair of yellows with eight laps to go, Smith ran onto the popular win worth $1,500 ahead of Guardino, Fuson, Dan Mognaga, and Chad Loughton.

                  With $750 on the line to win the Restricted 600 class, the field was busy chasing fast timer Corey Day who started on the pole in the 25 lap affair.  Multi-time winner Garth Kasiner settled into second ahead of Jake Smith.

                  The youngsters ran a great race with the lapping process beginning on lucky lap thirteen before the only yellow of the event happened on lap fourteen.  Katey Syra dropped out early and Joshua Rogers was involved in the tangle.

                  Day, son of former motorcycle racer and sprint car driver Ronnie Day, was the class of the field this night as he opened a large lead in the final laps to take the win ahead of Kasiner, Smith, Jarrett Rogers and Conner Danell.

                  Junior Sprints ran a pair of qualifying heats before settling in for their 20 lap feature event paying $500 to win.  Jade Avedisian jumped out front early leading Dalton Parreira and Wyatt Bookout.  Cash Lovenburg spun for an early yellow with the top three remaining the same at the halfway mark on lap ten.

                  Parreira gained the top spot on lap twelve as Avedisian had trouble getting around a lapped car.  The field slowed a couple of laps later for a spinner as Parreira led the restart with six laps remaining.  The youngster from Hanford took another Keller Auto Raceway win ahead of Avedisian, Bookout, Reilee Phillips and Colton Key.

                  Complete weekend results of both events are available on the website.

                  The final pair of events for the 2017 season will be the annual “Turkey Night” events on November 18-19.

 

 

END

Visalia, Ca.

August 25, 2017

By Paul Vetter

 

                  It was “deja vu” all over again Friday night at Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park.  USAC Micro Sprint racing on the 1/10 mile clay oval saw several repeat performances from the previous event along with some heartbreaking finishes.

                  Junior Sprint racer Dalton Parreira from Hanford has taken the class into his own hands by winning both heat races and the 20 lap feature event for the second consecutive week.  Only a skirmish on the opening lap and one with six laps remaining slowed the race long leader.

                  Parreira fended off challenges from Reilee Phillips who finished second in the feature.  Jett Barnes, Blake Lawson and Cash Lovenburg were the finishers while Jade Avedisian, Wyatt Bookout and Kinser Ferguson dropped out of the event.

                  Also for the second week in a row the boys and girls competing in the Restricted 600 class went nonstop green to checkers in their 25 lap feature.  A six car invert put fast timer Brian Gilbert in the third row with Garth Kasiner starting in the coveted pole position.

                  As expected, Kasiner took an immediate lead over Gauge Garcia and Katey Syra.  Eli Bookout was an early dropout before Syra gained second from Garcia with a bit of contact.   Jake Smith came from third row starting and moved into third near the halfway mark.

                  Joshua Rogers pitted late in the race and Kasiner kept himself out front for the duration and took yet another feature ahead of Syra, Smith, Caeden Steele and Gilbert.  Eleven drivers completed the race with all on the lead lap.

                  Heartbreak and elation came at the conclusion of the Non Winged event.  Following a six car backstretch crash on the opening lap, veteran Jimmy Leal jumped out front being chased by Ryan Delisle and the decimated field.

                  A race ending second yellow involving Colten Jones also saw the demise of Delisle who pitted on the lap eight yellow.  Leal led Mason Daniel on the restart with the race now destined to go caution free.  With a handful of laps remaining, Leal caught traffic with Daniel closing fast.

                  Leal led the white flag lap but Daniel’s charge led him to the feature win ahead of the disappointed Leal.  Jack Kassik and Dustin Rhodes were the only finishers as Michael Manhire pitted with a pair of circuits remaining.

                  Mason Daniel then doubled up for the evening by winning the Super 600 feature as well.  Front row starter Jake Hagopian led the first nine laps with Daniel leading the tenth.  Hagopian moved back into the lead position and led Daniel and Brendan Warmerdam before pitting with engine woes with eighteen laps down.

                  Breana Hernandez and others tangled on lap twenty with Kevin MacIntosh getting upside down but uninjured in the melee.  Daniel then led on the final restart of the evening to the lap thirty double checkers to take the win ahead of Warmerdam, Cody Christensen, Joey Ancona and Grant Champlin.

Racing returns in two weeks on September 8th for another four division show of USAC Micro Sprint racing at the picturesque speedway.

 

END

Visalia, Ca.

August 11, 2017

By Paul Vetter

     Keller Auto Raceway’s return to action on Friday night saw a respectable field of cars compete on the 1/10 mile clay oval at Plaza Park. 

     Castro Valley racer Jake Andreotti set quick time in the Super 600 USAC Micros and took advantage of a zero invert to start on the coveted pole position for their 30 lap feature event.  A rocky start ensued as first Keith Day, Jr. flipped his #22Jr car in turn one at the completion of lap one.

     On the restart, the #21P mount of Deven Pearson also tipped over at the end of lap two.  Both drivers were unhurt.  Thankfully there was no #20 competing as the lap three restart found Andreotti leading Mason Daniel and Brooklyn Holland following. 

     Daniel blew an engine on lap eleven and pitted before Brayden Trigueiro and Grant Champlin tangled in turn one.  The next lap brother Carson Trigueiro and Breana Hernandez tangled in the same spot.  Just prior to lap twenty, third running Joey Ancona clobbered the wall exiting turn two and dropped out.

     The final ten laps saw Andreotti continue to dominate and he took the win ahead of hard charging Champlin who gained second on the penultimate lap over Holland, Paul Javaux and Chris Martin.

     Double duty racer Mason Daniel paced the Non-Winged 600’s for the first pair of laps over Austin Stone.  Outside front row starter Stone then gained the top spot over Cody Smothermon as Daniel fell back slightly.

     A yellow flag for spinners slowed the field with the leading trio racing away on the restart.  Daniel regained second just prior to the half way mark of the 30 lap event.  The final two thirds of the show went nonstop with Stone taking the double checkers ahead of Daniel, Smothermon, T.J. Smith, and Jimmy Leal.

     The younger drivers in the Restricted 600 class showed skill and cunning by going the entire 25 lap feature distance in nonstop fashion.  Pole sitter Katey Syra looked very fast in taking the early lead ahead of Garth Kasiner and Gauge Garcia.

     Lap thirteen was unlucky for fifth place runner Caeden Steele as he blew up in a puff of smoke.  Jake Smith had moved his way into third over Garcia with Kasiner taking over the number one spot from Syra on lap seventeen.

     The lapping process began late as Kasiner set a pace that could not be beat and he won another feature here at Plaza.  Smith, Syra, Garcia and an improving Carson Myrick rounded out the top five spots.

     In Junior Sprint action for the youngest of the competing drivers, Dalton Parreira was the star of the evening.  He captured both qualifying heat in which he competed and then claimed the 20 lap feature event for a clean sweep of the evening.

     The battle for the runnerup spot behind the fleeing leader was a good one between Wyatt Bookout, Jade Avedisian and Kinser Ferguson.  A yellow with four laps remaining slowed action before Parreira led the final four laps for his win. 

     Bookout, Ferguson and Avedisian were followed by Jett Barnes in the top five. 

     Racing returns again in just two short weeks on August 25th for point race number nine on the season.

END

 

Visalia, CA

May 19, 2017

By Paul Vetter

                  Season race number 3 for the USAC Micros and Junior Sprints continued Friday night at Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park.  Numerous visiting drivers bolstered the car counts in most of the five division presentation.

                  After Joey Ancona set fast time in the Super 600 class, heat race wins went to Brayden Trigueiro and Jake Hagopian.  Sixteen drivers then set sail on their 30 lap feature event

                  Cody Christensen, winner of the last event the end of April, jumped out to an immediate lead ahead of Cooper Worth and Hagopian.  Rookie Anthony Verissimo spun for a yellow on lap twelve with Worth then clobbering the turn four exit with a resounding thud to end his night two laps later.

                  Christensen repelled the efforts of Driven teammate Hagopian to lead the final half of the win with Hagopian second at the flags.  Ancona, Trigueiro and Mason Daniel rounded out the top five.

                  Non Winged 600 stars and cars were led by T.J. Smith who set fast time before heat race victories went to Mike Hageman, Brendan Warmerdam and Jimmy Leal.  All 19 entrants started the 30 lap main event with Ryan Delisle leading the opening lap.

                  Hageman and Cody Smothermon chased leader Delisle before visitor Eathon Lanfri spun twice on consecutive laps to end his night on the two spin/yellow rule.  Eventual winner Smith, who started sixth moved into third near the halfway mark.

                  Smith took then took second from Hageman and became the leader with a nice pass over Delisle to lead lap sixteen.  Mason Daniel also maneuvered around Delisle for second as did Smothermon.

                  A yellow for a stalled Nathan Bordenave gave everyone last chance to no avail.  Smith ran on to his second consecutive Plaza win ahead of Daniel, Smothermon, Delisle and Justyne Hamblin. 

                 An even dozen Restricted 600 cars competed with Katey Syra showing the boys how to get it done by setting fast time.  Heat race wins then went to Garth Kasiner and Troy Morris III up from Bakersfield

                 Jake Smith started on the pole position in the feature event and did not let the opportunity slip away as he led all 25 laps for the win.  Syra ran second the entire way but from third on back was very interesting.

                Morris III held the third spot until lap ten when he grazed the turn one/two walls and ended up out of the race.  Kasiner then took the spot for a lap before Jarrett Rogers spun for another yellow.      The youngsters then settled down and the race ran to the checkers the final half of the event.  Smith and Syra were followed by Kasiner, Corey Day and Brian Gilbert across the scales and to the tech area. 

              The Stock 600 event saw Brooklyn Holland win by ½ lap ahead of Cooper Worth.

              A pair of heat races won by Wyatt Bookout and Drew Mowry set the starting lineup for the Junior Sprints.  Dalton Parreira started outside front row and jumped to the early lead followed by Jade Avedisian and Bookout. 

              Avedisian and Bookout swapped second and third back and forth nearly every lap with Parreira still leading.  Mowry then entered the frey and displaced Avedisian for second with for laps remaining.

             Parreira took his first local win ahead of Mowry,  Avedisian, Kinser Ferguson and Bookout.  Rookies Jett Barnes and Cash Lovenburg rounded out the field.

Racing returns on June 23-24 for the annual Budweiser Outlaw Nationals followed by the California Speedweek series event on June 30th.

END

Visalia, Ca.

April 28, 2017

By Paul Vetter

Micro sprint racing continued Friday night at Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park competing under the auspices of the United States Auto Club (USAC).   Track management has also reverted back to the single car qualifying format to set up heat races and feature events.

                  Super 600 heat races were set after Jake Hagopian set fast time with heat race wins going to Mason Daniel and Joey Ancona.  The 30 lap feature saw pole sitter Paul Javaux set the early pace followed by Cody Christensen and Daniel.  Javaux waded through a pair of yellows as leader with dropouts including visitor Dillon Horsley and Daniel.

                  A lap eight restart slider by Christensen swapped the top duo.  Christensen and Javaux were chased by Hagopian as Brendan May, Ancona and Kevin MacIntosh dropped out.  Hagopian garnered second with ten laps remaining before Dayna Hill stalled for the final yellow.

                  Christensen repelled the charge of Hagopian to take his first Plaza win of the season.  Hagopian, Michael Laughton, Javaux and visitor Jessica McManus rounded out the top five.

                  Non Wing 600 action saw Austin Stone set quick time.  Heat race wins went to T.J. Smith and Cody Smothermon.  Starting on the pole spot, Smothermon jumped out to an early lead  in the 30 lap feature over Smith with double duty racer Mason Daniel into the third position.

                  Jack Kassik was an early drop out before Smith pestered Smothermon enough to take the lead on lucky lap thirteen.  The lapping process began well past the halfway mark before Daniel spun out of contention with five laps to go.

                  Smith ran on to his second consecutive feature as he took the win ahead of Smothermon, and fourth row starting Jimmy Leal in one of his better events.  Ben Silliker and Greg DeCaires V ran top five.

                  The younger Restricted 600 racers were paced by quick qualifier Garth Kasiner.  Caeden Steele and Dawson Faria captured heat race victories.   Bakersfield visitor Troy Morris III led the first four circuits of the 25 lap main event before Gauge Garcia spun for a yellow.

                  Kasiner assumed the lead on lap six before second runner Morris III bobbled and stalled his way out of the show.  Jake Smith ran second before taking the lead from Kasiner to lead four circuits.

 A yellow with five laps remaining bunched the field and Kasiner gave Smith a turn four slider to lead the restart.   Kasiner ended up in victory circle followed by Katey Syra, Smith, Faria and Carson Myrick.

Junior Sprint action had four different heat race winners as the group does not qualify but does run two sets of heat races.  Jade Avedisian, Drew Mowry, Wyatt Bookout and Robert Rios won heats.

Twenty laps of main event action were halted on the opening round with Cash Lovenburg getting upside down for the second consecutive week.  Mowry led the initial six laps before Rios ended up on his side in turn four.

The final fourteen laps went green with Lowry leading until five laps remaining.  Avedisian, who also won two weeks ago, then passed Mowry for the top spot.  Double checkers and the victory went to Avedisian and Mowry with Reilee Phillips, Bookout and a returning Rios the top five.

The Stock 600 class was short on cars this week as Cooper Worth led all fifteen laps to win the class main event ahead of Michael Laughton.                    Officials are hoping the count will rebound at the next Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park Raceway race scheduled for May 19th.

 

END

                                   

Visalia, Ca

April 14, 2017

By Paul Vetter

                  Friday night racing at Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park began with a season opener consisting of five division open wheel divisions on Good Friday.  A good night it certainly was for feature event winners Jake Hagopian, T.J. Smith, Brooklyn Holland, Gauge Garcia and Jade Avedisian.

                  A new format for the events saw drivers line up for their single heat race via a pill draw.  Heat race finishes and passing points then determine the feature event lineups.  The time consuming qualifying process has been eliminated.

                  Passing was at a premium early in the evening with Super 600 heat wins going to Cole Christensen and Kevin MacIntosh.  However Jake Hagopian passed several cars in his heat and thereby started on the coveted pole starting spot for the 30 lap feature event.

                  Hagopian jumped out to an immediate lead before Mason Daniel spun for a yellow.  Hagopian again led the pack and he began the lapping process prior to the halfway mark while being pursued by Christensen, Heath Duinkerken and Raio Salmon.

                  Kevin McIntosh and Paul Javaux spun their way out of contention with Hagopian leading the final eight green flag laps to claim he win in a dominant run.    Duinkerken , Salmon, Brooklyn Holland and Daniel rounded out the top five spots.

                  Non Winged 600 action saw veteran T.J. Smith and class newcomer Brody Fuson capture heat races in nonstop fashion.  The 30 lap feature started off with a bang as another newcomer Keith Roush flipped in turn three.

                  After Fuson led the first six laps Jack Kassik also flipped unhurt in turn three.  Fourth starting Smith worked Fuson on the restart to take the top spot while being chased by Ryan Delisle and Mason Daniel.  A midrace yellow slowed action with the field now closed up on leader Smith.

                  The final half of the race was all Smith as he led Delisle, Daniel, Cody Smothermon and Fuson to the finish line.  Randy Thompson flipped on the final lap but climbed out unhurt as Smith started his Plaza season off in winning style.

                  The track has decided to return the Stock 600 class into a class of its own.  Double duty driver Brooklyn Holland won the heat race for the class and started on the pole for the 20 lap feature.   Bakersfield racer Troy Morris III failed to start after heat race problems with Holland taking an immediate lead.

                  Breana Hernandez flipped wildly in turn four on the second circuit for a red.  She was ok.  Cooper Worth dropped out on the restart and Holland then led the final laps to take the win ahead of triple duty racer Mason Daniel and Anthony Verissimo.

                  The youngsters of the Restricted 600 class found Katey Syra and Gauge Garcia as heat race winners.  Garcia, up from the Junior Sprints ranks, jumped out to an immediate lead from the pole starting spot ahead of Syra and Garth Kasiner.

                  Dawson Faria bobbled in the turn three apex on lap fourteen and Troy Morris III also became involved tipping his car to its side.  Both drivers were ok but were done for the event.  The leading duo remained unchanged the final laps.

                  Garcia returned to the victory circle for the first time in this class ahead of Syra, ninth starting Jake Smith, Kasiner and Conner Danell.

                  Eleven Junior Sprints competed and Robert Rios and Jade Avedisian took heat race victories.  Drew Mowry started pole position for the 20 lap feature but failed to hold off Avedisian as the distaff racer paced the opening lap.

                  Up jumped the devil prior to lap two as newcomer Cash Lovenburg flipped in turn four.  Jett Barnes was also out with front end damage.  Avedisian maintained the lead on the restart being chased by Mowry and Reilee Phillips.

                  The top three remained in those spots to the finish of the event with Rios and Wyatt Bookout running in the top five of the nine finishing drivers.

                  Racing returns to the speedway in two weeks on April 28th.  Front gates open at 5:30 with racing to commence at 7pm.

END