Bobby Hogge IV, of Salinas, proved again that he is the master of the 3/8 mile Antioch Speedway clay oval as he out-dueled rival Kellen Chadwick of Oakley in the 20 car Northern All Star Modified Stock Car feature event Saturday night. Hogge IV is undefeated this year in the elite series.
With the high-banked oval still seeping moisture from the spring rains, drivers were faced with a choice of riding high on the track for better traction or staying low where it was smooth. With 12 laps to go, a restart after a caution flag saw Chadwick out-power Hogge IV down the front stretch to steal the lead.
Two laps later, another caution flag gave Hogge IV a chance to take back what was his.
“The track was so rough up on top, I decided to keep the car pinned on the bottom,” Hogge IV explained in victory lane. “If you can beat the guy next to you to the first turn, you can choose whatever lane you want.”
Hogge IV did just that on the second restart.
“I thought I would have better traction at the top of the track,” Chadwick said. “That last caution did me in. I didn’t clear him (Hogge IV) enough to get in front of him. He took the bottom of the track away from me.”
Duane Cleveland of Plumas Lake was right behind Chadwick, fighting off challenges from four-time Antioch Speedway track champ Troy Foulger, who finished fourth. Nick DeCarlo of Martinez rounded out the top five.
Jeff Decker of Morgan Hill had the smoothest running car in the Northern All Star Late model feature event and he easily cruised to victory. His only challenger, Richard Papenahusen of Chico, spun coming out of the second turn early in the race.
Papenhausen was second at the line but was far behind Decker.
“When I realized it was going to be a rough track, I made changes to ‘free-up’ the suspension so the car would not have as much forward traction,” Decker explained.
Decker’s technical expertise gave him the advantage over his competitors. Papenhausen, also with a well handling car, finished second. The remainder of the field struggled with the rough track surface.
Damitz Celebrates Another First
Larry Damitz of Vallejo, the oldest driver in the United States continuously racing in a competitive division, proved he’s still a force to contend with at age 85. He won his first feature of the 2014 season in the Limited Late Model division.
Damitz began his racing career in 1952, and credits his daily exercise and workout routine in keeping himself fit.
“I’m happy being here and being able to race,” Damitz said in victory lane after topping a field of drivers whose parents were children when he started racing.
Damitz uses leaf springs in his stock car.
“They are far more forgiving on a rough track,” he explained.
Second place Cecil Henry of Oakley congratulated Damitz after a hard fought battle.
“It is great racing with you,” Henry said to Damitz. “It is the ultimate honor to be beaten by Larry Damitz.”
Former pavement stock car driver Peggy Sue Jarred of Stockton had her best finish on dirt in taking third. Jarred converted her heavier pavement car to a dirt car, which puts her at a slight disadvantage when competing with the Antioch regulars.
Fill-in McCown Takes Hobby Stock win
Dan McCown of Oakley hasn’t driven a Hobby Stock in three years. He’s been busy as crew chief of daughter Megan Ponciano’s SportMod. Since her class wasn’t running this week and Oakley neighbor Steve Rogers was sick, he jumped at the chance when Rogers offered him a “ride.”
McCown, a retired machinist, fought off Kimo Oreta of Vacaville and Patti Ryland of Brentwood in a closely contested race. The leaders weaved through lapped traffic at the finish testing each other’s skills.
“All I needed was a few more laps,” third place Ryland laughed in victory lane. “It is so frustrating to be right there, with no chance to pass Kimo.”
Oreta was disappointed with second – mainly because he wanted a special win.
“It is my daughter’s birthday. She wanted me to win, but second two weeks in a row is not a bad thing,” said Oreta.
“Four-Banger” Mentor Wins First Main Event
When Carlos Gonzalez of Bethel Island pulled into victory lane, second place Brent Curran of Antioch ran up to him and gave him a big hug.
“He’s my mentor. He gave me pointers last year when I was a rookie,” Curran explained as he told Gonzalez he was proud of him.
Despite five years of trying, Gonzalez had never won a race. Yet, he had helped previous victors, like Curran become winners.
“It’s my first first-place,” were the only words Gonzalez could utter in the emotional win. “I am so happy.”
And so was Curran.