It was a night of spills, thrills and firsts at Antioch Speedway Saturday night (June 29). Fans who beat the heat by cooling off at the 3/8 mile oval saw Ryan McDaniel of Chico duel lap after lap with Kellen Chadwick of Oakley to win the IMCA NORCAL Modified Challenge and Megan Ponciano of Oakley score her first-ever win in the IMCA SportMod division.
Spectacular crashes in the Super Stock and Dwarf Car Divisions brought out red flags. Jim Freethy flipped his super stock down the front stretch while going for the lead. As fans cheered, he emerged unscathed from his battered, upside-down car. Lori Brown of Antioch had her foot pinned in the driver’s compartment after a lap one crash, but was able to walk away from the wreck.
Kimo Oreta of Vacaville scorched the field in the Hobby Stock main event, only to have his car catch fire after the checkered flag flew. The track crew quickly extinguished the fire.
The dwarf car feature came to a halt when Chuck Golden hit a tire head-on as the field scattered on the front stretch. The same feature stopped for Sonny Caulkin’s front stretch flip. Both drivers were checked by emergency medical staff on scene and were o.k.
It was McDaniel’s first win in two seasons at the tough 3/8-mile clay oval. After the race, he raved about the track’s condition.
“It was a lot better than I thought it would be after they added water on it after the heat races,” he said in victory lane. “There were racing lanes on the bottom and in the middle of the track. It was a smooth, hammer down, race track.”
Second place “Tricky” Troy Foulger of Martinez pulled everything he had out of his hat, but couldn’t challenge McDaniel.
“All I can say is that I tried really hard,” said Foulger, pouring sweat after racing hard in the evenings near record heat.
First, it was Nick DeCarlo of Martiniez who surged into an early lead over the rest of the pack. DeCarlo left the track after he shut down in the second turn while in the lead because his engine was overheating.
Chadwick looked like he had McDaniel beat. He came from the back of the pack after an early race spin out. On a restart with just five laps to go, Chadwick passed McDaniel and was solidly in the lead. Suddenly, he pulled off the track onto the first turn exit ramp, giving up his lead.
After the race, he explained what happened to cost him the win.
“I thought the engine was about to fail, so I shut it down,” he said. “All it was a spark plug wire.”
Ponciano, a young mother, had her eight year old son Aiden and two year old daughter Delaney cheering her on as she drove a smooth line on a smooth race track to maintain a mid-race lead over Paul Mulder.
Oreta, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian”, maintained his lead over Nick Viscusi III late in the Hobby Stock Feature. It was Mike Hynes over Larry Damitz in the shortened Super Stock main event. Gene Haney returned to victory lane in Super Hobby Stocks, toping Mitchell Locicere.
When the dust settled in the Dwarf Car feature, it was Fairfield’s Mike Grenert who finished with a big lead over Danny Wagner of Bay Point.
A special holiday event, the “Delta Series” “Firecracker 50” is on tap for this Saturday night, July 13. The 50-lap feature for modified stock cars will have open rules. All Star Wingless Sprint Cars, Sport Mods, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and “Four-Bangers” will join in on the holiday special event.
Antioch Speedway is located in the Contra Costa Fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St. in Antioch, Calif. Admission is $14 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for children. A family four-pack of tickets is $40. The fair offers secure parking for $5.