Las Vegas’ Dezel West and La Grange’s Matt Erickson took Late Model victories in Saturday’s fifth round of MAVTV-televised action at LoanMart Madera Speedway.
West, 12, was the incoming co-points leader in the 51FIFTY Junior Late Models while Erickson’s win in his fourth in a dominant season at the top of the LoanMart Open Late Models.
A red hot Saturday night saw temperatures soar above 110 degrees with green flag temperatures still above 95.
Erickson took on Tracy’s Ryan Philpott for his victory, in a repeat of their duel from an April race. Erickson used a strong charge up the inside of turn two in lapped traffic to take the lead on lap 97 of the 100 lap contest.
Twenty-two Open Late Models took the green flag with Garland Tyler of Modesto leading from the pole. June 18 winner Bryan Herzog slowly chipped away at the pack and was up to third on lap three. A wild three-wide battle for fifth between second in points Joey Licata, Erickson, and Atwater’s Jason Agguire caused a domino effect with Ryan Hart spinning off of Logan Zampa’s bumper for a caution.
Philpott swung around Tyler with a great restart on the outside to take over the lead at the conclusion of lap 16. Alexander Mead and Carl Pearce tangled in turn two for a caution lap 19. That caution set up another incident when Glen Cook spun on the front stretch with a trio of blue cars of Shelden Cooper, Mead, and Zampa all spinning to avoid. Herzog used the restart to take the lead from the outside of Philpott on lap 21.
Herzog was not able to pull away very far from Philpott. Erickson closed in on the leaders and managed to nab second place. Cooper spun for another caution, which saw Licata retire to the pits with an engine failure. Tyler inserted himself back into the race, taking over second place on that restart. A series of cautions brought the race to an early halfway mark caution on lap 44.
When racing resumed, Howard Holden went up in smoke on the backstretch and the following lap saw Tyler Herzog spin and get hit in the driver’s door by Hart. All drivers involved were uninjured.
Philpott came back at Tyler for second position with the top-six cars running very close together. Things went south for Bryan Herzog as he fell from the lead with a clutch failure on lap 73. Philpott assumed the lead of the race with Erickson in tow. A great crossover filled battle ensued.
Erickson kept Philpott in the crosshairs as lapped traffic approached in the final 10 laps. The winning move came on lap 94 in traffic with Erickson using the inside to sneak through for the exciting win. Erickson led Philpott, Tyler, Rick Thompson, and Dillon Tucker in the top 5.
Dezel West led all 50 laps of the 51FIFTY Junior Late Models for his first points paying win. He entered the event as the co-points leader and drew the pole.
West led Jarrett Gilmer while outside pole sitter Kyle Keller fell backwards. Keller found himself mired back in sixth position when the first caution flew on lap six for a Jaden Lyn Rocha spin in turn one.
Co-points leader Austin Herzog set the fast time, but started fifth after the redraw. He went to the outside of May 28 winner Austin Edwards to take fourth on the restart. Herzog then dove inside Kolby Berry, but Berry was able to make the outside line work for several laps to hold him at bay.
Chris Trickle and Keller had a mix up that saw both cars going through the infield but continuing on under green. Keller spun on the following lap for a caution on lap 15. A caution involving Lilly Mead and Keller on lap 22 brought the field to its halfway break three laps early.
Coming out of the break, Herzog continued to hound Berry from the inside with Berry making the outside work to maintain third. Herzog finally got the move done on lap 28 with Berry spinning a lap later for a lap 29 yellow. Berry and Rocha tangled when the field tried to get back underway as well.
Trickle continued to move forward as he overhauled Edwards for fourth. Herzog spent many laps challenging Gilmer for second position while West led the race. With nine laps to go, Herzog was up to second and turned his attention to West.
The top-two staged a thrilling nose-to-tail battle through another series of cautions. West persevered through every restart to earn his first career Junior Late Model points win by .308 seconds over Herzog. Edwards, Canadian 11-year-old Ben Silliker, and Oceanside’s Ali Gay rounded out the top 5.
Stockton’s JoJo Stearns picked up his first win in the Mini Cup division, which has six rookie drivers in the eight-car division. The 20-lap victory was a comfortable one from the second row.
Rookie pole sitter Joseph Holiday slowed with mechanical issues on lap two and Stearns took the lead on the lap three restart ahead of Calvin Hegje. Jackson Dukes navigated the pack up into second place but never got the caution he needed. Stearns led Dukes, Hegje, Bruce Bivens, Hollister’s Adam Lemke in the top five.
Tim Curtis utilized his wife’s car with duct tape numbers to lead all 25 laps in the main event for the Toyota Sedans. Jillaun Holden, the points leader, kept things close for the entire race.
The caution flew when Thomas Magray and Erik Woods tangled in turn four for the lone stoppage of the race. Holden took advantage to challenge on the inside for several laps but Curtis was strong enough to hold on for the victory head of Holden, Lucy Carmona, Mike Marley, and Magray.
Stockton’s Joseph Reichmuth earned his fourth top-two finish in Super Hobby Stock competition in an abbreviated feature for the division.
Chuck Dohzier and Thomas Suarez rounded out the top-three at the checkered flag. Eloy Bazan spun from the initial start from the front row but was able to complete a 360 to keep the race green. Bazan’s incident on lap 18 ended the competition early due to time constraints.
Bert Stephens took over the lead from Rian Bowman on lap five and never looked back en route for the 25 lap Modified Super Toyota (MSTs) victory. Points leader Kevin Thompson closed within a car length but couldn’t make the winning pass. Dave Lander, Dennis Brannon, and Zachary Cook were the balance of the top five with Bowman eventually coming home sixth.
The LoanMart Madera Speedway continues its summer stretch Saturday with Children’s Hospital Kids Night presented by JBT FoodTech. Madera Late Models, Madera Hobby Stocks, 4-Banger, Toyota Sedans, MST, South West Tour Trucks, and Junior Late Model 25 lap exhibition race make up the scheduled card.
Race fans can catch up on LoanMart Madera Speedway action every Thursday with “Madera Racing” on MAVTV at 5 p.m.