One of the most competitive racing series in the country, the MAVTV-televised LoanMart Open Late Models and 51FIFTY Junior Late Models, have been at a fever pitch. The sixth round of this eight-race super series is Saturday night at LoanMart Madera Speedway, with Super Hobby Stocks, Mini Cups, MSTs, and Toyota Sedans rounding out the racing card.
The Open Late Models have averaged 22 cars per race this year for their 100-lap contests and La Grange’s Matt Erickson has won four of the five races to lead the points by 75 points. The point lead does not tell the full story as several drivers have given Erickson all he can handle. Most notably, Clovis’s Bryan Herzog won the June 18 race and appeared on his way to win on July 25 before a clutch failure dropped him from the lead. Herzog finished second in the points in 2015 and is currently fourth in 2016.
Tracy’s Ryan Philpott has three second place finishes, plus a pair of mechanical failures to rank second in the standings. The 2007 Altamont champion leads Modesto’s Garland Tyler, who is still in search of his first Open Late Model win. Herzog is fourth followed by three-time ASA Truck Series champion Joey Licata of Lake Balboa in fifth. Glen Cook, Ryan Hart, Shelden Cooper, Rick Thompson, and Jason Aguirre make up the top 10. Thompson leads the local Late Model points at Madera and has turned his Open Late Model season around with finishes of 10th and fourth in the last two races.
Early season favorite, David Ross of Cotlon, is expected to make his Madera return Saturday.
Las Vegas’ Dezel West, 12, has wrestled the attention and the points lead away from 14-year-old Austin Herzog in the 51FIFTY Junior Late Models. The first full-size stock car series for drivers ages 10-16 has produced some of the best racing at the speedway.
Herzog appeared nearly untouchable after winning three of the first four races, but West was able to hold Herzog at bay for the duration of the July 50-lap feature. The duo is separated by just six points. Canadian Ben Silliker, 11, has run in the top four in the last two races for third in the standings. Eleven-year-old Austin Edwards of Mentone won the May 28 race and added a third place finish in July for fourth place. Jarrett Gilmer finished outside the top-six for the first time this year in the last race, but maintains fifth in the standings.
Southern California standout Ryan Vargas is expected to return. The early season points leader has split time between Madera and Iwindale, and his Irwindale success has propelled him to fifth in the NASCAR California state points. He missed the July event to drop to eighth in the points behind Kolby Berry and Alison Gay of Lakeside.
Joseph Reichmuth has finished in the top-two in all four Super Hobby Stock races to lead by 10 points ahead of Chuck Dozhier. Reichmuth won an abbreviated feature in July. Dozhier has a win and has not finished worse than third. Thomas Suarez is 25 points out of the lead, while Eloy Bazan is ranked fourth. Ivan Scorsur rounds out the top five.
The California Mini Cups have been the success story of 2016 with a completely revamped lineup of drivers. The rookies have swept all three races with Clovis’ Jackson Dukes getting the first two rounds and the points lead, while Stockton’s JoJo Stearns won in July. Adam “The Bullet” Lemke of Hollister is a second year racer and is second in the points while also leading the Stockton track points.
Joshua “Bubba” Terry is the only other sophomore entrant and he is fourth in the standings with Lil Bruce Bivens overcoming an early season crash for fifth in the standings. Calvin Hegje finished third in his Madera debut in the last race.
The Modified Super Toyotas and Toyota Sedans have had a busy year at Madera. Kevin Thompson has won eight main events in the MSTs to enjoy a 42-point lead over three-time winner Bert Stephens. Zachary Cook, Rian Bowman, and Dennis Brannon round out the top five in the championship.
The women of the Toyota Sedans are still holding court with Lucy Carmona’s win on Aug. 13 narrowing Jillaun Holden’s points lead to 41 points. The pair have shared seven wins between them. Thomas Magray, popularly known as Tommy Wreckless, is third in the points followed by Mike Marley, and Erik Woods. Jason Lawton opened the year with two wins and two second place finishes notably in sixth in the points.
Race fans can catch up on LoanMart Madera Speedway racing with another original episode of “Madera Racing.” The coverage will include the fifth round of the LoanMart Open Late Models, filmed on July 25. “Madera Racing” airs Thursdays on MAVTV at 5 p.m.
An open practice kicks off the weekend on Friday before another full day of action on Saturday. Pit gates open at 11 a.m. with practice from noon-3 p.m. Qualifying fires off at 3 p.m. with the grandstands open and ticket windows opening after qualifying. Heat races fire off at 5:15 p.m. with opening ceremonies and the first features set for 6 p.m.
Adult tickets are $15, seniors are $13, youth, ages 6-12, are $7, and kids five and under are free. For information, visit www.RaceMadera.com