Courtesy of Jason Wedehase
Ryan Philpott races ahead of Matt Erickson around the LoanMart Madera speedway en route to a victory in the Late Model Series on Saturday.
Saturday night at the LoanMart Madera Speedway was arguably the best night of short track racing action seen at any track in the country in a very long time.
The tri-banked short track, known as the fastest 1/3 mile in the west, lived up to its name this weekend as fans enjoyed some of the most intense racing action one could ever wish to see.
It all began with the first 50-lap segment of the MAVTV televised LoanMart Late Model Series. There were lead changes and hard racing from first to the last car on the track.
Bryan Herzog got the lead but then spun on his own, Garland Tyler fought to get the lead, but then Matt Erickson, who qualified 12th. turned Tyler around fighting for the lead after driving through the field and both went to the rear. When the dust settled it was Glen Cook that was the halfway break leader.
While the LoanMart Late Model Series teams went to the pit area for their halftime break for car adjustments and TV interviews, the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series featured the best 10-16-year-old drivers took the track for their 50-lap televised race. Austin Herzog was second in the point championship and qualified first, but drew a six-car invert, putting young Ben Silliker on the pole.
When the green flag flew, it was Kolby Berry who roared past Silliker on the high side of the track and took the early lead and looked to be in firm control of the race. But Silliker inched his was back to Berry and a two-car door-to-door battle for the lead emerged. Berry led on the high side of the track until he slipped and came out of turn two a little high and he was quickly shuffled back to fifth place.
Silliker took over the lead with Kyle Keller from Las Vegas on his back bumper for second place with a herd of the fast cars on the back bumper of Keller. Keller held of Austin Edwards, Dezel West and Herzog up to the halfway mark of the race.
With just a handful of laps remaining, it was Silliker holding a slim lead with Keller back at work with his elbows up holding off Herzog and West. When the white flag went in the air, Herzog and Keller were door-to-door right on the back bumper of Silliker. Silliker did a great job and held on to get to the checkered flag first becoming the fourth winner in the inaugural season for the 51FIFTY Jr Late Model Series followed by Keller, Herzog, West, Jarrett Gilmer, Berry, Edwards, Lilly Mead, Ali Gay, Jaden Rocha, Lucy Carmona, Cameron Legue, Tanner Reif, and Jodie Robinson.
The Late Model series rolled back out for the second 50 laps of the LoanMart Late Model Series. Glen Cook led the field to the green flag and it was Ryan Philpott that took over the front spot after a big battle with Glen for the lead. In another long second half run that has become the norm for the LoanMart Late Model Series Erickson charged from the rear of the field heading towards the front. Meanwhile as Erickson was coming through the field, Philpott was fighting off charges for the lead from Thompson, Herzog and Dillion Tucker.
Philpott held off every challenger for most of the second half, only to find Erickson in second place on late race restart.
On the restart, the two came off turn four bouncing off each other side-by-side and they stayed that way for a lap, but Philpott had the better race car and was determined to get the job done on national TV and beat Erickson to the checkered flag. When the smoke cleared from the big television burnout, it was Philpott who emerged from the tire smoke as the race winner.
Philpott was joined on the TV podium by Erickson and Cook.
Other event winners on the night included Carmona in the Toyota Sedans, Kevin Thompson in the MSTs, Joseph Riechmuth in the Super Hobby Stocks, and Richard Herzog and Antonio Mentzer won the Enduro and Barrel race.
The next event coming up is Saturday night with the 3k National Winged Sprint Car Challenge, and then Oct. 8 features the 10k to win LoanMart Short Track Shootout with more than 50 of the best late model drivers entered, plus the Lucas Oil Modifeids and the 51FIFTY Jr Late Model Series.
For information, go to www.racemadera.com.