Courtesy of Rachel Cam
Dillon Tucker edges ahead in the Pro Late Model series and held the lead to the end for his first career victory in the series.
When the Easter Egg race event started Saturday, the conversation in the pit area was could the rain and cold weather be beat once again at the Madera Speedway or would the rain finally take down a race at the fastest 1/3 mile in the West.
Well, Madera Speedway beat the weather, once again and, by the end of the event, the conversation shifted from rain to “reign” and the fact that Dillon Tucker put an end to the Matt Erickson’s reign Saturday night.
Tucker picked up his first career win in a Pro Late Model with an outside move past race leader Logan Zampa on lap 29 of the 40-lap event. The race went green for 28 straight laps with Tucker chasing the hard-charging Zampa prior to the one-and-only restart on lap 29.
Erickson fought his way to third prior to the restart, but the key word is fought as it took every move in Erickson’s book to work past Austin Herzog, Tyler Herzog and Rick Thompson.
It looked like Erickson was in the perfect spot for the restart on the second row on a track that had little rubber on the high groove. Once again, it looked like Erickson might not be the best car, but he would find a way to victory lane, again. But what happened next had eyes wide open at the end of the race and changed the tone in the Madera pit area just a couple of weeks away from the $2,000 to win April 29 MAV-TV televised RPM Mortgage Pro Late Model Series.
On the restart Tucker drove his number 88 Chevy hard into turn one on the high side of the racetrack and fought door to door with Zampa for the lead.
Instead, Erickson made a move for the lead on the bottom, but it was Austin Herzog who blasted past Erickson on the top side of the race track right on the back bumper of Tucker. Then, instead of Erickson moving forward, he found himself under assault from Rick Thompson, Justin Philpott and Tyler Herzog.
The next 10 laps flew by at a hot pace set by Tucker and when the checkered flag went into the air on lap 40, it was the trio of young guns Tucker, Zampa and Austin Herzog headed to the podium.
This was the first victory for Tucker in the late models, but he has been knocking on the door in the MAV-TV series with a late race chance to win both the $10,000-to-win fall event and the season opening $5,000-to-win race in March.
The Jr Late Model series had a tune-up race on the schedule Saturday. These tune-up races are designed to allow drivers to get more seat time as well as allow new drivers to compete in a full-sized late model to prepare for the televised series in Madera.
Austin Herzog won the race with up-and-coming star Hailed Deegan finishing second, but many eyes were on the cars that ran from third to sixth place as these were all new drivers making either their first or second start.
Kabe McClenny really impressed by running with the leaders with a car that was very fast, finishing third. Teagan Harlan finished fourth making smooth laps. Ten-year-old Hailey Liles finished fifth in her first start and she really figured out how to get around the Madera Speedway by the end of the race.
Calvin Hegje made his first start and came home with a sixth place finish. Jodie Robinson, Tanner Reif and Jessie Burks all had issues that prevented them from finishing the exhibition tune-up race.
In other divisions competing on the night, it was Bert Stephens winning the MST race, followed by Zachary Cook and Dave Lander for the top three.
Kyle Fortney won the Toyota Sedan race with Erik Woods and Mike Marley in second and third.
It was Eloy Bazan, Verg Baetty and Jon Schlundt in the top three in the Hobby Stocks, and James Cooke, Mike Mulvihill and Robert Smith on the podium for the Enduro cars.
The next race event for the Madera Speedway is the MAV-TV Round No. 2 of the RPM Mortgage Pro Late Model Series and the 51FIFTY Jr Late Model Series on April 29.
Visit www.racemadera.com for information about the Madera Speedway and the RPM Mortgage Pro Late Model Series and the 51FIFTY Jr Late Model Series.