Keller wins eighth round at Madera Speedway


Jason Wedehase/For The Madera Tribune

Kyle Keller celebrates in victory lane after capturing the Nut Up Pro Late Models race Saturday at the Madera Speedway.

The Nut Up Pro Late Models featured a tumultuous night for championship contenders while Kyle Keller earned his first career series triumph.


Keller is the seventh different winner through eight rounds at Madera Speedway, taking the 80-lap feature Saturday night at the one-third mile.


“That was amazing. It was so hard. With seven to go, you feel everything. It felt so crazy,” Keller said. “(The car) was really good, from Friday night all the way to now. Overall it was a good day.”


Keller earned fast-time, but drew the sixth starting position for the main event. Barrett Polhemus started on the pole, but was quickly passed on the outside by Eric Nascimento, Jr. The first caution flew on lap four for Brody Armtrout spinning in turn four. Points leader Jadan Walbridge pitted under the caution with an issue with his exhaust, but was able to rejoin the field.


Keller worked outside Matt Erickson to take over third. A three-wide battle for the lead ensued on lap 13 with Nascimento, Tyler Herzog, and Keller. The leaders then approached lapped traffic on lap 19 with Nascimento anchoring a two-by-two formation. Several cars spun on lap 21 as fluid fell around the speedway. The issue was a rear end casing on Nascimento’s car. Nascimento’s team made lengthy repairs and rejoined the action.


Herzog assumed the lead after an extended red flag for cleanup, going into a side-by-side fight with Keller. Keller went up the inside to lead lap 25. A lap 29 caution set up a restart where Herzog was slow on the inside. The field piled up behind them with Howard Holden spinning and getting hit head on by 2020 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Bradley Erickson.


Keller picked the outside on the following restart and maintained the lead. He led Herzog, a resurgent Armtrout, Matt Erickson, and a hard-charging Nascimento into the lap-50 break.


Keller and Erickson lined up on the outside line on the restart and worked into the top two positions. Walbridge passed Armtrout on the outside to take fourth a few laps later. Walbridge and Herzog battled while Armtrout and Juleson battled for sixth behind them.


Walbridge spun with contact from Herzog for a caution on lap 73, relegating the incoming points leader, Walbridge, to the rear. Erickson restarted second inside Keller, with the running order at that point swinging Erickson into the series points lead. The points lead lasted 300 feet past the start finish line. The field crashed hard on the restart as Armtrout bounced off the wall into Erickson, sending Erickson rear first into the turn one wall. Glen Cook, Pete Soto and Holden also suffered damage. Erickson was able to return to the event, but lost a lap making significant repairs.


Keller led the way to the finish ahead of Nascimento while Aguirre came back to finish third. Juleson and Bradley Erickson rounded out the top five. Walbridge will lead Tyler Herzog by 19 points and Matt Erickson by 27 points heading into the series finale during the Short Track Shootout on Oct. 2.


Armtrout won his fifth consecutive 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series 70-lap event for drivers ages 10-16 years old. Kasey Kleyn drove the no. 88 Naake-Klauer Motorsports car to the front after the redraw with Armtrout in pursuit. Kercie Jung and Ethan Nascimento went back-and-forth for third behind them. Nascimento then cleared Jung and closed on Armtrout, but Armtrout held the position.


After a lap 19 caution, Kleyn picked the inside of Armtrout. Armtrout took advantage to use the outside to lead lap 21. Nascimento went underneath a sideways Kleyn to take second. Kleyn ended up having a rear end issue that relegated him to the infield on lap 34. Armtrout led Nascimento, incoming points leader Jacob Smith, Madera’s Robbie Kennealy, and Jung at the lap-40 break.


Nascimento used a slingshot down the backstretch to lead lap 41, but Armtrout fought back to keep the lead position. Kennealy tried to use the middle line around the track but eventually was passed by Smith for third. Armtrout grabbed his fifth win of the year to tighten the championship fight, leading Nascimento, Smith, Kennealy, and Jung across the stripe.


Four-wide action yielded a familiar result as Logan Chambers won the 20-lap INEX Bandolero race. Chambers and Madera’s Joey Kennealy were relegated to second row starting positions after two failed attempts at a start. A four-wide opening lap ensued with Kennealy going from fourth to first. Chambers pursued Kennealy for the lead then passed him on lap eight. Chambers topped Kennealy, Konner Kartsen, and Caden Cordova at the finish.


Madera Speedway’s next event is Saturday with the 48th annual Harvest Classic, presented by Protect the Harvest and Lucas Oil, Harvest/Vukovich Classic with a special tribute to Kenny Takeuchi. The headliner in this event will be the Donnie Large Tribute Open Comp Supers vs Winged Sprint race plus Legends of Kearney Bowl, BCRA Vintage, California Hard Tops, Madera Late Models, Madera Hobby Stocks, MST/Toyota Sedans, Challenge Cup Series, and Madera Mini Stocks. Tickets will be available at www.RaceMadera.com or at the gate.


The 2021 season would not be possible without the support of Nut Up Industries, 51FIFTY LTM, Mission Foods, 805 Beer, Race 2B Drug Free, Competition Carburetion, Hoosier Tires, and Sunoco Race Fuel.


Madera Racing on MAVTV airs Monday nights at 4 p.m. The fourth round of the Nut Up Pro Late Models airs on Sept. 27.