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A dream come true for Stanford with California Dream victory

Courtesy of Jason Wedehase/Madera Speedway Thomas Stanford celebrates in victory lane after capturing Olga’s California Dream 100 in the Pro Mini Stocks race last week.


The inaugural Olga’s California Dream 100 for Pro Mini Stocks saw a vision fullfilled with a fast-paced feature filmed for MAVTV.

A blistering 100 laps later, with just one caution flag, Thomas Stanford was victorious with a $2,000 check for his Aug. 29 effort.

“Two grand is a lot for a Mini Stock driver and this is a big deal. It’s really cool to win the inaugural one and I hope they keep doing it because we want to come back,” Stanford said. “My father-in-law keeps all the trophies and has a trophy case. He might need a bigger one for this.”

Stanford led practice and qualifying on the one-third mile oval against a varitety of four cylinder machines. Drivers from Washington, Idaho, Southern California, Northern California, Utah, and Colorado were among those in the field. A 13-car inversion allowed Drew Crenshaw to lead the event from the pole position. Terry Armstrong, Jr. . took over the lead on lap 10 after starting 11th. Armstrong faltered with mechanical issues, handing the top spot to Rick Ackerman, Jr. on lap 21. Ackerman paced a closely wound three-car lead pack with Brad Rhoades and Stanford in pursuit. The trio of Washington-based Ford Mustangs darted in and out of lapped traffic with Stanford grabbing second on lap 34, then challenging for the lead.

Stanford went around the outside of Ackerman to lead lap 42 and led the field into the scheduled lap-50 break. After a caution-free opening half of the event, drivers had a chance for adjustments and MAVTV-interviews before action continued.

The solo caution of the event flew on the restart when Gary Klinetobe spun on the front stretch. Stanford managed to charge ahead for the victory while Rhoades and Andy Brown dueled for third. Rhoades drove away then challenged Ackerman for second in the closing stages.

Ackerman won $1,000 for his second place effort ahead of Rhoades, Brown, and Justin Carson, in a front-wheel-drive Acura, rounded out the top-five.

“Olga’s California Dream 100 is one of my favorite events we have hosted,” Madera Speedway promoter Kenny Shepherd said. “Bob Coply and the teams are among the nicest people we have ever met and they worked hard to make this event happen. I’m proud that we will show off their high caliber brand of racing nationwide on Madera Racing on MAVTV.”

In other action on Saturday night, 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model drivers put their stamp on the night’s competition. 14-year-old Kabe McClenny made his first start in the Madera Late Model division and promptly won his first feature at the speedway.

McClenny competes in the Jr. Late Model Series on MAVTV and is still searching for his first win in that series. The televised action continues this weekend with round six out of the nine scheduled. McClenny ranks seventh in that championship.

McClenny started on the pole alongside NASCAR Southwest Tour veteran Thomas Martin, who ran double duty with the Challenge Cup Series as well. Martin kept things close with McClenny throughout the 40-lap feature, but McClenny led all the way for his first win in his four seasons with Madera.

Martin topped rookie Hans Beeler for his career-best finish in third as well. Fresh off a top-five with the televised Nut Up Pro Late Models, Shelden Cooper finished fourth ahead of Pacific Challenge Series champion Mike Beeler.

With a lone podium finish in the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series’ inaugural season in 2016, Kyle Keller had been well overdue for a checkered flag in Madera. They say the first win is the hardest to get out of the way, and Keller is proof. After winning his first Madera Late Model feature on Aug. 1, Keller then won Saturday’s 50-lap race for the Challenge Cup Series.

The large Grand National style cars returned to the track with Keller starting inside Martin at the start. Martin went around the outside of Keller to lead the opening lap. Keller steered the Jerry Pitts Racing Ford to the inside of the John Krebs-owned Chevrolet of Martin on several occasions. Keller finally worked his way underneath Martin to take the lead on lap 15.

Multi-time Perris champion Chuck Becker spun for the lone caution of the event, but continued on. Keller topped Martin, a veteran of 34 NASCAR West Series starts, by 3.554 seconds at the stripe.

Another 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model driver Jesse Burks, rounded out the podium in third. The Charlie Wilson prepared No. 15 of Vince Little finished fourth with Becker rounding out the top-five.

The Central Valley Mini Stocks returned to Madera for a 35-lap feature with Joe Flowers earning the win.

Flowers went to to work from the ninth position while Ryan Doglione won an early battle with Steven Brown for the lead. Flowers and Doglione went three-wide in lapped traffic with Flowers taking the top position on lap 19.

Flowers led Doglione and Brown as the top-three finishers. Rod Baronian won a side-by-side battle with Greg Baronian for fourth at the finish as well.

Veteran Richard Herzog won the 15-lap Madera Hobby Stock feature, leading Manny Gonzalez, Jr. and rookie Nick Rowe. Rowe was making his debut appearance driving the defending champion Steve Schermerhorn’s entry.

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