Erickson outfoxes Herzog for Late Model opening night win
For The Madera Tribune
Matt Erickson used a late race restart to record a season-opening victory over Austin Herzog in Saturday’s Late Model race.at the Madera Speedway.
Multi-time Madera Speedway champion Matt Erickson kicked off the Madera Late Model season in style using a late race restart to charge past 2019 Nut Up Pro Late Model champion Austin Herzog for the victory.
The 40-lap event opened the points season for the non-MAVTV “club” Late Model division, utilizing the same rules and procedures as the Nut Up Pro Late Model Series. Erickson extended his reign as the winningest Late Model driver at the one-third mile speedway Saturday night.
“I just drove the heck out of it,” Erickson said. “Even though the track was green, it was good up there for about three laps. It was just hard racing. We finally pulled it off. It’s great to be back in victory lane after missing it for about two years.”
Herzog led time trials before an exciting heat race with Erickson. Erickson won the heat race by .028 seconds but Herzog landed on the pole for the feature with the straight up start from qualifying.
The third-generation Herzog jumped ahead with the lead while Kyle Keller held off Erickson and Jason Aguirre for second. The battle continued through lapped traffic on lap 27. Mike Shapiro spun making a pass on Richard Herzog for the eighth position, forcing a caution flag on lap 30 and a narrow miss for Austin Herzog as he avoided the spin.
Herzog restarted inside Keller with Erickson in the third spot. Erickson worked underneath Keller for second on lap 32 but remained five car lengths behind Herzog. Brandon Burd spun in turn two on lap 35, setting up a five-lap shootout between Herzog and Erickson. Erickson took advantage of the outside line, storming to the top spot on lap 36 by .029 seconds. Herzog clawed back, tagging Erickson exiting turn four as they came to the white flag. Herzog tried again on the final corner, knifing inside but falling short by half a car length at the stripe. Aguirre, Keller, and Juleson rounded out the top-five.
Mike Nicks won his first Madera Hobby Stock race by taking the 30-lap feature. Nathan Casillas led from the pole while Nicks and Nick Rowe battled for second. Casillas slowed in turn four which brought out a caution and handed Nicks the lead. Manny Gonzales, Jr. went underneath Rowe for second on the restart, with Rowe drifting back to fourth.
Rowe then turned his race around on the extended green flag run, passing Casillas for third then using a three wide move in lapped traffic to take second. Nicks led the rest of the distance over Rowe, Gonzales, Casillas, and 15-year-old rookie Harley Kennealy.
Ryan Reynolds and 2020 Modified Super Toyota champion Shaun Reynolds entertained in their 30-lap feature with Ryan coming out on top. Ryan Reynolds led from the pole position on lap one but Shaun used a strong move out of turn two to lead lap two. They went side-by-side again with Ryan Reynolds reclaiming the lead position on lap seven.
A caution lap 25 for Nick Thompson spinning in turn three set up a final Reynolds battle. They ran alongside each other for a lap before Ryan Reynolds drove ahead for the victory. Shaun Reynolds, Patrick Geiger, Tim Kammerer, and Haley Bugg were the top-five finishers.
Kasey Kleyn won the 25-lap Jr. Late Model exhibition race, leading Hailey Liles at the finish. 2020 Mini Cup track champion Rebecca Dubie finished third in her debut race. John Williams won the Mini Stock race as well.
Up next for Madera Speedway is the Smokey Hanoian Classic with the 602 Spec/Pro Modifed Series, Madera Late Models, Madera Hobby Stocks, MST/Toyota Sedans, Madera Mini Stocks, Legends of the Pacific, Jr Late Model Exhibition race and Legends of Kearney Bowl.
For information about Madera Speedway, visit www.RaceMadera.com 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 4:00pm Pacific with new 2020 episodes now airing.