Keller and Kennealy earn return trips to speedway victory lane
Joshua Rodriguez/Madera Speedway
Kyle Keller celebrates in victory lane after winning Saturday’s Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models at the Madera Speedway.
The last time Kyle Keller and Madera’s Robbie Kennealy each shared Madera Speedway victory lane on a MAVTV-televised race was last October.
Kennealy had his breakthrough Jr. Late Model triumph that night while Keller won the $10,000 Short Track Shootout. The pair duplicated that accomplishment in Saturday’s second rounds for the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models and 51FIFTY Jr. Late Models.
Keller qualified second in the Pro Late Models, then drew the second starting position for the 80-lap feature. 2021 champion Jadan Walbridge paced time trials but drew the 10 pill to start outside the fifth row.
Keller worked around the outside of 14-year-old Ethan Nascimento to lead the opening lap. They raced side-by-side with Nascimento edging forward on the inside to lead lap five. Jason Aguirre jumped inside of Keller for second on lap eight, but Keller held the position.
Barrett Polhemus and Howard Holden crashed in turn three for a caution on lap 11, which ended both of their evenings.
Nascimento and Keller picked up their side-by-side action on the restart. Keller led lap 13 by just .06 seconds on the outside line. While they dueled, Walbridge advanced to fourth by lap 17. Keller encountered lapped traffic on lap 31, but was undeterred.
A multi-car crash brought out the caution on lap 39 when Eric Nascimento and Ryan Reynolds collided in turn four. Reynolds was unable to continue.
2021 Jr. Late Model champion Brody Armtrout advanced from 15th to fifth by lap 45. Walbridge and 2020 Jr. Late Model champion Bradley Erickson had a torrid battle for third as they jockeyed for track position before the lap 50 break.
Walbridge won the battle then rode behind Keller and Nascimento into the break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.
The restart saw Keller choose the outside lane, foiling Walbridge’s plans and placing Nascimento on the inside in front of him. The maneuver allowed Keller and second row outside starter Erickson to drive ahead.
Aidan Daniels and Jacob Smith crashed for the next caution. Keller, again, picked the outside lane on the restart, allowing Aguirre to follow him on the top into fourth past Nascimento.
A pair of cautions fell on lap 60 with Pete Soto spinning and getting clipped by Shelden Cooper. Erickson restarted inside Keller on lap 63, but Keller held court.
Walbridge fought his way past Erickson on lap 73 to take over second place, but never saw a caution to eliminate the advantage that Keller had on the field. Keller drove to a .802 second win over Walbridge, Erickson, Aguirre, and Nascimento.
Kennealy’s 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model win came after his second consecutive fast-time award earlier in the night. Kennealy drew the five in the redraw, while season-opening winner Brody Moore qualified and started seventh.
Kenna Mitchell started on the pole and led the first nine laps of competition.
Outside pole sitter Joey Kennealy of Madera fell back to fourth in the early laps. Ethan Nascimento started fourth, but moved up to challenge Mitchell for the lead. Nascimento led lap 10 before Mitchell led lap 11 by just .001 seconds. Nascimento led lap 12 by .009 then took lap 13 by .005 seconds.
Mitchell solidly had the top spot in hand on lap 15. The top six cars lined up nose-to-tail with Nascimento poking inside of Mitchell for the lead.
The duo crashed as they raced side-by-side down the front stretch with Mitchell spinning to a stop for a caution. Nascimento restarted with the lead, but the race required an additional restart when Hailey Liles spun in turn two on lap 22.
On the next attempt, Nascimento and Kasey Kleyn made contact on the backstretch. They spun into turn three and narrowly avoided contact from the approaching drivers.
Robbie Kennealy assumed the lead through all the chaos with his brother, Joey, sharing the front row for the restart. Nascimento drove through the pack rapidly, immediately driving from the back into the top-five by lap 26. Lane Anderson and Monty Tipton had a hard crash in turn four, which ended Anderson’s race on lap 26.
Robbie Kennealy paced Moore, Nascimento, Joey Kennealy, and Jeffrey Erickson into the lap 40 break.
Nascimento’s charge through the field continued after the break, diving inside Moore for second. Erickson got caught out and fell back to eighth. Erickson then crashed in turn one in a tangle with Liles, eliminating him from the event. Nascimento and Mitchell had an additional coming together in turn three on lap 46, which relegated them to restarting at the back once more.
Kennealy was never challenged over the final 24 laps, winning by 1.752 seconds over Moore. Kleyn came back to pass Joey Kennealy for third with Liles coming back for a strong fifth place performance.
Madera Speedway races next on April 16 with the Hampton Inn Night. The event features Madera Late Models, Southwest Tour Truck Series, Madera Super Stocks, MST/Toyota Sedans, Madera Mini Stocks, a 30 Lap Jr Late Model Exhibition race, and LOKB
For more information about the Madera Speedway, including how to advertise with a race team on MAVTV, visit www.racemadera.com or call the race office at 209-356-1968.
The 2022 season would not be possible without the support of Lunkerdaddy Fishing Lures, 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.