Walbridge wins Madera rematch with Keller
Courtesy of Ethan Smith
Jadan Walbridge (07) leads Kyle Keller (12) in the Pro Late Models at the Madera Speedway on Saturday.
Jadan Walbridge outlasted Kyle Keller in the rematch from their classic on April 30 at Madera Speedway, with Walbridge taking the Military Tribute Night round four for the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models.
Each had to overcome challenges to emerge as the top-two contenders to win the 80-lap contest Saturday night and then engaged in an exciting battle to the conclusion.
Walbridge and Keller had their nights entangled from the beginning, when they tied for second in time trials behind 15-year-old Sean Hingorani. The redraw placed 2021 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Brody Armtrout on the pole while Keller drew third, Hingorani eighth, and Walbridge a distant 10th.
Amrtrout raced side-by-side with Howard Holden at the start before a caution on lap six for Jason Aguirre slowing with a flat tire and suspension damage.
Keller took over the lead on lap seven, but Armtrout battled back to lead lap eight. Their battle boiled over on lap nine entering turn three, when they collided and Keller spun. Both were relegated to restarting at the rear of the field.
The incident thrust Holden into the lead with company from 14-year-old Ethan Nascimento. Holden used the outside line to lead in a side-by-side race while Walbridge was up to the top-five by lap 21. Armtrout and Glen Cook tangled for the 12th position for the next caution on lap 28.
Holden picked the outside on the restart and raced alongside Nascimento in a prolonged battle. The leaders raced two-by-two with Nascimento driving on the inside to lead lap 32. Kercie Jung closed in on the leaders from fifth. Cook spun into the turn one wall to end his night on lap 43. The incident led into the lap 50 break seven laps early with Nascimento leading the field.
On the restart, apparent fluid from Shelden Cooper’s car sparked a multi-car incident in turn one that involved Nascimento spinning out of the lead. He was then tagged by Rick Thompson in the melee. Both Nascimento and Thompson were able to continue in the race, however. With Nascimento restarting at the back, Walbridge inherited the lead and was challenged by Keller. Their battle was briefly halted on lap 55 when Hingorani and Nascimento collided for a spin in turn four on lap 55.
The race for the win came to a head over the final 25 laps between Walbridge and Keller. Walbridge picked the outside and held the lead before Keller edged forward on the inside. Keller led lap 62 by just .001 seconds before Walbridge did the same on lap 63. Keller led again on lap 64, but Walbridge fought back on lap 68. Jung and Jacob Smith engaged in a furious side-by-side affair for third,as well.
Walbridge cleared Keller on lap 74 and led him by a car length in a narrow drive across the finish line. Jung topped Smith for third with multi-time champion Matt Erickson overcoming being two laps down earlier in the event to finish fifth.
Sean Hingorani made it two in a row in 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model victory lane, topping 14 drivers ages 10-16 years old in the 70-lap feature. Hingorani advanced from third on the grid to take second from Kasey Kleyn early in the race.
Hingorani challenged Kenna Mitchell by lap eight for the top spot. Brody Moore had an incident on lap 13 that relegated him to the back of the field.
On the restart, Hingorani used the outside to drive into the lead on Mitchell. Mitchell stayed in tow for several laps before Hingorani had the lead in hand on lap 19.
Monty Tipton went up in smoke in turn four to bring out the yellow flag on lap 29, then Jody Moen spun on the ensuing restart. Moore and points leader Robbie Kennealy of Madera battled hard for fifth approaching the lap 40 break. Hingorani led Mitchell, Nascimento, Kleyn, and Kennealy at the lap 40 stoppage for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.
Mitchell suffered on the restart on the outside, being overhauled by Nascimento and facing a challenge from Kleyn. Mitchell drove around the outside of Kleyn in turn two to keep the third spot on lap 45. Hingorani led the rest of the way over Nascimento, Mitchell, Kleyn, and Kennealy at the finish.
A 30-lap INEX Bandolero race full of ups and downs saw Kellen Keller persevere for victory. Skyler Shoppe finished second while Andrew Williams was third.
Kyle Labrie fended off a closing pack of drivers to win the 30-lap Mini Super Toyota main event. Tyler Ridley finished second followed by Bill Gorden.
Madera Speedway resumes on June 4 with Club Race No. 4. It features Madera Late Models, Madera Super Stocks, MST/Toyota Sedans, Madera Mini Stocks and a 30 Lap Jr Late Model Exhibition race.
For 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.