2015 Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo champion Justin Sanders of Aromas, Calif. lifted the series to its sixth different winner in as many races by taking Friday night’s victory. The win led a six division program at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.
“It’s about time. We haven’t been here for very many races (this year). Hopefully with the Johnny Key coming up we can start clicking them off,” Sanders said. “We actually did a lot of changes to the car. It’s pretty solid. I could cut the bottom really good in three and four. The hardest thing about the whole thing is qualifying. It’s really tight. If you miss it by a little tiny bit then you’re like me where I had to start ninth.”
Concord’s Joey Ancona started on the pole after winning the dash, leading the 23-car field to the start. Ancona had a wheel stand coming to the green flag, which gave the opportunity to outside pole sitter DJ Netto. The 2019 King of the West champion and winner of the Friday portion of the Howard Kaeding Classic took the lead exiting turn two. Third starting Chase Majdic stopped on the front stretch for the first caution on lap two. He did not return to the event.
2019 USAC West Coast 360 champion Tristan Guardino of Fremont battled with Redding’s Max Mittry for third on the restart. Following the next caution, Guardino and Mittry faced pressure from Sanders and points leader Bud Kaeding. The formation ran two-by-two with an outside maneuver by Sanders nullified by an additional caution. Sanders used a three-wide move to take fifth on the restart, then nabbed fourth as the leaders encountered lapped traffic on lap 12.
Sanders used a caution on that lap to advance. He moved outside to charge into to second, passing Guardino on lap 17. Ancona drifted back to sixth by that point of the feature as well. Joel Myers, Jr. slid across turn four on lap 20 into the path of both Kaeding and Ancona. The collision sent both Kaeding and Myers onto their sides and ended the evening for all three cars.
When racing resumed, Netto fended off several challenges from Sanders. The pair darted through lapped traffic, with Sanders finding a line down low to move into the lead exiting turn four on lap 27. Sanders led the final three laps for victory ahead of Netto, 14th starting Sean Becker of Roseville, Guardino, and season-opening winner Blake Carrick.
Western Midget Racing enjoyed a first-time winner at his home race track, with Watsonville’s Tyler Slay winning the 20-lap main event. After a spin by pole sitting Sean Quinn of Clovis, the restart pitted 17-year-old Eric Greco against three-time BCRA champion Nick Foster, Jr. of San Jose. Greco gabbed the lead before fifth starting Slay advanced to the top spot on lap three.
Seventh starting Tyler Dolacki and ninth starting David Prickett, with three consecutive wins this season, advanced through the field with several daring slide jobs. Prickett was up to second by the fourth lap with Dolacki third by lap eight. Prickett attacked Slay on multiple occasions including into turn four near the halfway point and again making contact in turn two on lap 13.
Slay held Prickett at bay on each attempt. Prickett attempted to go around the outside of Slay on the final lap but fell short. Tyler Slay won his first career WMR feature ahead of nine-time series winner David Prickett and Dolacki. 2019 Ventura WMR champion Randi Pankratz and heat race winner Shayna Ensign rounded out the top-five.
2018 Ocean Speedway IMCA Sport Mod champion Jim DiGiovanni became the fifth different 2020 winner by taking the feature win. Max Baggett of Prunedale led the first six laps before he slowed on a restart to fall through the pack. He eventually DNF’d after a pair of incidents. Incoming points leader Gavin Espino was involved in a crash on the backstretch that eventually ended his night as well.
Seventh starting DiGiovanni assumed the lead on lap seven. San Jose’s Randy Miller ran closely behind for the entire main event. Cautions on lap 18 and 19 threatened to unhinge the race leader, but DiGiovanni persevered for the win. Justin McPherson snookered Miller for second on the final restart, ahead of Adrianne Frost and Kelly Campanile.
Shawn Jones won his third consecutive South Dwarf Car main event over a 20-car field. Jones went to work from the seventh position while third starting Nick Velasquez of Camarillo led the opening lap. Jones motored into second place by just the second lap. Following a caution on lap three, Jones worked his way past Velasquez to lead lap five.
Eighth starting Ryan Winter used a lap six caution to advance to second place. Following a caution on lap eight, Winter, Spanky Grenert and El Cajon’s Darren Brown had a three-wide battle with Brown attempting to go up the middle for second. A caution on lap 12 nullified the move.
Jones paced Winter over the final eight laps for the win. Grenert, Tommy Velasquez, and Nick Velasquez made up the top-five finishers.
Nate Graham won his third race for the Police-N-Pursuit in a close finish over Dan Anderson. Scotts Valley Police Department’s John Hohmann led the opening lap of the 15-lap race but spun from the lead for a lap two caution. The spin handed the lead to AJ Waltrip of the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs. Waltrip spun while in the middle of a four-way battle for the lead, handing lap nine to Graham.
Graham then survived a tough battle with Anderson for the win. Jackie Yeung of Capitola Police finished third over Steven Fernandes of Santa Clara PD and Hohmann.
Prunedale’s John Grilli led all 20-laps for the Four Banger win. An incident in the early stages saw hard contact between 2019 Police-N-Pursuit champion Roy Iller and Mark Fields, but both drivers continued. Points leader Ryan McClelland failed to finish after driving from 11th to second earlier in the main event. Grilli led Iller, Tony Gullo, Nicole Beardsley, and Kate Beardsley at the finish.
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