By Gary Thomas
Aptos, CA – June 16, 2014…As the month of June rolls on the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series heads for one of the most anticipated weekends of the year this Friday & Saturday June 20 & 21. On Friday evening KWS will invade the Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, while on Saturday the series will make its much awaited return to the historic Calistoga Speedway half-mile for the Wine Country Classic.
Friday’s event at John Prentice’s Ocean Speedway is the first of two season visits to the quarter-mile clay oval, with the other coming up in less than a month on Saturday July 12. That night will mark the fourth annual Howard Kaeding Classic. This Friday’s showcase will be the ninth round of action for the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series, which is the halfway point in the 2014 season.
Adult tickets on Friday night June 20 at the Ocean Speedway will be $25, with juniors 6-12 being $15. Kids five & under are free. The front gate will open at 4:30pm with hot laps at 5:15pm, qualifying around 6pm and racing to follow. The Ocean Speedway is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, California with the physical address being 2601 East Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076. More info on the track can be seen at www.oceanspeedway.com
On Saturday the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series sanctioned Wine Country Classic will be the first appearance at Calistoga Speedway since 2012 and the first time KWS visits the half-mile since it underwent a major facelift. In addition to the various facility upgrades that includes a new catch fence all the way around the track and a booming new sound system, immense work went into the racing surface, which is now wider and features a better degree of banking with smoother transitions into the corners.
Advanced tickets for the Wine Country Classic on Saturday at the Calistoga Speedway can be purchased from HMC Promotions by calling (916) 773-7225. Pit gate entrance for the competitors will open at 1 pm. Front gate for the event opens at 4 pm. Tickets and Will Call booth will be open at 1 pm. Cars will be on track at 5:30pm with first heat scheduled for around 7pm.
Reserved grandstand tickets & general admission tickets on Saturday are $25.00. Ages 13-16 are $10 (w/ an accompanied Adult) KIDS 12 AND UNDER FREE. A live band will play in the Music Pavilion from 1 pm until 5 pm. Grand Marshall Doug Wolfgang along with various KWS drivers are scheduled to sign autographs from 2pm to 3:30pm behind the grandstands. For more information please visit the Wine Country Classic-King of The West Facebook page. The Calistoga Speedway is located on the beautiful Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga, California.
Fresh off his third King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series win of the season Chico’s Kyle Hirst will lead the field into this weekend’s double header. The defending KWS champ has been in a league of his own so far this year, having finished among the top-five in each of the first eight events and goes into Friday holding a commanding 105 point lead in the standings. In his career Hirst has wins at the Calistoga Speedway both with & without the wing, including a KWS triumph in 2009, but will be looking for his first Ocean Speedway 410 win on Friday aboard the always potent Roth Motorsports No. 83jr machine.
A major challenger this weekend is sure to be Rutherford’s Rico Abreu, who is expected to return home for both nights with the King of the West 410 Sprints on Friday & Saturday. The 22-year-old wheel-man of the Abreu Vineyards No. 24 machine has a pair of KWS wins this season, including the prestigious Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial in May at Silver Dollar Speedway. Abreu is also the most recent winner with the series at Calistoga Speedway and although he hasn’t captured a 410 win at Ocean Speedway, he did claim last year’s Johnny Key Classic at the quarter-mile. Abreu is also fresh off winning the USAC Indiana Midget Week title.
The battle for second in the King of the West standings is as close as you can get, with father & son, Brent & Bud Kaeding, separated by just two-markers. Brent currently holds the spot and is coming off a fourth place finish last weekend at the Pombo/Sargent Classic aboard his familiar Al’s Roofing Supply No. 69 mount. In his career the Campbell, CA Hall of Famer is also the second winningest driver in Calistoga Speedway history, having taken the checkered flag 21-times. Bud himself is a two-time Calistoga Speedway winner after capturing a USAC Wingless Sprint Car main event last year at the half-mile. The driver of the familiar Williams Motorsports No. 0 also won at the track with KWS in 2010 and will be looking for season win number one this weekend.
Moving up to fourth in the standings after last Saturday is 2005 Golden State/ King of the West 410 champion Sean Becker, who has one career victory at the Calistoga Speedway half-mile. The pilot of the Main Motorsports No. 35m Sprinter also picked up a KWS win at the Ocean Speedway in 2007, which saw him perform a clean sweep that night. Rounding out the top-five going into the double header this weekend is Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, who considers Calistoga Speedway to be his favorite track. The veteran has scored four career wins at the picturesque half-mile and will be going for number five on Saturday in the American Tool & Mfg No. 25 machine.
McMahan has a number of drivers breathing down his neck however, as fifth through ninth in the KWS standings are separated by only 12-points. Chico’s Jonathan Allard has moved to sixth and is just four back of McMahan for fifth. Allard has won the last two series events at the Ocean Speedway and is also two-time winner at the Calistoga Speedway in his career. Fremont’s Shane Golobic goes into his home track on Friday just six-points out of fifth and will be gunning for his second career series victory at the Ocean Speedway. The recent San Jose State grad is currently leading the weekly points at the quarter-mile with the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo.
Fresno’s Craig Stidham ranks eighth in the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series standings going into the weekend and is just 10-markers out of fifth, while Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi sits ninth. Grass Valley’s Jason Statler, a three-time Calistoga Speedway winner, currently rounds out the top-10 in points and is only 23-digits behind McMahan as well for the fifth spot. The two-night showcase this weekend is sure to be a pivotal point in the season, as teams compete on a tight quarter-mile bullring Friday, before moving the blazing fast half-mile on Saturday.
Other drivers set to be in action this weekend will include Sacramento’s Willie Croft, who dropped from fourth to 11th in the King of the West standings, following a grinding crash in hot laps last week at Hanford, which forced him to scratch for the night. Croft brought home podium finishes at the two most recent events in Calistoga with KWS and will be searching for his first career win at the track this weekend. Hanford’s DJ Netto goes into the double header with momentum following his best ever King of the West Series finish of second last Saturday at Kings Speedway.
Also expected to make appearances this weekend include Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs, Auckland, New Zealand’s Michael Pickens, Roseville’s Colby Copeland, Easton’s Tommy Tarlton, Fresno’s Cory Eliason, Lemoore’s Carson Macedo, Hanford’s Mitchell Faccinto, Gilroy’s Jarrett Soares, Auburn’s Richard Brace Jr., Winton’s Gordon Rodgers, Pleasanton’s Nathan Washam, Grass Valley’s Pat Harvey and others.
Information on the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series can be found at http://www.kwssprints.com/
Be sure to like the KWS Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/
Upcoming events for KWS
Friday June 20: Ocean Speedway
Saturday June 21: Calistoga Speedway (Wine Country Classic)
Saturday July 12: Ocean Speedway (Howard Kaeding Classic)
Saturday July 19: Placerville Speedway