By Gary Thomas
Watsonville, CA – August 18, 2014…One of the biggest and most anticipated Johnny Key Classic’s in recent memory is set to go green this Saturday August 23, when the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo do battle with the Civil War Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster, in the 54th installment of the prestigious event presented by Al’s Roofing Supply at Ocean Speedway.
Please note an earlier start time is also scheduled for Saturday’s Johnny Key Classic presented by Al’s Roofing Supply, with the front grandstand gate opening up at 3:30pm. The pit board meeting will be held at 3:45pm with track packing at 4pm and qualifying & racing to follow. This is the same time frame used during all Saturday shows at the Ocean Speedway. All seating will be general admission with adult tickets costing $20, kids $15, seniors $19, a family pack is $65 and kids five and under free.
The Johnny Key Classic originally started out at the paved San Jose Speedway following the passing of driver Johnny Key during a racing crash in 1954, before moving to the fairgrounds dirt track in 1978. The event had been a staple at the speedway until the closing of the dirt oval in 1999. After a number of years sitting idle, John Prentice & Ocean Speedway decided to bring the event back in 2007 and this year will mark the eighth consecutive season that it’s held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds facility.
The Key Classic A-main will consist of 50-laps on Saturday. There will be two 25-lap segments. At the conclusion of the first segment the cars will be stopped on the front straight in front of the grandstands. There will be a 10-minute intermission in which cars can refuel, change tires, and make whatever adjustments the crews can do on the front straight, before teams are signaled to leave the track and cars are pushed off. Cars will be lined up to resume the race in the order in which they finished the first segment.
The 50-lap feature pays $7500-to-win, the runner up will receive $3500 and third place will pay $2000. The main event will be a guaranteed $400-to-start, making it the most lucrative Ocean Sprints & Civil War Series race of the season. Lap money is also available for $50 a lap. If interested please email [email protected]
There is also a total of $600 up for grabs in the dash at the Key Classic, as well as $300 for the Ray Scheidts Electric Fast Time & $300 for the High Five Pizza Hard Charger. The dash is being sponsored by Thedy Auto Repair & Thirty Five Industries in San Jose. Williams Roofing is also sponsoring the lucky number pill draw, where a fan will choose a pill & if the driver starting in that position wins the race, the fan will earn some money and the driver will also receive a bonus.
Drivers already earning automatic spots in the feature based on wins in the four Qualifying Races are Princeton’s Mason Moore, Campbell’s Bud Kaeding, Elk Grove’s Greg Decaires and Easton’s Tommy Tarlton. Fremont’s Shane Golobic will earn a locked in spot by leading the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo standings. With Golobic entering the event leading both series, he will represent the Taco Bravo Sprints, as they host the event. With the highest point earner from the Civil War Series also qualifying into the event, Justin Sanders, who currently sits in second in Civil War Points, will get a lock in spot.
Those drivers will be allowed an opportunity to hot lap during the night. There will then be a six-lap dash consisting of the six drivers that have pre-qualified. The starting order of the dash will be determined by pill draw and the finish will determine their starting spots for the Key.
Moore picked up one of the biggest wins of his career last fall when he captured the annual Fall Nationals at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. He earned his lock in victory with Civil War at the Petaluma Speedway on July 5. Kaeding, the 1996 Johnny Key Classic winner, earned his lock in spot by racing to victory with the Ocean Sprints on July 25. The veteran Decaires locked up his spot by picking up the $5,000-to-win Mark Forni Classic on August 9, while two-time Johnny Key Classic winner & multiple-time Ocean Sprints champ Tarlton captured last Friday’s event at Ocean Speedway to earn his spot in the dash.
Golobic has continued to have a strong & consistent season across the board and leads both the Ocean Sprints & Civil War Series into the Ocean Speedway for the Key Classic. Going into the night he maintains a 68-point advantage in the Ocean Sprints points over Lemoore’s Carson Macedo, who has finished among the top-five in nine of the 10 events held so far. Defending Ocean Sprints champ Brad Furr of Stockton sits just two-markers behind Macedo, with Justin Sanders and Hanford’s Mitchell Faccinto rounding out the top-five. Koen Shaw, Jason & Jeremy Chisum, Heath Duinkerken & Kurt Neslon complete the top-10.
As mentioned Sanders also ranks second in the Civil War Series standings and earns the final lock in spot for the six-lap dash Saturday. The always exciting driver is coming off back-to-back podiums with the Ocean Sprints and also picked up a victory this past Saturday at Placerville Speedway. Sanders is just two-digits up on Sean Becker in the points going into Saturday to earn the spot by the narrowest of margins. Auburn’s Andy Forsberg and Penngrove’s Alissa Geving round out the top-five on the Civil War side of things. Geving had a tremendous run, finishing third in the Ocean Sprints vs Civil War show on July 11.
Defending Johnny Key Classic champion Rico Abreu of Rutherford is set to return home to try and make it back-to-back on Saturday night. The 22-year-old phenom has had an outstanding season across the country and won the Key last year in stunning fashion. Tommy Tarlton looked to be on way to victory until getting above the cushion coming around for the checkered, which allowed Abreu the chance to squeak by and earn the improbable win. Abreu already won the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial for the second straight year in May and will look to do so at the Key as well.
Other past Johnny Key Classic champs expected on Saturday will be San Jose’s Tim Kaeding, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding and Grass Valley’s Jason Statler. “TK” will make his first Ocean Speedway start of the season and picked up his Key Classic victory in 2010 during a torrid battle with Kyle Larson late in the race. “BK” has won three Ocean Sprints features so far in 2014 and captured his Key Classic’s 28-years apart, with those coming in 1980 and 2008. Statler raced to victory in the very first Key Classic held at Ocean Speedway in 2007.
More drivers set for Saturday looking for their first Key Classic triumph will include defending King of the West champ & current point leader Kyle Hirst of Chico, three-time KWS champ Jonathan Allard from Chico, Hanford’s DJ Netto, Visalia’s Steven Tiner, Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi, Cory Eliason & Craig Stidham, Placerville’s Andy Gregg, Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs, Wilton’s Matt Petersen, Sacramento’s Herman Klein & Willie Croft, Roseville’s Colby Copeland, Clarksburg’s Justin Cox, Hanford’s Collin Markle, Fremont’s Dustin Golobic and many more.
Ocean Speedway and Taco Bravo will be hosting a Johnny Key Classic Pre-Party at the Taco Bravo location 1950 South Bascom Avenue in Campbell, CA from 5pm to 8:30pm on Friday August 22. All pre-qualified cars and other teams are welcome to come and display their race cars at the event. Help us sell 3000 Taco’s!
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.
Ocean Speedway & the Ocean Sprints would like to thank Taco Bravo, High Five Pizza, Nobel Construction, Ray Scheidt’s Electric, Beer Optics, B Scadden Designs, Hoosier Tires West and Kaeding Performance for their support. For more information on the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo log onto http://www.oceansprints.com and for more on the Ocean Speedway check out http://www.oceanspeedway.com
(Brent Kaeding, Carson Macedo & Sean Becker will be three drivers looking to bring home the big money on Saturday. Kaeding has three Taco Bravo wins this year, Macedo ranks second in the Taco Bravo points & Becker is third in the Civil War Series standings. Paul Trevino Photo)