Bobby Hogge IV, Matt Hagio, and Matt Kile grab Opening Night winsracepmg
By Sean Stanish
Watsonville, CA – It certainly didn’t take long for Salinas’ Bobby Hogge IV to find victory lane for the first time in 2017. After finishing fourth at the IMCA All Star Tour race in Merced the week before, last year’s track champion improved three positions to win the season opener for the IMCA Modifieds. Hogge started back in sixth, with another past champion, Andy Obertello of Hollister, starting on pole alongside Randy Brown of Chowchilla. Randy Brown led the way early, with Obertello looking for a way by lap after lap, to no avail. Meanwhile, Bobby Hogge IV entered the picture and avoided the rough stuff and took the lead on lap ten. Hogge wouldn’t give it back, but chaos was unfolding behind him. On lap 12, Andy Obertello misjudged the exit off of turn two and spun Randy Brown out of second position. The contact was severe enough to end both the drivers’ nights. On the restart, Bobby Hogge IV continued to lead, with Cody Burke, also of Salinas now in second. Unfortunately for Burke, he spun towards the infield in turn two, but kept it rolling to prevent a yellow. Hogge was able to pull a sizable gap, but another caution came out on lap 15 for Hollister’s Anthony Copeland, who wound up backwards on the backstretch. On the restart, Hogge once again pulled away, while Baypoint’s Danny Wagner, Salinas’ Alex Wilson, and Cody Burke battled for second. The final caution came out on lap 20, when Alex Wilson bumped Danny Wagner into a spin, with Wagner’s night coming to an unfortunate end. On the final restart, Bobby Hogge IV ran away from the pack to take the win ahead of Cody Burke. Alex Wilson finished third and Santa Cruz’s Joe Antonetti came home fourth in his first appearance in well over a year. Fifth went to Anthony Copeland. Heat wins went to Hogge and Wilson. The IMCA Modifieds are back again this Friday.
2015 IMCA Sport Mod champion, Matt Hagio of Prunedale started off the year with a dominating victory. Hagio started third in the feature, but was at the front quickly, and cruised to a convincing win over pole sitter Igor Gandzjuk, also of Prunedale. Hagio’s rag-tag car, with a mismatched spoiler and wrinkled sheet metal, was a result of a highway accident suffered late in the season last year in Tulare. No one was injured in the accident and the car evidently still functions pretty well. The drive of the night went to Pacifica’s Shane DeVolder, who started tenth, but drove up to third and also turned the fastest lap of the race. Last year’s champion in the division, Morgan Hill’s Jim DiGiovanni finished fourth, with rookie Mark Hartman of Hollister rounding out the top five. The caution-free 20 lap A-Main took just five and a half minutes to complete. Heat race wins went to Gilroy’s Mike Kofnovec Sr., who was not able to start the feature, and Matt Hagio. The IMCA Sport Mods will be back this Friday.
2012 American Stock champion, Matt Kile of San Jose, made sure his return to fulltime racing was noticed Friday night. Kile, who dabbled with an IMCA Sport Mod several years back, and then stepped away to help others with their racing endeavors, has only raced four times over the last two seasons. The win didn’t come easy, however, as Gilroy’s Nick Triolo and last year’s champ, San Jose’s Robert Gallaher, all threatened to grab the checkered flag first. Heat race winners Robert Huckaby Sr. of Santa Cruz and Triolo started on the front row, but Huckaby stumbled on the start, allowing Triolo to dart out to the early lead. Triolo was closely followed by Robert Gallaher and Matt Kile, and the trio pulled away from the rest of the pack. The racing got a little too tight on occasion, most notably when Nick Triolo bobbled slightly, which held up Matt Kile and forced Robert Gallaher to take evasive action and pull his car to the infield to avoid contact. Gallaher lost several positions and lots of track position, and with the caution-free main event, ran out of time to contend for the win. Meanwhile, Nick Triolo started battling exhaust issues, allowing Matt Kile to move around him and eventually grab the win by a second and a half. Triolo hung on for second ahead of pole sitter Robert Huckaby Sr., who rebounded from his slow start and take the last step on the podium. Robert Gallaher took fourth, with Watsonville’s Jerry Skelton completing the top five. Farther back, rookie Devon Sanders of Watsonville finished sixth in his first race at Ocean Speedway. Devon is the younger brother of sprint car standout, Justin Sanders. The American Stocks return to action this Friday for race two of the season.
Photo Credits to Racing Edge Photo and Video Productions