60th Annual Johnny Key Classic Set for Saturday; Grandstands Remain Closed

60th Annual Johnny Key Classic Set for Saturday; Grandstands Remain Closed

Watsonville, CA – In what has been a bizarre year for race tracks all across the country, one of the few senses of normalcy comes from marquee events finding a way to still take place.  The 60th Annual Johnny Key Classic is no different.  Held in August at the Ocean Speedway for numerous years since reviving it from the shuttered San Jose Speedway, the Key has become one of the biggest shows to win for drivers on the West Coast.  For 2020, however, the Key looks just a little different.  The race will be shortened slightly to 40 instead of 50 laps, with a halfway break at lap 20.  Sadly, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the race will take place without fans in the grandstands.  The race was set to be the very first appearance for the Sprint Car Challenge Tour, but their season has essentially been cancelled due to the lack of fans in the stands.  The race will be live-streamed on FloRacing for all those unable to attend due to the restrictions.  Track officials are awaiting several sponsorship prospects and hope to announce payout for this weekend’s event in due time.  Officials with the speedway would also like to pass along the news that August 28th has been added as an Ocean Sprints race.  Originally, the Key was the season finale for the Ocean Sprints.  

Justin Sanders of Aromas comes into the Johnny Key Classic as one of the favorites, coming off of two straight Ocean Sprint victories, as well as winning the Key last year.  Lincoln’s Blake Carrick, Fremont’s Shane Golobic, Roseville’s Sean Becker, and Hanford’s DJ Netto and Mitchell Faccinto all have one win in weekly competition this year and are surely threats to take another win this weekend.  Campbell’s Bud Kaeding has been one of the biggest names to be left out of victory lane thus far in 2020 and will look to change that at the Key. 

The Hobby Stocks and Western Midgets will be there as part of the show, as well.  Last week, San Jose’s Joe Gallaher won his second Hobby Stock feature of the year, holding off Santa Cruz’s Terry Campion and Watsonville’s Jerry Skelton.  Gallaher became the first repeat winner of the 2020 season.  Freedom’s Wally Kennedy and Santa Cruz’s Robert Huckaby Sr. rounded out the top five.  

The Western Midgets had a new winner at the track last time out on August 7th, with Watsonville’s Tyler Slay grabbing the win over a hard-charging David Prickett of Fresno.  For Slay, this was his second win with the series to go along with one captured at Ventura last year, but this was his first at this home track and behind the wheel of the family-owned car.  Tyler Dolacki, also of Fresno, Bradley’s Randi Pankratz, and Redwood City’s Shayna Ensign rounded out the top five.  This Saturday is currently scheduled as the final 2020 appearance for the Western Midgets at the track.

Face coverings are required at all times when on the property of the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.  Track officials kindly request anyone experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 to stay home.  Pits are scheduled to open at noon and Pill Draw will close at 3:30pm sharp.  The driver’s meeting is scheduled for 3:45pm.  Pit passes are $45 and a nightly transponder rental is $20.  All drivers are asked to bring their transponders to pill draw to help assist scorers.  Any drivers competing for the first time in 2020 will have to fill out a W-9.  This can be done ahead of time by heading here: http://www.racepmg.com/oceanspeedway/driver-info/forms/

Photo Credits to Dennis Mattish. 

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