Justin Sanders clean sweeps opening night at Ocean Speedway

Justin Sanders clean sweeps opening night at Ocean Speedway

Justin Sanders completes a clean sweep of opening night for the Ocean Sprints

By Gary Thomas

Watsonville, CA – March 26, 2021…Throughout the years Aromas, California driver Justin Sanders has firmly planted himself as the man to beat at Ocean Speedway and reminded everyone of that on opening night of the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo season.

The two-time Ocean Sprints champ began the evening by setting fast time in the 27-car field, before storming to victory in his heat race. He then captured the evenings Dash and held off a hard charging Tanner Carrick in the closing stages of the feature to earn yet another Ocean Speedway triumph.

Sharing victory lane on Friday night were Cody Burke with the IMCA Modifieds, Joe Gallaher with the Hobby Stocks, David Pricket with the Western Midget Racing series and Kate Beardsley with the Four Bangers.

Sanders and Carrick made up the front row for the 30-lap Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo opener. A pair of red flags early on slowed the flow of the feature, but luckily all drivers made it through okay. A good ol’ fashioned hooked up racing surface greeted competitors on Friday, making the action fast and furious through lapped traffic on the quarter-mile bullring. Sanders worked traffic to perfection for much of the race and kept Carrick at bay, until a caution waved for younger brother Blake Carrick on lap 17.

When going back green Carrick stayed closer with Sanders this time and once lapped approached the 19-year-old from Lincoln pounced. The pair proceeded to put on an enjoyable show over the closing laps as the tricky surface kept everyone on the edge of their seat. Carrick looked to have a couple of openings and made a last lap bid, but Sanders was mistake free and accepted the Ed Entz checkered flag by just a few car lengths at the line for victory.

Tanner Carrick came home in second with Justyn Cox, Colby Copeland and 2019 Ocean Sprints champion JJ Ringo in fifth. Youngster Joel Myers crossed the stripe in sixth, followed by Koen Shaw, Trent Canales, Kurt Nelson and Mark Chaves Jr. rounding out the top-10. Copeland claimed the B-main, with Sanders as noted winning the Dash and his Heat Race. The other two heats were picked off by Kurt Nelson and Jodie Robinson. Sanders’ blazing fast lap of 11.536 earned him Fast Time to begin the evening.

The IMCA Modified main event turned out to be a battle of the Burke boys, as Cody and Austin ran up front for the duration of the 20-lap contest. Early on things came to a grinding halt when Prunedale veteran Tim Balding got upside down in the second corner. He luckily emerged okay. The final caution of the race then came out on lap 7 and after that it was smooth sailing ahead for Cody Burke out front, as the defending track titlist held a steady advantage over Austin to pick up the victory.

Austin Burke did keep brother Cody honest at times and came home in second over six-time Ocean Speedway champion Bobby Hogge IV. Hogge ran third for much of the contest but couldn’t make anything happen with the Burke boys on this night. Carl Berendsen and JC Elrod rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 were Jim Pettit II, Anthony Copeland, Freddie Ploudre, Robert Marsh and Rick Diaz.

The Hobby Stock feature was a back and forth affair but in the end it was defending track champion Joe Gallaher who picked up the gold. At the waving of the green flag it was Jerry Skelton jumping into the lead but he soon had company in the form of Terry Campion. It was a close race up front until Campion broke on lap seven. After that Gallaher fought his way forward and took command on lap 15, before early leader Skelton had issues around that same time.

As the race wound down Adriane Frost came to life and applied heavy pressure to Gallaher. The entertaining race saw Frost cut a perfect final corner, but just missed out on the victory as Gallher nipped her at the line. Norm Ayers, Ken Winland and Quintin Harris completed the top-five.

Fresno’s David Prickett topped a growing field of Western Midget Racing presented by Masters Design and Construction entries on Friday night at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, earning a hard-fought win over Blake Bower in round two of the 2021 championship series. The win marks Prickett’s twelfth in WMR competition.

Ramona’s David Taft took the lead around Turlock’s Cameron Beard with Prickett beginning to move forward after starting sixth. Great racing took place throughout the healthy field as Prickett and eighth starting Bower advanced. Taft had an issue in turn one that cost him the lead position on lap four. Shawn Arriaga also stopped under the caution with his race ending prematurely.

Beard inherited the lead but was overhauled by Brentwood’s Bower on lap five. Prickett seized the lead exiting turn four on lap six, however. Prickett and Bower drag raced down the backstretch until the caution flew for Steve Durant spinning in turn one.

Bower showed his nose to Prickett on the restart and continued to try to edge underneath as the race passed halfway. Beard spun to require the next restart, and the tight racing up front continued. Antonia Boscacci spun from third, setting up the final restart. Bower hounded Prickett but Prickett took the win followed by Bower, Taft, Beard, and Megan Moorhead for her second consecutive top-five finish.

The 15-lap Four Banger feature saw Roy Iller take the early lead until breaking on lap six, handing the top-spot to Ryan McClelland, who held command until he suffered issues on lap 10. Kate Beardsley then assumed the point and led the remainder to claim victory over Tony Gullo, Travis VanGilder, Nicole Beardsley and Forset Movrich.

The Ocean Speedway returns to action next Friday night April 2nd with the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods and Hobby Stocks.

*WMR portion courtesy of Steven Blakesley

Image courtesy of Dennis Mattish

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