Madsen Takes WoO by .005 Second!

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Kerry Madsen is congratulated by Antioch Speedway Chief Steward Steve Sutherland.

Kerry Madsen scored a win for the record books Sunday night at Antioch Speedway as he held off Kyle Hirst by just .005 seconds, the smallest win margin in World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series history.

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Kerry Madsen (29) works his way to the top – passing Colby Copeland.

Madsen took over the lead on lap seven as the field returned to green following a caution. Madsen, who at the time was running in second behind reigning series champion Daryn Pittman, looked low as Pittman got caught up in the cushion and fell back.

Now leading, Madsen quickly built up a comfortable lead in his American Racing Custom Wheels car. By lap 11 he hit lapped traffic. As he worked his way through, Hirst crept closer.

As Madsen took the white flag, Hirst looked for an opportunity. He found it as the two entered the final turn. With Madsen bottled up by a lapped car, Hirst entered onto the front stretch side-by-side with the Australia native. The two drag raced down to the checkered flag and Madsen claimed the win by just a fraction of a second.

“It felt like I was doing it comfortably and managing traffic pretty well but I just got bottled up there and I guess he got a run,” Madsen said. “I was pretty lucky to get away with that one.”

Madsen said as the race wore on and he fought his way through the lapped traffic he was not concerned about what was going on behind him.

“I tried to keep the race pace at a comfortable pace so I wasn’t getting bottled up,” Madsen said. “The start was important but I think you had to be able to maneuver traffic to win the race.”

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Kerry Madsen pops a wheelie coming out of the second turn of the 3/8 Mile high banked oval.

Madsen said it was an exciting race from where he sat.

This was the sixth World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win of the season for Madsen and the first since he won the Ironman 55 just over a month ago. He currently sits fourth in the championship standings, 480 points out of the lead.

For his part, Hirst said he was disappointed to let the win get away from him by such a small margin.

“That would happen to me! I wish I was on the other end of that but that’s alright,” said Hirst, the KSE Hard Charger Award recipient for the night after advancing six positions in the A main. “I’ll get one, one of these years.”

Hirst came into the night with the momentum of his performances at the Gold Cup Race of Champions. In the previous two nights in Chico he finished fifth and fourth. Tonight, Hirst came as close as he could to the win without capturing it.

“Yeah, I thought I had him,” Hirst said. “I wasn’t sure – it was going to be close… My Roth Motorsports team gave me a great car. This thing was awesome.” ”

“God I wish I would have had that one.”

Hirst’s Roth Motorsports teammate David Gravel finished the night in third after starting in third. Gravel fell back on the start but he was able to make up ground on the same restart Madsen took over the lead.

“We freed up all night but I was still flying the front end,” Gravel said. “We had a good car, just missing it a little bit on the exit. We wanted a top-three and we got one. Good thing for Kyle, he’s had a great weekend. And congrats to Kerry, he did awesome too.”

“That one restart there with everyone biking on two wheels was pretty crazy and we took advantage of it. I’ve got to thank Dennis and Teresa Roth and all my guys.”

Donny Schatz’s lead in the championship standings is currently at 196 points over second place Pittman. Paul McMahan remains firmly in third, 306 points out of the lead.

 

MERCED SPEEDWAY: SportMod Special Event, Hobby Stock Battle on Tap Sat. Night!

RAUL RODRIGUEZ

RAUL RODRIGUEZ

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

Raul Rodriguez feels like a rabbit chased by a pack of hounds.

That’s the way it has been since the veteran Hobby Stock driver returned to competition at Merced Speedway earlier this season. He went from being a legend to being a contender for the 2014 championship in a matter of weeks.

This Saturday night’s Hobby Stock feature is Rodriguez’s most important race of the year.

It’s a double point event. That means if anything goes wrong for Rodriguez, three drivers have a chance of taking the championship point lead away from him. Kristie Shearer, Kevin Joaquin and Josh Hensley are ready to pounce on the rabbit.

“I’ve been thinking about it all week,” Rodriguez said Thursday night. “I have to drive smart and get through that race without getting into trouble. Nothing can go wrong – I mean nothing at all.”

Rodriguez has been checking and double-checking his car. Every nut and bolt has been tightened. He knows the stakes are high.

“This is the big one,” he says. “If I can finish ahead of the pack, I might be all right for the remainder of the season – I can win the championship.”

Shearer, who teaches 4th grade at McSwain Elementary School, is 25 points out of first. A win in Saturday’s event will carry 40 points, and Shearer wants the both the win and the championship.

KRISTIE SHEARER

KRISTIE SHEARER

“Everyone on our team has been doing math all week, calculating the different scenarios,” says teacher Shearer. “This is honestly exciting.”

Kristie’s husband, Michael, and her crew chief, Bruce “Bubba” Nelson, have been working on the car non-stop in their Atwater shop.

“They will make the car the best they can make it for me,” says Shearer. “The rest is up to me, the driver.”

Shearer’s son, Ian, has been cheering his mom on.

“He’s been pretty proud this year, bragging to his friends that his mom is in second place, and is in the run for the championship,” she adds. “But, in the pits there’s been camaraderie between the drivers. We encourage each other. There has been great sportsmanship in the hobby stock division all season long.”

Rodriguez sees his competition as tougher than ever.

“They’ve all picked up their game,” he observes of those chasing him. “Kristie is unreal – man, she is an awesome driver. I have had to race harder this year than ever before.”

When the racing ends, Rodriguez says the enjoyment continues. He’s not the rabbit then, just one of the drivers.

“We’re all hanging out – talking and having a good time,” Rodriguez says. “It has been fun all season. It’s a blast to be back.”

SPORTMOD SPECIAL EVENT

There will be a special event for the SportMod class Saturday night at Merced Speedway. It is an off-week nationwide for International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) sanctioned racing classes, so the speedway will have a non-point race for the SportMod division.

The Speedway will pay a larger purse for he event, and since it is not sanctioned by the IMCA, any driver can compete in a SportMod car.

The Hobby Stock feature event will also have added money. Mini-stock drivers will race for double points. All divisions will have a complete program of qualification races and a feature event.

Kristie Shearer has also been selected to be flag-woman for the trophy dash races. She climbs the starters stand for the first time. Her duties will include throwing candy to fans from her perch.

Merced Speedway is located inside the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced, Calif.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for children 6-12. A family four-pack of tickets admits two children and two adults for $30.           Racing begins at 7 p.m. The grandstand opens at 5 p.m.