Cory Eliason won an early battle with DJ Netto, then drove away to his second career King of the West sprint car victory Saturday night in Hanford.
Eliason, a 24-year-old from Kingsburg, stayed hot at Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds with his fourth victory dating to last year’s Cotton Classic. That was his first career win in the King of the West series powered by 410-cubic-inch engines. This year, he has two wins in the track’s regular 360 series.
All of the wins have come in his own car. On Sunday night, he was scheduled to race in the King of the West event in Stockton. On Tuesday, he leaves with Sacramento car owner Harley Van Dyke for a Midwest tour culminating with the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals, the Super Bowl of sprint car racing.
On Saturday night, Netto started on the pole for the 30-lap main event with Eliason on the outside. They traded the lead until Hanford’s Netto spun on lap 8. From there, Eliason pulled away on the three-eighths mile clay track that quickly took the look of having just one groove.
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Kyle Hirst of Paradise, in the Easton-based Tarlton Racing car, made a late-race pass for second. Shane Golobic of Fremont, making his first start of the season for Fresno-based Roth Motorsports, was third. Craig Stidham of Fresno was fourth and Bud Kaeding of Campbell in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car was fifth.
Former two-time World of Outlaws national champion Jason Meyers of Clovis, now an occasional racer, was sixth. Netto rallied for seventh, Danny Faria of Tipton 10th and Steven Kent of Fresno 11th.
Blake Robertson of Visalia, the experienced veteran in a field of mostly rising teenagers out of the micro sprints ranks, won the 25-lap Western RaceSaver 305 sprint car race despite driving the last two laps on a flat right front tire.
Robertson, voted national sprint car Rookie of the Year in 1992, won for the eighth time in nine starts this season. He started 13th but was in the lead by lap 13.
Robertson was pulling away when a yellow flag bunched the field on lap 23. That’s when he learned he had a flat tire. A flat right front can be driven on and that’s what Robertson did, keeping on the gas through the last two laps to keep the pressure on his back tires.
Two of those rising young stars took second and third: Matthew Moles of Raisin City worked his way up from 11th to second, and Zane Blanchard of Hanford left the California Speedweek micro sprint tour (which was in Lemoore on Saturday) and scored a third.
Bill Wiliker won a three-car IMCA Modified main event.
Madera Speedway – Cody Gerhardt of Madera defended the family honor in the annual Gerhardt Classic, winning the 30-lap King of the Wing 360 sprint car race on the one-third mile paved oval.
Gerhardt started fifth in the eight-car field and wrested the lead from Meridian, Idaho’s Bryan Warf on lap 26. Justin Kawahata of Clovis was third.
Other winners on a night featuring only open-wheel classes were AJ Russell (360 Super Modifieds), Chad Nichols (Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets), Jim Badeker (NorCal Pro 4s), Cody Jessop (NorCal Modified Association and U.S. Auto Club HPD Midgets) and Brian Collins (Open Modifieds).
Et cetera – Tommy Tarlton, owner of Tarlton Racing, won Friday night’s regular 360 sprint car feature at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville.
Carson Macedo, the 19-year-old from Lemoore who won the 2015 King of the West championship in Tarlton’s car, is enjoying success in the Midwest with a victory in a sprint car Friday night at Beaver Dam, Wis. On July 4, he became the fourth driver in the 35-year history of the Pepsi Midget Nationals to win on his first try.