Hometown driver Justin Sanders won the 56th annual Johnny Key Classic sprint car race Saturday night at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, an event with a strong central San Joaquin Valley flavor.
Cory Eliason of Kingsburg was third, Tommy Tarlton of Easton fourth, Mitchell Faccinto of Hanford fifth and DJ Netto of Hanford sixth. Also, Logan Seavey of Sutter in a Fresno-based Shaw Motorsports car was eighth, Willie Croft of Sacramento in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car 13th, Scott Parker of Coarsegold 15th, Steven Tiner of Visalia 17th and Australian Toby Bellbowen in a car owned by Clovis’ Peter Murphy 22nd.
Sanders, runner-up Shane Golobic of Fremont and Tarlton thrilled the crowd at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds with side-by-side racing for much of the 50-lap, $5,000-to-win race on the quarter-mile clay oval.
Tarlton fell out of contention in the second half of the race after suspension parts broke on his winged sprint car powered by a 360-cubic-inch engine. The two-time track season champion and two-time Key Classic winner said it was his last race of the season.
Tarlton Racing also fields a 410 sprint car for Kyle Hirst of Paradise and another 360 car for 16-year-old Cole Macedo of Lemoore, who missed qualifying for Saturday’s Key Classic.
Eliason, just back from a month racing in the Midwest, started eighth and steadily moved up, putting himself in contention for the victory in the last few laps. Netto had the best passing job in the race, moving up from 18th starting position.
Et cetera – Chad Boespflug, who graduated from Hanford High in 2006 and moved to the Midwest in 2007 to race full-time, won Saturday night in a U.S. Auto Club non-wing sprint car race at Badlands Motor Speedway in South Dakota. The victory was worth $10,000 and set him up nicely for Sunday night’s $50,000-to-win finale of the Rock and Roll Gold Cup.
Boespflug has four wins this season and 23 since 2012.
Bud Kaeding of Campbell, who normally drives the Williams Motorsports car in California, is competing this weekend in both winged and non-winged divisions of the Gold Cup.
▪ The USAC Silver Crown race on the one-mile Illinois State Fairgrounds oval in Springfield was rained out Saturday. Kingsburg’s Kody Swanson has a 458-445 points lead with two races left as he chases his third straight crown.
▪ Carson Macedo of Lemoore, Cole’s 19-year-old brother in his first season of a national barnstorming tour, was 10th Tuesday night in a USAC Midget race in Pennsylvania. Macedo was leading with five laps to go when he spun out, forcing him to rally through the 23-car field.
The rest of the week’s scheduled USAC races in Pennsylvania were rained out, but Macedo got a fourth and a fifth in weekend racing with the Performance Open Wheel Racing Inc. series midgets in Illinois.