Hanford’s DJ Netto had a World of Outlaws national sprint car tour victory slip out of his hands Saturday night when he ran out of fuel while leading the main event in Chico.
Still, it was a good night for central San Joaquin Valley racers as Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi came up from starting 12th to finish a career-best fourth in the 40-lap main event at Silver Dollar Speedway. And Bud Kaeding of Campbell in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car was eighth.
Joey Saldana of Indiana, driving for Fresno-based Roth Motorsports, was 12th and stands fifth in the season points standings. Kaeding and Netto have crept into the last two spots in the top 20 as the series’ California swing continues April 9-10 at Calistoga Speedway. It returns to the Valley on April 15 at Bakersfield Speedway.
Netto, a Fresno State student, started fourth, jetted to the lead on lap four by riding the high side around the quarter-mile clay oval and led until the last restart of a caution-filled race, on lap 35. His car sputtered on the backstretch and seven-time Outlaws champion Donny Schatz of North Dakota passed for the lead and the win.
“I was running the fuel valve, bleeding it down, but I guess it just wasn’t enough,” Netto said in an Outlaws release. “It’s a tough way to lose one.”
Netto finished 15th.
The Outlaws started the weekend Friday night at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville. National driver Brad Sweet of Grass Valley won. Saldana was 10th, Kaeding 12th, Netto 15th, Tommy Tarlton of Easton (who has dominated weekly racing at Watsonville) 18th, Cory Eliason of Kingsburg 19th and Scelzi 20th.
Madera Speedway – The Pombo/Sargent Classic saw a finish reminiscent of the sometimes controversy-filled days when its late honorees, Al Pombo and Marshall Sargent, ruled pavement super modified racing.
AJ Russell of Clovis grabbed the lead early in the California Supermodified Series main event and held it through the yellow-checkered flag finish. But officials threw the yellow because Russell’s motor had blown up, oiling the track; they penalized him and awarded the win to Justin Tuey of Bakersfield.
“The old Sargent/Pombo fans would be proud of the event,” Madera Speedway reported on its Facebook page, explaining that the night started with Sargent’s sons, Mark and Mike, wrecking in practice, then a crash on the first lap of the CSS race, “then controversy and a stolen trophy” after the finish of the race.
Other division winners were Nick Chivello of Manteca (Bay Cities Racing Association midgets), Denny Burrell of Ripon (Northern California Modified Association sprint cars) and 16-year-old Toni Breidinger of Hillsborough (U.S. Auto Club HPD Midgets).
March 26 winners at Madera included Matt Erickson (Late Models), Bert Stephens (MST) and Jillaun Holden (Toyota Sedans).
Keller Auto Speedway – The Vander Weerd brothers, Richard and Jace, of Visalia put on a show Saturday night in the season-opener at the Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford.
Richard and Jace finished 1-2 in the featured USAC West Coast Sprint Cars main event. Jace led the first 24 laps, Richard got past him on lap 25, Jace went back ahead for two laps and Richard led the rest of the way in the 30-lapper on the third-mile clay oval.
The series is back in action April 9 at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.
Mike Schott won the Western RaceSaver sprint feature in Hanford.