NASCAR & Auto Racing

Erickson wins wild opener at Madera Speedway; Schatz sweeps Outlaws

Matt Erickson of La Grange took up where he left off at Madera Speedway, winning the season-opening Late Model Series feature Saturday night.

Erickson, who won six of eight starts in the series last year, held off 2015 series champion Buddy Shepherd of Bakersfield to win the race.

Action was wild all night on the third-mile paved oval with several passes for the lead and spins and mechanical troubles taking Erickson, Shepherd and other challengers to the back of the 26-car field. The race was shortened five laps to 120 because of curfew.

Madera Ranchos 18-year-old Dillon Tucker was third, Jason Romero of Cameron Park fourth and Jeff Peterson fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Ryan Hart of Dos Palos, Austin Herzog of Clovis, Tyler Herzog of Clovis, Rick Thompson of Fresno and Trevor Schlundt of Clovis.

Twelve-year-old Jesse Love IV of Menlo Park, last year’s U.S. Auto Club Western HPD Midgets open-wheel champion, led start-to-finish in the 75-lap Jr. Late Model race. The series in its second season is for drivers ages 10-16 piloting full-size stock cars.

Other opening-night winners were Dave Lander (MSTs) and Tim Curtis (Toyota Sedans).

Et cetera

World of Outlaws – Defending champion Donny Schatz swept both nights of sprint car racing Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas. Carson Macedo of Lemoore, driving the Easton-based Tarlton Motorsports car, had the best performance of the weekend for racers with Valley ties, moving up 11 spots Saturday night to finish 13th. Dominic Scelzi of Fresno and Bud Kaeding of Campbell (driving for Oakhurst’s Morrie Williams) also competed. The series next comes to Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare on Friday and Saturday.

USAC – Ryan Bernal of Hollister swept the West Coast 360 Sprints features at Las Vegas. Visalia brothers Jace and Richard Vander Weerd competed, with Jace’s fourth place Saturday the best finish. Danny Faria Jr. of Tipton flipped in Friday’s feature and didn’t race Saturday. The series joins the Outlaws this week in Tulare. … Michael Faccinto of Hanford, hoping to improve on last year’s runner-up series finish in the Western States Midgets series, blew an engine in his heat race during Saturday’s season-opener at Bakersfield Speedway and didn’t race in the main event.

Civil War Series – Shane Golobic of Fremont won the season-opener for the sprint car series Saturday night at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Mitchell Faccinto of Hanford was fourth, Kyle Hirst of Paradise in the Easton-based Roth Motorsports car was ninth, Scott Parker of Coarsegold 11th and Koen Shaw of Fresno 12th. Most of the drivers are expected to join the Outlaws this weekend in Tulare.