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– ANTIOCH, Calif. (Sept. 14) – Did that really just happen?

Austen Wheatley wasn’t sure of what to think when he was being towed back to the pits.

Sure enough, the 18-year-old from Lake Stevens, Wash., was forced to his trailer with too much damage after being ran into during a red flag on Monday at Antioch Speedway in Antioch, Calif. – site of his final World of Outlaws race of the season.

“They yelled on the radio, ‘Red flag in turn four,’” said Wheatley, who was running third in the B Main at the time. “Chad Kemenah, Bill Rose and I stopped on the backstretch. Then two cars just smashed into me.

“I don’t know if they weren’t wearing radios, but they did not stop. I could hear them coming and then I felt the hit and heard one guy’s engine revving up.”

The impact bent Wheatley’s rear axel and right rear tire. It also broke the birdcage and did some cosmetic damage to the car. It capped a frustrating night in Wheatley’s first race at the 3/8-mile track with an eighth-place finish in the B Main.

“We would have transferred,” he said. “That’s pretty disappointing to go there, not qualify well, not do well in the heat race and then not get to finish the B Main.”

Wheatley qualified 26th quickest and finished where he started – ninth – in his heat race earlier in the night. He then charged from eighth to third place before the incident.

That wrapped up a weekend which began at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., for the 58th annual Gold Cup Race of Champions with the World of Outlaws on Friday and Saturday.

Wheatley qualified 22nd quickest – out of 53 cars – and missed the invert by only two spots on Friday, which started him fifth in his heat race.

“I was running sixth because Sammy Swindell had just passed me a few laps in,” he said. “I got a little loose coming out of turn four and came across the track. I was going to save it, but another car hit me in the tail tank and turned me around.

“The tail tank was caved all the way into the seat. That guy hit me a ton.”

Wheatley finished last in his heat race and was relegated to the B Main, which he started sixth. The track was already rubbered down and only the top four finishers would transfer to the feature, so Wheatley knew the start was critical.

“With everyone going from the double file start to a single lane on the bottom in turn one, a couple of guys got knocked out of it and I squeezed by them,” he said.

He was up to fourth by turn two and maintained that position to earn a transfer to the feature, which he started 21st. However, with the track covered in rubber, there wasn’t much of an opportunity for passing and Wheatley finished 20th.

“I think we passed four cars in the beginning, but I used up the right rear tire,” he said. “So we just had to ride it out or else we would have had a blown tire.”

On Saturday, the track started off with just one groove on the bottom. Wheatley nearly overcame a qualifying performance of 32nd by driving from seventh to fifth in his heat race. He was side by side with Bud Kaeding for the fourth and final transfer position off the final turn on the last lap, but Kaeding got him by half a car length at the finish line.

Wheatley was forced into the B Main, which was lined up by qualifying results. He started 13th and finished 10th.

Wheatley will be off for the next month before returning on Oct. 13-15 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, for the Lone Star Nationals featuring the ASCS National Tour – the premier 360 sprint car tour in the country.


Sept. 9 – Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. – Qualifying: 22; Heat race: 11 (5); B Main: 4 (6); Feature: 20 (21).

Sept. 10 – Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. – Qualifying: 32; Heat race: 5 (7); B Main: 10 (13).

Sept. 12 – Antioch Speedway in Antioch, Calif. – Qualifying: 26; Heat race: 9 (9); B Main: 8 (8).


45 races, 28 features, 0 wins, 1 top five, 6 top 10s, 13 top 15s, 22 top 20s


Oct. 13-15 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, with the ASCS National Tour


27: Average qualifying position at last weekend’s Gold Cup Race of Champions doubleheader with the World of Outlaws at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif.


Website: www.austenwheatley.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MiniWheats44w


Click on the link below for video of Wheatley’s bad crash on his qualifying night at the Knoxville Nationals on the Dirt Report on Speed TV:


Here is another link to the wreck from the Knoxville Raceway network and High Vista Video Productions:


Wheatley has gray and white t-shirts, gray sweatshirts, and charcoal gray hats and beanies for sale. For more information, visit www.austenwheatley.com.


WolfWeld is a chassis and custom welding company owned by famous sprint car driver Doug Wolfgang. WolfWeld is located in Tea, S.D.

“My dad met Doug Wolfgang in the early 1990s on the World of Outlaws tour,” Wheatley said. “Doug is one of the best welders you can find. When I got into sprint cars, my dad wanted a safe car that would hold up in a wreck. Doug’s cars hold together really good and keep the driver safe.”

Wheatley would like to thank his sponsors, including The Oil Medics, SpeedMart, Fire-Down Graphics, Advanced Racing Suspensions, Astro Titanium, DMI, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Goodyear and Redlined Welding & Construction for their continued support.