Sanders Wins Again at Ocean Speedway

Justin Sanders (#17) and Keith Day Jr. (#22). (Top Dawg photos)

From Steven Blakesley

WATSONVILLE, Cal. (May 8, 2021) – With the first grandstand attendance in over 18 months as the backdrop, Justin Sanders won his fourth Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo feature event of the year on Friday night at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville. The victory is also Sanders’ 11th Sprint Car triumph of 2021 for the 2015 champion of the 360 Sprint Car series.

Tristan Guardino won his heat race and the dash to earn the pole for the 30-lap contest. The Fremont driver surrendered the lead into turn one when Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi slid past him. The caution flew on lap two for Salinas’ Jason Chisum with a flat left rear tire in turn two.

Scelzi picked the outside for the restart and fended off Sanders on the restart. Scelzi encountered lapped traffic by lap seven with his comfortable lead shrinking to a car length within one circuit. Sanders nosed inside Scelzi on the front stretch on lap ten but could not complete the pass. Sanders and Scelzi went side-by-side in lapped traffic on lap 12 before Sanders cleared him to complete lap 13.

Nick Ringo of Morgan Hill flipped side over side in turn four for a red flag on the following lap. Scelzi dove inside Sanders on the restart but Sanders crossed him over down the backstretch to maintain the lead. Keith Day, Jr. and JJ Ringo collided on the backstretch, sending Ringo into a flip in turn three for a red flag on lap 15.

15-year-old Corey Day nabbed second from Scelzi on the restart. Scelzi tracked down Day in lapped traffic to retake the position on lap 21. Cautions waved again on lap 22 when Salinas’ Jeremy Chisum spun in turn two.

On the restart, the top-three of Sanders, Scelzi, and Day lined up nearly nose-to-tail on the outside line. Lapped traffic again played a factor in the closing laps, allowing Day to earn second in turn three on lap 28. Sanders led Scelzi, Day, fast-timer Kaeding, and Guardino as the top-five finishers.

Joe Gallaher won his third Hobby Stock feature of the year by taking the 20-lap feature. Gallaher led wire-to-wire, persevering over a lap 16 restart for the win. Sam Kennedy of Watsonville won a physical battle with Jerry Skelton for second with Quintin Harris of Prunedale and Brady Muller rounding out the top-five.

San Benito Sheriff Roy Iler put on an impressive driving display to win the 15-lap Police-in-Pursuit main event. Santa Cruz County Sheriff A.J. Waltrip led the first lap before Iler spun for a caution in turn four. A multi-car skirmish on the same corner slowed the action again on lap two. Iler marched up to second by lap five.

The leaders went three-wide in lapped traffic on the front stretch with Iler’s car swapping ends back-and-forth in a near spin. Iler drove out of the “tank slapper” to take the lead on lap 12. Waltrip then slowed with a flat left rear tire. Iler topped Jackie Yeung of Capitola PD with Waltrip limping home in third. John Hohmann of Scotts Valley PD and Fernando Tellez of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office were the balance of the top-five.

Kate Beardsley led all 15-laps for the Four Banger feature win. The two-time division champion drove ahead while Travis VanGilder fought off a challenge from 2020 champion Ryan McClelland of Scotts Valley for second. McClelland slowed then was eliminated when his car had a large fire on the backstretch. He was uninjured. When action resumed, VanGilder battled with Richard Mitchell. Beardsley led VanGilder, Mitchell, Nicole Beardsley, and Bill Beardsley at the finish.

Ocean Speedway continues to welcome back race fans with “Modified Madness” on Friday May 14. IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Western Midget Racing, Hobby Stocks, and Four Bangers will be competing. Tickets will be available on MyRacePass.

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May 7, 2021 – Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo Feature (30 LAPS):

1. 17-Justin Sanders[3]; 2. 41X-Corey Day[8]; 3. 41-Dominic Scelzi[2]; 4. 69-Bud Kaeding[5]; 5. 15T-Tristan Guardino[1]; 6. 88A-Joey Ancona[4]; 7. 72W-Kurt Nelson[11]; 8. 22-Keith Day Jr[7]; 9. 61-Travis Labat[17]; 10. 88-Koen Shaw[6]; 11. 33H-Eric Humphries[15]; 12. 25Z-Jason Chisum[14]; 13. 8-Jeremy Chisum[13]; 14. 58-Jerry Bonnema[12]; 15. 07-Richard Fajardo[19]; 16. 3M-Adam Kaeding[16]; 17. 21K-Travis Buckley[18]; 18. 2K-JJ Ringo[10]; 19. 3T-Nick Ringo[9]