By Gary Thomas
Watsonville, CA…The cool confines of Ocean Speedway in Watsonville will be the destination for the Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards this Saturday August 20th.
The 62nd running of the “Johnny Key Classic” is co-sanctioned with the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo and marks the lone SCCT appearance of the season at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds venue. It’s also the final opportunity for drivers and teams to lock up a spot for the Pacific Sprint Cup Invitational at Silver Dollar Speedway on September 7th.
The pit gate for competitors opens at noon on Saturday, while the front gate for spectators opens at 3:30. The drivers meeting will be held at 3:45, with track packing shortly after. Please advise the earlier start time. Hot laps, Bianchi Farms qualifying and heat races will follow.
The Johnny Key Classic originally started out at the paved San Jose Speedway following the passing of driver Johnny Key during a racing crash in 1954. It then moved to the fairgrounds dirt track in 1978 and had been a staple at the speedway until the closing of the dirt oval in 1999.
After several years sitting idle the Ocean Speedway decided to bring the event back in 2007 and this year will mark the 16th consecutive season that it is held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds facility. On Friday night the Ocean Sprints will also have an event at the quarter mile, creating a double header weekend for teams and fans to enjoy at the bullring.
So far this season the Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards has seen eight different winners in 10 main events contested. Former Ocean Sprints champions Justin Sanders of Aromas and Fremont’s Shane Golobic are the only drivers that have captured multiple victories. Sanders in fact, is a two-time winner of the Johnny Key Classic and will be in search of number three on Saturday night, while Golobic looks for his first.
Auburn’s Andy Forsberg claimed his first SCCT win of the season last time out and brings a 61-point lead at the top of the standings into Ocean Speedway on Saturday. “Mr. Excitement” won the Johnny Key Classic in 2015 and routinely gets around the Watsonville quarter mile in solid fashion. His nearest rival in the points, Tony Gomes of Modesto, cut his teeth racing at Ocean Speedway and would love nothing more than to bag the Key Classic this weekend.
Reigning SCCT titlist Ryan Robinson had an exhilarating run during the most recent event held in Petaluma and will be a favorite this weekend at Ocean Speedway. Robinson won opening night of the Key last year and backed it up with a third on Saturday. Rio Linda’s Isaiah Vasquez goes into the event holding down fourth in the standings while Golobic, Oakley’s Dylan Bloomfield, Yuba City’s Landon Brooks, Lemoore’s Gauge Garcia, Sanders and Placerville’s Shane Hopkins complete the top-10.
Gilroy’s Kurt Nelson leads the Ocean Sprints standings into their final weekend of the season. The veteran possesses a 35-point lead over last week’s first-time winner Rickey Sanders going into Friday’s “Key Kick-Off Race.” Salinas’ Jason Chisum, Oakdale’s Brad Dillard and Concord’s Joey Ancona round out the top-five.
Adult tickets for the 62nd Johnny Key Classic this Saturday August 20th at the Ocean Speedway cost $25. Juniors will be $15, while children are $10. Tickets for the event will be available at the gate on race day.
The Ocean Speedway is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, California with the physical address being 2601 East Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076. Info on the track can be found at www.oceanspeedway.com
The Sprint Car Challenge Tour would like to thank Elk Grove Ford, Abreu Vineyards, Hoosier Racing Tires, Flo Racing, Shop Kyle Larson, Pit Stop USA, Tiner-Hirst Enterprise, BR Motorsports, King Racing Products, A.R.T. Speed Equipment, Bianchi Farms, D&D Roofing, Garth Moore Insurance and Financial Services, Quick Time Energy and Mortgage and High Sierra Industries for their support this season.
More information on the Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards can be found at our official website www.sprintcarchallengetour.com – Be sure to also like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sprintcarchallengetour and follow on Twitter https://twitter.com/360SCCT for the latest breaking news regarding SCCT. You can also find us on Instagram by searching scct360.