Caleb Debem becomes a first time Ocean Sprints winner Friday

Caleb Debem Top Dawg Photo

By Gary Thomas
Watsonville, CA…Salinas driver Caleb Debem brought home Rookie of the Year honors at Ocean Speedway last season and on Friday night he raced to his first career Taco Bravo Sprint Car victory on the quarter-mile.

Joining him in victory lane Friday were Jason Ryan Jr. with the IMCA Sport Mods, Shawn Jones with the South Bay Dwarf Cars, Kenny Stragalinos with the Four Bangers and Bryant Bell in the visiting WMR feature.

“It feels great to get our first win here tonight at Ocean Speedway,” said Debem following the race. “It was a lot of fun racing with Kurt Nelson and Brad Dillard in the main event. I want to thank everybody who supports our team. I couldn’t do it without all of them.”

Oakdale native Bradley Dillard hopped out to the early lead by way of the pole in the 25-lap Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo feature. Dillard’s Uncle, Kurt Nelson, began to hound his rear tail tank however and made it an entertaining battle up front.

On lap six Nelson nipped him at the line, but Dillard fought back to reclaim the lead shortly after. The 2022 Ocean Sprints champ stayed with it though and made the pass again to take over the point on lap nine. Debem then started to show his muscle and maneuvered into the runner up spot just before the halfway mark.

Debem proceeded to come after Nelson for the lead, as the pair raced closely together for several laps. On lap 18 the duo battled back and forth, before Debem took over the top spot that he would never relinquish.

Nelson had a run coming to the white flag, but hopped the cushion in one and two, which let Debem escape for the Ed Entz checkered flag. Debem won over Dillard, Nelson, Jason Chisum and Adriana Demartini.

The 20-lap IMCA Sport Mod finale saw reigning Ocean Speedway champ Chuck Golden jump out to the lead and set the pace over the initial seven circuits. The always tough Jason Ryan Jr. though snagged the lead on lap eight and led the remainder for victory. Matthew Hagio had a strong charge for second, followed by Emali VanHoff, Danny Wagner and David Crocker.

San Jose veteran Shawn Jones started fourth in the South Bay Dwarf Car feature but had the lead by the time he completed the opening lap. After that is smooth sailing as he held a half track lead at times. Jones grabbed the win over Mark Biscardi, Pete Piantanida, Justin Bingman and Eddy Claessen.

Boulder Creek driver Stragalinos picked up a big win in the Four Banger division on Friday. Thomas Cumming was able to lead the first couple laps, until getting out of shape, which allowed Stragalinos to rocket into the top-spot. Cumming kept him honest over the remainder, but it was Stragalinos crossing under the checkered ahead of Cumming, Peter Vannerus, Kate Beardsley and Ryder Greene.

2023 Western Midget Racing champion Bryant Bell of Oakley, Calif. steered Tony Boscacci’s No. 09 Spike Chassis to victory lane for the fourth time in his career at Watsonville’s Ocean Speedway on Friday night. The victory moves Bell back within six points of Logan Mitchell of Santa Cruz in the championship hunt as the series heads to Petaluma Speedway on Saturday night.

Bell experienced difficulties in his heat race but his team recovered for the feature. San Jose’s Anthony Bruno, Bell’s teammate, and Mitchell scored the heat race wins at their home racetrack.

Las Vegas’ Kyle Hawse placed the Sunland Wood Products No. 20 Triple-X Chassis on the pole for the feature after a six-car invert. Bell used the bottom to advance quickly into the lead by lap four.

Bell accumulated a sizeable advantage over the pack in the non-stop feature. By the time Mitchell had seized second place, the advantage was roughly two seconds. Mitchell marched towards Bell but time ran out. Bell earned his second win of the season for sponsor Toyota Walnut Creek. Mitchell settled for second followed by Lodi’s Nate Wait, Bruno, and Santa Clarita’s Adam Weisberg.



Ocean Speedway

June 7, 2024

Ocean Sprints: 1. 3D-Caleb Debem[3]; 2. 72S-Bradley Dillard[1]; 3. 72W-Kurt Nelson[4]; 4. 25Z-Jason Chisum[2]; 5. 9-Adrianna DeMartini[5]; 6. 76-Jennifer Osborne[6]; 7. 98-Vince Giannotta[8]; 8. 72JR-Chris Nelson[7]

IMCA Sport Mods: 1. 52-Jason Ryan Jr[5]; 2. 14H-Matthew Hagio[7]; 3. 4M-Emali VanHoff[6]; 4. 11D-Danny Wagner[8]; 5. 15-David Crocker[14]; 6. 22W-Charlie Hunter[15]; 7. 54R-Brian Baggett[13]; 8. 33-Mike Gil[10]; 9. 42B-Max Baggett[1]; 10. 39-Steven Allee[3]; 11. 44G-James Graessle[9]; 12. 6S-Mike Kofnovec SR[11]; 13. 3G-Chuck Golden[2]; 14. 16M-Jeff Mead[4]; 15. (DNS) 6K-Mike Kofnovec Jr

Four Bangers: 1. 720-Kenny Stragalinos[5]; 2. 8-Thomas Cumming[1]; 3. 37-Peter Vannerus[2]; 4. 43-Kate Beardsley[7]; 5. 54-Ryder Greene[9]; 6. 25-Bill Beardsley[6]; 7. 2-Nicole Beardsley[8]; 8. 23X-Lisa Rhodes[4]; 9. 28J-Joshua Silva[3]

Dwarf Cars: 1. 80N-Shawn Jones[4]; 2. 66B-Mark Biscardi[2]; 3. 96-Pete Piantanida[9]; 4. 12-Justin Bingman[6]; 5. 69-Eddy Claessen[7]; 6. 31B-Ellie Russo[1]; 7. 64B-Eric Weisler[3]; 8. 410-Chris Durden[5]; 9. 26N-Dan Zuger[8]

WMR: 1. 09-Bryant Bell[8]; 2. 96X-Logan Mitchell[5]; 3. 35W-Nate Wait[2]; 4. 9-Anthony Bruno[6]; 5. 15-Adam Weisberg[3]; 6. 20-Kyle Hawse[1]; 7. 68-Marvin Mitchell[7]; 8. 1K-Terry Nichols[4]