Chadwick wins Western All-Star Late Models |

Chadwick wins Western All-Star Late Models

Roger Diez
Nevada AppealMotorsports Columnist

FERNLEY – A huge crowd attended Reno-Fernley Raceway Saturday night to see the ground-pounding Western All Stars Late Model series, and the fastest cars on dirt responded with an exciting show.

The drivers had the crowd on its feel with a four-abreast parade lap, then took three attempts before they finally got a good start. When they finally got underway, Oakley, Calif., driver Kellen Chadwick surged to the front and began to pull away, obviously the car to beat.

Behind him, 21 other Late Models snarled and snapped over second place on back, with Mike Johnson of Lompoc, Calif., Darrin Coffeil of Bino, Calif., and Bakersfield, Calif.’s Zack Forster at the head of the fight. It wasn’t long before too many cars tried to occupy too little space, and four of them tangled in turn three, bringing out the first caution of the 30-lap race and leaving the car of Jay Ellensberger of Bakersfield sitting in the infield with overheating problems.

The old adage “cautions breed cautions” held true, with a chain-reaction accident in turn four on the restart and Roger Lorenzini of Montague, Calif., was towed to the pits. Another caution ensued when Forster slowed on the front straight and limped to the pits.

During all the cautions and restarts, Chadwick remained dominant, and Bobby Hogge of Salinas, Calif., moved into the top five. The race was then halted with a red flag as the car of Chet Buckley of Lompoc flipped onto its roof in turn one. Buckley was uninjured, but his car was through for the night. Fortunately, the red flag was the final incident of the evening, and the race went green from that point on.

Chadwick was soon into lapped traffic, working his way masterfully past the slower cars while Coffeil stalked him, trying to close in. But Coffeil’s efforts were unsuccessful and Chadwick motored to the checkered flag for the victory. Coffeil was second, with Hogge third, Chris Shannon of Merced, Calif., fourth, and Portland, Oregon’s John Duty rounding out the top five. Chadwick scored a perfect evening, winning his heat race and the fast dash. Other heat race wins went to Johnson, Coffeil, and Anthony Restod of Santa Rosa, Calif., while Merced’s Marcus Aue took home the slow dash trophy.

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The Sprint 100 division ran just ahead of the Late Models, and also featured a full set of caution periods. Vernon Hickman of Sparks was the rabbit early on, with Nick McColloch of Sacramento and Dayton’s Duncan Lee chasing him for the lead. Tony Gowearin of Livermore, Calif., worked his way through the pack to second, but a spin in turn two brought out the caution and sent him back to the rear of the field. The fight up front among Hickman, McColloch, and Duncan intensified, and Hickman and Duncan locked wheels as Duncan attempted a pass for the lead in turn one.

Both cars spun down the pit ramp and the caution flag flew again. This put McColloch and Gowearin into the fight for the lead until they tangled in turn four, sending Gowearin on a wild ride through the infield. At the checker it was McColloch with the win, Duncan second, Gowearin third, Reno’s Tom Goepner fourth, and John Cardoni of Lodi, Calif., fifth. Hickman and McColloch won a heat race apiece, and Gowearin was victorious in the dash.

The Pro 4 division featured lead changes among several cars and a dominant performance by Dennis Crook of Fernley. At the green flag outside pole sitter Ken Knight of Winnemucca got a jump on Reno’s Kenny Martin and took the lead, but was soon challenged by Brian Coclich of Carson City, who pulled alongside and passed him.

Crook was next to get by Knight and reeled Coclich in, running side by side until Coclich gave way. Coclich maintained second while Knight, Martin, and Fernley’s Richard Scott, driving the No. 1 car usually fielded by Missy Natenstedt, battled for third. Ron Wagner of Winnemucca joined the tail end of this train, but tangled with Scott, bringing out the caution flag.

Both Knight and Martin got by Coclich on the restart, as Coclich’s car seemed to fall off the pace. Crook romped home to the checker without a challenge. Martin passed Knight for second in the waning laps, and Coclich held on for fourth. Chris Oberman of Silver Springs rounded out the top five. The single heat race went to Coclich.

Only half a dozen Legends cars took the green for their Main, but they provided one of the closest finishes of the evening. Fred Handley of Sparks led at the green, with Carson City’s Charly Baron in hot pursuit. Travis Peterson charged from the rear of the field to third, while Christopher Handley of Sparks spun and pitted.

Peterson got by Baron, who has shown terrific improvement this season, and set his sights on Handley. But Peterson had difficulty reeling in the leader, closing in by only a car length or two per lap. The pair was nose to tail as the white flag came out, signaling the final lap. Handley did a masterful job of holding off the charging Peterson, and at the checker it was Handley by less than half a car length. Baron came home third, followed by Reno racers Mike Firebaugh and Jason Anderline, who battled down to the wire with Firebaugh taking fourth and Anderline fifth. Peterson salvaged at least part of the evening by winning the single heat race.

The first group to take to the track was the 318 Modified division, running for a two-track championship between the Reno-Fernley and Fallon tracks. Fernley’s John Paul grabbed the lead at the green flag but was soon passed by Dayton’s Duncan Lee.

Lee lost the handle in turn two on the following lap, allowing Jim Turner of Loyalton, Calif., to pass for the lead. Paul brought out a caution and bunched the field with a spin in turn two, and Turner pulled away to a huge lead on the restart. Behind him, Lee battled with Fallon’s Ken Gotchal for second while Frank Kay of Yerington and Fallon’s Bob Bender had a tussle over fourth place.

Turner motored to an easy victory, Gotchal nipped Duncan for second, and Kay barely hung onto fourth, spinning across the start/finish line just inches ahead of Bender at the checker. Turner, easily the fastest 318 on the track, also won the single heat race.

Reno-Fernley Raceway is dark next Saturday night. Racing resumes on June 30 with the Totally Hair Cuts Night at the Races, featuring the Dwarf Car Regionals. Also on the card are the IMCA Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Hobby Stocks, and Pure Stock minis. Spectator gates open at 3 p.m., with racing action starting at 6. For more information, call (775) 575-7217 or go to on the Web.

•Contact Roger Diez at