Local drivers shine in season closer at Ukiah, Calif.
Carson City Super Late Model racers Chet “The Jet” Danburg, Kris Keller and Bobby Hodges had a terrific showing against a tough California field in the Eldorado Casino Westcar season finale in Ukiah, Calif., Saturday night.
Due to rain off and on during the day and overcast skies all of the racers had a tough time getting a good handle on the track. Hot laps saw numerous spin outs as a little rain mixed with oil making for treacherous conditions for the 550-plus horsepower machines.
In qualifying, Bobby Hodges was the quickest of the Carson City contingency qualifying fourth-fastest and lining up on the pole for the trophy dash against Westcar series champion Jarred Beddow on the outside, and Mike Doss, former North State Challenge series and Ukiah track champion in the second row.
Seventeen-year-old Hodges (Champion Speedway Bandolero track champion) led the first two laps with Beddow side by side on the outside. Beddow was able to pinch Hodges down and pulled off the win coming out of the final turn.
In the main event, a full 10-car invert was selected which allowed Danburg to start on the pole, Keller in the second row and Hodges inside of row 4.
Ukiah is shaped like the old Champion Speedway but with a narrow back straight away. Westcar had raced twice before this season at Ukiah with significant crashes and poor finishes for the boys from Carson City.
In both prior races, with 16 to 20 cars starting, Lawlor, Hodges, Danburg and Keller all were crashed out with severely damaged cars. It was not unusual to start 18 cars and finish with only eight running due to the close competition and aggressive racing.
Saturday’s race started with the normal number of spins and cautions. On lap nine, Hodges spun and got caught up in a three-car wreck and had to go the back. With the points battle close aggressive driving and a slippery track created several more cautions.
The race ran green for about 15 laps until a huge accident occurred between first and second-place place series points leaders (Beddow and Butler) coming out of turn 2, in which Beddow’s 75 went airborne off the track, smashing the left side of the car and breaking Beddow’s ankle.
After a lengthy clean up, Doss, who avoided the melee took the lead and won the race for the second time this season in the 11 car. Keller, fighting an extremely loose race car held off the 56 car for second. Hodges finished fifth overcoming damage and a dropped cylinder while Danburg brought home a nearly complete race car in sixth. The Carson City racers completed the Eldorado Westcar season with Hodges (two top-5 and four top-10 finishes) sixth in points, Danburg seventh and Keller tied for eighth.
With the closing of Carson City’s Champion Speedway, the Carson City and Reno super late model racers will be headed to the big open show on Oct. 13 at Altamont Raceway Park near Tracy, Calif., where more than 150 cars from California, Nevada, Oregon and Arizona are expected to compete for the $20,000 purse.
For information on the Westcar series, visit http://www.Westcarseries.com.