WATSONVILLE, CALIF. (March 26, 2022) – Lincoln’s Tanner Carrick scored his first Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo feature in a thrilling display, outmatching multi-time series champion Justin Sanders of Aromas in the 30-lap season opener on Friday night in Watsonville. Photo by Top Dawg Photos

“I was working pretty hard for that one,” Carrick said. “I’ve been so close to winning here. I’ve just always blown the race towards the end leading and it’s always been to Sanders. It feels good to run a clean, good race with him, all 30 laps. I knew he was going to be the car to beat tonight. (This) checks another one off the win list in California for me.”

Sanders won the pole position by virtue of grabbing the eight-car, six-lap dash. Carrick shared the front row with Sanders and passed him on the outside to lead the opening lap. The first red flag of the evening flew on lap two when Connor Danell of Visalia flipped in the second turn. He was able to rejoin the race, however.

The red flags flew on the following restart attempt when Steven Kent of Fresno climbed over the back of Hanford’s Michael Pombo into turn three, sending both flipping. They were both uninjured but unable to continue.

Carrick held court at the front while Sanders tried to make something happen on the top of the track. That persistence paid off in heavy lapped traffic, with Sanders charging around Carrick on the outside to lead lap 19.

Carrick dove underneath Sanders in turn one a lap later, leading lap 21. Carrick briefly lost the lead to Sanders in turn four coming to complete lap 22 but drove back underneath Sanders at the line. Sanders mounted yet another challenge on the outside to drive past Carrick for the lead on lap 23. The move was nullified by the second red flag for Danell, this time going upside down in turn three. The incident ended Danell’s night and Carrick was placed back into the lead after reverting to lap 22.

Sanders was not done with Carrick on the restart, crossing him over into turn three to lead lap 23. The duo went side-by-side across the line again on lap 24 with Sanders inching forward. Carrick worked his way to the inside of Sanders down the backstretch to make the decisive move for the lead on lap 25.

Carrick drove ahead for his first career Ocean Sprints triumph over Sanders, Bud Kaeding, Boise’s Logan Forler, and Max Mittry. Pombo won the Beer Optics $100 Hard Luck Award, while the $200 Kenny Thorpe Hard Charger went to Joey Myers, Jr. for advancing 10 positions in the feature. Max Mittry won the Dirt.Travel Fast Time Award.

In other Friday action, Matthew Hagio of Prunedale won the 20-lap IMCA Modified feature. Salinas drivers Cody Burke, the 2021 champion, and Bobby Hogge IV, the season-opening winner, staged an outstanding battle for the lead. Burke successfully fended off Hogge for nearly a dozen laps. Burke bicycled into turn one and nearly flipped over, with the landing on all fours sending him directly into Hogge. Hagio pounced on the opening to take the lead while Burke was shuffled backwards and Hogge retired to the pits with damage.

A caution on lap 17 meant Hagio would have to defend the lead from West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Jim Pettit II of Prunedale. Hagio did just that, earning the win over Pettit, JC Elrod of San Martin, Raymond Keldsen, Jr. of Aromas, and Burke.

The 20-lap Hobby Stock feature had its own late-race dramatics, with Joe Gallaher pouring it on late in the event to earn victory. A trio of Watsonville-based drivers – Steve Remde, Sam Kennedy, and Jerry Skelton – ran closely together for much of the race. Kennedy took several looks to the inside of Remde for the top spot to no avail. Gallaher edged forward to fourth, then made quick maneuvers over the final five laps. Gallaher passed each Watsonville driver in succession over three laps to take the lead by lap 17. Gallaher topped Remde, Kennedy, Skelton, and Brady Muller as the top-five finishers.

Troy Moore of Santa Cruz led all 15-laps for the Four Bangers division. A caution flew on lap eight when Travis VanGilder of Felton and Kenny Stragalinos of Boulder Creek collided in a tight battle for fifth. Lapped traffic in the final two laps did not slow Moore’s bid for the win, as he led Nicole Beardsley of Felton, TJ Santos of Gilroy, Stragalinos, and rookie Amaya Flowers of Watsonville at the finish.

Ocean Speedway continues Friday April 1 with round two of the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo plus Western Midget Racing, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, and Police-in-Pursuit.

Ocean Sprints Presented by Taco Bravo Feature – March 25, 2022 (30 Laps)

1. 83T-Tanner Carrick[2]; 2. 2X-Justin Sanders[1]; 3. 69-Bud Kaeding[3]; 4. 2L-Logan Forler[6]; 5. 2XM-Max Mittry[4]; 6. 38B-Blake Carrick[5]; 7. 22-Keith Day Jr[7]; 8. 88A-Joey Ancona[13]; 9. 7P-Jake Andreotti[10]; 10. 7Z-Zane Blanchard[19]; 11. 83V-Joel Myers[21]; 12. 33H-Eric Humphries[8]; 13. 121-Caeden Steele[15]; 14. 72W-Kurt Nelson[12]; 15. 17-Rickey Sanders[11]; 16. 72JR-Chris Nelson[22]; 17. 19-Colby Thornhill[16]; 18. 68-Jayson Bright[9]; 19. 8-Jeremy Chisum[20]; 20. 5D-Connor Danell[18]; 21. 98-Michael Pombo[14]; 22. 37-Steven Kent[17]

About Steven Blakesley

Steven Blakesley is a motorsports announcer and public relations specialist with more than 15 years of experience. His biggest pet peeve is race fans who only enjoy one form of racing over all others.