MADERA, CALIFORNIA (May 21, 2023) – Eagle, Idaho’s Jacob Smith earned his coveted first career MAVTV-televised Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model Series victory on Saturday night, becoming the fourth different winner of the 2023 season at Madera Speedway. 51FIFTY Jr. Late Models also raced in MAVTV-televised competition. The Vukovich Classic saw the Super Modifieds race in honor of one of the valley’s greatest racing families along with a variety of vintage racing series competing on the one-third mile. Photos by Ethan Smith
“Seriously incredible. We’ve been working so hard. First race win in the Pro Lates is pretty exciting,” Smith said. “Made that change (at the break) and it really sealed the deal. Led all the laps and super proud of everyone behind us.”
Shelden Cooper and Smith shared the front row for the 80-lap round four for the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model Series. Smith drove around the outside of Cooper to lead lap one.
Kenna Mitchell of Loomis set quick-time and quickly raced past Copper for second. Smith stayed committed to the top, allowing Mitchell to go underneath and show her nose for the lead.
La Grange’s Matt Erickson challenged round two winner Ethan Nascimento of Manteca for the fourth position as the race approached the lap 50 break. Erickson battled past Nascimento just one lap before the break as Nascimento slowed with his brakes glowing red at the checkered flag. Jacob Smith led Mitchell, Cooper, Erickson, and points leader Tyler Herzog of Fresno into the Mission Racing Style Tortilla Chips halfway break.
Nascimento was unable to restart for the final 30-lap run to the finish. Smith chose the outside of Mitchell for the restart. Erickson pounced, slicing past Mitchell and attempting to go underneath Smith into turn three. Smith held the lead while Erickson got sideways on the front stretch but managed to save it.
Mitchell retook second from Erickson on lap 55 as he slid up the track with tire smoke from a tire rub on the right side of his car. Robbie Kennealy of Madera, Herzog, and Erickson went three-wide for fourth before the running order settled down.
Rick Thompson of Fresno slowed with a flat right front tire for a caution on lap 68. Smith opted to restart on the outside of Mitchell for the final 12-lap run to the finish. Smith maintained the lead and Herzog followed him on the outside to take second. Herzog charged to the back bumper of Smith, then dove to the inside in turn one on lap 70 but couldn’t complete the pass before another caution. Henk Gaalswyk of Ripon and Eloy Bazan were among those spun on the backstretch to bring out the yellow.
Smith and Herzog raced side-by-side on the restart before Erickson and Mitchell collided on the front stretch, nosing Mitchell into the wall to unfortunately end her race.
Erickson spun around in turn four to set up a green-white-checkered finish. Another caution for Erickson required another attempt with two laps remaining. Smith hit his marks to outlast Herzog and 2021 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Brody Armtrout of Smartsville for the win. Kennealy and Cooper rounded out the top-five.
Vito Cancilla of Martinez won his third 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series feature of 2023 in round four on Saturday night, continuing a red hot start for the 11-year-old drive.
Henry Barton started on the pole in his debut race in the series and quickly drove ahead into the lead. Cancilla wasted little time putting the pressure on Barton for the lead. Wilton’s Chase Hand ran closely behind them as well in a nose-to-tail formation.
Skyler Schoppe spun in turn two for the first caution on lap 12. Barton chose the inside lane for the ensuing restart, with Cancilla using a strong maneuver around the outside to seize the lead on lap 13.
Hand and Barton collided battling for second into turn one to bring out the caution flag on lap 23. The incident relegated both to the rear of the field. Taylor Mayhew of Bakersfield assumed second while Joey Kennealy of Madera battled past Las Vegas’ Bryson Brown for third.
Cam Carraway and Tristan Pena of San Antonio, TX came together in turn four for a caution on lap 28. Kennealy took over the second position from Mayhew on lap 30 with Brown attempting to follow Kennealy through as well. Hand charged forward to pass both Brown and Mayhew before the break.
A spin for Reno’s Mia Wright on the front stretch on lap 36 brought on the lap 40 scheduled break four laps early. Cancilla led Kennealy, Hand, Mayhew, and Brown into the break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.
The race re-fired with 34 laps to go. Hand worked to the inside of Kennealy and immediately nabbed second position. Kennealy and Mayhew staged an exciting battle for third with 20 laps remaining. They raced side-by-side in a three-wide formation through lapped traffic and remained alongside each other. Kennealy used the outside line to slide back down in front of Mayhew on lap 55.
Kennealy slowed and had to retire into the infield on lap 59. Cancilla took his third win out of the first four races of the season followed by Hand, Mayhew, Brown, and Carraway at the checkered flag.
Tim Skoglund of Fresno dominated in the Super Modifieds for his second consecutive Vukovich Classic triumph. A caution flew with five laps to go for Art McCarthy tagging the turn four wall. Skoglund continued his dominance over the final laps, topping Jim Birges and Randy Woodward.
Up next for Madera Speedway is Club Race No. 3 on June 17 with Madera Late Models, Madera Super Stocks, MST/Toyota Sedans, Madera Mini Stocks and a 30 Lap Jr Late Model Exhibition race,
For more information about the Madera Speedway including how to advertise with a race team on MAVTV please visit www.racemadera.com or call the race office at 209-356-1968.
The 2023 season would not be possible without the support of Lunkerdaddy Fishing Lures, 51FIFTY LTM, Mission Foods, 805 Beer, Race 2B Drug Free, Competition Carburetion, Hoosier Tires, and Sunoco Race Fuel.
Madera Racing on MAVTV airs Monday nights at 5:00pm Pacific and 8:00pm Eastern.
2023 MADERA MAVTV LATE MODEL SCHEDULE
March 18 – $5,000-to-win
May 20 – Military Tribute Night
June 24 – Reverend Ron Spencer Red, White Blue Classic
July 22 – $5,000-to-win
October 7 – $10,000-to-win Short Track Shootout