It was a night of spills, thrills and firsts at Antioch Speedway on June 29, as fans saw Ryan McDaniel of Chico outduel Kellen Chadwick of Oakley to win the IMCA NORCAL Modified Challenge and Megan Ponciano of Oakley score her first-ever win in the IMCA SportMod division.
Spectacular crashes in the Super Stock and Dwarf Car divisions brought out red flags. Jim Freethy flipped his super stock down the front stretch as he went for the lead. He emerged unscathed from his battered, upside-down car. Lori Brown of Antioch had her foot pinned in the driver's compartment after a lap one crash, but was able to walk away from the wreck.
Kimo Oreta of Vacaville scorched the field in the Hobby Stock main event, only to have his car catch fire after the checkered flag flew. The track crew quickly extinguished the fire.
The dwarf car feature came to a halt when Chuck Golden hit a tire head-on as the field scattered on the front stretch. The same feature stopped for Sonny Caulkin's front stretch flip.
It was McDaniel's first win in two seasons at the tough 3/8-mile clay oval.
"(The track) was a lot better than I thought it would be after they added water on it after the heat races," he said in victory lane. "It was a smooth, hammer down, race track."
On a restart with just five laps to go, Chadwick passed McDaniel and was solidly in the lead. Suddenly, he pulled off the track onto the first turn exit ramp, giving up his lead.
"I thought the engine was about to fail, so I shut it down," he said. "All it was a spark plug wire."
Ponciano, a young mother, had her son Aiden and daughter Delaney cheering her on as she drove a smooth line on a smooth race track to maintain a mid-race lead over Paul Mulder.
Oreta maintained his lead over Nick Viscusi III late in the Hobby Stock Feature. It was Mike Hynes winning the shortened Super Stock main event. Gene Haney returned to victory lane in Super Hobby Stocks.
Fairfield's Mike Grenert won the Dwarf Car feature.
The Firecracker 50 holiday program, originally scheduled for June 6 at Antioch Speedway, has been postponed until July 13, due to the BART strike. The speedway will also have complete programs of qualifying and features for All Star Wingless Sprints, Sport Mods, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Four-Bangers and Dwarf Cars.