By Laura Kassik
The majority of the top five finishers in each of the opening-night divisions are expected back – setting-up for some renewed battles and exciting finishes as Havasu 95 Speedway enters its 11th season.
“Eleventh, I can’t believe it,” said track promoter Bill Rozhon. “My approach is that people are here as our guest. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue, but we try to cater to everyone. Every race is a learning experience.”
Opening the 2016-17 schedule on Saturday, Oct. 1 will be: Get It In Gear Street Stocks, Havasu Wiring Outlaw Karts, Office Cocktail Lounge Bandoleros, and Sam Nichols Electrical Factory Stocks. The races, sponsored by Interstate Batteries and Get It In Gear Transmissions, will start at 7 p.m. Spectator gates open at 5 p.m.
Of those divisions, three of the four reigning champions - Bobby Keirns (Street Stocks), Adam Hommerding (Outlaw Karts), and Brent Delay (Factory Stocks) – will be back for another round. Allison Gay, who won every race last year in Bandoleros, runs a Late Model and isn’t expected back to defend her title.
The Street Stocks points race could get interesting really quick with opening-night Twin 25s. Last season, Keirns rallied from a 12-point deficit by winning the final five races of the season, including the season-ending Twin 25s, to deny Gavin Bucy a second consecutive championship. The two had started the final night tied, and ended with a six-point gap after Keirns swept the Twins.
Between the regulars returning and some out-of-towners joining the field, these Street Stock races could be fiercely competitive.
“What I’m hearing is that we should have a pretty fair field,” Rozhon said. “Bobby (Keirns) said he’s gotten some good feedback (for car count). Tim Richter is coming from Vegas with some cars. Gavin will be back with a vengeance.”
Rozhon expects Garrett Reinoso, Ted Lamacki, and William Guevara, who rounded-out the top five in that order to be back and again challenge Keirns and Bucy for the top spots. William spent the off-season running in the Lucas Oil Modified Series.
Rozhon said, Reinoso, a second generation racer from Kingman, “should be a player this year.”
Last season, the Factory Stocks averaged a dozen cars an outing, and Rozhon anticipates at least that many this year. He has heard of a couple new cars joining the mix.
Brent Delay, who won seven of 11 races this season, will be in pursuit of his second Factory Stocks track championship. Expected back in the hunt are: Jose Guevara, Jeff Prieur, Chris Blackwell and Matt Caley – all who finished in the top five. Chris Weiss, who often wheeled Jose’s car, is another driver to watch.
The track welcomes back the Outlaw Karts for a second season. These young drivers run on a small dirt track that sits inside the quarter-mile asphalt oval. During the off-season, Rozhon made improvements to the dirt track by adding a clay surface.
“All of us are really excited coming into this season with Bill and his crew bringing us in a better racing surface,” said Lorne Hommerding, who was instrumental in bringing the class to the track. “The welcome we have received from Havasu 95 and the spectator excitement has really been great.”
Last year, there was one division of karts for ages five to 12, but now there could be two, according to Lorne. His son, Adam won the championship ahead of Brody Wake, Korbin Mitchell, Taylor Whitefield, and Aiden McCorkle.
“We are going back to two classes like we had at Mohave (Raceway),” Lorne said. “(Ages) 5 to 10 will be our Stock Class with the new Briggs L206 engine. It is a spec engine from Briggs Racing.”
Adam, Brody and Taylor will race in the Open Unrestricted Animal Class, for the older kids to age 14. “This class introduces more horsepower where throttle control and car control come in to play more,” said Lorne.
With champion Allison Gay, of San Diego, not returning in the Bandoleros, the early front-runners appear to be Brock Rogers and Allison’s sister, Madison Gay, who finished second and third in points, respectively. Alexis Beene and Ethan Deguevara rounded out the top five. Those four drivers will be joined by some new faces, including both local and Las Vegas drivers.