Kyle Keller prevails in short track shootout for $10,000 win and 2022 championship
Las Vegas’ Kyle Keller avoided a late-race scrum to win both the 2022 Short Track Shootout for $10,000 to be won and the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model Championship at Madera Speedway on Saturday night. Keller becomes only the second consecutive winner of the Short Track Shootout in the ten editions of the October special. He also joined Buddy Shepherd in 2017 as drivers to claim a championship and the Shootout victory the same year.
Keller avoided an incident between 2021 champion Jadan Walbridge of Vancouver, Washington and Cole Brown of Ukiah as the field raced towards the white flag. He finished the race prematurely with a yellow checkered flag.
” It feels really good. It was a fierce battle with Jadan. I have great respect for this kid. It sucks for what happened to him. I knew how to stay in third position. I knew something was going to happen there with two knocks,” Keller said. “It means a lot to us as a family team. We are still a family team at heart. It was really huge and hopefully we can come back next year and do three in a row.
Walbridge and Keller entered the lucrative final tied in the championship. Napa’s Dylan Zampa led the time trials over Walbridge and Keller, giving Walbridge a one-point advantage entering the 150-lap feature. Third in points, Jacob Smith of Eagle, Idaho, won the 30-round B-Main for $1,000 to be won. He reduced the entry from 33 cars to 26 starters for the feature.
Keller rounded Brown to take the lead early in the feature. Keller repeatedly opted for the outside line in early restarts. Walbridge also played the outside line in his favor when he passed Brown for second on lap 18.
Fort Bragg’s Aidan Daniels crashed hard in the first gate of the turn for a lap 24 warning. Tyler Herzog drove inside Brown for third on the restart while Walbridge challenged inside Keller for the lead. Walbridge took first place on lap 32.
Livingston’s Carlos Vieira, in his retirement race, dropped from 18th to ninth on lap 40. Madera’s Robbie Kennealy slipped outside the top ten in the green flag race. Kennealy then collided with Kasey Kleyn of Washington for a warning on lap 52 in the first corner.
Shelden Cooper spun in a fourth-round chain reaction incident on the restart, collecting Bakersfield’s Kercie Jung and Santa Clara’s Pete Soto with heavy damage.
Keller attempted to sneak inside Walbridge while Zampa entered the picture from third. Zampa slid back late in the opening 100 lap segment with brake issues. Walbridge led Keller, Zampa, Herzog and Brown on the break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.
Manteca’s Ethan Nascimento collided with Herzog in the third corner on lap 107, dropping both riders to the back of the field of the potential top five. Walbridge brought Brown with him on the outside line on the restart. Brown nearly took second place but Keller continuously fired back down.
With four laps to go, Brown took second place and the rear bumper from Walbridge as they turned Soto. Brown and Walbridge made contact in the four-to-two turn, but Walbridge retained the lead after pulling wide.
Coming to the white flag, Brown slid down the track under Walbridge. The pair slammed the doors and Walbridge slammed the wall. Brown turned back into the front wall to demand a yellow checkered finish on lap 149. Keller avoided the heartbreaking incident for Walbridge to win his second straight short track shootout and the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model Championship in a total of $15,000. for the night. Zampa was second while Jacob Smith charged through the pack to score third from 17th. Eric Nascimento finished fourth after starting 21st while Vieira finished in the top five on his last scheduled start.
Robbie Kennealy won his third feature 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model in the 70 Lap season finale and Ethan Nascimento won the tiebreaker with Kennealy to become the 2022 champion in a wild night for young drivers.
Nascimento took the lead on the first lap. Fort Bragg’s Lane Anderson and Loomis’ Kenna Mitchell crashed hard on the backstretch to end both drivers’ third-lap nights. The two-by-two race developed for the lead with Kennealy taking the position on lap seven. Nascimento drove inside on lap 10 to regain the lead, then cleared Kennealy on lap 11.
Hobby Stock champion Hailey Bugg spun in her first event on lap 28. The rotation put the leaders close. Washington’s Kasey Kleyn tagged Nascimento’s back in the fourth turn, knocking him out of position. Kennealy avoided the incident to regain the lead and was currently the points leader at this stage, with Nascimento starting seventh.
Kennealy briefly battled with his younger brother Joey Kennealy for the lead. Nascimento raced through the field then collided with 11-year-old Vito Cancilla of Martinez while battling in the top five. The two pilots had to start again at the end of the lead lap. Cancilla and Caden Cordova of Bakersfield suffered a collision during the following restart. Kleyn collided with Nascimento again in the 65th round, relegating Kleyn to the infield and Nascimento once again returning out of the championship lead.
Nascimento’s attempt to cross the field was stopped by a spin with Bugg on lap 68. With just two laps to go, Nascimento would have to drop from the back to fourth to retain the championship. Robbie Kennealy held the lead for his second win of the year and Nascimento managed to claim fourth place, tying up the standings. Nascimento’s four wins gave him the edge over Kennealy, winning the series title. Joey Kennealy wrapped up a 1-2 Kennealy Family finish in the run with Cancilla earning a career-best third.
Skyler Schoppe of Clovis won the INEX Bandolero feature while Kellen Keller of Las Vegas used a second-place finish to wrap up the championship. Combined with Kennealy’s victory and Kyle Keller’s championship, the Kyle Keller Racing team enjoyed success in all three events on Saturday night. Madera’s Andrew Williams finished third.
Madera Speedway will host the National Truck and Tractor Pulling Championships, as well as a post-event concert, October 21-22. The 15th annual Pumpkin Smash 200 laps enduro will be held on October 29. The event also includes the MAVTV televised 100-lap Pumpkin Cup Open Late Model race, the 75-lap Challenge Cup, the 75-lap Open Super Stock race, a Trick or Treat through the pits and on the PUMPKIN SMASH track for kids!
For more information on Madera Speedway, including how to advertise with a race team on MAVTV, please visit www.racemadera.com or call the Race Secretariat at 209-356-1968.
The 2022 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 3:00 p.m. Pacific and 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
2022 MADERA MAVTV LATE MODEL SCHEDULE
March 5 – $5,000 to be won
May 21 – Military Tribute Evening
June 25 – Reverend Ron Spencer Red, White Blue Classic
July 30 – $5,000 Summer SpeedFest to be Won
October 15 – $10,000 to be Won in Short Track Shootout
October 29 – Pumpkin Cup Open (no points)
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