MADERA, Calif. — Jadan Walbridge outlasted Kyle Keller in one of the most contested races in years at Madera Speedway on Saturday night, earning the 80-lap Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model win powered by Mission Foods.
Walbridge and Keller spent nearly half of the race distance alongside of each other on the one-third mile speedway.
Walbridge earned fast-time but drew sixth in the redraw while Keller nabbed the outside pole alongside Carlos Vieira. Viera and Keller raced side-by-side at the start before Vieira cleared him in turn two on lap three.
Sean Hingorani, the 15-year-old making his track debut, tagged the front stretch wall, and then slowed for a caution on lap seven.
Keller used the outside on the restart to take the lead from Vieira. The caution fell again on lap 22 when Shaun Reynolds spun in turn one. Keller picked the outside again, this time with pressure on the inside from Walbridge.
The duo picked up their side-by-side action but Keller drove off with the lead. They engaged again on lap 34 in a battle which turned into a sustained double-wide affair.
They were separated by just .006 seconds on lap 45 before Walbridge broke free with the lead on lap 46. Walbridge led Keller, Eagle, Jacob Smith, 14-year-old Kasey Kleyn, and Vieira into the lap 50 break.
Walbridge picked the outside out of the break and Keller surged inside to lead lap 51. Walbridge crossed him over exiting turn two to get to the inside. They raced next to each other once more before Walbridge had the lead in hand on lap 54. Keller crossed over Walbridge on the front stretch to nab the lead on lap 58.
After side-by-side action for nearly 20 laps, Keller cleared Walbridge and appeared poised for victory on lap 73.
2021 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Brody Armtrout and Smith collided in turn one to bring out the caution on lap 76.
Keller picked the inside line for the four-lap shootout. Walbridge swung wide entering turn one and soared past Keller on the backstretch to lead lap 77. Walbridge snuck away for the win followed closely by Keller. Vieira drove past Kleyn for third with Shelden Cooper earning the fifth position.
Sean Hingorani emerged from a highly competitive 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series 70-lap feature with the win in his Madera Speedway debut.
Skyler Shoppe won the INEX Bandolero event over Kellen Keller and Andrew Williams.