Vito Cancilla at Madera Speedway. Ethan Smith Photo)

Another Madera Victory For Cancilla

MADERA, Calif. — It took last year’s 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series champion Vito Cancilla just three rounds of Pro Late Model Series action to get to his first two wins, with Cancilla outmatching 2023 series champion Tyler Herzog in an 80-lap thriller.

“Just a lot of trust in the car. This car was really good on the bottom. It was alright on the top but you know, we made it happen. It means a lot (to get two wins). The Nascimento team has been working really hard to get this car in tip top shape and up front,” Cancilla said.

Nathan Quella scored fast-time then drew the pole position. But Quella faltered under pace laps with a mechanical failure, thrusting second round winner Shelden Cooper into the pole. Herzog pounced at the drop of the green flag on the outside pole, leading lap one by .020 seconds. Cooper dug back on the bottom to lead lap two.

Cancilla quickly advanced from 10th up to fifth by lap three. Herzog hounded the back bumper of Cooper before the caution flew for the first time with fluid and smoke billowing from Jay Juleson’s machine on lap 26.

Cooper selected the outside line for the restart with Herzog on the inside. The pair ran side-by-side for several laps, then Herzog stuck his nose inside on multiple occasions. The battling persisted for over 20 laps. Cooper edged Herzog by just .030 seconds on lap 42, then Herzog was credited with a .043 second advantage and the lead on lap 46. Herzog cleared Cooper and led him into the lap 50 break for adjustments, followed by Henry Barton, Cancill and Chase Hand.

When racing resumed, Herzog chose the outside of Cooper while Barton started inside of Cancilla. Cancilla nabbed third from the bottom lane. Hand then approached Barton for the fourth position. On lap 62, Hand dove inside of Barton in turn three which led to contact and Barton spinning. Both drivers were relegated to the rear of the field.

On the restart, Kenna Mitchell of Loomis used the inside to advance all the way to the front row alongside Herzog. Mitchell attempted to make the bottom work inside of Herzog for several laps. Cancilla overhauled Cooper for third on the inside on lap 68. Cancilla then slid underneath Mitchell, with slight frontstretch contact allowing Cancilla to steal the second position on lap 71.

Cancilla put Tyler Herzog in his crosshairs over the final nine circuits. Herzog narrowly led laps 75 and 76 before Cancilla made it happen officially on the bottom. He narrowly led laps 77 and 78 then cleared Herzog for good on lap 79. Cancilla scored his second win of the season followed by Herzog, Mitchell, Cooper, and Matt Erickson who started shotgun on the field.

After scoring fast-time in the opening two rounds of the season, Jacob Ryan won round three of the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series for drivers ages 10-16 years old. Ryan is the third consecutive first-time winner in the series.

Tyler Ridley claimed the 30-lap Mini Super Toyota feature.

Brenden Ruzbarsky returned to Madera Speedway for the INEX Legends and won the 30-lap feature.

2023 INEX Bandolero champion Kaine Betancourt faced his toughest challenge of the year in Saturday’s 15-lap contest. Kellen Keller grabbed the lead on lap 11 but spun from the spot in turn four and nearly collected Betancourt. Betancourt led the final four circuits over Keller and Andrew Williams.