Matt Erickson triumphed in the Nut Up Pro Late Model Series at Madera Speedway on Saturday. (Jason Wedehase Photo)
Matt Erickson triumphed in the Nut Up Pro Late Model Series at Madera Speedway on Saturday. (Jason Wedehase Photo)

Erickson Charges To Madera Pro Late Model Triumph

MADERA, Calif. – Matt Erickson charged past Jadan Walbridge coming out of the lap 50 break to win Saturday’s Military Tribute Night feature for the Nut Up Pro Late Model Series at Madera Speedway.

Erickson was joined by Brody Armtrout, who won his first 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series event, along with Joey Kennealy winning his first Bandolero portion of the Mini Cups vs. Bandoleros.

“It means a lot especially with the passing of Dave Eshleman. He helped us out quite a bit,” Erickson said. “That break the sway bar was out. Lap five the brakes were out. Drove that thing to the outside and had good drive off. Hope we can keep this up the rest of the year.”

Erickson had only led one lap through the first three rounds of the season but reversed his course by using the outside of Walbridge to lead lap one. The duo went side-by-side over the first four laps before a caution fell on lap four. Non-televised Madera Late Model points leader Kyle Keller and Racin Vernon tangled in turn two.

Erickson restarted outside Walbridge with a prolonged fight at the front. Walbridge dug in to come back at Erickson, diving inside on lap 10. After side-by-side action, the 16-year-old took the lead on lap 13. Points leader Austin Herzog led Tyler Herzog and 2020 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Bradley Erickson past Howard Holden for fourth, fifth, and sixth on lap 41. The lap 50 break saw Walbridge leading Erickson, Jason Aguirre, Austin Herzog, and Tyler Herzog.

Walbridge picked his preferred inside line which placed Erickson in his preferred outside line for the upcoming restart. Erickson pounced, leading lap 51. The pair went side-by-side again but Erickson eventually won the battle. Austin Herzog advanced to third a few laps later past Aguirre, but never closed in on the top-two.

Erickson blitzed to a 1.3 second advantage over Walbridge at the finish while Austin Herzog fended off Tyler Herzog for third. Aguirre rounded out the top-five.

Armtout, 15, won his first career 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series event in the 70-lap affair. Jacob Smith entered the night on a streak of 140 consecutive laps led, then drew the pole. He led the way from the start of the feature while fast-timer Ethan Nascimento tried to overcome pulling a six in the redraw.

Armtrout and Bakersfield’s Kercie Jung had a physical battle for second before the caution fell for Hailey Liles spinning in turn four. Armtrout drove underneath Jung to grab second on the restart.

Incoming points leader Barrett Polhemus of Texas nearly spun on the front stretch and was hit hard by Kasey Kleyn. Both drivers rejoined the action, although Polhemus lost two laps in the infield. His Wilson Motorsports teammate Brody Moore of Colorado spun in turn one for a caution on lap 24, requiring several trips to the pits as well.

Polhemus used a pair of cautions to earn enough free passes to get back on the lead lap by the break, which occurred five laps early on lap 35. Smith led Armtrout, Jung, Nascimento, and Robbie Kennealy into the break.

Nascimento and Jung battled hard for third when things resumed, with Nascimento taking the position on lap 53. Jung and Colorado’s Holly Clark collided on the following lap, sending them spinning for a caution. They were both relegated to the end of the lead lap, a painful penalty with all 14 starters still running and on the lead lap as well.

Armtrout used the restart to move inside of Smith for the lead. Armtrout took the top spot on lap 57 and Nascimento followed into second on lap 60. Armtrout took his first career victory over Nascimento, Smith, Kennealy, and a resurgent Polhemus as the top-five.

Joey Kennealy led all 20-laps for the Bandolero win in the combined Mini Cup vs. Bandolero feature. His advantage over points leader Logan Chambers was erased on lap 17, when the Mini Cup leaders of Sam Wedehase and Kellen Keller spun in their battle for their victory. Kennealy maintained the lead over the final restart, topping Chambers and Ethan Nascimento. Keller was unable to continue with a sprocket issue, allowing Wedehase to grab another Mini Cup checkered flag.

The Challenge Cup competed in a 75-lap contest for their full-bodied stock cars with more than 600 horsepower. The John Krebs Racing cars of Kyle Keller and Thomas Martin anchored much of the race. Paul Ebersbacher spun on lap 37. Martin grabbed the lead on the restart and never relinquished it. He led an all-John Krebs Racing top-three ahead of Keller and Justin Funkhouser, who passed Vince Little on lap 63 after an extended battle. Robbie Kennealy’s debut bore fruit with a fifth-place finish.

Ryan Reynolds led brother Shaun in the 30-lap Modified Super Toyota feature. Former Kart racer turned MST driver Bill Gorden finished third ahead of Haley Bugg and Tim Kammerer.

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