Kyle Keller (12) battles Eric Nascimento, Jr. Saturday at Madera Speedway. (Jason Wedehase Photo)
Kyle Keller (12) battles Eric Nascimento, Jr. Saturday at Madera Speedway. (Jason Wedehase Photo)

Keller Scores In Madera Nut Up Pro Late Models

MADERA, CALIF. – Saturday night’s Nut Up Pro Late Models event featured a tumultuous night for the championship contenders while Las Vegas’ Kyle Keller earned his first series triumph.

Keller is the seventh different winner through eight rounds at Madera Speedway, taking the 80-lap feature at the third-mile oval.
 
“That was amazing. It was so hard. With seven to go you feel everything. It felt so crazy,” Keller said. “(The car) was really good. From Friday night all the way to now. Overall it was a good day.”
 
Keller earned fast-time but drew the sixth starting position for the main event. Texan Barrett Polhemus started on the pole but was quickly passed on the outside by Eric Nascimento Jr. The first caution flew on lap four for Brody Armtrout of Smartsville spinning in turn four. Points leader Jadan Walbridge pitted under the caution with an issue with his exhaust but was able to rejoin the field.
 
Keller worked outside Matt Erickson to take over third. A three-wide battle for the lead ensued on lap 13 with Nascimento, Tyler Herzog, and Keller. The leaders then approached lapped traffic on lap 19 with Nascimento anchoring a two-by-two formation. Several cars spun on lap 21 as fluid fell around the speedway. The issue was a rear end casing on Nascimento’s car. Nascimento’s team made lengthy repairs and rejoined the action.
 
Herzog assumed the lead after an extended red flag for cleanup, going into a side-by-side fight with Keller. Keller went up the inside to lead lap 25. A lap 29 caution set up a restart where Herzog was slow on the inside. The field piled up behind them with Howard Holden spinning and getting hit head on by 2020 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Bradley Erickson.
 
Keller picked the outside on the following restart and maintained the lead. He led Herzog, a resurgent Armtrout, Matt Erickson, and a hard-charging Nascimento into the lap-50 break.
 
Keller and Erickson lined up on the outside line on the restart and worked into the top-two positions. Walbridge passed Armtrout on the outside to take fourth a few laps later. Walbridge and Herzog battled while Armtrout and Juleson battled for sixth behind them.
 
Walbridge spun with contact from Herzog for a caution on lap 73, relegating the incoming points leader Walbridge to the rear. Matt Erickson restarted second inside Keller, with the running order at that point swinging Erickson into the series points lead. The points lead lasted 300 feet past the start finish line. The field crashed hard on the restart as Armtrout bounced off the wall into Erickson, sending Erickson rear first into the turn one wall. Glen Cook, Pete Soto, and Holden also suffered damage. Erickson was able to return to the event but lost a lap making significant repairs.
 
Keller led the way to the finish ahead of Nascimento while Aguirre came back to finish third. Juleson and Bradley Erickson rounded out the top-five. Walbridge will lead Tyler Herzog by 19 points and Matt Erickson by 27 points heading into the series finale during the Short Track Shootout on Oct. 2.
 
Brody Armtrout won his fifth consecutive 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series 70-lap event for drivers ages 10-16 years old. Kasey Kleyn drove the No. 88 Naake-Klauer Motorsports car to the front after the redraw with Armtrout in pursuit. Kercie Jung and Manteca’s Ethan Nascimento went back-and-forth for third behind them. Nascimento then cleared Jung and closed on Armtrout, but Armtrout held the position.
 
After a lap 19 caution, Kleyn picked the inside of Armtrout. Armtrout took advantage to use the outside to lead lap 21. Nascimento went underneath a sideways Kleyn to take second. Kleyn ended up having a rear end issue that relegated him to the infield on lap 34. Armtrout led Nascimento, incoming points leader Jacob Smith, Robbie Kennealy, and Jung at the lap-40 break.
 
Nascimento used a slingshot down the backstretch to lead lap 41 but Armtrout fought back to keep the lead position. Kennealy tried to use the middle line around the track but eventually was passed by Smith for third. Armtrout grabbed win five on the year to tighten the championship fight, leading Nascimento, Smith, Kennealy, and Jung across the stripe.
 
Four-wide action yielded a familiar result at Logan Chambers won the 20-lap INEX Bandolero race. Chambers and Joey Kennealy were relegated to second row starting positions after two failed attempts at a start. A four wide opening lap ensued with Kennealy going fourth to first. Chambers pursued Kennealy for the lead then passed him on lap eight. Chambers topped Kennealy, Konner Kartsen and Caden Cordova at the finish.

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