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Dewberry Headlines Half Dozen Winners in Fallen Racers Memorial Prelim

Cody Morris
I-44 Riverside Speedway 

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Despite chilly spring time temperatures courtesy a typical spring team cold front, over 110 teams gathered in southwest OKC to kick off the first night of the 14th Annual Fallen Racers Memorial.

Fans that braved the elements were treated to an action packed show on good pace, as well. Keeping the draw open shortly past 6pm to allow travelers to cope with rush hour traffic typical of city sprawl, hot laps ensued with 16 heat races rung off in short order between 730 and 9pm.

Following an intermission to calculate passing and finishing points, two B Features and six preliminary night A Features stretched the final half of the show just north of 11pm.

The racing surface was slightly on the dry side, understandably by all accounts given the 20-30mph wind beaming out of the north, but the 1/6th mile red clay oval held multiple grooves before a high side provided amazing action in the final half dozen races. 

While it was a somewhat dry and dusty top side, slide jobs in turns one and three matched by rebounding in the turn two and four exits and exciting racing throughout the field made the cold conditions well worth braving.

Especially in the 20 lap A Class A Feature, which is a great place to launch the first Rundown of the 2015 campaign.

A CLASS

Following five heat races and a pair of B Features, the 20 car field was set for this 20 lap main event with a highly touted nearby Newcastle native starting position with Piedmont’s burdgeoning phenom Grady Chandler alongside.

This action warmed up quickly with Robb fighting off Chandler for the early lead. Another young open wheel ace who has announced himself as a top flight talent, Josh Marcham advanced to challenge Robb and Chandler early.

This was really a brilliant race to watch as the top three earned some separation against their pursuers, only for that distance to be closed as the the balance of the top ten adjusted their line.

The leader in that discussion was to be El Reno’s Blake Dewberry. The young Oklahoma State Freshman fought his way past Marcham on the 8th round and, taking command of a high side that others had only experimented with, powered up to challenge Chandler and Robb.

Chandler found the top side just a couple of laps after Dewberry did and battled past Robb to lead the 11th circuit.

But Dewberry had it hooked up best and continued to harass Chandler until overtaking the lead for good on lap 14.

Chandler kept pace, but Dewberry had done his deed to take the opening night honors of the 14th annual Fallen Racers Memorial A Class Prelim.

Chandler finished with runner up honors and rights to the front row for the Saturday night dust up. 

Robb’s challenge of Chandler turned into a defense for the third spot, and in that he was successful, outlasting Josh Marcham for the show position. As the final lock in to Saturday night’s main event, Marcham had no complaint.

The remainder of the field must draw for heat race position Saturday and battle their way in to the $500 to win / $50 to start main event. 

Heat 1: Dean Drake

Heat 2: Trey Robb

Heat 3: Gage Robb

Heat 4: Blake Dewberry

Heat 5: Cord Dodson

B Feature #1 (12 laps): 1. 98w Nathan Weida (1); 2. 2B Brandon Boggs (4); 3. 83 Jim Woods (5); 4. 22 Teri Burk (7); 5. 11 Layden Pearson (11); 6. 67 Joe Martin (10); 7. 5x Steve Johnson (3); 8. 16 Collin Haskin (8); 9. 15 ? (2); DNS: 8x Austin Shores

B Feature #2 (12 laps): 1. 95 Michael Hall (1); 2. 17m Mike Matherly (2); 3. 25s Bobby Springer (3); 4. 98 Derrick McBride (10); 5. 28x Brian Martin (12); 6. 27 Chance Janway (4); 7. 77s Scott Davis (9); 8. 13 Chelsea Martin (8); 9. 22c Charles White (11); 10. 4T Caleb Thompson (6); 11. 2c Scott Claxton (5); 12. 58 Philip Fessler

A Feature (20 laps): 1. 29D Blake Dewberry (6); 2. 00 Grady Chandler (2); 3. 12T Trey Robb (1); 4. 8 Josh Marcham (3); 5. 22L Stephen Lloyd (4); 6. 16x Danny Davidson (11); 7. 23L Jason Lair (12); 8. 50 Shelby Burk (5); 9. 12G Gage Robb (8); 10. 29 Blake Dacus (14); 11. 98w Nathan Weida (17); 12. 9m Matt Moore (9); 13. 17m Mike Matherly (20); 14. 95 Michael Hall (19); 15. 2B Brandon Boggs (18); 16. 21 Cord Dodson (7); 17. 78 Tanner Conn (10); 18. 45B Jeremy Butler (16); 19. 27D Jared Dunkin (13); 20. 86 Tanner Johnson (15)

Lap Leaders: Trey Robb 1-10, Grady Chandler 11-13, Blake Dewberry 14-20

Hard Charger: Mike Matherly +7

Saturday Lock Ins: Blake Dewberry, Grady Chandler, Trey Robb Josh Marcham

NON WING

El Reno’s Tony Penick started pole position with Choctaw’s Bobby Springer alongside for the 20 lap wingless stock 600 prelim A Main. 

The first four turns held a lot of contact among the top half of the field, but Springer toughed it out to take the early lead over Cord Dodson. Penick held third for a time, but Gage Robb and Josh Marcham had both earned top five status with the first half dozen laps.

Springer had a good hold on the lead as most of the top ten settled to a lower line, but just the A Class main event (that actually was a half hour later), the cars behind the leader searched for their best line and found near the halfway point.

Josh Marcham found it first and fought past Dodson and Springer in the same lap to lead the 11th round, while Springer held to second before Derrick McBride moved by with five laps to go.

Marcham led the final stages comfortably to earn the 14th Annual Fallen Racers Memorial Non Wing Prelim victory, but perhaps would not have been as comfortable had he known who was on the prowl and advancing just behind him.

Newcastle’s reigning A Class and Non Wing track champ Derrick McBride turned in one hell of a run, advancing 18 positions in just 20 laps, easily the best Hard Charger performance of the young season.

Springer claimed third with Dodson just behind, and that pair also lock in to Saturday night’s Non Wing main event.

Heat 1: Josh Marcham

Heat 2: Gage Robb

Heat 3: Bobby Springer

Non Wing A Feature (20 laps): 1. 8 Josh Marcham (6); 2. 98 Derrick McBride (20) 3.25s Bobby Springer (2); 4. 7 Cord Dodson (5); 5. 29 Blake Dacus (13); 6. 12G Gage Robb (3); 7. 88 Tony Penick (1); 8. 97 Dalton Terrell (7); 9. 18 Dillon Laden (9); 10. 8x Austin Shores (8); 11. 2B Brandon Boggs (12); 12. 50 Shelby Burk (18); 13. 22s Sheldon Johnson (15); 14. 27 Chance Janway (11); 15. 11x Tyler Alexander (19); 16. 11m Mac Gordon (14); 17. 08 Jordan Wesley (22); 18. 007 Cody Carter (4); 19. 21c Cody Claxton (16); 20. 58 Philip Fessler (21); 21. 24 CJ Brewer (17); DNS: 82 Steven Shebester

Lap Leaders: Bobby Springer 1-10, Josh Marcham 11-20

Hard Charger: Derrick McBride - in a big way - +20

Saturday Lock Ins: Josh Marcham, Derrick McBride, Bobby Springer, Cord Dodson

OUTLAW

One of the most accomplished racers in micro sprint racing, Pauls Valley’s Steven Shebester opened the 20 lap Outlaw prelim on the pole with Bethany’s Matt Moore alongside.

Shebester took the immediate lead and turned into a commanding one that went wire to wire to continue MelMark success in the 14th edition of this annual event.

Much could and will be said about Matt Moore in the near future. This young gasser is the reigning Riverside Restricted track champ. He didn’t just win it, he dominated to the tune of acing over half the Restricted races last year. Cool fact, his dad Greg mastered the Non Wing class just the year before, which means that Matt scored in his first year back after a short hiatus.

He’s now running A Class and Outlaw action and turning heads across the region. Matt held the runner up spot and shadowed Shebester over the first half of the race before becoming mired in a battle with a charging Trey Robb and Kyle Keeler.

Robb scored the second of the four lock in spots with Keeler claiming the third on a last lap pass of Moore, but the point remains intact. In his first Outlaw outing at I-44, Moore scored the fourth and final lock in spot to Saturday night’s Fallen Racers Memorial Outlaw Finale.

Heat 1: Blake Dewberry

Heat 2: Blake Dacus

A Feature (20 laps): 1. 21m Steven Shebester (1); 2. 12T Trey Robb (6); 3. 27k Kyle Keeler (7); 4. 9m Matt Moore (2); 5. 55 Josh Toho (11); 6. 00 Grady Chandler (5); 7. 95 Michael Hall (8); 8. 83 Jim Woods (9); 9. 60x Chance Terrell (13); 10. 8g Cord Dodson (10); 11. 29 Blake Dacus (4); DNS: Rick Kirkes, Blake Dewberry 

Lap Leaders: Shebester 1-20

Hard Charger: Josh Toho +6

Saturday Lock Ins: Steven Shebester, Trey Robb, Kyle Keeler, Matt Moore

RESTRICTED

Newcastle’s Layden Pearson started on the pole of the 20 lap prelim A Feature with Grady Mercer alongside.

This Restricted run was romped by Pearson, who led wire to wire in the Select Coatings #11 to take the opening night win. 

Action was thick just behind him, however as Edmond’s Alison Slaton engaged in a hearty duel with Mercer over the first half of the race before settling into the two spot.

Her bid on the lead was steady and certain to continue in Saturday nights’ Restricted finale.

Pauls Valley’s Blake Scott earned the third lock in to Saturday nights’ feature with Liberal, Kansas racer Tanner Johnson earning the fourth and final lock in.

Heat 1: Grady Mercer

Heat 2: Layden Pearson

Restricted A Feature (20 laps): 1. 11 Layden Pearson (1); 2. 2A Alison Slaton (4); 3. 29 Blake Scott (3); 4. 86 Tanner Johnson (6); 5. 82s Seth Shebester (7); 6. 42 Grady Mercer (2); 7. 99 Nathan Rainey (11); 8. 12s Sarah Walls 13); 9. 22 Dylan Pendergrass (7); 10. 7m McKenzie Laplante (10); 11. 12E Emme Hughes (9); 12. 10k Koda Oller (5); 13. 27 Zane Hendricks (12); 14. 57T Kyle Thompson (15); 15. 72c Kaylee Cole (14)

Lap Leaders: Layden Pearson 1-20

Hard Charger: Nathan Rainey +4

Saturday Lock Ins: Layden Pearson, Alison Slaton, Blake Scott, Tanner Johnson

TURF TIRE

There’s just a ton of great things to say about the Turf Tire class and their racers. Just two weeks after some wandered why only nine turned out for the opening night of the Red Dirt Nationals, they come back with 15 to open the 14th annual Fallen Racers Memorial.

At the core of this resurgence of a class that most had given up on as recently as two years is a group of racers that make a sturdy case for being the most positive and supportive group of racers in the state.

Averaging less than five on a weekly basis before the Moore tornado bulldozed the track in 2013, this class has been on the rise ever since. They have tripled that average turnout and at last years’ Mini Sprint Nationals boasted 22 entries, their highest since 2006. 

Fifteen on the first night of the Fallen Racers Memorial nearly commands attaining the remaining racers to come out Saturday and challenge that record. If they keep this up, they will definitely earn raises in Riverside’s purse boosting structure that rewards such support with payouts unmatched in regional micro sprint racing.

To finally describe their race in a suitable manner….

Jeremy Penick won.

Heat 1: Bobby Chapa

Heat 2: Jeremy Penick

A Feature (20 laps): 1. 28k Jeremy Penick (2); 2. 5 Brandon Jones (14); 3. 1st Junior Vickman (3); 4. 30 Bobby Chapa (3); 5. 45 Bobby Henning (8); 6. 21 Josh Bigger (1); 7. 14v Zach Van Zant (6); 8. 20x Dusty Devine (9); 9. 6x Brian Martin Sr. (12); 10. 75 Willie Vickman (7); 11. 21k John Kilmer (11); 12. 05c Corey New (10); 13. 76 Clint Maynard (5); DNS: Daryl Provost, Mike Scott

Lap Leaders: Jeremy Penick 1-20

Hard Charger: Brandon Jones +12

Saturday Lock Ins: Jeremy Penick, Brandon Jones, Junior Vickman, Bobby Chapa

A couple of PFR alums formed the front row in Josh “Somebody Give Me a Damn Gas Card” Bigger and Jeremy “You Can Have Second Place Back Every Time” Penick.

Penick, the reigning Turf Tire titlist, earned the early lead, but not without challenge. Bobby Chapa got by to lead the third round before Penick quit dallying around and made the race winning move 20% of the way through it.

Penick hates second place. He really does. 20,000 words could be written on how much he hates second place. Primarily because he settled for that finish at a 10-1 rate to wins in the last couple of years. So that he won, this is a really big deal. He hates second so much that after sharing all of this in a recap, if he finishes second tomorrow, there will likely be repercussions for whoever might have jinxed his bid for a weekend sweep……potential storyline there.

Brandon Jones was pretty quick, he only had the best Hard Charger run for Turf Tires in about a decade, going from 14th to finish second. If Jones wins, curious to see if Penick hates Jones, or blames hack writers.

Junior Vickman has twice as many wins as he does runner ups in the last year, his settling for third could just be saving his gear for the finale.

Bobby Chapa pulled away the fourth and final lock in spot, and also was the only pilot to peel a lap away from Penick Friday night.

You see the narrative.

JUNIOR SPRINTS

Calera’s Ryder Laplante earned the pole position for the 20 lap Junior Sprint prelim with Tulsa’s Drew Sawyer alongside.

Laplante has been on a tear in 2015. Claiming the highest finish of any Sooner State Junior Sprinter at the Tulsa Shootout (4th), Laplante earned a runner up finish at the season opening Red Dirt Nationals.

The winner of that event? Drew Sawyer.

So the die was quickly cast for this showdown between two of the fastest kids around. 

Laplante got the best of it this time around, leading wire to wire for his first win of the year. Sawyer settled for the runner up finish and will start alongside in a Saturday night main event to break the 1-1 tie for this pair.

Kale Drake, another fast 918 youngster who is no stranger to I-44 Riverside himself, scored the third place finish with aims to break the Night 1 narrative. 

Same can be said for Chickasha’s Brant Woods, who earned the fourth and final lock in spot to Saturday night’s big race.

The Rundown extends for a couple cool kids.

El Reno’s Jack Hall matched his career best finish with a fifth place showing, but this came in a two day special. While he fell one spot short of an immediate lock in to the front of Saturday’s Junior Sprint finale, it was a signal of intent for this youngster in his 2nd full year behind the wheel of his #37 Junior Sprint.

If a singular award could be given out in the entire world of auto racing Friday night, it goes to Bridge Creek’s Jeramiah Green. Most are familiar with Jeramiah and the immense challenge he has faced since being diagnosed with cancer just a year after he was born. 

Ever since the speedway reopened from the 2013 tornado, Jeramiah has been racing against it. First as an ultimate fan, and as a young racer since last summer.

An exceptionally gifted racer he is as well. Jeramiah started 8th and finished 6th. A quality outing no doubt. But a feat that takes on superhuman stature when one considers that he underwent chemotherapy treatment earlier the same day. Literally, just hours earlier.

All warm hearted race fans should come join Jeramiah Saturday as he continues his quest for his first podium finish and win, but infinitely more in his quest to show cancer everything that it cannot do and cannot take.

Heat 1: Drew Sawyer

Heat 2: Ryder Laplante

A Feature (20 laps): 1. 88R Ryder Laplante (1); 2. 29 Drew Sawyer (2); 3. 77 Kale Drake (5); 4. 14 Brant Woods (3); 5. 37 Jack Hall (4); 6. 18J Jeramiah Green (8); 7. 1 Bryce Barnett (6); 8. 72 Kayden Cole (7); 9. 88 Aimery Turner (9); 10. 8 Tanner Tarkington (12); 11. 50 Jackson Beers (11); 12. 28 Connor Thompson (10)

Lap Leaders: Ryder Laplante 1-20

Ironman: Jeramiah Green

Saturday Lock Ins: Ryder Laplante, Drew Sawyer, Kale Drake, Brant Woods

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Saturday gates open at 4pm. Hot laps at 6pm followed by heat races at 7pm.

There’s obviously a ton of great reasons to spend your Saturday at I-44 Riverside Speedway taking in some Great American Grassroots Racing. The stage is set and your seat awaits!

It’s going to be a lot warmer too, but long sleeves are still advised after sundown. See you there!

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