HANFORD, Calif. — J.J. Hickle and Grant Champlin won their respective sprint car main events at Peter Murphy’s Keller Auto Speedway on Saturday night.
Hickle won the King of Thunder 360 winged sprint car main while Champlin was victorious in the IMCA Western RaceSaver 305 sprint cars.
The Turkey Night event closed the season on the speedway’s abbreviated schedule and was held in front of closed grandstands due to the pandemic.
Hickle took charge in the Worden Motorsports No. 63 after being victorious in the dash, putting him on the pole for the main. He outpowered Justin Sanders to take command of the opening laps. Sanders and D.J. Netto waged war on each other allowing Hickle to pull to a comfortable lead. As Netto took over the second spot, Blake Robinson, pulling double duty, took the high line off the track in turns one and two to become the race’s first causality.
Hickle had built a three-second lead but that vanished on lap 11 when he came up on the slower car of Keith Day Jr. Hickle almost spun out on the front stretch attempting to pass Day’s No. 22 as Netto was able to close the gap. He, however, had difficulty dealing with not only Day, but also Nick Ringo and Zane Blanchard. That slow up allowed Sanders to close in and also Carson Macedo.
It would be Sanders who would run into the back of Day’s lapped car on the frontstretch, sending it nose first into outside wall, to bring out a caution on lap 17. Day’s damaged car had to be towed off while Sanders went to the pit work area and returned to action but with front bumper damage.
With pressure from Sanders gone, Netto challenged Hickle for the top spot and make a successful pass for the lead on the backstretch on lap 21. One lap later, Hickle would retake the lead with a pass on Netto at about the same exact spot. With most eyes on the swap up front, Tim Kaeding quietly moved into the fourth spot.
A Netto-Macedo duel allowed Hickle to pull slightly away. Macedo would soon win out and take over second, but on a very slick track, he wasn’t able to gain any ground on the leader. The Washington State resident picked up $3,000 check and a King of Thunder win.
Champlin led a field of 16 IMCA Western RaceSavers to the green. In a 25-lap contest ,which saw a lot of the series favorites drop out, newcomers Ryan Delisle and 14-year-old Ryan Rocha shared the podium with last year’s series champion.
J.J. Hickle, Carson Macedo, D.J. Netto, Tim Kaeding, Bud Kaeding, Ian Madsen, Mitchell Faccinto, Corey Day, Kaleb Montgomery, Colby Thornhill, Grant Duinkerken, Michael Faccinto, Cole Macedo, Joey Ancona, Michael Moles, Kurt Nelson, Zane Blanchard, Colby Johnson, Justin Sanders, Keith Day Jr., Nick Ringo, Tristan Guardino, Blake Robinson