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Venegas Earns Challenge Series Spot at Fast Fridays

| 21 June 2015 12:13 pm

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds

Story and Photos by Michael Kirby
AUBURN, CA, JUNE 19, 2015

Veteran speedway rider Charlie Venegas won the third of five spots in the Challenge Elimination Series Championship on Friday night at Auburn, California’s Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway. The third round of the Challenge Elimination Series slated for June 5 was canceled when thunderstorms shortened the program, and the event was made up this past Friday night. Venegas, who on any night can beat anyone with flashes of brilliance on two wheels, has struggled this year at Fast Fridays and has yet to win a main event this season.

Charlie Venegas (right) won the third spot in the Challenge Elimination Series Championship to be held on August 28 at Fast Fridays. Venegas is shown here in a Division One heat race against Shawn Eldredge (left).

Charlie Venegas (right) won the third spot in the Challenge Elimination Series Championship to be held on August 28 at Fast Fridays. Venegas is shown here in a Division One heat race against Shawn Eldredge (left).

The Challenge sets up five riders in one-lap races in which getting the best gate is critical, eliminating the last-place finisher with each one-lap race. The final two riders run two laps for a spot in the five-man Championship, to be held on August 28.

Venegas outlasted Billy Janniro, Bob Hicks, J.T. Mabry and Daniel Faria. It was Venegas and Hicks in the final two-lap race, which Venegas won, leading Hicks the entire race. Venegas will join Bryce Starks, Tommy Hedden and the round-four and -five winners in the Championship.

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Bryan Yarrow continues to demonstrate tremendous skill in the Division One Scratch program. In this seventh week of the Fast Fridays season, Yarrow has made five of the meetings and won three of the Scratch main events, including Friday night’s finale.

Yarrow drew lane one and was facing off against Greg Hooten in lane two, Billy Janniro in lane three and Bart Bast in the outside lane four. The inside lane has been hot this season, with five of seven Scratch main-event winners leaving this gate, including two of Yarrow’s three Scratch main-event wins this season.

There were two restarts in the main event, with Janniro having bike issues and Hooten going down in the first turn.

Bryan Yarrow (8) was the fastest man of the night, winning the Division One Scratch main event – his third of the season at Fast Fridays in Auburn.

Bryan Yarrow (8) was the fastest man of the night, winning the Division One Scratch main event – his third of the season at Fast Fridays in Auburn.

On the third start, Yarrow grabbed the lead and held off Janniro, who charged tightly, trying to get around Yarrow, who held his line the entire race, forcing Janniro go wide if he wanted to pass. Yarrow increased his distance from Janniro and finished first. Janniro fell in line in second, Hooten was third, and Bast was fourth.

Yarrow’s no-pressure, relaxed riding style makes him hard to beat in any race, and he continues to be a force to be reckoned with in Division One. Of the seven Scratch main events this season, Yarrow has won three of them, and he missed week two and three; he is equaled only by current National champ Janniro, who also has won three main events this season.

“I felt good all night,” said Yarrow after the races. “I won my Scratch heat and semi and just kept going. I’m just having fun, and it’s always good to win the main event.”

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Young Luke Becker continues to make a big splash in the Division One Handicap program. On Friday night, Becker picked up his third Fast Fridays Handicap main-event win of this season. Becker, now riding off the 30-yard line, was undefeated in the Handicap program, winning his heat and semifinal races to get into the main.

“I’m feeling great!” Becker exclaimed. “I just came back from Industry Racing, and I actually won the Handicap main event there, too!”

Luke Becker (22) continues to make an impact in the Division One Handicap program at Fast Fridays. Becker moved up from the Youth divisions this year and has won three Handicap main events so far this season.

Luke Becker (22) continues to make an impact in the Division One Handicap program at Fast Fridays. Becker moved up from the Youth divisions this year and has won three Handicap main events so far this season.

Becker was chased hard by Bob Hicks, who was coming off the 50-yard line, and Hicks gave Becker the best challenge in the main, but the 20-yard difference was too much for Hicks to overcome. Hicks was second, and Dalton Leedy was third.

Next week, Becker will add another 10 yards to his handicap, and the racing should get more interesting for the 16-year-old.

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Will “The Farmer” McCloskey picked up his second Division Two main-event win. McCloskey rode off the 10-yard line on Friday night and will now add another 10 yards for next week. McCloskey won his heat race to transfer to the D-2 main. McCloskey was able to keep Louie Mersaroli, who’d also won his heat race to transfer, at bay to secure the win. Mersaroli was second, and Colfax, California’s Nick Dion was third.

Will “The Farmer” McCloskey (150) won his second Division Two main event of the season. He also won his heat race.

Will “The Farmer” McCloskey (150) won his second Division Two main event of the season. He also won his heat race.

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John Gauthreaux took the Third Division main-event victory – his second of the season. In an exciting race for second and third, Foresthill, California’s Cameron Beck, a newcomer this season to Fast Fridays and to speedway racing, was second. Harlan Bast was third.

John Gauthreaux (151) won his second Division Three main event of the season.

John Gauthreaux (151) won his second Division Three main event of the season.

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In the talent-filled Youth A 250cc Division, racing against Auburn’s own Colton Hicks can be frustrating. However, Napa’s Dylan Wagner, 11, found a way to win the main event on Friday night. Wagner has hung in there all season, working hard while riding against the likes of Hicks, Kyle Cunningham and Chase Guerrero. On Friday night, he was all smiles on the podium, finally taking home the hardware.

Napa’s Dylan Wagner (14) won the main event in the highly competitive Youth A 250cc Division on Friday night.

Napa’s Dylan Wagner (14) won the main event in the highly competitive Youth A 250cc Division on Friday night.

“I was just holding the pole going all the way around the track, giving it full throttle and holding my line,” Wagner said.

Guerrero was second, and Cunningham was third. Hicks moved back to almost halfway around the track and had his hands full trying to make up the yardage.

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Landon Norton was first in the Youth B 250cc Division. This was his third main-event win of the season.

The Youth A 150cc Division main event was won by Charlie Trana.

Auburn’s own Aiden McNutt (28) won the Youth B 150cc main event.

Auburn’s own Aiden McNutt (28) won the Youth B 150cc main event.

The Youth B 150cc main event was won by Aiden McNutt. It was McNutt’s first victory of the season.

The start of the Run What U Brung main. Jay Fodrini (far left) won the event.

The start of the Run What U Brung main. Jay Fodrini (far left) won the event.

Jay Fodrini won the Run What U Brung competition, and Louie Mersaroli topped the Trophy Dash.

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California
Results: June 19, 2015

DIVISION 1 SCRATCH MAIN: 1. Bryan Yarrow; 2. Billy Janniro; 3. Greg Hooten; 4. Bart Bast.

DIVISION 1 HANDICAP MAIN: 1. Luke Becker; 2. Bob Hicks; 3. Dalton Leedy.

DIVISION 2 MAIN: 1. Will McCloskey; 2. Louie Mersaroli; 3. Nick Dion.

DIVISION 3 MAIN: 1. John Gauthreaux; 2. Cameron Beck; 3. Harlan Bast.

YOUTH A 250 MAIN: 1. Dylan Wagner; 2. Chase Guerrero; 3. Kyle Cunningham.

YOUTH B 250 MAIN: 1. Landon Norton; 2. Sammy Tetrault; 3. Rich Vandermeeden.

YOUTH A 150 MAIN: 1. Charlie Trana; 2. Cameron Krezman; 3. Sterling Martin.

YOUTH B 150 MAIN: 1. Aiden McNutt; 2. Sammy Waddill; 3. Gregory Moore.

TROPHY DASH: 1. Louie Mersaroli; 2. Derek Denzin.

RUN WHAT U BRUNG: 1. Jay Fodrini.

ELIMINATION CHALLEGE ROUND 3: 1. Charlie Venegas; 2. Bob Hicks; 3. J.T. Mabry; 4. Billy Janniro; 5. Daniel Faria.

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