Saddlemen

Venegas Triumphs in Track Championship!

| 11 September 2017 6:18 pm

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds

Story and Photos by Michael Kirby
AUBURN, CA, SEPT. 8, 2017

Just as he predicted, Charlie Venegas has come on strong at the end of the season, winning two of the last three Scratch main events and, on Friday night, September 8, winning the coveted 2017 Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway Division One Track Championship.

Undefeated Friday night, Charlie Venegas (center) won the Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway Track Championship.

Undefeated Friday night, Charlie Venegas (center) won the Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway Track Championship.

With determination and skillful riding, Venegas was perfect, winning all five of his rounds out of all gates. He gated well in all his starts and rode all night as the skilled veteran that he is. Slow for the early part of this season and nursing a shoulder injury, Venegas picked up speed as the season progressed and within the last month proved that he should never be counted out of any competition.

The top 16 Division One riders, as determined by season points, were put into five four-race rounds, with each going up against everyone once. The winner of each heat received three points, the second-place finisher garnered two points, third place earned one point, and fourth place received no points.

Charlie Venegas (left) would not be denied. On fire, Venegas won every race he was in on his way to the championship. Here, Venegas goes up against Bart Bast (87, right) in a heat race.

Charlie Venegas (left) would not be denied. On fire, Venegas won every race he was in on his way to the championship. Here, Venegas goes up against Bart Bast (87, right) in a heat race.

After three rounds, Venegas and Bryan Yarrow were tied with three first-place finishes and nine points apiece; they were the only riders still undefeated.

In the fourth round, Venegas and Yarrow met, and Venegas held on for the win, with Yarrow dropping one point with a second-place finish.

In the fifth round, Venegas faced probably his toughest race, going up against seven-time National Champion Billy Janniro, who entered the race with nine points, while Venegas came into the race with 12 points and needed a second-place finish or better to win the championship. A bad heat and a third-place finish would put Venegas even with Yarrow and Tommy Hedden, who ended the night tied with 13 points each.

Coming out of gate three, Venegas got another good gate and took a good position inside, but Luke Becker wobbled in turn one and went down, and that incident required a restart. Becker was unable to start again; Venegas, Janniro and Blake Borello lined up again.

Coming out of the gate again, as he had done all night, Venegas got a quick start and took the inside again. Normally, Janniro can take most riders on the outside, which he tried with Venegas, but this was Venegas’ night. He was just too strong, and he increased his lead on the way to the finish line. Janniro was second and Borello was third.

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When the dust settled and the tally was added up, Venegas was the overall winner with a perfect 15 points. Yarrow and Hedden were tied for second and third with 13 points.

“What can I say – 135 percent this week, with a little bit of luck and riding well here toward the end of the season helped,” Venegas said. “Janniro had a rough night, Yarrow had a great night, and the way the bike was set up, we gated well everywhere,” he said.

Yarrow and Hedden faced off in the run-off for second and third, which appeared to be close until Hedden encountered a mechanical problem that left him nearly a half-lap behind Yarrow. Yarrow took second, Hedden was third, and Janniro was fourth with 11 points.

Ready to celebrate their championship finishes, winner Charlie Venegas (center), runner-up Bryan Yarrow (left) and third-place finisher Tommy Hedden (right) are set to pop open the champagne following a great night of racing.

Ready to celebrate their championship finishes, winner Charlie Venegas (center), runner-up Bryan Yarrow (left) and third-place finisher Tommy Hedden (right) are set to pop open the champagne following a great night of racing.

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The Division Two Fast Fridays Track Championship was won by Shawn Eldredge. The veteran of 23 years of speedway racing finally knocked off a track championship.

“I have been racing here for 20 years and never won the track championship here – I can scratch that off my bucket list now,” Eldredge said. “I worked all week on the starts, because this was all Scratch racing for us.”

Newcastle, California’s Shawn Eldredge won the Division Two Fast Fridays Track Championship.

Newcastle, California’s Shawn Eldredge won the Division Two Fast Fridays Track Championship.

The Division Two and Division Three championships were decided by the top eight riders in each division racing in two heat races. The first- and second-place finishers transferred to a main event, with the winner taking all.

Eldredge won his heat race and transferred to the main and remained undefeated for the evening, winning the championship. Eldredge faced Matt King, Lawrence McNutt and Nick Dion. Although Dion gave chase, he fell in his efforts. King finished second, McNutt was third, and Dion was fourth.

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Roseville’s Casey Cornilsen won the Division Three main event. Cornilsen has been a consistent podium finisher all season and finished first in track points. Cornilsen and Aaron Sorani battled a little in the championship race, exchanging the lead a couple of times, but Cornilsen prevailed at the finish line. Sorani was second. Ray Holt Jr. was third and Tim Dion was fourth.

Roseville, California’s Casey Cornilsen won the Division Three Fast Fridays Track Championship.

Roseville, California’s Casey Cornilsen won the Division Three Fast Fridays Track Championship.

Shawn Eldredge (left) and Casey Cornilsen (right) on the winners’ podium. Eldredge won the Division Two track championship and Cornilsen won the Division Three track championship.

Shawn Eldredge (left) and Casey Cornilsen (right) on the winners’ podium. Eldredge won the Division Two track championship and Cornilsen won the Division Three track championship.

This coming week, on Saturday, September 16, Fast Fridays will host the final round in the four-round series of the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship. Gunning for his eighth National Championship and leading by just four points, Billy Janniro will be on his game, hungry for his record-tying championship. Again, the top 16 riders, along with two reserves, will vie for the top prizes of the season. Remember that this race and the final two races of the 2017 Fast Fridays season will be held on Saturday nights.

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California
Track Championship Results: September 8, 2017

DIVISION 1: 1. Charlie Venegas (15); 2. Bryan Yarrow (13) (run-off); 3. Tommy Hedden (13) (run-off); 4. Billy Janniro (11); 5. Luke Becker (10); 6. Bart Bast (10); 7. Ryan Bast (9); 8. Russell Green (8); 9. Louie Mersaroli (8); 10. Daniel Faria (6); 11. Kurtis Hamill (6); 12. Jeremy Estes (4); 13. Blake Borello (3); 14. Eddie Marsalla (2); 15. Shawn Eldredge (1); 16. Nick Dion (1).

DIVISION 2: 1. Shawn Eldredge; 2. Matt King; 3. Lawrence McNutt; 4. Nick Dion.

DIVISION 3: 1. Casey Cornilsen; 2. Aaron Sorani; 3. Ray Holt Jr.; 4. Tim Dion.

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