Dominic Gorden Dominates for Ocean Sprints Victory in Watsonville

After a pair of second place finishes and several laps led throughout the season, 18-year-old Dominic Gorden of Clovis, Calif. finally earned his first Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo win of 2024 on Friday night during round five at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville. Robert Marsh in IMCA Modifieds, Steven Allee in IMCA Sport Modifieds, Joe Gallaher in Hobby Stocks, and Peter Vannerus in Four Bangers also earned wins.

“We worked real hard to get this car dialed in. I think we finally got it done. Track was kind of tricky and curb was kind of big but that’s where I think I do the best,” Gorden said. “I can’t thank you fans enough for coming out.”

Gorden topped time trials at 11.517 seconds then lined up fourth for the 30-lap feature. Gilroy’s Kurt Nelson started on the pole but slowed at the drop of the green flag, allowing 17-year-old Caleb Debem of Salinas to take the lead. Nelson retired from the race and pulled into the infield.

Debem led the field in lapped traffic quickly by lap four. Gorden pounced, jumping outside in turn four to lead lap six. Seventh-starting Gauge Garcia of Lemoore, winner of last Friday’s feature, advanced up to fourth by lap eight.

The caution flew on lap 12 for Burt Foland, Jr. of Campbell spinning off the edge of turn two. The incident erased a 3.447 second lead for Gorden.

Garcia used the restart to knife into second behind Gorden while conversely Debem slipped from second to fourth. Chris Nelson of Gilroy flipped hard on the front stretch for a red flag on lap 15. He was uninjured. Debem navigated back into second while Garcia and round three winner Bud Kaeding of San Jose engaged in a furious fight for third.

After a series of side-by-side moments, Garcia muscled into the second spot on lap 26.

Gorden topped Debem and Garcia for a 53-year-old combined podium age. Bud Kaeding and Bradley Dillard rounded out the top-five at the checkered flag. Garcia won a $100 Hard Charger bonus courtesy of Mr. Pickles in Morgan Hill.

Robert Marsh of Salinas led all 25-laps for the IMCA Modified victory. Outside polesitter Todd Hermosillo of Watsonville drifted outside the top-five within the first two laps of action. Eighth-starting Jim Pettit II, aiming for his third consecutive track championship, drove up to second by lap six and brought along Jacob Mallett, Jr. of Oakley into third on lap seven.

Pettit ran on Marsh’s bumper through traffic before the caution flew on lap 19 for body work debris in turn four.

Pettit drove inside of Marsh twice in turn three to no avail. Marsh and Pettit raced side-by-side down the frontstretch on lap 24 but Marsh edged ahead. Robert Marsh scored the win followed by Pettit, Mallet, Bobby Hogge of Salinas, and Raymond Keldsen of Aromas.

Steven Allee of Watsonville earned his first-career IMCA Sport Modified feature win in a 20-lap contest. Mike Kofnovec, Jr. of Gilroy led from the pole position and was also searching for a breakthrough win.

A caution flew on lap one when Mike Gil of Prunedale and Jim DiGiovanni of Morgan Hill had hard contact in turn one. On the restart, Watsonville’s Jeff Mead seized the lead on the outside line.

By lap seven, Mead had accumulated a half-lap advantage over Kofnovec and a close pack behind him. The old adage of a car running best before it expires came true on lap nine, with Mead going up in smoke out of the rear end with mechanical issues. He was unable to continue.

The close battle for second then became the battle for the lead, with Kofnovec, Jr. in command. 2023 track champion Chuck Golden of Pittsburg spun from fourth to bring out the caution, setting up a five-lap run to the finish.

Allee stormed to the outside line, driving fourth to second on lap 16. Allee worked to the outside of Kofnovec on the final lap and charged to the checkered flag in a last corner pass. Kofnovec, Jr. settled for second followed by Matthew Hagio of Prunedale, Emali VanHoff of Chowchilla, and Igor Gandzuk of Prunedale.

2023 Hobby Stock champion Joe Gallaher continued his winning ways by grabbing the 20-lap feature. DJ Keldsen of Newman paced the action from the pole. Gallaher jumped inside of Keldsen for the lead on lap five but Keldsen held the spot.

Keldsen’s bid to hold off Gallaher came to an end when he biked hard in turn one and retired from the race. Gallaher was unchallenged to the checkered flag, at one stage leading by nine seconds. Pittsburg’s Trent Golden finished second while Adriane Frost of Watsonville won a torrid race for third over Bobby Gallaher and Watsonville’s Dakota Keldsen.

Peter Vannerus of Felton led all 15-laps of the Four Banger feature for the victory. San Jose’s Thomas Cumming, with one win this season, was bounced from the race on the opening lap after contact with Tony Gullo of Watsonville. The top-seven contenders ran closely before a caution on lap five when Joshua Silva of Watsonville stopped with a mechanical issue.

Gullo charged back to third, then collided with TJ Etchison of Watsonville for second place. Lilly Mead of Watsonville took advantage of the fracas to nab second. Vannerus hung on for victory over Mead, Etchison, Gullo, and 11th-starting Bill Beardsley of Felton.

Ocean Speedway races again on Friday night May 17 with Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo, Western Midget Racing, South Bay Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks, and Four Bangers.

Ocean Speedway May 10, 2024 – Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo

A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 10-Dominic Gorden[4]; 2. 3D-Caleb Debem[2]; 3. 28-Gauge Garcia[7]; 4. 29-Bud Kaeding[3]; 5. 72S-Bradley Dillard[8]; 6. 7H-Jake Haulot[6]; 7. 25Z-Jason Chisum[9]; 8. 46J-Burt Foland Jr[10]; 9. OB1-Orville Burke[11]; 10. 72JR-Chris Nelson[5]; 11. 98-Vince Giannotta[12]; 12. 72W-Kurt Nelson[1]

Ocean Sprints PR