Kurt Nelson Returns to Ocean Speedway Victory Lane Under Friday Night Lights

Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo veteran Kurt Nelson of Gilroy earned a well-deserved second career series win on Friday night and his first since 2019, topping the 30-lap feature. Nelson led a parade of drivers at Ocean Speedway who earned breakthrough or overdue victories during an exciting five division lineup at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Nelson is a veteran of more than 250 Ocean Sprints starts.

“This is amazing. For a little while there I thought ‘I’m 52 years old; I’m washed up.’ But I guess I proved I can still drive them,” Nelson said. “It was pretty narrow up there. This car was just working amazing. Can’t thank Heavy D (Darin Smith) enough, we do the set up over the phone. This one is for my mom, she passed away in October. This one is for you mom.”

19-year-old Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Bryce Eames and Nelson won the heat races for front row starting positions for the main event. Eames leapt ahead with the lap one lead. A battle of two of the best in the west developed for third behind them with Chase Johnson of Penngrove and two-time 2024 Ocean winner Tanner Carrick of Lincoln engaged. Action was halted when Campbell’s Adam Kaeding flipped in turn one.

Nelson and Johnson used some trickery to dive inside of Eames on the restart, sweeping into the top-two positions on the front stretch and relegating Eames back to third on lap five.

Johnson approached Nelson at the halfway point of the race with lapped traffic in their midst. Nelson chased the slower car of Jennifer Osborne of Geyserville for several laps. He then slid her into turn three, but the duo made race-ending contact for Osborne on lap 20.

Nelson led the final ten circuits for the win followed by Johnson, Eames, Carrick, and Salinas’ Caleb Debem.

2023 Western Midget Racing runner-up Logan Mitchell of Santa Cruz scored a coveted home track win by taking the 20-lap feature. Mitchell had previously scored three second place finishes at the speedway.

“Man I’m going to get emotional right now. I’ve been going here as a fan since I was a little baby. To win here finally with a bunch friends and fans and family – what a better way to get our first Ocean win,” Mitchell said.

Boscacci Racing teammates Anthony Bruno of San Jose and Bryant Bell of Oakley started on the front row for the feature. Bruno led lap before his championship winning teammate Bell knifed underneath him on the backstretch to lead lap two. Bruno then flipped wildly in turn one for a red flag on lap five. He was uninjured.

Bell paced Mitchell at the front of the pack before shattered dreams when Bell’s machine went up in smoke on lap 13.

Mitchell assumed the top spot and led the final seven circuits for the popular victory. Delano’s Terry Nichols finished second followed by Lodi’s Nate Wait, Moorpark’s Todd Hawse, and Santa Clarita’s Todd Hawse.

Watsonville’s Adriane Frost also was a popular winner when she topped the 20-lap Hobby Stock race. Frost was part of an opening lap fracas with Bobby Gallaher of San Jose and Wally Kennedy of Freedom but was able to continue.

Norm Ayers made a daring maneuver up the middle of a three-wide battle to take the lead on lap one. The Corralitos driver was then passed by DJ Keldsen on lap two. Keldsen and Joyce Gallaher of San Jose tangled on lap nine, sending Keldsen spinning out of the lead and bringing out a caution flag.

On the restart, Frost led 2023 champion Joe Gallaher. Frost fended off Gallaher the rest of the way to win. Keldsen charged back to third followed by Bobby Gallaher and Kennedy.

Galt’s Ryan Winter and the rest of the South Bay Dwarf Car series returned to Ocean Speedway for the first time in 2024 with Winter prevailing. A freshly reworked race track presented challenges for the drivers, allowing Winter to drive underneath of the pack to go fifth to first in the opening corner.

Danny Wagner of Baypoint tried multiple different lines including cleaning off the outside line, dropping as low as fourth but charging back to second. Wagner worked towards Winter on the backstretch on lap 17. Winter adjusted his approach after the challenge, and darted ahead over the final three laps for the win. Wagner settled for second followed by Ellie Russo of Baypoint, Santa Maria’s Ryan Caldwell, and Joe Barket of Morro Bay.

Derek Summers of Santa Cruz led all 15-laps for the Four Bangers win. The win was a walk off in his first career start in the division, and he made the decision to run on Thursday evening. Thomas Cumming, Lisa Rhodes, Peter Vannerus, and Leo Lotz rounded out the top-five.

Ocean Speedway May 17, 2024 – Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo

A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 72W-Kurt Nelson[2]; 2. 28-Chase Johnson[3]; 3. 50-Bryce Eames[1]; 4. 83T-Tanner Carrick[4]; 5. 3D-Caleb Debem[6]; 6. 17-Rickey Sanders[5]; 7. 25S-Seth Standley[7]; 8. 72S-Bradley Dillard[9]; 9. 72JR-Chris Nelson[8]; 10. 76-Jennifer Osborne[13]; 11. 3M-Adam Kaeding[11]; 12. (DNS) 8-Jeremy Chisum; 13. (DNS) 98-Vince Giannotta

Ocean Speedway PR