Matt Erickson Outlasts Henry Barton for Round Four Madera Pro Victory

Multi-time Madera Speedway Pro Late Model presented by Mission Foods champion Matt Erickson of La Grange captured a thrilling victory on Saturday night, claiming round four of the MAVTV-televised series. Erickson prevailed over 17-year-old Henry Barton of San Fransisco by just .053 seconds in a side-by-side finish of the 80-lap feature.

“Being that it’s one year since my mom passed away, this one is for her. This car has been flawless but we’ve just been snakebitten,” Erickson said. “These last few years it’s been tough if you’re even a tenth off. But we found something with this car and it likes it. The last race we started last and finished fifth. It can come from the back to the front anytime.”

Erickson qualified quickest but started ninth after the redraw. 2023 champion and 2024 points leader Tyler Herzog of Fresno led lap one on the outside of Yorba Linda’s Nathan Quella. Quella battled back to lead lap two while Barton tried to go up the middle from third.

The race was red flagged for a multi-car crash in turn one, with 2023 Jr. Late Model champion Vito Cancilla of Martinez spinning after contact from Shaun Reynolds of Coarsegold. Ryan Reynolds of Coarsegold bounced off Fresno’s Rick Thompson while trying to avoid the crash, sending Ryan Reynolds into the turn two wall head-on. He was uninjured.

Barton used the inside to challenge Herzog for second place while Erickson approached the leaders from fourth. The caution flew on lap 17 for round two winner Shelden Cooper of Clovis spinning in turn three.

Barton chose the outside of Quella on the restart and marched to the lead on lap 18. Cancilla pounded the front stretch wall after contact with Thompson but kept going. Barton fended off Quella on the next restart. Quella drifted backwards on the outside line. Barton led Erickson, Herzog, tenth starting Jay Juleson of San Jose, and Quella at the conclusion of the first 50-lap segment.

When racing resumed, trouble struck for Juleson as he fell out of the top-five with mechanical woes. Quella, Joey Kennealy, and Cooper had a sustained battle for the fifth and sixth positions. The battle ended when Kennealy spun into the turn three wall on lap 70.

Barton and Herzog banged doors on the restart for lead before Barton scooted away. The race looked to be in the hands of Henry Barton before Glen Cook of Mariposa spun off the front stretch wall to set up a green, white, checkered finish. Erickson edged ahead of a sliding Barton at the drop of the green flag. They raced side-by-side over the final two laps with Erickson prevailing by just .053 seconds at the thrilling finish. Herzog finished third while Cooper topped Quella in a close finish for fourth as well.

13-year-old Jace Hale of Manteca became the fourth different 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series winner this season with his win in a 70-lap affair. Livermore’s Jacob Ryan led qualifying for the third time this season but started fourth.

Hale drew the pole and paced a caution free opening 33-laps of action. San Antonio’s Tristan Pena spun from the third spot in turn two after clipping the rumble strips, setting up a restart with seven to go to the scheduled race break. Cam Carraway of Castro Valley used the outside line to take over the lead on lap 34. The caution then flew for Oakdale’s Hayden Stepps spinning out in turn two.

Carraway chose the bottom and Hale capitalized, retaking the lead on lap 35. Hale led Carraway, Pena, Ryan, and Stepps at the lap 40 break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.

Pena’s night went the wrong way when racing resumed, as he slid to the back of the field before reporting to the infield with a broken rear axle. Ryan and Carraway then tangled for the second position on lap 65 with just five circuits remaining.

Hale fended off a late charge from Carraway for the breakthrough win, followed by Ryan in third, Stepps in fourth, and Kylie Glick of Lincoln in fifth.

Bakersfield’s Colton Page topped Bakersfield’s Eddie Garone for the INEX Legends main event win. Kyle Labrie of Easton rounded out the podium.

Madera’s Kellen Keller won the INEX Bandolero feature. The race started with an opening lap skirmish between defending champion Kaine Betancourt and Keller. Keller slid rear first into the turn two wall while Betancourt to retired to the pits after the contact.

Despite heavy rear end damage, Keller prevailed at the checkered flag with Andrew Williams finishing in second place.

For more information about the Madera Speedway including how to advertise with a race team on MAVTV please visit www.racemadera.com or call the race office at 209-356-1968.

The 2024 season would not be possible without the support 51FIFTY LTM, Mission Foods, 805 Beer, Race 2B Drug Free, Competition Carburetion, Hoosier Tires, Franks Radio, Sunoco Race Fuel, and Sealmaster.

Madera Racing on MAVTV airs Monday nights at 6pm Pacific and 9pm Eastern. Check www.MAVTV.com for program listings.

Madera Speedway PR