With five races remaining in the battle for the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards championship, all eyes in the Golden State will be on Ocean Speedway in Watsonville this Saturday night.
The 63rd running of the Johnny Key Classic is co-sanctioned with the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo and marks the lone SCCT appearance of the season at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds venue.
On Friday night the Ocean Sprints will also have an event at the quarter mile, creating a double header weekend for teams and fans to enjoy at the bullring.
The pit gate for competitors opens at 1pm on Saturday, while the front gate for spectators opens at 3:30pm. The pit meeting will be held at 3:45, with track packing shortly after. Please advise the earlier start time.
The Johnny Key Classic originally started out at the paved San Jose Speedway following the passing of driver Johnny Key during a racing crash in 1954. It then moved to the fairgrounds dirt track in 1978 and had been a staple at the speedway until the closing of the dirt oval in 1999.
After several years sitting idle, Promoter John Prentice and Ocean Speedway decided to bring the event back in 2007, and this year marks the 17th consecutive season that it will be held at the track.
As the SCCT campaign begins its final five events, Clarksburg’s Justyn Cox brings a 46-point lead over Oakley’s Dylan Bloomfield into Ocean Speedway. Cox has driven the Bates-Hamilton Racing No. 42x to top-five finishes in all but two races thus far and hopes to park it in victory lane on Saturday.
Bloomfield, who pilots the Vertullo Racing No. 83v, looks to close the gap and is coming off a nice recovery at Antioch Speedway with SCCT, where he marched through the field to finish eighth after going to the work area on lap one.
Templeton’s Kaleb Montgomery ranks third, 57-points back of the lead, with Justin Sanders and 2020 event victor Mitchell Faccinto rounding out the top-five. Garth Moore Insurance Rookie of the Year leader Chance Grasty is sixth in points, followed by most recent SCCT winner Shane Golobic, who claimed the Johnny Key Classic in 2021.
Filling out the top-10 going into Ocean Speedway are rookie contenders Dominic Gorden and Luke Hayes, along with veteran Sean Becker. Gorden has raced to a pair of wins this year with the Taco Bravo 360 Sprints.
Car owner Dale Miller continues to lead the SCCT team standings and will have past Trophy Cup champ Willie Croft in the car at the Key. The Colfax racer becomes the third different driver in the Thompson's Auto No. 4sa this year with the tour, joining Justin Sanders and Kaleb Montgomery.
Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi is the defending winner of the Johnny Key Classic and hopes to go back-to-back on Saturday. The driver of the Scelzi Ent. No. 41 is the only repeat winner in SCCT competition so far this season, with victories at Merced Speedway and Placerville Speedway.
Tickets and Details:
Adult tickets at Ocean Speedway this Saturday August 19th cost $30 while juniors ages 12-17 are $15, kids 11 and under will be free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate on race day.
The pit gate will open at 1pm, with the front grandstand gate opening at 3:30pm. The pit meeting will be held at 3:45pm with cars on track for wheel packing shortly after. Hot laps, Sierra Foothills Wine Services qualifying, and racing will follow.
The Ocean Speedway is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, California with the physical address being 2601 East Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076. Info on the track can be found at www.oceanspeedway.com or by liking the track on Facebook by searching Ocean Speedway/ Watsonville Fairgrounds.
For those who can’t make it to the track CaliDirt.TV provides live coverage of every Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards race. The live streaming service also includes the entire championship point race season from Placerville Speedway in 2023. Fans can purchase through a monthly membership or on a per race basis via https://calidirt.tv/
The Sprint Car Challenge Tour would like to thank Elk Grove Ford, Abreu Vineyards, Hoosier Racing Tires, CaliDirt.TV, Shop Kyle Larson, Pit Stop USA, Tiner-Hirst Enterprise, BR Motorsports, King Racing Products, A.R.T. Speed Equipment, D&D Roofing, Sierra Foothills Wine Services, Garth Moore Insurance and Financial Services and High Sierra Industries for their support this season.
More information on the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards can be found at our official website www.sprintcarchallengetour.com – Be sure to also like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sprintcarchallengetour and follow on Twitter https://twitter.com/360SCCT for the latest breaking news regarding SCCT. You can also find us on Instagram by searching scct360.
Remaining Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards events
Saturday August 19: Ocean Speedway in Watsonville (63rd Johnny Key Classic)
Wednesday September 6: Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico (Pacific Sprint Cup)
Saturday September 23: Petaluma Speedway (12th annual Adobe Cup)
Friday September 29: Kings Speedway in Hanford (38th annual Cotton Classic)
Saturday November 4: Stockton Dirt Track (40th annual Tribute to Gary Patterson w/NARC)
Story by Gary Thomas. Images courtesy of Tim Holland.