By STEVEN BLAKESLEY & DALE BOSOWSKI
Special to the Bulletin
MADERA — Manteca brothers Eric and Ethan Nascimento each visited victory lane during Saturday’s Late Model action at the Madera Speedway. Eric Nascimento won a dramatic and exciting Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model 80-lap feature while Ethan Nascimento led all but the opening lap to take the 70-lap 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model triumph.
Eric Nascimento led the 20 starters to the green flag in the Pro feature as outside pole sitter Jay Juleson, of San Jose, fell backwards in the early laps. Napa’s Dylan Zampa charged from fifth to second in the early going as the top-six cars ran bumper to bumper in a narrow line around the bottom of the one-third mile speedway.
Nascimento chose the inside on a lap 30 restart and led by a nose over Zampa, but Zampa then cleared Nascimento around the outside on the following lap for the lead which he held through the lap 50 break for adjustments.
Zampa chose the outside over Eric Nascimento to grab the lead on the restart for the second half of the race and Sean Hingorani, age 15 of Newport Beach, soon followed suit to snare second place. The three went nose to tail until Ethan Nascimento’s car went up in a blaze of sparks with apparent brake issues, slamming the turn three wall for a caution on lap 66.
This restart saw Zampa choose the inside against Hingorani who had a big run off turn two and tried to cross to the inside on the backstretch to no avail. They collided on lap 70 into turn one, sending Zampa spinning and relegating both drivers to the rear of the field.
Nascimento gratefully inherited the lead and kept it the rest of the way by holding off Kyle Keller, of Las Vegas, over the final laps. Keller attempted to drive by Nascimento for the win on the final circuit and they went side-by-side down the backstretch before Keller dove to the inside to get alongside Nascimento exiting the final corner. Somehow, they never touched and Nascimento cleanly topped Keller by a scant .191 second margin at the checkered flag for the hard earned victory.
Kenna Mitchell, of Loomis, drove around the outside of Manteca’s Ethan Nascimento, age 15, to lead lap one of the 70-lap 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series feature by .003 seconds before the two made contact on the backstretch. Nascimento recovered to lead lap two while Mitchell drifted backwards as Joey Kennedy, of Madera, grabbed the second spot. Nascimento would continue to hold down the top spot through the mandatory caution on lap 40.
Emerging from the break for adjustments, Nascimento once again charged ahead for the lead as Joey Kennealy got sideways in turn two and fell back to sixth. Ethan Nascimento was never challenged over the final laps as he cruised to the checkered flag to earn his third consecutive 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series feature win, topping Washington’s Kasey Kleyn by nearly four seconds. Monty Tipton, of Mill Valley, Joey Kennealy, and Bakersfield’s Caden Cordova were the balance of the top-five.
Madera Speedway resumes on Saturday, Sept. 17, with the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model Series plus the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series 70 laps, Bandoleros, and Challenge Cup. Racing also returns to the Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 3, with a First Responders Night program that includes the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B-4s, B-4 Juniors and North State Modifieds.