James, Berkeley, Bloom win IMCA Wild West Speedweek finales

Bricen James started Wild West Speedweek with the Friesen Performance IMCA Modified win at Yreka Speedway, ended it with the checkers at Sunset Speedway Park and won at Douglas County Dirtrack and Cottage Grove Speedway in between. (Photo by Jason Davenport Photography)

By Ben Deatherage

BANKS, Ore. (June 22, 2024) – The sun set Saturday on the IMCA Wild West Speedweek, with final night feature wins at Sunset Speedway Park going to Bricen James, Chase Berkeley and Aaron Bloom.

Tour champions in those divisions would be Collen Winebarger, Berkeley and Matt Sanders.

The Modified finale had Carter Patterson in control on the initial start but Devon Reed had plans and was in the lead by lap five. Another exciting race unfolded for third as Grey Ferrando battled Tyler Smith. 

What proved to be the only caution of the contest came on lap seven. The event stayed green for the remaining 28 circuits around the quarter-mile clay oval. Patterson tried to retrieve the lead from Reed and Craig Cassell entered the picture after securing third from Ferrando on lap 10. 

Reed kept Patterson at bay but in a sudden turn of events, three-time defending and six-time Banks Bullring track champion Cassell, pulled alongside, then edged out Reed for the top spot on lap 12 and began to pull away.

Ferrando eventually got into second while just before the 15th circuit, James went to battle Reed for third.

As Cassell built a healthy lead, Ferrando was under fire from James for the runner-up position. The front four runners favored the high side of the race track, especially in turns three and four but the cushion was getting tricky and any wrong move could cost you positions.

James finally made the pass for second with eight to go and Ferrando was then occupied by a charging Winebarger to try and stay on the podium.

As the race progressed, lapped traffic became a factor. James closed in on Cassell, attempting to pass the leader on the bottom and finally doing to coming to the line with three laps to go.

James held on to win his fourth race of the week and earning his eleventh career IMCA Wild West Speedweek victory. Cassell was second while Winebarger, Ferrando and Smith ran 3-4-5.

For the Stock Cars their main event began with Kevin Roberts capturing the lead at the drop of the green. He gassed ahead of the rest of the field and within the first couple of circuits, Sid Schott put a challenge on second placer runner Blake Lehman.

The field was slowed by cautions on laps five and seven, Berkeley moving into second on the first of those restarts.

Roberts came under fire from Schott on the second restart. Schott become the new race leader on lap eight but had his hands full dealing with Roberts trying to get back around him.

Schott got a little out of shape on the 10th circuit, allowing Roberts, Berkeley and Joey Tardio to get around him.  Roberts was back in the lead but Berkeley was looking for daylight underneath him and Tardio tried to rip around the top for a two-for-one deal.  

The third yellow flag of the race halted action and set the stage for a thrilling finish. When the race resumed, Berkeley was in hot pursuit of Roberts and skillfully maneuvered the middle of the track, crossing the line just 21 thousandths of a second ahead.

The final caution came out, making Berkeley’s pass official and started to seal up his victory.  

With 12 laps to go, Berkeley was being chased by several challengers. Roberts and Tardio kept the new leader honest as Lehman and Don Jenner wrestled over fifth. Tardio was overtaken with six to go for third by B.J. Wild, who then got around Roberts as well.

Wild tried his best to chase his brother-in-law down but Berkeley was too far ahead and scored his fifth straight win of the week. It was his 11th career IMCA Wild West Speedweek victory. Berkeley also earned his third straight Speedweek title.

Wild was second, while Roberts won the battle for third and held on at the finish. Tardio was fourth and Jenner ended the night in fifth.

The Northern SportMod feature kicked off with Hunter Bloom taking control, then holding a steady pace ahead of Danny Wagner, Buddy Kniss, Steven Sanders and Aaron Bloom.

Aaron Bloom eventually won that tussle for second on the sixth circuit. Kniss and Wagner sparred for third as Aaron Bloom began to reel in his cousin Hunter.

Kniss made a well-timed pass on the inside line on lap 11 and Sanders followed behind in fourth the next time around. Despite starting 16th, Sanders stormed into the top five just past the halfway mark.

Around that same time, Aaron Bloom put together a challenge despite Kniss looking for a way into the runner-up spot and traffic looming ahead. Aaron won the race off the final turn on lap 17 and had to deal with lapped traffic but was now the new trailblazer.

Kniss pounced on the opportunity to get second by the flag stand the next time, and Hunter suddenly had his hands full with the Sanders brothers. Matt Sanders performed a double overtake in the final corners with three to go.

Aaron Bloom, who began the feature in fifth, briefly got bottled up with a couple of laps remaining, but it wouldn’t slow him down enough to change the outcome. He held onto the race lead to win his first career IMCA Wild West Speedweek feature in a caution-free event.

Kniss wound up second and Matt Sanders held on to third. Steven Sanders hit the line fourth while Ethan Killingsworth made a late race pass for fifth.

Matt Sanders became the third different tour champion in as many years for the Northern SportMods.

Aaron Bloom raced to his first career Wild West Speedweek Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod feature win on the final night of the 2024 tour. (Photo by Jason Davenport Photography)

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