Community Sports

Saturday, May 18 2013 11:02 PM

15-year-old Custer rolls to victory on raceway's opening night

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    Casey Christie / The Californian Jennifer Ridenhour, center, and her two children Rayana, left, and Joseph, right, along with several thousand others had a good seat at the races Saturday night for the big opening of the Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Race fans came out Saturday night for an entertaining evening of racing at the new Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Dylan Lupton, left, and David Mayhew, race close to each other during this qualifying heat race Saturday at the new raceway.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A qualifying heat gets ready to start at Kern County Raceway Park's opening day in May last year. The race track was the first to open in California since Inwindale in 1999.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Silhouetted race fans have a bird's eye view of the track Saturday during the opening night of the Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Jennifer Ridenhour, center, and her two children Rayana, left, and Joseph, right, along with several thousand others had a good seat at the races Saturday night for the big opening of the Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A huge crowd turned out for the opening night of the Kern County Raceway Park Saturday evening.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Racing fans turn out for the opening of the Kern County Raceway Park off Enos Lane and I-5, Saturday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Racing fans turn out for the opening of the Kern County Raceway Park off Enos Lane and I-5, Saturday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Cole Custer, left, and Paul Ebersbacher run close to one another on the new track at the Kern County Raceway Park Saturday in Bakersfield during practice laps.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mike Keen works on Jason Fensler's race car in the pits Saturday at the Kern County Raceway. Fensler is from Elk Grove and races for team Campbell Motor Sports of Bakersfield.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Pit crew members for Jason Fensler, of Elk Grove who races for team Campbell Motor Sports of Bakersfield gets a push towards the track Saturday during the grand opening of the Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A line of Bandelero's practice during the opening night of the Kern County Raceway Park, Saturday on the new track.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Several of the mini cars take to the track Saturday during the opening day at the Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Spectators enjoy the first day of the Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A long row of drivers get ready to enter the track as one driver, center, gets some last minute attention from a pit crew member and one viewer holds an umbrella Saturday during the opening of the new Kern County Raceway Park on the west side of town.

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BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

Cole Custer went around a plethora of cars during the 50-lap CITGO Lubricants Late Model feature Saturday during the historic opening night of the Kern County Raceway Park.

But only one pass by the ultra-talented 15-year old driver really mattered.

Custer, who is running in the K&N Pro Series East this year, slipped to the inside ahead of Brian Richardson for the lead on the race's third lap and never looked back.

The Haas Automation driver was never seriously challenged once he got up front and took the checkered flag well ahead of second-place David Mayhew of Bakersfield before what looked to be a capacity crowd of at least 8,000.

"I dropped the pin and set sail in turn one," Custer said. "It was a great car."

The young star's biggest challenge was working around lapped cars, which he did continually throughout the caution-free event.

Brian Richardson was third, followed by Dallas Montes and Eric Richardson.

Sporting a big lead, Custer said he backed his car down with about 10 laps left in the race.

“The whole race I wasn’t running wide open,” he said. “But we were going pretty fast.”

Eric Richardson led wire-to-wire in winning the six-lap Limited Late Model Trophy Dash.

The 100-lap NASCAR Pro Late Model feature was still in process at press time.

Earlier in the evening, Donny St. Ours won the division’s Trophy Dash. The Upland driver led the six-lap race from start to finish.

“It’s a real good track,” St. Ours said. “It’s real fast. I think it’s just going to keep getting faster and faster as more cars get out here to put rubber down. We had a real good car in practice. We kind of messed up in qualifying but I think we’re going to be pretty good for the race.”

Brent Scheidimantle dominated the 35-lap INEX Legends main event. The Alta Loma driver passed Buddy Shepard for the lead with 23 laps remaining before cruising to victory by more than 10 car-lengths.

Darren Amidon finished second.

“It was definitely hard on the brakes tonight because by the end of the race I had no brakes,” Scheidimantle said. “ ... I wrecked last week so this is pretty much a brand new front clip. ... We really didn’t have time to shake it down but we came out here and did pretty well.”

Tyler Bannister won an action-packed Bandolero feature that saw Ivan Gudmestad and Ricky Lewis take turns spinning each other out late in the race.
Gudmestad and Lewis dominated most of the action, combining to lead 25 of 28 laps while trading the point position nine times.

Racing at the front of the pack, Gudmestad spun Lewis on lap 24 and was sent to the back of the field for the ensuing restart.

Gudmestad and Lewis quickly made their way back to the front, passing Bannister after three circuits around the quarter-mile oval.

But coming to the white flag of a green-white-checkered finish, Lewis got into the back of Gudmestad causing a wreck and ending the race prematurely.

“It’s a good track to race on,” Bannister said.

Two feature races were run on the track’s one-eighth mile configuration. Both were won by local youngsters.

Troy Morris III won the 20-lap Jr. Mini Dwarf main event. Kabe McClenny was second followed by Kale McClenny.

Jerry Flippo Sr. out-dueled Andrew Orlando to win in the Sr. Mini Dwarf feature.

Anthony Balcazar was third.

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