MADERA, CALIFORNIA (August 26, 2023) – Clovis’ Shelden Cooper earned his first career Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model victory and became the sixth different 2023 MAVTV-televised Madera winner in Saturday’s 80-lap feature. The win keeps Cooper in the championship hunt and cements his run through the ranks of Madera, from Hobby Stock championships to Short Track Shootout B-Main wins, to a Pro triumph. Photos by Ethan Smith
“I really need to thank my (family). They raised me to where if I want something I need to get off my butt and get it. I just spend hours and hours trying to get faster,” Cooper said. “Hunter (Holden) built a rocket ship. For a 22-year-old, I don’t know where he learned how to do this but he’s better than half the (crew chiefs) back there. This is my home track. This is a family run team.”
Cooper opened the afternoon with fast-time in qualifying. Cooper, from third in the standings, drew the two to lineup alongside the points leader Tyler Herzog of Fresno for the main event.
Herzog and Cooper raced side-by-side for the top spot at the start, separated by just .001 seconds on lap two. Cooper ran the outside to lead lap three but Herzog battled back on the bottom to lead lap five. Herzog was solidly in possession of the lead position by lap six.
A great duel developed behind Herzog with multiple cars scrambling for positions. Cooper and 2021 51FIFITY Jr. Late Model champion Brody Armtrout of Smartsville raced for second place. Loomis’ Kenna Mitchell worked underneath Armtrout to take third. The top six tightened up with Cooper retaking the lead from Herzog on lap 41. The green flag run ended when Matt Erickson of La Grange and Manteca’s Eric Nascimento, Jr. collided into turn three on lap 42.
Mitchell used the outside line to charge into the lead on lap 44. Mitchell then led Cooper, Armtrout, Herzog, and a returning Jay Juleson of San Jose at the lap 50 break.
Henry Barton of San Fransisco pounded the front stretch wall to bring out the yellow flag on the restart. On the following restart, Mitchell picked the inside line. Cooper capitalized, soaring past her to lead lap 51. Armtrout emerged from the pack in second, then attempted to close on Cooper. Cooper stepped up the pace considerably, running his best lap of the feature on lap 66.
Shelden Cooper darted ahead for a 1.486 second lead at the checkered flag over Armtrout, Mitchell, Herzog, and Nascimento.
Martinez’ Vito Cancilla eclipsed 350 laps led in 2023 on the way to his sixth 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model win of the season in Saturday’s 70 lapper.
For the second consecutive weekend, second-place in points Chase Hand of Wilton led time trials over the field of drivers ages 10-16 years old. Hand and Cancilla made up the third row for the feature. Fourth in points Joey Kennealy of Madera led third in points Taylor Mayhew of Bakersfield to the green flag.
Cancilla was pinned on the outside line on the opening laps and drifted back to the ninth position. Kennealy, Mayhew, and Hand ran closely together for the top spot before a caution on lap seven for Mia Wright of Reno, NV spinning in turn four.
Bryson Brown of Las Vegas had to pit with a fuel line issue but was able to rejoin the race. 12-year-old Jace Hale spun out of the top-five in his debut race, collecting Lincoln’s 13-year-old Kylie Glick and Brown in a grinding crash. All three drivers were unhurt.
Hand used the restart to take the lead from Kennealy on lap nine. Kennealy fell back to fourth on the outside line. Cancilla made a big charge through the pack, advancing to second by lap 16. Cancilla hounded the back bumper of Hand for numerous laps, then took over the lead on lap 34. Hand slipped outside of the top-five with brakes issues. Cancilla led Taylor Mayhew of Bakersfield, Kennealy, Texan Tristan Pena, and Jacob Ryan of Livermore into the lap 40 break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.
Cancilla drove to a 4.4 second lead on the restart before Hale and Pena collided for fifth on lap 62 for a caution flag. Ryan, Hailey Liles of Dinuba, and Pena crashed on the ensuing restart into turn one as well.
Hand took his shot for the lead with eight laps to go, driving underneath Cancilla. They raced side-by-side for a few laps before Cancilla was able to preserve the lead and drive to the win. Kennealy, Mayhew, and Cameron Carraway of Castro Valley rounded out the top-five finishers.
Kaine Betancourt won the 20-lap INEX Bandolero feature over Andrew Williams.
MAVTV-televised Late Model action returns to Madera Speedway on September 16 with the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models, 51FIFTY Jr. Late Models, Mini Super Toyotas, and INEX Bandoleros competing.
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 2023 season would not be possible without the support of Lunkerdaddy Fishing Lures, 51FIFTY LTM, Mission Foods, 805 Beer, Race 2B Drug Free, Competition Carburetion, Hoosier Tires, and Sunoco Race Fuel.
Madera Racing on MAVTV airs Monday nights at 5:00pm Pacific and 8:00pm Eastern.
2023 MADERA MAVTV LATE MODEL SCHEDULE
March 18 – $5,000-to-win
May 20 – Military Tribute Night
June 24 – Reverend Ron Spencer Red, White Blue Classic
July 22 – $5,000-to-win
October 7 – $10,000-to-win Short Track Shootout