United States National Champion Billy "The Kid" Janniro added another treasure to his burgeoning trophy case by winning the prestigious Jack Milne Cup as the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway began its forty-fourth season.
Former National Champion Charlie "The Edge" Venegas entered the main event with a perfect score and chose gate one. Janniro, who only dropped two points due to mechanical gremlins in his first race, picked gate two. Shawn "Mad Dog" McConnell, seeking his third Jack Milne Cup victory in four years, selected gate three. Tyson Burmeister opted for gate four which left "Battling" Buck Blair in gate five.
Janniro launched from the starting line when the tapes went up and held the advantage entering turn one. His hope for a smooth victory was dashed when he drifted wide exiting turn four and Venegas pulled alongside him on the front straight. Janniro secured the lead in turn one and was in control for another lap before lifting badly exiting turn four and approaching the white flag. Venegas charged up the inside but Janniro was able to fend him off again. Janniro kept his bike on two wheels on the final lap and was first to the checkered flag. Venegas finished second, McConnell was third, Blair finished fourth, and Burmeister was credited with fifth after sliding off in the first lap.
The twenty-four First Division riders were greeted with tricky track conditions that certainly caught many of them by surprise. This created a lot of passing with some unpredictable results throughout the heats.
Janniro kicked off the heats by what looked to be a sure victory before a sputtering machine relegated him to third and "Fast" Eddie Castro benefiting from some good racer's luck. Joey "The Bolt" Holt led the first lap of the second heat before Jimmy "Little Animal" Fishback went by for the lead and the win. Charles "Dukie" Ermolenko was victorious in the third heat.
The fourth race required two restarts to complete, but it was the first attempt that led to the worst results. Doug "The Destroyer" Nicol went down awkwardly in turn three and tumbled into the fence. He was down for a couple minutes before gingerly walking back to the pits. He reported on his Facebook page that he suffered four fractured vertebrae. Venegas beat McConnell in the third start.
Event five had to be restarted when Burmeister went over backward on the first lap. The restart featured several lead changes, but when they crossed the finish line it was Rick "The Rage" Valdez getting the victory. Round one ended with Northern California's J.T. Mabry beating Brad Pappalardo.
Janniro began round two with a victory despite a sputtering bike. Castro led the first lap of the next race before Fishback passed him and held him off for his second win. Blair beat Bobby "Boogaloo" Schwartz in event 18. Venegas made it two straight wins by beating Justin Boyle. McConnell, once a member of the Birmingham Brummies in the British League, beat a pair of former Wolverhampton Wolves, Ermolenko and Burmeister, in event 20. Aaron Fox beat Devin DeFreece to finish the second round.
Janniro opened the final round without bike problems and with a victory over Ermolenko. Fishback remained perfect by winning the next heat. Castro passed Schwartz on the third lap of event 33 for his second straight win. Venegas matched Fishback's perfect score by beating Blair. Burmeister scored a victory over Gary Hicks in the penultimate heat to get himself into the semis. McConnell finished the heats with a win over Mabry.
Venegas continued his string of victories with a convincing win in the first semi while McConnell followed him into the main by finishing second. Janniro easily won the second semi with Burmeister getting second and the other transfer into the main.
Blair held off Castro in the Last Chance to book the final spot in the main event field.
Eloy Medellin rode a smooth and calculated four laps to earn the victory in the Support Main Event. Joe Donaldson finished second, J.D. Myerscough was third, Tim McGrath finished fourth, and Mike Salyer was credited with fifth.
Davey Shaw, the son of Southern California speedway legend "Lightning" Larry Shaw, led the first two laps of the Support B Main Event before being challenged by Kayle LeoGrande. LeoGrande's pressure paid off when he took the lead, but Shaw didn't give up without a fight. LeoGrande entered the final corner with the lead but Shaw stormed up the inside with a lot of steam. Both riders went wide and Shaw won the drag race to the checkered flag for the victory. LeoGrande had to settle for second, Mitch Pierson was third, Craig Sprecher finished fourth, and Chris Popanz was fifth.
Newlyweds Dylan and Crystal Beard won the battle of attrition and claimed the Sidecar Main Event. Harley-mounted Rod Requejo and Gene Stone finished second, Bob Brayton and Steve Bumpass were third, and Stuart Glass and Jack Straw were credited with fourth.
The Jack Milne Cup honors the 1937 World Speedway Champion and speedway icon who was also an integral part of the founding of Costa Mesa Speedway and its promotion for many years.
There will not be speedway racing at Costa Mesa next Saturday, but the incredible action returns for the Opening Night on Saturday, May 12.
First Division Heat Scoring123T
Past Jack Milne Cup Winners
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