Venegas claims track championship

By: Michael Kirby, Journal Sports Correspondent
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Quietly, Charlie Venegas has been gaining momentum each week at Fast Fridays — just as he said he would in Week 1 of the 2009 Fast Friday’s Motorcycle Speedway season. True to his word, Venegas was the fastest man on the track last Friday, taking the checkered flag in the scratch main event at the Gold Country Fairgrounds to clinch his fourth consecutive Fast Friday’s Track Championship. Sixteen of the season’s highest scorers lined up in a very exciting Division I scratch format that pitted each racer against each other at least once from each starting gate position. The rules were simple: The racer with the most points after five heats at the end of the night would be the track champion. Venegas won four of his five his heat races, scoring 14 of a possible 15 points. His only loss was to 2008 USA National Champion Billy Janniro in heat two. “I’ve been leading up to this all year, and I’m happy with this win,” Venegas said. “At 42 years old, not too many riders win a track championship at my age.” Janniro, who ended the night with 13 points, tied with Bart Bast and Tommy Hedden, and took second in the championship after winning an exciting run-off against Bast and Hedden. Janniro had some unfortunate luck in heat one, finishing third. Bast, the top point-getter of the 2009 regular season, finished second in the run-off. Hedden placed third in the run-off and fourth overall. Also staged Friday night was the 2009 AMA/USA Speedway Youth National Championship, which featured the nation’s best 16-and-under speedway riders. Austin Novratil, 14, of Huntington Beach, had a perfect night, winning all of his heat races to score 15 points. Novratil had some strong competition from area rider Amber Felicio, who finished second with 13 points. Felicio won three heat races and finished second in two. Auburn-area resident Thomas Reich finished third with 12 points. Daniel Faria, son of speedway legend Mike Faria, took the Division II track championship. Danny Turner was second and Charles Haines was third. The Division III track championship was won by Dustin Berdolt. Kjell Lovlien was second and Billy Vaughn was third.