DeNunzio, Saum, Hegwood, Bettis, Smith claim 2020 Division 7 championships
Oct. 8, 2020

photos by Bob Johnson

Blaine DeNunzio (age 6-9), Colt Saum (10-12), Dylan Hegwood (13-14), Braden Bettis (15-17), and Tyler Smith (Jr. Comp) earned the 2020 Division 7 championship in their respective category following the final two events of the season at Irwindale Dragstrip.

DeNunzio capped a strong season in the 6-9 age group with a victory in the first race of the double-header weekend. The win was DeNunzio’s fourth of the season in the Pacific Division Jr. Championship Series and helped boost his final total to 599, the highest tally of any racer in Division 7 this season. Brain Price came in second with 492 points, and Logan Oliveira (491), Jacob Hood 9437), and Caden Oliveira (436) rounded out the top five.

A strong showing the final weekend that included winning the first race of the double-header helped lift Saum to the top of the standings in the 10-12 age bracket. Saum added a couple more round-wins the next day to hold off the efforts of Sunday winner Mason Phlegar and Kade Renoll, who both finished behind Saum with 513 points. Allison Bolle (503) and Jacob Collins (438) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Though he had a tough outing at Irwindale, falling early in both races, Hegwood was able to hold onto the top spot in the 13-14 age group thanks to his efforts earlier in the year that included a win and four finishes as a semifinalist or runner-up. Hegwood earned 514 points to top Trent Flores, who doubled up the final weekend to bring his total to 491. Gavin Pine finished third with 480 points, and Caden Ball and Donovan Sumpter rounded out the top five with 415 points apiece.


Though he only tallied one round-win in the final weekend, two wins and another later-round finish earlier in the year helped Bettis finish atop the 15-17 age bracket. Bettis finished with 513 points to claim the No. 1 spot over Ethan Januik (481) and Autumn Hight (480). Braiden Chesleigh finished fourth with 447 points, followed by Mason Weaver with 427.


A win and runner-up finish during the finale weekend gave Smith a nearly perfect record in Jr. Comp and the championship in the class. All but one of Smith’s scored races for the season were final-round appearances, three of which were victories. That strong overall showing gave Smith a final tally of 538 points and the No. 1 spot. Nolan Oliveira was second at 477, followed by Jonathan Flores (475), Ayden Pires (381), and Christopher Klostriech (346).

In addition to champions Blaine DeNunzio (6-9), Colt Saum (10-12), and Tyler Smith (Jr. Comp), Trent Flores (13-14) and Autumn Hight (15-17) were also a winners during Saturday’s race.

DeNunzio, near lane, claimed top honors in the 6-9 age group on Saturday when he bested Logan Oliveira in the final round, 11.965 to 11.964.

Saum, near lane, defeated Allison Bolle in the 10-12 final round, 8.953 to 8.890.

Flores, far lane, used a near-perfect .005 light to best Donovan Sumpter in the 13-14 title round, 7.920 to 7.852.

Hight, far lane, got the automatic nod in the 15-17 final when Ethan Januik red-lighted. Hight clocked a 7.919 en route to victory.

Smith, far lane, ran right on the 6.90 index to turn on the win light against Chris Klostreich’s 6.92 in the Jr. Comp final.

Sunday’s winners were Logan Oliveira (6-9), Mason Phlegar (10-12), Trent Flores (13-14), Melanie LaBurn (15-17), and Jonathan Flores (Jr. Comp).

After finishing as the runner-up Saturday, Oliveira, far lane, was able to go the distance Sunday, defeating younger brother Caden in the 6-9 final. The older Oliveira ran an 11.980 to turn on the win light against Caden’s 14.122.

Phlegar, near lane, earned the trophy in the 10-12 bracket when he defeated Jacob Collins in the final, 8.963 to 8.954.

Trent Flores, far lane, made it a clean sweep in the 13-14 age group for the weekend when he outlasted Caden Ball, 7.932 to 8.260.

LaBurn, far lane, defeated Jenna Kirk, 7.931 to 7.953, to claim top honors in the 15-17 category.

Jonathan Flores made it a double victory for the Flores family when he wheeled his Jr. Comp entry to a 7.096 to 7.820 win against Tyler Smith in that class final.