The Western Conference win for Modified was almost anyone’s game heading into the Riverbend Nationals, with a host of racers in mathematical contention coming into the event at Tailem Bend.

Ultimately, Kenny Stewart would prove successful, with three round wins across the event enough to seal the deal at Dragway at The Bend earlier this month.

Stewart first lined up against Anthony Raschella in round one before defeating Western Conference final runner-up and Top Qualifier Simon Barlow in round two. He was then knocked out of further event contention by eventual event winner, Daniel ‘Batdan’ Carranza, in round three.

“It has been an interesting season and I am sure the NDRC will continue to enhance the Conference / National Championship for Sportsman racers,” Stewart said.

“Winning the Western Conference was exciting as I was in good company going into the event with Simon and Adriana also being on maximum points, as well as Cory and Derek also having a chance in coming from behind.

“I ended last season with electrical gremlins, so I was very happy with how consistent the dragster was running all season.

“The Dragway at The Bend facility is great, and I was eager to get back to there and do more quarter mile racing!

I was impressed with the improvements made to the facility and the event ran flawlessly, the officials were great and most importantly, we always need to thank the Safety Crew. Having a third day dedicated to sportsman qualifying was a great idea too.

“Racing wise for us things were great too – the dragster was consistent, I struggled with my reactions during qualifying, but got on top of them during eliminations.

“I was shocked with Adriana being knocked out in the first round, but it made the Conference decider in round two against Simon Barlow and was very exciting.

“It was a great race, and I knew I needed to be at my best against such an accomplished team. The meeting ended for me in the semis in another exciting race.

“I would like to thank Amanda for always supporting me with my racing, as well as Will Berry who helped in Portland and at The Bend meetings and has been helping me for years now.

“It was great to have Reg Walkom crewing for me again too, he was regular crew member when I raced at AIR.  Sieanna also was a great help in her first ever race.

“I would also like to thank the businesses that continue to support me” FUCHS Lubricants, Gene Cook Race Engines, Swarf King Engineering, Gerry’s Ski Shop, and R&J Batteries.”

Carranza made it all the way to the top step of the ladder with wins over David Bonetti and Cory Dyson in rounds one and two, then coming up against Stewart in round three before going on to defeat event runner-up Derek Wills in the final. Wills had booked his place in the final by taking race victories from Daniel Bader (round one), and Fiona Crisp (round two) before a bye in round three.

At top: Kenny Stewart. Immediately above: Daniel Carranza. Both images thanks to Cackling Pipes

“I have no words to be honest,” Carranza said.

“It is still pretty unreal to me at the moment. I am pretty happy!

“We struggled quite a bit in the last round at Mildura – what a way to come back and take out the event!

“This puts us in a good position, and I have to thank my whole crew, my mum and dad, Rob and Anne – without those guys I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, and I am very thankful to them.”

A full complement of Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship racers descended on the state-of-the-art South Australian venue for the April 5-7 event alongside Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, putting it all on the line for the highly anticipated conclusion to the Western Conference.

For an overview of the Riverbend Nationals results for all brackets, including group one, please click here.

For a detailed rundown of how each of the sportsman brackets unfolded over the weekend, please click here.