MADERA, California — It was “lights, camera, action” when the drivers took to the newly paved track for an NBC sports televised event Saturday, July 28, 2012, at the Madera Speedway">Madera Speedway in the Lucas Oil Summertime Horsepower Nationals Presented by Auto Chaser Magazine/Lucas Oil Modified Tour featuring Race No. 4 of the $1,000 to win Coors Light Open Late Model Series 100 laps (split 50’s), Sports Mods, Hobby Stocks, MSTs, Toyota Sedans and 4-Bangers.
"Drivers put on classic show in televised event at the Madera Speedway!"
In front of a TV audience, it was Chris Gerchman that was a star as he picked up his first win in the 75-lap Lucas Oil Modifieds main.
Making his first trip to the Madera Speedway, Gerchman outlasted the 22-car field to claim his first win of the season.
Though he had never raced on the “Fastest 1/3 Mile in the West” before, Gerchman seemed to fly around the oval asphalt with ease.
“It’s called a decade worth of the racing,” he said. “Just years of experience shows to be best out of everything. You just got to keep your focus and eyes peeled. That’s how you stay calm and just maneuver around these cars.”
Though he seemed to have a good feel for the fast track, Gerchman had to battle some tough competition including runner-up Guy Young and fast time qualifier (14.720) Austin Barnes.
With Young leading the way, there were two restarts through the first 10 laps including one that caused a yellow after Scott Alves bumped into Aaron McMorran.
Young continued to hold his lead but Gerchman was moving up the field before he eventually got into first on Lap 25.
“The race started out with those guys ahead of me, they were beating and banging pretty good,” Gerchman said. “We just tried to make the best moves we could. This car felt like it was on rails tonight.”
When Gerchman was in the lead, he got constant pressure from Jim Mardis, who was in second, and Barnes.
After a restart on Lap 47, Mardis took the slight lead to the dismay of Gerchman.
“I just had to maneuver around them but when I lost the lead, I almost wanted to cry on that one,” Gerchman said.
A few seconds later, Gerchman caught up to Mardis as neither driver could get leverage for the next three laps.
After a spinout by Larry Gerchman on Lap 52, Chris Gerchman’s takeoff allowed him to claim the top spot back.
“The carburetor must have got loaded up with some fuel,” Gerchman said. “We were full throttle coming out of that turn, we got inside of him and made the same move that we do on everyone. This car is just hooked up and wanting to go around everything.”
Despite four cautions in the final 23 laps including one where Mardis and Barnes got tangled up and were both sent to the back of the race, Gerchman continued to stay ahead on the restarts with Young now in second place.
After Larry Gerchman was bumped by Brian Collins on Lap 72, Gerchman survived one last restart on the way to victory while Young placed second and Elliot StJerne rounded out the top three.
Like Gerchman, Andrew Murray couldn’t have scripted a better way to win his first race of the season.
Murray, who didn’t lead until after Lap 77, won the 100-lap main in the Coors Light Late Model Series.
“It’s just a lot about having luck,” Murray said. “If you have it with you along with a great car and you keep your head in the game, 100 percent of the time you’re going to win.”
Murray started the race in fifth place along side Juan Esteban Garcia while Trevor Schlundt, who had the fastest qualifying time at 15.362, blazed out in front.
There were eight cautions through the first 41 laps including one that had a three-car tangled up after Turn 3 between Ronnie Roberts, Mike Lay and Trevor Huddleston on Lap 36.
Despite all the restarts, Murray maintained his spot in third.
“It was very important for track position,” he said. “Keeping up in the top three, I felt that was the win or lose. If I dropped anymore than that or anything less, it would’ve been very difficult to make it up just because this is such a difficult track to pass on. It’s all about track position and luck.”
After a caution on Lap 41, the first half of the race ended as the drivers retreated to the pits with Montes leading on the scoreboard and Martinez in second.
When the drivers returned for the second half of the race, Montes continued to hold his spot in first but was being pursued by former Madera track champion Justin Westmoreland.
“We’ve been running the Southwest Tour for the past five years and pretty much all of our races have been 100 lap ones, so the biggest difference about this one was the big break in the middle to be able to work on the car,” he said. “You can abuse these tires a lot more here than you can at other tracks. You still have to just manage the brakes and tires.”
The break proved to be very helpful for Westmoreland, who cut underneath on Turn 4 of Lap 60 and charged into first place while Murray passed Montes to get into second place.
Despite three restarts including one after a crash that ended the race for drivers Howard Holden and Kenny Smith, Westmoreland held his lead from Laps 60-77 with Murray following behind.
“I didn’t want them (cautions) but you can’t control it,” he said. “So from my perspective, it was what it was.”
Going into Lap 78, Murray got a quick burst and slid into first past Westmoreland. From there, Murray held off Westmoreland to become the fourth different Coors Light Late Model Series driver to win at the Madera Speedway this season.
“Really, I was just thinking don’t screw up,” Murray said. “If I was just off a little bit then that No. 9 car (Westmoreland) would’ve got around me. So that was the main thought in my head, not to mess up.”
Murray managed not be involved in any of the cautions that took a portion of the cars out of the races.
“It was really a toss up,” he said. “In the first half of the race, I felt like it benefitted me a lot because it would help me gain the spots that I’d lose from having to pass another car. In the second half, it wasn’t much of a benefit. I found my car ran a little bit better on the longer runs and his car (Westmoreland’s) was better on the shorter runs. In those short runs, he could’ve probably won if there would’ve been a couple more cautions.”
For Westmoreland, it was a homecoming off sorts for the Maderan as he finished a respective second overall out of 21.
“It was definitely fun to come back here and be competitive,” he said. “We will be back here in September to hopefully go for the win.”
Huddleston rebounded from that Lap 36 mix-up to take third overall.
David Couch was a winner in the 20-lap B-main for the Lucas Oil Modifieds.
Two drivers that also put their best foot forward were Del McIntosh in the Toyota Sedans division and Ryan Hart in the Hobby Stocks class. Once both drivers took the lead in their respective classes, they never gave it up.
McIntosh, of Madera, took the lead past Donnie Large Jr. on Lap 5 and continued to hold it on the way to the 30-lap win.
He had plenty of company behind him including Jarred Tickel, who had the best qualifying time of 17.751.
After Large banged into the wall on the back straightaway on Lap 15, McIntosh’s lead was still intact.
When Kyle Fortney and Bud Tickel’s cars each got into each other and turned sideways, another restart allowed Jarred Tickel a chance to catch up and battle it out for first with McIntosh.
McIntosh stayed slightly ahead of Tickel before crossing the finish line just less than a second in front.
Despite not leading in the first two laps of the Hobby Stocks race, Hart was just getting warmed up and took the lead on Lap 4. From there, Hart strung together his second straight 25-lap main win.
In the beginning of the race, fast time qualifier Peggy Sue Jarred and Frank Mazzie were out in front. Just as Mazzei took the lead on Lap 3, Hart flew right in to get side by side to him. After Lap 4, Hart pulled away and built a good-sized lead.
Despite a caution with two laps to go, Hart still took off fast and wouldn’t be caught on the way to the checkered flag. Richard Herzog took second and Shelden Cooper finished third.
Like Hart, John McCollum Jr. made it back-to-back victories in the Modified Stocks Toyota’s division. McCollum Jr., who had the fastest qualifying time, placed ahead of Kevin Thompson.
Tyler Johnson returned to the winner’s circle with a first place 12-lap victory in the 4-Bangers class. Johnson was victorious after a second place finish in his last race on July 7, 2012 that was won by Nastasia Dodd, who took second in this race.
The Madera Speedway is right back in action Saturday, August 4th 2012, on Valley Children’s Kids Night Presented by Super 8 featuring the LunkerDaddy Late Models, Valley Sportsman, Toyota Sedans, Hobby Stocks, MSTs and 4-Bangers.
Late Models — 100 Laps
Luis Martinez Jr.
Juan Esteban Garcia
Lucas Oil Modified — 75 Laps
Elliot St. Jerne
Lucas Oil Modified B — 20 Laps
Toyota Sedans — 30 Laps
Donnie Large Jr.
Hobby Stocks — 25 Laps
Peggy Sue Jarred
Larry Pasquale Jr.
MSTs — 20 Laps
John McCollum Jr.
John McCollum Sr.
4-Bangers — 12 Laps
Qualifying — 2 Laps
Trevor Schlundt 15.362
Dallas Montes 15.386
Trevor Huddleston 15.392
Luis Martinez Jr. 15.405
Juan Esteban Garcia 15.462
Andrew Murray 15.593
Kenny Smith 15.616
Justin Westmoreland 15.681
Matt Erickson 15.740
Brian Richardson 15.783
Bryan Herzog 15.796
Dale Kascht 15.802
Mike Lay 15.847
Ronnie Roberts 15.946
Rick Thompson 15.950
Elissa Gill 15.987
Howard Holden 16.085
Garland Tyler 16.158
Aaron Mullins 16.170
Emma Tucker 16.193
Frank Mazzei 16.623
Lucas Oil Modifieds
Austin Barnes 14.720
Jim Mardis 14.940
Chris Gerchman 14.988
Roger Brown 14.994
Scott Alves 15.026
Elliot St. Jerne 15.028
Aaron McMorran 15.029
Tye Young 15.044
D.J. Pedrocelli 15.065
Doug Hamm 15.073
Taylor Miinch 15.107
Brian Collins 15.130
David Lord 15.147
Pat Petrie 15.181
Tim Morse 15.193
Kyle Gottula 15.215
Larry Gerchman 15.268
David Couch 15.357
Randy Ussery 15.381
Dennis Lovelady 15.483
Doug Carpenter 15.518
Jerry Toporek 15.711
Vanessa Robinson 15.781
Scott Osborn 15.916
Thomas Leiby 16.100
Thomas Pfunstein 16.347
Dwayne Short 16.686
Michael Drake 16.903
Marisa Odgers 17.325
Tim Campbell 17.847
Peggy Sue Jarred 18.426
Richard Herzog 18.507
Ryan Hart 18.515
Shelden Cooper 18.596
Frank Mazzei 18.927
Larry Pasquale Jr. 19.034
John McCollum Jr. 16.640
Kevin Thompson 16.707
John McCollum Sr. 16.965
Jarred Tickel 17.751
Bud Tickel 17.786
Del McIntosh 17.930
Kyle Fortney 17.971
Donnie Large Jr. 18.138
Tim Curtis 18.321
Tyler Johnson 19.493
Nastasia Dodd 19.915
Jake Kline 20.024