By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Merced, CA
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Merced, CA -- Moving from third to first in the final 3 laps after a late race yellow, point leader and defending track champion Ramie Stone won his fourth straight IMCA Modified 25 lap main event Saturday night at Merced Speedway. R Stone passed brother T Stone on lap 24 for the win and T Stone ran second ahead of Jack Stanford and Steven Williams. Monty Tomlinson Jr made his first 2003 appearance at Merced a winning one as he captured the 25 lap street stock main. A late race spin by Phillip Lust allowed point leader Tim Ragsdale to finish second. Andrew Krumm won his 7th 20 lap hobby stock main with Mike Stockton second ahead of double division racer Garrett Steitz. D Holcomb closed within two points of point leader Jim Ford with his fourth Pure Stock main event win. Aaron Widick ran second with Ford third.
The IMCA Modifieds had a solid 16 car turnout and Mike Gillard beat T Stone in heat 1. Mark Hamblin and Bill Saltzman ran 1-2 in heat 2. Making a rare modified appearance, Keith VanHouten won the dash ahead of Jim DiGiovanni. In one of his best runs of the year, T Stone set the early pace in the 25 lap feature. A lap 13 yellow tightened the field and fourth place R Stone raced into the outside groove. By lap 18, R Stone was third behind T Stone and Stanford. The yellow on lap 22 gave R Stone his shot and he drove by Stanford on the next lap. R Stone made his winning move on T Stone on lap 24 and his fourth straight win added to his point totals. T Stone ran second ahead of Stanford, Williams, DiGiovanni, Steitz, Bob Williamson Sr, Johnnie Baptista and Saltzman. Steitz climbed into fifth in points to pace the track’s rookie crop and R Stone’s point lead is now 28 over Williamson Sr.
The street stocks drew 14 cars and Jack Chapman Sr beat Steve Stone Sr in heat 1. Buddy Thatcher outraced Jack Chapman Jr in heat 2. Stone beat the two Chapmans in the dash with Jr in second. The track champion at Chowchilla in 2001, Tomlinson ran fifth in his heat and had to drive through the field to win the main event. P Lust and Darren Thomas paced the event from the start. Randy Brewer forced a yellow flag and Tomlinson Jr took second from Thomas on the restart. On lap 16, Tomlinson Jr drove underneath P Lust in turn 1 for the top spot. P Lust spun late to allow Ragsdale to run second ahead of B Thatcher, Brewer, Johnny O’Brien Jr, Chapman Sr, Stone and Thomas. Making his first serious run at the track title, Ragsdale holds a huge 96 point lead over Brewer. Brewer is just 11 points in front of the tied duo of P Lust and Ricky Thatcher.
The hobby stock action fielded 11 cars. Andy Welch beat point leader Krumm in heat 1 and Steitz captured heat 2 ahead of Lester Beavers. Raul Rodriguez Sr was a main event scratch. Beavers beat Welch and Steitz in the dash. Stockton led first in the 20 lap main from the front row with Steitz second as Krumm worked forward from 8th. Krumm was fourth on lap 10 and began to duel with third place Marshall Weaver. Krumm and Weaver drove by Steitz and then both passed Stockton for the 1-2 slots on lap 13. Weaver crashed with a lapped car and Krumm drove to the win ahead of Stockton, Steitz, Weaver, Mark Funkhouser, Welch and Jeff Tomlinson. With his domination of the winner’s circle, Krumm has built a 115 point lead on Welch. The pure stocks had a six car field with Raul Rodriguez Jr joined the faithful five. Widick drove his Ford to a heat win over Holcomb. Holcomb beat Ford and rookie Shane Hausmann in the dash. Holcomb enjoyed a huge lead in the feature before he got into the back fence. Despite the damage, Holcomb stayed out front for the win ahead of Widick, Ford and Hausmann. Ford leads Holcomb by just 2 points and Widick is 19 points out of first in third place.