By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Merced, CA
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Merced, CA -- Bob Williamson Sr won his fifth 25 lap IMCA Modified main event at Merced Speedway Saturday night and snapped the four race winning streak of defending track champion and current point leader Ramie Stone in the process. Rookie Garrett Steitz led much of the race, but eventually faded to a third place finish behind Troy Stone. R Stone missed the preliminary action, but drove from the rear of the field to finish fourth and protect his track point lead. Ricky Thatcher charged from the middle of the 9 car street stock pack to take the lead on lap 1. He was never headed, but won by just a couple car lengths over Randy Brewer with Greg Schwerdtfeger in third. Hobby Stock point leader Andrew Krumm took the lead from Garrett Steitz on lap 8 and went on to win his 8th hobby stock feature of 2003 with a half-lap margin over Marshall Weaver. Steitz settled for his second third place finish of the night. Point leader Jim Ford was missing from the pure stock ranks and Dan Holcomb was the feature winner ahead of rookie Shane Hausmann. Kevin Freitas had a perfect night in the California Sportsman action with wins in the dash, heat and feature. He raced around Gary Tucker for the feature lead on lap 14. Tucker had a night full of seconds with Tim Goodson third in the feature race.
The 14 IMCA Modifieds were divided into a pair of heat races. Division rookie Tim Porter beat Mike Gillard in heat 1 and Jack Stanford from Chowchilla beat Williamson Sr in heat 2. Aaron Barnell beat returning racer Tim Barcellos in the dash. The 17 year old double division racer Steitz paced much of the 25 lap main event, but eventually faded to third behind Williamson Sr and T Stone. R Stone challenged Steitz hard for third over the final 8 laps of the race, but could never pull off a pass. Stanford ran fifth ahead of Keith VanHouten, Bill Saltzman and Bob Williamson Jr. Only a second in the dash marred the night for the much improved R Thatcher. Phillip Lust beat Jack Chapman in heat 1 and R Thatcher won heat 2 ahead of Steve Stone Sr. R Thatcher made his exciting run to the lead on the first lap of the feature race. Brewer closed to within a couple car lengths at the checkered flag and Schwerdtfeger ran third ahead of Lust and runaway point leader Tim Ragsdale. Buddy Thatcher was sixth.
The hobby stocks also fielded 9 cars with Steitz winning heat 1 over Lester Beavers. Mike Stockton and Krumm were 1-2 in heat 2 and Krumm picked off dash honors ahead of Stockton and Steitz. Steitz led early in the feature, but Krumm ran him down and passed him up high on lap 8. Krumm pulled away to his half-lap win over Weaver with Steitz settling for third. Pat Presley ran fourth ahead of Beavers and Andy Welch. Raul Rodriguez Jr won the heat race for the pure stocks, but Hausmann was the dash winner ahead of Aaron Widick’s Ford. When Holcomb drove between Rodriguez and Widick for the lead on the first lap of the feature, Widick was forced off the edge of the track. Hausmann briefly took the lead from Holcomb late in the race, but settled for a second place finish to Holcomb. Rodriguez Jr ran third ahead of Widick and Deak Sherrell. The California Sportsman had a 7 car field and Freitas won the heat race over Tucker and Jason Belton. The dash had the same three car finishing order. In the main, Freitas caught Tucker on lap 8, but couldn’t pull off his winning pass until lap 14. Tucker finished second ahead of Tim Goodson, Robb Schropp, Brad Goodson, Belton and Tim Leidich.
On the holiday weekend, the track will race twice with the big July 4th race on Friday night again free to all spectators due to major sponsorship. A regular show follows on July 5.