By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Merced, CA
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Merced, CA -- Track point leader Ramie Stone pushed his Flexi Flyer into the lead on lap 9 and won his tenth 25 lap IMCA Modified main event of 2003 as Merced Speedway made up an early season rainout with a special Sunday night show. Having raced the last couple Saturdays in Hanford, Jack Stanford rebounded from a hard heat race crash to finish second ahead of Saturday night winner Bob Williamson Sr. Williamson Sr had to restart in the rear on lap 6 after being spun out of the lead by state point rival Bill Saltzman. After trading the lead several times with Saturday night winner Tim Ragsdale, Randy Brewer from Hilmar paced the final 23 laps to win the 30 lap double point main event for the street stocks. Ragsdale continued on track for his track title run with a 2nd place finish ahead of Ricky Thatcher. Former pure stock track champion Andy Welch made it three wins in 2003 by capturing the 30 lap hobby stock main event. Saturday night winner Marshall Weaver was second ahead of double division racer Garrett Steitz. California Sportsman point leader and defending champion Kevin Freitas took just 9 laps to take the lead from last starting and he won his 11th feature race of 2003 in their 25 lapper. Tim Goodson was second. Jim Ford was the only driver to combine feature wins on both Saturday and Sunday nights as he won his fifth straight 20 lap pure stock main event. Rookie Shane Hausmann ran second.
The 13 car IMCA Modified field included Western Region rookie of the year contender Larry Hood. The teenaged driver from Bakersfield is the point leader at both Bakersfield Speedway and Nevadas Hawthorne Speedway. Aaron Barnell beat Williamson Sr in heat 1 and Troy Stone edged out Robert Marsh in heat 2. Hood took dash honors with fellow teenager Garrett Steitz in second. It was the finale of a three race weekend for both teenagers as they raced Friday night in Winnemucca NV. Pole starter Hank Silva spun on the first lap of the IMCA Modified 25 lap feature with Barnell pacing one lap before Friday night Chowchilla winner Saltzman put his D&M Performance Chassis in front. T Stone slipped into the infield and Jimmy Lust spun. Barnell lost second when he ran off the end of the track in turn 1. Williamson Sr moved into second and he took the lead from Saltzman with a low move in turn 4 on lap 6. A tap from Saltzman sent Williamson spinning in turn 1 on lap 6 for a yellow flag. Saltzman was penalized to the rear of the field. Marsh found himself the new race leader and R Stone took second from Steitz on lap 7. R Stone grabbed the lead from Marsh on lap 9 and Stanford raced to third on lap 11. Barnell dropped out after spinning on lap 11. Stanford took second from Marsh on lap 12 and Steitz was third on lap 13. Williamson Sr advanced to 4th by lap 17 and he moved into the top 3 when Steitz broke a u-joint to end his race. R Stone paced Stanford and Williamson Sr over the remaining rounds with Marsh a solid fourth ahead of Hood, T Stone, Saltzman, Silva and J Lust. Mike Gillard borrowed Larry Youngs car for the race, but spun on the final lap.
Only seven cars appeared in the street stocks and Phillip Lust was a main event scratch for a second straight night. Brewer came from last to win the dash with Willie Livingston second. The scratch of P Lust put point leader Ragsdale on the front row with Thatcher for the main event. Thatcher borrowed the Buddy Thatcher car for the Sunday action after his own engine was declared illegal on Saturday night. Brewer led Ragsdale on the first lap, Ragsdale was out front on lap 2 and Brewer regained the lead on lap 3. They finished lap 6 side by side and Ragsdale nosed ahead for the final time on lap 7. Ragsdale got out of shape on lap 8 and Brewer stayed in front for the remainder of the caution free race. Stocktons Gary Filpula clipped the front wall when he was lapped for the first time on lap 14 and the dueling duo opened a 1/2 lap lead on third place Thatcher. Filpula dropped out after spinning on lap 23. Brewer won ahead of Ragsdale and Thatcher with both Livingston and Frank Machado Jr a lap down.
There were 10 hobby stocks on hand and former mini stock racer Russ Wells from Madera won the dash ahead of Mike Stockton. Steitz started outside front row and took a quick lead over Lester Beavers and Welch. Stockton spun for a lap 2 yellow and point leader Andrew Krumm crashed hard with Dave Parker and Wells on the backstretch on the restart. Welch raced into second on lap 11 and he took the lead from Steitz with an inside pass in turn 4 on lap 13. Stockton shuffled Beavers back to 4th on lap 15, but lost third to Weaver on lap 20. Fifth place Mike Hamilton was penalized to the rear on a lap 23 yellow for knocking an infield tire onto the racing surface. Making his first Merced start, Chowchilla rookie of the year hopeful Jeff Whatley lost a wheel for a lap 25 yellow. A spinning Beavers was hit by Hamilton for the final caution flag on lap 26. Welch paced the final 18 laps for the win with Weaver getting underneath Steitz on lap 28 to finish second. Krumm spun out of fifth late in the race as Steitz ran third ahead of Stockton, Hamilton and Beavers. Krumm placed 7th.
The California Sportsman fielded five cars and Goodson won the dash ahead of Gary Tucker. Tucker led the first lap of the 25 lap feature, but slipped high in turn 2 on lap 2 with Goodson the new leader over Rob Schropp and Jason Belton. Freitas claimed third on lap 4 and took second from Schropp on lap 6. Freitas moved low in turn 4 to take the lead from Goodson on lap 9. By lap 20, Freitas was 1/4 lap in front and he waltzed to his 11th win. Goodson ran second ahead of Schropp, Belton and Tucker. The pure stocks had four cars in action with Aaron Widick returning after missing the Saturday night show. Ford won the dash ahead of Hausmann. Hausmann paced the first five laps of the 20 lap feature. Ford gained second when Dan Holcomb spun on lap 5 and he went low in turn 4 to take the lead on lap 6. Ford beat Hausmann with Holcomb working his way back by the slowing Widick to finish third.
This was the first of three straight weekends of multi-night action for Merced. On Labor Day weekend, the CarQuest Western Dirt Late Models headline the Sunday action after a regular show on Saturday night. The following weekend, the big Salute to 9-11 will run for a second straight year. Both the dirt modifieds and street stocks will be chasing $3500 first prizes in the Sunday night features after qualifying heat action on Saturday night. The pure stocks run a point show on that Friday night as the other divisions practice.
Summary Pure Stock Dash-Jim Ford, Shane Hausmann, Aaron Widick. Main-Ford, Hausmann, Dan Holcomb, Widick. California Sportsman Dash-Tim Goodson, Gary Tucker, Kevin Freitas. Main-Freitas, Goodson, Rob Schropp, Jason Belton, Tucker. Hobby Stock Dash-Russ Wells, Mike Stockton, Mike Hamilton. Main-Andy Welch, Marshall Weaver, Garrett Steitz, Stockton, Hamilton, Lester Beavers, Andrew Krumm, Jeff Whatley, Russ Wells, Dve Parker. Street Stock Dash-Randy Brewer, Willie Livingston, Ricky Thatcher. Main-Brewer, Tim Ragsdale, Thatcher, Livingston, Frank Machado Jr, Gary Filpula. IMCA Modified Dash-Larry Hood, Garrett Steitz, George Nevatt. Heat 1-Aaron Barnell, Bob Williamson Sr, Bill Saltzman, Hood, Mike Gillard. Heat 2-Troy Stone, Robert Marsh, Ramie Stone, Garrett Steitz, Hank Silva. Main-R Stone, Jack Stanford, Williamson, Marsh, Hood, T Stone, Saltzman, Silva, Jimmy Lust, Nevatt, Gillard, Steitz, Barnell.
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