Still getting all the details here at DCRR Headquaters, but they raced at Merced Speedway last night. It looks as if they had at least 70 cars for the big show in the cold of winter, including at least 30 Modifieds. As always, check the Oval Motorsports Website for all the official Antioch, Merced and Chowchilla Speedway news.
After racing in Las Vegas two months ago, Duane Cleveland hadn't even taken his car out of the trailer. Racing in Saturday's West Coast Nationals at Merced wasn't even in his plans until Saturday. It turned out to be the right decision for the two time defending Chico Speedway Champion. Cleveland set a nice pace up front down the stretch and cruised to the big victory in the IMCA Modified feature.
This left the battle for second between Tim Berry Jr. and Thursday night Antioch winner Kellen Chadwick. Chadwick provided lots of pressure and finally made his move in Turn 3 of the final lap to score the runner up finish behind the flying Cleveland. Berry settled for third ahead of Chico Limited Late Model Champion Ryan McDaniel and Friday night $2500 Antioch winner Troy Foulger. Nick DeCarlo collected a sixth place finish ahead of Alex Wilson, Ethan Dotson, Paul Stone and Bill Egleston.
The Modifieds ran four qualifying heat races with the first heat going to Berry ahead of McDaniel and Kyle Wilson. DeCarlo won the second heat ahead of Alex Wilson and Stone. Chadwick picked up the third Modified heat ahead of Cleveland and Ventura Champion Josh Vogt. The fourth and final heat race went to Egleston ahead of Dotson and Jerry Movrich.
Stone's third place heat race finish put him in the front of the Modified B Main, and he led all the way with Laney a race long second. Joining Stone and Laney as Main Event transfers were Bricen James, Movrich, Jeremy Richey and Bryan Clark.
In the IMCA Sport Modifieds, $1750 was on the line, which may be the richest first prize ever for the division in California. It was certainly the biggest win of Fred Ryland's career in the division. Ryland grabbed the lead by lap ten and managed to hold Wayne Dotson and 2014 Merced Champion Rick Diaz at bay. Watsonville Champion Nick Spainhoward was caught up in an early crash, but he managed to charge back up through the pack. When Dotson and Diaz got together, Spainhoward was there to grab the second spot behind winner Ryland. Past Merced Speedway Champion Neill Barcellos grabbed the final podium position as Megan Poniciano and Josh Hensley rounded out the top five. Completing the top ten were Al Johnson, Matt Mayo, Dotson, Diaz and Ryan Larimer.
The Sport Mods ran two heat races, and Diaz won the first heat ahead of Dotson and Keith Brown Jr.. The second heat race went to Anthony Giuliani ahead of Ponciano and Ryland. The lower turnout meant that all of the drivers were qualified for the Main Event.
There were an impressive 22 Hobby Stocks on hand for what was essentially a regular show for the Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks. Past Antioch Champion Brad Myers had a front row start and led early before Watsonville racer Joe Willoughby drove by for the lead. Merced regular Ty Shelton has been racing at the track for the past several years and was a feature winner last season. Shelton gave Willoughby all he could handle, but Willoughby would prevail at the checkered flag for the impressive victory.
Jake Jones shared the front row with Hansen and managed a third place feature finish ahead of Nick Baldwin and Watsonville racer Matt Kile. The top five finishers came from the first three rows. Sixth went to Steven Rogers as Charlie Hunter, Porterville racer Alvin Ince, Robert Reagan and Paul Thorburn rounded out the top ten finishers.
In Hobby Stock heat race action, Myers earned his front row start by coming from fifth starting to win the first heat race ahead of Baldwin and Rogers. Polesitter Jones won the second heat race ahead Willoughby and Robert Reagan. Third starter Ty Shelton claimed the third heat ahead of Kile and Thorburn.
The West Coast Nationals concludes at Chowchilla Speedway tonight with the Let It Rain 50. The IMCA Dirt Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds each have 25 laps Main Events. There will be $2000 on the line for the Modified winner and $1500 for the Sport Mods. Northern All Stars Four Bangers will also be in action. This is the 16th year in which Chowchilla Speedway has held a race since Tom Sagmiller opened the gates, and it's the first being promoted by Oval Motorsports. For more information, check the official Chowchilla Speedway Website.