Sunday, March 29, 2015

Les Friend Fourth Different IMCA Modified Winner At Merced Speedway

First of all...





Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

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Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

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Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Working with limited and unofficial information, so this will be updated as more information becomes available.  Just wanted to get something out there for the people who care about Merced Speedway as I do...


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Les Friend Fourth Different IMCA Modified Winner At Merced Speedway

Racing resumed Saturday night at Merced Speedway with a show headlined by the IMCA Modified division.  It was the fourth point event of the season, and Sacramento area competitor Les Friend held off 2014 champion Paul Stone to win the 20 Lap Main Event.  Stone was making his first appearance since January and came up from the fourth row for his runner up finish.  Antioch regulars ran at the head of the pack in the IMCA Sport Mod feature with Fred Ryland collecting his third Merced win of the season ahead of Keith Brown Jr.  Kevin Joaquin became the first repeat winner in five races for the Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks with his 20 lap feature triumph.  Mike Hynes made an appearance to snap Mark Garner's two race win streak at Merced for the Limited Late Model feature win.

The IMCA Modifieds ran two qualifying heats with Friend pacing the first heat ahead of IMCA State title hopeful Alex Wilson.  Coming off of his impressive third place run in last week's Main Event in which he led several laps, multi time Street Stock titlist Ricky Thatcher won the second heat race in front of Joel Myers.  Friend and Clarence Holbrook shared the front row for the Modified Main Event as Stone lined up on the fourth row outside.  As Friend raced into the lead, second row starters John MacDougall and Thatcher gave chase.  MacDougall came into the night ranked third in the standings as a one time feature winner.  Stone's charge to the front saw him grab second from MacDougall, but he could only chase Friend to the checkered flag.  With Friend, Stone and MacDougall grabbing the Top 3 finishing potions in order, Wilson improved on his point total as the #2 point runner with his fourth place finish.  Myers grabbed the fifth spot ahead of two time champion Bob Williamson, who started last in the 13 car field.

The Top 2 in the IMCA Sport Mod State point race going into the night were Ryland and Brown, and it was Brown winning the heat race ahead of Ryland.  Third generation Antioch racer Brown had the outside front row with Merced point leader Josh Hensley and Antioch point leader Ryland lined up in the second row.  Brown didn't enjoy his spot for too long before he was being challenged and passed by Ryland.  From there, it was Ryland and Brown running 1-2 to the finish.  John Gish enjoyed one of his better efforts for a third place finish ahead of veteran Street Stock and Sportsman competitor Gary Tucker and past Sportsman champion Mark Odgers.

The Hobby Stock division has a growing list of up and coming drivers, and last week's surprise feature winner, Darren Miguel, won the heat race ahead of Jil Merlin.  Merlin is coming off of back to back Top 10 point seasons in Hobby Stocks at Watsonville, and she lined up behind pole sitter Sarah Leslie, the 2012 Antioch Four Banger champion.  However, point leader Kevin Joaquin would lead a parade of competitive lady drivers, who battled behind him as he sped to his second win of the season at Merced and third on the circuit.  Leslie could not hold off Merlin, who picked up a second in the feature.  The steadily improving Jennifer Corder would get past Leslie for her second third place finish of the season.  Leslie settled for fourth as Miguel ended up fifth.

Antioch competitors made up the short field of Limited Late Models as Garner was gunning for three in a row at Merced.  The second generation Antioch competitor won the heat race ahead of Hynes.  Hynes recently purchased a DIRTcar Late Model, but will continue to support Limited Late Models as well.  Come Main Event time, Hynes turned the tables on Garner by collecting the victory.  Garner settled for second with John Evans third.

Racing resumes next Saturday night at Merced Speedway with the exciting Mini Stocks back from a two week break.  Also on the card are the IMCA Sport Mods, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and the Valley Sportsman division.  For more information, check The Official Oval Motorsports Website.

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