Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More Detailed Antioch and Merced Race Reviews, Weekend Previews For Both Tracks

First of all...

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

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

On Sale At Reduced Price

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

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

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

Short Track History Project at Go Fund Me 

Additional info on the Short Track History Project  HERE

DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

PitStopUSA.com Winged 360 Sprint Car Shoot Out Series Main Event at Petaluma Speedway can be viewed HERE

Highlights from last week at Marysville Raceway can be viewed HERE

No audio here, but you can see the win for Nick Baldwin in Pure Stocks at Placerville HERE

DCRR Racing Radio Show
Weekend Review Edition

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 56 by GenWhat

Wilson, Nelson, Van Hoff And Corder 
Score Second Merced Speedway Wins

Alex Wilson collected his second IMCA Modified feature win of the season Sunday night at Merced Speedway.  Wilson took a big step towards winning the track championship with the win, and he won his first feature of the season two weeks ago.  Bruce Nelson impressed with his second win of the season in the 20 lap IMCA Sport Mod feature.  Austin Van Hoff ran strong in collecting his second Northern All Stars Hobby Stock Main Event win.  Chris Corder gained a little more ground on point leader Darren Miguel in the Mini Stock championship race with his second feature win.  The Dwarf Cars had a few visitors from the fast Nor Cal Dwarf Car Association, and one of their top stars, Ryan Winter, grabbed the win in the 20 lap Main Event.

The IMCA Modifieds ran two heat races, and A. Wilson won his race ahead of Ryan Porter.  It was Joel Myers winning the other heat ahead of Ray Mayer..  Harley Turner had to scratch from his heat race, but the crew worked hard to get the car ready, he made a hot lap before the Sport Modified feature and started last in the IMCA Modified Main Event.  Ricky Thatcher and Kyle Wilson shared the front row, but it was A. Wilson grabbing the lead at the start over Thatcher and K. Wilson.  Thatcher spun from second for the only caution flag of the race on lap eight.  A. Wilson went with the inside for the restart and continued to lead K. Wilson and Porter.  A low move in Turn 2 of the 12th lap gained Porter second from K. Wilson.  Porter was only able to gain a little ground of A.Wilson, who ran a rapid pace up front.  At the checkered flag, it was A. Wilson winning ahead of Porter, K. Wilson and Myers.  Turner salvaged a fifth place finish as Thatcher, Nick Viscusi III, Mayer and Chowchilla champion Danny Lukkonen rounded out the finishing order.

Fred Ryland won the first of two IMCA Sport Modified heat races ahead of  Nelson, which set the stage for what looked to be the battle for the night.  Point leader Josh Hensley won the other six lapper ahead of Mark Odgers.  Dwayne Short had the pole for the Main Event as Ryland would start in the third row inside in front of Nelson.  Short set the pace at the start ahead of Hensley and Gary Tucker.  The lead five cars were swapping positions every lap early on as Tucker made a back stretch pass on Hensley for second on lap three.  Nelson was third a lap later.  An inside pass in Turn 1 of the fifth lap gained Nelson second with Ryland also making a low pass in Turn 4 of the same lap to take third from Tucker.  Nelson slipped underneath Short for the lead on lap nine, and Ryland made a pass in Turn 3 of the same lap to claim second.  Ryland was running closely behind Nelson until slowing on the back stretch as Tucker and Short were now second and third.  Odgers made a Turn 2 pass on Short for third on lap 14.  Nelson set a rapid pace up front and had nearly a half-lap lead on Tucker at the finish.  Mark Odgers finished third ahead of Hensley, Short, Marisa Odgers and Ryland.

Robbie Loquaci was back for the first time in several weeks and started off a good night for his team by winning a Hobby Stock heat race ahead of Austin Van Hoff.  Point leader Kevin Joaquin won the other heat race ahead of last week’s feature winner, Ryan Hart.   Driving his Miami Dolphins #13 Dan Marino tribute car, Jeff Lacy had the pole for the Main Event with Van Hoff starting third.  Lacy led early on with Van Hoff and Charlie Hunter in close pursuit.  An inside pass in turn 4 of the second lap gained Loquaci third, but he surrendered third to an outside front stretch by Kevin Joaquin on lap four.  Last starter Hart was up to fifth and the lead five cars ran closely.  An inside move in Turn 4 of the tenth lap gained Van Hoff the lead from Lacy.  Joaquin made a move around the outside of Van Hoff on the back stretch to gain the lead on lap 11.  Hart was now third, but Joaquin and Hart both suffered right rear flat tires and pitted on lap 12 as Van Hoff regained the lead over Loquaci and Lacy.  Van Hoff pulled away to a straightaway advantage in the non stop event for the victory.  Loquaci was a season best second, while third was the best finish of the year for Lacy.  Jennifer Corder was fourth ahead of John Hensley, Hart, Joaquin, Hunter and Kodie Dean.

The Mini Stock points are close as the season heads down the stretch, and C. Corder gained more on Miguel as he was second in the heat race ahead of Miguel.  The win went to Kelly Campanile in a good drive aboard her Ford Pinto.  Campanile and C. Corder had the front row for the feature, but Campanile got sideways coming out of Turn 4 on the first lap as C. Corder led Miguel and Jennifer Corder.  C. Corder and Miguel pulled away from the pack, leaving J. Corder to try to hold off Campanile for third.  An inside pass in Turn 2 of the ninth lap gained Campanile third.  Mike Germait made a high pass on J. Corder in Turn 4 on lap 18 to grab fourth.  Meanwhile, Miguel was on C. Corder’s back bumper for the final two laps.  However, C. Corder stayed cool under pressure and picked up a much needed victory ahead of Miguel.  Campanile was assessed a penalty for a rough driving call after the races, giving Germait third ahead of J. Corder, Jimmy Stockton and Alica Caldwell.  Campanile was scored last and should take over third in the standings with the finish.

NCDCA competitors Winter and Scott Dahlgren ran 1-2 in their Dwarf Car heat race, while Buddy Olschowka grabbed a heat win in his first visit ahead of point leader Mike Drake.  The two heat race winners had the front row for the Main Event, and Winter raced into the lead over Dahlgren and Olshowka.  Olshowka made a front stretch pass on Dalhgren for second on lap seven, and Dalhgren pitted a lap later.  At that point, Drake was running third ahead of Chuck Weir.  Winter ran a flawless race up front and was rewarded with a victory ahead of Olshowka, Drake, Weir, Alan Heeney, Chester Kniss Jr., Tim Reeder and Dahlgren.

This Sunday night is Legend’s Night at Merced Speedway, and six divisions are on the card for a big night of racing that should include appearances from some past greats from the track’s history.  IMCA Modifieds headline the show along with IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Limited Late Models and the Valley Sportsman division.  For further information, check the official Oval Motorsports Website.

Crowell, Giuliani and Oreta Continue To Roll 
At Antioch Speedway

Aaron Crowell continues to run strong as he posted an impressive victory in the 20 lap IMCA Modified Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway.  The win was the second straight for the 2004 division champion Crowell aboard his GRT Chassis.  Watsonville point leader Anthony Giuliani made it three wins in his last three appearances in the 20 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event.  Point leader Kimo Oreta clinched his third straight 20 lap Hobby Stock championship with his seventh 20 lap Main Event win.

The IMCA Modifieds ran two heat races with Crowell holding off IMCA State of California point leader Alex Wilson to win his heat race.  Nick Viscusi III won his six lapper ahead of Darrell Hughes II.  Heat winners Crowell and Viscusi shared the front row of the Main Event with Crowell racing into the lead at the drop of the green flag.  A low move in Turn 3 of the third lap gained Wilson second from Viscusi.  Four time champion Troy Foulger lost a drive shaft for a lap three caution flag.  Crowell chose the outside and continued to lead A. Wilson and Viscusi on the restart.  Hughes slipped past Viscusi for third a lap later.  Crowell and Wilson began to pull away from the pack as the rest of the race went caution free.  Despite pressure from Wilson down the stretch, Crowell kept his cool and scored a satisfying victory.  Hughes was a strong third ahead of Viscusi as Shawn DeForest held off point leader Scott Busby and Bobby Motts Jr. for fifth.  Josh Combs was eighth as Trent Wentworth and Adam Elby rounded out the Top 10.

It was an all Ryland affair in the IMCA Sport Modified heat races as Patti Ryland won her heat race ahead of Giuliani.  Point leader Fred Ryland won his heat ahead of Chuck Golden.  Giuliani started in the third row of the Main Event, and outside front row starter Trevor Clymens set the early pace ahead of Al Johnson and P. Ryland.  Both P. Ryland and Giuliani slipped past Johnson for second and third on lap four before a caution flag flew for a Tim Hammett spin in Turn 4.  Clymens stayed with the outside, but P. Ryand beat him back to the line to lead that lap.  Clymens came back strong on the outside to regain the lead a lap later as F. Ryland took third from Giuliani.  However, Giuliani moved back by F. Ryland for third on lap eight and made a low move in Turn 4 of the ninth lap to take second from P. Ryland.  Giuliani used the low groove in Turn 2 to take the lead from Clymens on lap 11.  Hammett spun once again for a lap 13 caution flag.  Giuliani picked the outside and led P. Ryland on the restart as Clymens spun in Turn 2.  Clymens kept going without a yellow flag.  As Giuliani was collecting the win ahead of P. Ryland, F. Ryland made a last turn pass on Paul Mulder to finish third.  Mulder settled for fourth ahead of Al Sotomayor, Johnson, Clymens, Hammett and Golden.

Making his first start in a car he just bought, Tony McCown won his Hobby Stock heat race ahead of Natalie Perry.  Past champion Melisa Myers returned and won her heat race ahead of Oreta.  Danny Jones had the outside front row starting position for the Main Event and raced into the early lead ahead of Michael Cooper and Oreta.  Working lap five, Jones began to slow noticeably in Turn 2 as Cooper raced into the lead.  The lead five cars were bunched up, and Calvin Louis hit the wall and spun in Turn 3 for a lap five caution flag.  Cooper chose the outside on the restart, but Oreta raced by for the lead.  Cooper continued to run second ahead of Cameron Swank, but fourth row starter Myers passed Swank for third on lap 10.  A lap 12 caution flag flew for a Joey Ridgeway spin in Turn 4.  Oreta went with the outside for the restart and continued to lead Cooper as C. Swank grabbed third from Myers.  Ridgeway lost a wheel in Turn 3 and Jordan Swank ran it over as the yellow flag was displayed on lap 16.  Oreta again stayed with the outside and remained in command ahead of Cooper.  Hansen rode the outside around C. Swank for third.  C. Swank got out of shape in Turn 4 of the 17th lap and surrendered fourth to Perry.  However, there was no stopping Oreta as he sped home to victory.  Cooper was a strong second in front of Hansen, Perry, C. Swank, Frank Furtado, J. Swank, McCown, Ridgeway and Jones.

Racing returns next Saturday night with DIRTcar Late Models headlining the show along with IMCA Sport Modifieds, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks, BCRA Midget Lites and CHA Hardtops.  For further information, check out the official Oval Motorsports Website.

Macedo Returns For Spec Sprint Victory, 
Hynes Wins First At Antioch Speedway

Making his first start of the season, Billy Macedo impressed with a win in the 20 lap Northern All Stars Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway.  Macedo is a two time division champion, and he won by a comfortable margin ahead of point leader Kyle Bakkie.  Mike Hynes gained the lead after Lori Brown had mechanical issues and would win his first 20 lap Limited Late Model Main Event of the season.

The Wingless Spec Sprints ran two heat races with four time feature winner Jimmy Perry III winning his heat race ahead of two time winner Jeff Lee.  A two time feature winner this season, Roy Fisher won his six lap heat race ahead of three time winner Bakkie.  Macedo had a front row start for the Main Event, but fellow front row starter Alan Miranda set the early pace ahead of Macedo and Bakkie.  A low move in Turn 4 of the fourth lap gained Macedo the lead.  Miranda set a good pace in second, but Bakkie gained ground on him each lap.  Macedo had a straightaway advantage by the halfway point of the race as Perry settled into fifth behind rookie Marcus Smith.  An outside move on the back stretch of the 16th lap gained Bakkie second from Miranda.  James East brought out a lap 18 caution flag to wipe out Macedo’s commanding lead.  However, Macedo led the restart and would lead the final two laps for the impressive victory.  Bakkie was a strong second ahead of Miranda, Smith, Perry, Fisher, Jeremy Newberry, Lee, Rick Panfili and Peter Carlotto.

Hynes started his night off right with a Limited Late Model heat race win ahead of Mark Garner.  Lori Brown made her return in a big way by winning her heat race ahead of Mike Gustafson.  During intermission, Mark Garner was joined by his ailing father, Antioch Speedway Legend Jerry Garner, as he was honored for clinching the 2015 Merced Speedway Limited Late Model championship.   The heat race winners had the front row for the Main Event, and Brown would race into the early lead ahead of Hynes and Gustafson.  Brown had blown a motor a few months ago, and this was the past division champion’s first start with her new power plant.  Garner and Jim Freethy made this a close five car battle up front, and point leader Larry Damitz soon made it a six car battle.  Hynes kept taking looks to the inside of Brown, but she came back strong on the outside.  Brown suddenly fell off the pace on lap 14 and was running slowly when she stalled in Turn 1 and was hit by Eric Berendsen for a lap 16 caution flag.  Hynes suddenly found himself in the lead and chose the outside for the restart.  Freethy rode the outside into second and began to pressure Hynes.  However, 2014 point runner up Hynes drove a good race the rest of the way and scored a much needed victory.  Freethy settled for second ahead of Gustafson, Damitz, Garner, Ryan Cherezian, Brown, Berendsen, John Evans and John Keith.

Racing returns next Saturday night with DIRTcar Late Models headlining the show along with IMCA Sport Modifieds, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks, BCRA Midget Lites and CHA Hardtops.  For further information, check out the official Oval Motorsports Website.

Cooper Flies To Orland Victory, 
Richards Wins Fourth Straight

Making a charge from the back of the pack, Chico regular Brian Cooper won the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event at Sacramento Valley Speedway in Orland Saturday night.  Tony Richards collected his fourth straight 20 lap Wingless Sprint Main Event win.   Donovan Chilton won the 20 lap Mini Stock feature, and Ross Vige won the Mini Truck 20 lapper.

Shannon Collins and Todd Cooper picked up the wins in the Hobby Stock heat races.  Unfortunately, T. Cooper fell out early in the Main Event.  Brian Cooper started in the back as Paul Stevens and Collins battled at the front early on.  B. Cooper made it up to second by the halfway point of the race and began to reel in Stevens.  B. Cooper made his winning pass around lap 15 and went on to the impressive victory.  Stevens settled for second ahead of Collins, Bill Hampton, point leader Steve Martin, Earl Adams, Cody Bundy, Rich Hood and J. Cooper.  Defending champion Martin holds a 35 point lead over Stevens with Collins 25 points behind Stevens in third.

Past Wingless Sprint champion Tony Richards continues to roll.  He started things off with a win in his heat race as third ranked Mark Michelet was the other heat winner.  Richards continued his dominance with his fourth straight feature victory.  Josh Tucker grabbed his second straight podium finish in second as Jeremy Wilson was a solid third.  Michelet and Ryan Owens rounded out the Top 5 as point leader Bill Hopper, David Johnson and Jeffery Crossman completed the finishing order.  Hopper’s lead over Richards is now 20 points with Michelet a distant third.

Kevin Pendergrass and “Rollin” Olin Crane won the two Mini Stock heat races, but their luck turned bad come Main Event time.  Donovan Chilton made a successful season debut by winning the Main Event.  Nick Vidovich protected his point lead by holding off rival Tom Davis for the second place finish.  Sean Perry made a season debut in fourth ahead of John Kirkpatrick, Pendergrass and Crane.  Vidovich leads defending champion Davis by 20 points in a close championship battle as Kirkpatrick is 50 points behind Davis in third.

Ross Vige won the Mini Truck heat race and backed it up with his second Main Event victory of the season.  Dan Webster equaled his season best effort with a second place finish ahead of William Fogle and point leader Keith Ross.  Ross has a commanding 110 point lead over the tied Vige and Webster.

Racing resumes at Sacramento Valley Speedway in Orland on August 29 with Hobby Stocks headlining along with Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, 600 Mini Sprints and 250 Mini Sprints.  For further information, check out the official Sacramento Valley Speedway Website.

Late Models And Hardtops Highlight 
Saturday's Show At Antioch Speedway

The DIRTcar Late Models return to Antioch Speedway this Saturday night for their 13th of 14 scheduled appearances.  These high powered race cars have been putting on a good show all season long.  Also featured on the five division program will be the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, BCRA Midget Lites and California Hardtop Association Hardtops.

Despite winning seven of the 12 races, Richard Papenhausen is still trailing Jeff Decker by 10 points in the Late Model championship battle.  However, Papenhausen leads the DIRTcar Regional point race, which is worth $2500 if he can win it.  Consistency is what has assisted Decker this season as the past Late Model champion at three tracks, including Antioch, has only failed to finish inside the Top 5 one time in 12 races.  Decker has one win and nine Top 3 finishes, but he may need a second win if he is to hold off the hard charging Papenhausen.

David Newquist has been struggling lately, and he now finds himself leading Danny Malfatti by just eight points in a close battle for third.  Malfatti finished fifth at the most recent race.  The two drivers actually race twice a week as Malfatti is maintaining a Top 10 Sprint Car point effort at Watsonville and Newquist is third in points at Chico.  These two drivers have been battling for third in the standings at Antioch since the season began.

Chester Kniss managed to increase his lead in the race for fifth in the standings after mechanical issues ended the night early for rookie Rob Norris.  The Top 6 drivers in the standings are anticipated for Saturday along with one time winner Paul Guglielmoni, Terry Kuntz, Dennis Souza and others.  Antioch Speedway is the only track in Northern California offering up a Late Model show on dirt, and there are usually 10-12 cars competing.

Fred Ryland was in the thick of the battle for another IMCA Sport Modified win last week when more problems came his way.  His point lead at the track isn't in jeopardy, but wins at this stage of the season will go a long way towards boosting him to second in the IMCA National standings.  While Fred was having his struggles, wife Patti Ryland did a good job in grabbing another second place finish.  Patti is well on her way to "Rookie Of The Year" honors and is also Top 5 in the standings.

Al Johnson and one time winner Paul Mulder are tied for second in points and it's anybody's guess where this will end.  Mulder moved back into a tie after his fourth place finish last week.  Trevor Clymens seemed to have second in hand last week before a late spin put an end to that, but there was no stopping Watsonville point leader Anthony Giuliani from notching his third straight win.  We may just see him again this week as he has been having a blast at Antioch.  Others to watch for this week include Chuck Golden, Tim Hammett and Al Sotomayor.

Kimo Oreta has clinched his third straight Hobby Stock championship following his seventh victory.  It was also the 20th win of his Hobby Stock career at Antioch.  Oreta is planning a move up to Limited Late Models after his impressive run in this division.  The battle for second is anything but settled, but Michael Cooper staked his claim on second after his season best second place finish last week.  Cooper leads brother in law Jordan Swank by one point and Danny Jones by 20 after Jones lost power after leading the first five laps last week.  Jones has seen his luck go from bad to worse in recent weeks.

Natalie Perry, meanwhile, has been turning things around in recent weeks.  Perry collected a second in her heat race and a fourth in the Main Event last week.  She has a solid hold on sixth in the standings and could make a run at fifth if a few breaks go her way.  However, the steady Frank Furtado won't make that easy as he had a good run in sixth last week.  Others we'll be watching for include recent fifth place finisher Cameron Swank, Tony McCown and Calvin Louis Jr.

When Antioch Speedway opened for weekly racing in 1961, the popular division of the time was the Hardtop division.  Those old Coupes and Sedans were headlining shows at tracks up and down the state with huge car counts.  Vallejo Speedway ran their last Hardtop races in 1979.  North of California, Hardtops were still being raced, but the class didn't make a return to California until 2002.  In recent years, Antioch has scheduled a race or two each season for the popular nostalgia class.

The California Hardtop Association had this race added to their schedule about a month ago after promoter John M. Soares was approached by Mike McCann.  McCann has been a long time booster of this division.  The division has been running at tracks north of Antioch in recent weeks, but many drivers expressed an interest in getting back to Antioch.  Last season, a field of a dozen cars competed in a late July visit with open wheel veteran Jim Perry Jr. scoring the win.

In recent weeks, long time Antioch racer Rob Waldrop has chalked up four victories on the circuit driving the Bill McLaighlin car.  The 1998 Antioch Street Stock champion would love a win at his home track, but there will be others to contend with.  Tommy Thomson, Dan Williams and Larry Damitz have all won races in this division at Antioch in the past and are planning to compete this Saturday night.  Others to watch for include Steve Cloyes, Ken Clifford, Jason Clifford, Dennis Armstromg, Dave Mackey and McCann.

The BCRA Midget Lites are back again this week.  Back in April, Cori Andrews impressed as she won the Main Event.  Scott Males picked up a second in a competitive field two weeks ago in Placerville, and the Australian may just be the driver to beat this week.  Craig Dillard leads Brian Corso by 60 points in the title battle.  Scott Kinney and his son Hunter Kinney are anticipated this week, along with Chris Hansen.  BCRA has been sanctioning racing for over 75 years, and the Midget Lites always put on a good show.

The racing this week should be exciting from flag to flag.  Antioch Speedway is located within the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St. in Antioch, Calif. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens, and $10 for children 6-12. Children under six years old are admitted free. A family four pack of tickets is $40. Secured parking is offered by the Fairgrounds for $5. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Antioch Speedway Top 5 In Points At A Glance

DirtCar Late Models

Jeff Decker     598
Richard Papenhausen 588
Dave Newquist    480
Danny Malfatti    472
Chester Kniss    392

IMCA Sport Modified

Fred Ryland    492
Paul Mulder    432
Al Johnson     432
Chuck Golden     398
Patti Ryland     390

Hobby Stocks

Kimo Oreta     996
Michael Cooper    712
Jordan Swank    711
Dan Jones     692
Frank Furtado    660

BCRA Midget Lites

Craig Dillard    774
Brian Corso    714
Chris Hansen    682
Scott Males    667
Scott Kinney    622

Lots Of Excitement On Tap For Legend's Night 
At Merced Speedway

This Sunday night at Merced Speedway is being billed as Legends Of Merced Speedway night at the races.  It's a night when the track pays tribute to some of the many great competitors who have made the track so special.  A few of those legendary drivers will be on hand Sunday night.  A packed schedule finds the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Limited Late Models and Valley Sportsman divisions all in action.

After winning his second IMCA Modified Main Event of the season last week, Alex Wilson seems to be headed for the track championship.  Wilson is a very dedicated racer who has a commanding lead in the IMCA State of California point race.  His brother Kyle Wilson won that title last season and is a three time feature winner at Merced this year.  K. Wilson is just 15 points behind Ricky Thatcher in the battle for third in points.

When we speak of families at Merced Speedway, the Porter family comes to mind.  Ryan Porter has won IMCA Modified features on multiple occasions this year and was the youngest Hobby Stock champion in the track's history.  His father Tim is a Cal Mod champion in the past.  Grandfather Wayne Porter raced Sportsman cars in the 1970's, and great grandfather Vern Porter raced Hardtops and was the track prep man back in the 1950's.  Legendary announcer Johnny Sass was there to announce all four of them through the years.  Ryan is anticipated for this race.

The track has seen eight different winners in the IMCA Modified division this season, and there's still a chance for a new name or two to be added to the list.  Reports out of Winton are that four time division champion Ramie Stone is set to make his return to the division in a car formerly owned by cousin Paul Stone.  Others we are watching for include Bob Williamson, Ray Mayer, Derek Nance and Bill Egleston.

Bruce "Bubba" Nelson was flying around the track last week as the two time Hobby Stock champion won his second IMCA Sport Modified Main Event of the season.  He was chased across the line by another two time winner, Gary Tucker.  It's anticipated that Nelson may return this week and either Gary or son Nick Tucker will race as well.  From week to week, the roster seems to change as some very competitive racers show up when scheduling works for them.

Josh Hensley is in control in the track point race, but he would love to grab a second win.  Dwayne Short has been running hard in an effort to hold off the threat of one time winner Mark Odgers.  Short leads Odgers by eight points in the battle for second.  Fourth ranked Fred Ryland is a six time winner at Merced and has been showing up in an effort to aid his third place IMCA National point status.  He is anticipated this week as well.

Quietly, Austin Van Hoff has been having a great season.  The talented second generation racer finished second in Hobby Stock points at Chowchilla this season, and his second win of the season last week gave him a stronger hold on third in points at Merced.  Kevin Joaquin seems to be on his way to track championships at both Merced and Chowchilla.  Joaquin had just taken the lead from Van Hoff in last week's feature when he suffered a right rear flat tire and had to pit.

We hadn't seen Robbie Loquaci in several weeks, but he came back in a big way last week with a heat race win and second in the Main Event .  It was a season best effort for the former Chowchilla Mini Stock champion as it was for third place finisher Jeff Lacy in his Dan Marino Miami Dolphins tribute car.  We may see these two again this week, and others we're anticipating include second ranked Jennifer Corder, the Josh Hensley car, Dexter Long and Ryan Hart.

Darren Miguel has his hands full trying to hold off 2014 champion Chris Corder in the hotly contested Mini Stock championship battle.  Despite 11 wins for point leader Miguel, Corder's second win of the season last week cut the lead to just ten points.  These two drivers have had an entertaining battle all season long.  Corder has stayed in this battle through consistency, but his move over to the Alex Odishoo car may be what wins him the championship if he can pull it off.

Kelly Campanile impressed with a heat race win last week, and she has moved into third in the standings.  Cars seem to be coming out of the woodwork.  Alica Caldwell was a welcome return after her crash at Chowchilla back in May forced her to get another car.  Teammates Mike Germait and Jimmy Stockton showed up late last week, and Germait ended up third in the Main Event.  Others we could see this week include Jeff Amos, Natalie Waldrop and Jennifer Corder in the last car built by her dad, who recently passed away.  Jennifer was the 2014 runner up in this division and finished fourth last week.

Mark Garner was honored in a special ceremony at Antioch last week for clinching the Merced Limited Late Model championship.  Mark has dedicated the season to his ailing father, long time racer Jerry Garner, who was there with him during the ceremony.  Due to his father's health, it's unknown if Mark will be there this week.  We do anticipate second ranked Buddy Thatcher and third place Roy Hart Jr. will be on hand.

The Valley Sportsman division returns for Legend's Night.  Marcus Lung is the current point leader.  Kenny Birdsong is a distant second.  His car has been at the track for every race, but Chris Birdsong ran it twice.  Kenny leads Jeff Bristow by just 14 points in the race for second.  Other possible competitors include Mike Palmberg and Eric Sealy, but Kenny Birdsong has been working to try and get others to the track.  He recently reported that there will be some cars in action this week that we haven't seen all season.

It should be an exciting night of racing in Merced.  Merced Speedway is located inside the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced, Calif. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for children 6-12. A family four-pack of tickets admits two children and two adults for $32. Racing begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The grandstand opens at 4:30 p.m.

Merced Speedway Top 5 In Points At A Glance

IMCA Modified

Alex Wilson     543
Bill Egleston     477
Ricky Thatcher     436
Kyle Wilson     422
Bob Williamson     366

IMCA Sport Modified

Josh Hensley     676
Dwayne Short     515
Mark Odgers     507
Fred Ryland     428
Bruce Nelson     404

Hobby Stock

Kevin Joaquin    824
Jennifer Corder    650
Austin Van Hoff    522
Kristie Shearer    443
Dexter Long    400

Mini Stocks

Darren Miguel     780
Chris Corder    770
Kelly Campanile    384
Natalie Waldrop    346
Kevin Lockerby    323
Dennis Copus    323

Limited Late Model

Mark Garner    442
Buddy Thatcher    252
Roy Hart Jr.    194
Scott Van Gelder 189
Peggy Sue Jarred 144

Valley Sportsman

Marcus Lung     272
Kenny Birdsong    200
Jeff Bristow    186
Mike Palmberg    150
Eric Sealy    112