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|Posted: Saturday Aug 26th, 2017 07:08 AM||
Don Martin II
IMCA Modified Divisions Headline Merced Speedway Show
Merced, CA...Merced Speedway is about to end the month of August with plenty of Modified Excitement for the crowd. On the heels of a great night of racing for both the IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds last week, both divisions return this week. The Mini Stocks return this week with one of the closest championship battles at the track, while the Valley Sportsman division makes their final appearance of the season.
Randy Brown has his eyes on the prize, a second straight IMCA Modified championship. While Alex Stanford was making his first appearance of the season a winning effort last week, Brown was chasing Ryan Porter for a third place finish. Brown is a one time winner with mostly Top 3 finishes in his seven starts. Past Hanford champion Mike Villanueva had a fourth place finish last week and has all Top 5's this season, and he trails Brown by 23 points. Unless Brown stumbles in these last races, Villanueva has his work cut out for him. However, he also has a 23 point lead over Bruce "Bubba" Nelson in the race for second.
Nelson is not too comfortable in third. He leads the only other driver in the Top 10 with a feature win, Ryan Porter, by just four points. 2012 champion Bill Egleston is tied with Porter, and Darrell Hughes II is six points out of third. This is where the point battle is at the moment. Other than that, there are still some Main Events to be won and some good racers hoping to earn those wins. They don't get much better than four time champion Ramie Stone. Ramie was coming off of a Top 5 finish in the previous race, and he was in contention last week before falling back to 11th. Brother Troy Stone is another driver to watch this week along with Jarod Fast, Justin Villanueva and Ricky Thatcher.
The next generation of super stars are trying to take over the IMCA Sport Modified division. In recent weeks, Cody Parker and Tanner Thomas have been making some noise at the front of the pack. Thomas had a second place finish two weeks ago and finished fourth last week. Last week saw Parker lead several laps before settling for his best division effort in second. This talented teen has won Hobby Stock Main Events, but he's now in the hunt for his first Sport Modified victory. A win could happen for Parker or Thomas this seek.
To get that win, you have to beat two time champion Rick Diaz. Even a 10th place starting position was not enough to keep Diaz from winning his sixth Main Event of the season last week. Diaz missed a race and gave the consistent Fred Ryland a nice advantage. Even though he won again, Diaz only gained two points on Ryland, who finished third last week. Ryland leads Diaz by 32 points. Jeremy Hoff is still looking for his first win of the season. With five Top 5 finishes, Hoff has a 17 point advantage over Chase Thomas. C. Thomas leads his younger brother Tanner by 13 points in the battle for fifth. Other drivers to watch for in this competitive field include one time winner Chuck Weir, 2015 champion Josh Hensley, Paul Espino and Patti Ryland.
The Corder siblings continue their battle in the Mini Stock division. Reigning champion Chris Corder continues to lead after his fourth feature win of the season last week. His lead over sister Jennifer is still just five points. Jennifer was going for the lead late but ended up pushing high in Turn 4. This opened the door for Friday night Watsonville winner Jason Womack to take over second as Jennifer settled for third. However, the Corder battle is far from over.
Continuing to show his sportsmanship, Chris Corder is preparing a car for third ranked Lucy Falkenberg. Lucy finished fifth last time behind rookie Shawn DePriest. Falkenberg is running a solid third in the points, 34 ahead of DePriest and 42 behind C. Corder. She's finished as high as second this season and is one of those drivers to watch in the quest for their first victory. DePriest would have to be considered another strong contender. Just 11 points behind DePriest is Womack and 18 back is Destiny Carter. All of these competitors and more are anticipated. The Mini Stocks always put on a good show.
Rounding out the field will be the final appearance of the Valley Sportsman division. On Legends Night, Chris Birdsong scored an emotional feature win in the Rod Poor Tribute car that his father Kenny wheeled to the 2016 championship. The division has struggled at times this year, but they are hoping to end on a positive note. Jeff Bristow is a feature winner this year, and other drivers to watch for include Mike Friesen, Jeff West and Eric Sealy.
Saturday night should be another action packed night of racing with these four divisions sharing the billing. For further information, go to http://www.racemerced.com.
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Stanford Makes Triumphant Return, Diaz Wins Again
Merced, CA...August 19...Alex Stanford won the 25 lap IMCA Modified Main Event Saturday night at Merced Speedway. Stanford had to battle from 12th starting in the 19 car field. D.J. Shannon led the first seven laps before being passed by four time track champion Ramie Stone. A lap 13 caution flag slowed the pace. On the restart, R. Stone pushed high in Turn 2. Bill Egleston raced into the lead ahead of Stanford, and a yellow flag flew for a spin on lap 14. Stanford raced into the lead on the restart. Ryan Porter made a Turn 4 pass on Egleston to take over second on lap 17. Point leader Randy Brown got by Egleston in Turn 4 a lap later to gain third. Stanford stretched his lead to a straightaway at the checkered flag for the impressive victory. Porter settled for second ahead of Brown, Mike Villanueva, Egleston, Shannon, Darrell Hughes II, Bruce "Bubba" Nelson, Jarod Fast and Derek Nance. Stanford, Egleston and Hughes won eight lap heat races.
Rick Diaz battled Cody Parker for the 25 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event victory. Diaz charged all the way from 10th starting to the lead, lost the lead and regained it for his sixth win of the season. Cody Parker impressed as he led the early laps ahead of Chuck Weir and Tanner Thomas. Thomas took second from Weir on lap four. There was a yellow flag on lap five and two successive botched restart attempts before the call was made to go single file for the restart. Parker led Thomas and Weir on the restart as Diaz charged into fourth. A low move in Turn 1 of the seventh lap gained Diaz third from Weir, and Diaz made an inside pass in Turn 4 of the eighth lap to take second from Thomas. Diaz made an outside pass on the back stretch to take the lead from Parker on lap ten. Diaz saw a straightaway lead wiped out by a lap 15 caution flag. Diaz led the restart, but he slipped up on the back stretch on lap 18 to fall behind Parker and Thomas. Diaz beat Thomas back to the line to take second on lap 19 and regained the lead from Parker a lap later. Point leader Fred Ryland, reigning Antioch champion Trevor Clymens and Thomas had a three car battle for for third late in the race. Ryland made a low pass in Turn 4 of the 24th lap to take third from Thomas and was looking to the inside of Parker as they raced to the checkered flag. Diaz won by a straightaway with Parker beating Ryland back to the line for second, T. Thomas settled for fourth, followed by Clymens, Chase Thomas, Patti Ryland, Justin McPherson, Josh Hensley and Weir. Hensley, T. Thomas and Diaz won eight lap heat races.
Garrett Corn won the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. This was his fourth win of the season as he continues a fierce battle with point leader Kodie Dean for the championship. Corn had a front row start and raced into the early lead ahead of Robbie Loquaci and Dean. After a lap four caution flag, Corn chose the outside for the restart. Corn continued to lead as Dean followed on the high side into second. Corn drove a great race and led the remaining laps for the well earned victory. Dean was a strong second ahead of Loquaci and Austin Van Hoff. Kristie Shearer won a late race battle with Shannon Nelson for fifth as James Stockton, John Hensley, Kalob Shelton and Tony Peffer completed the Top 10. Corn and Loquaci won eight lap heat races.
Chris Corder won the 15 lap Mini Stock Main Event. This was the fourth win of the season for the point leader. C. Corder and Jason Womack won heat races, and Corder raced into the lead at the start ahead of Womack and Jennifer Corder. After a yellow flag on lap one for Kristina Cole, J. Corder took second from Womack on the restart. Destiny Carter moved her new car into fourth for a few laps, but her race would end with fuel issues. C. Corder was leading J. Corder and Womack when a lap 8 caution flag fell. Chris Corder continued to lead his sister Jennifer on the restart. It was only a few laps later when he was in traffic. J. Corder tried an outside move in Turn 4 on lap 14, but it cost her second to Womack. C. Corder brought it home to victory ahead of Womack, J. Corder, Shawn DePriest, Lucy Falkenberg, Helena Guzman, Jakob Ebersole, Devin Belton, Joe Terry and Carter.
Racing continues next Saturday night with IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks and the final 2017 appearance of the Valley Sportsman division. For further information, go to http://www.racemerced.com.
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