Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gerhardt And Nichols Snare 45th Harvest Classic At Madera

Cody Gerhardt won the Harvest Classic for the Madera Western Winged Sprint Cars
(Photo Courtesy Outback Andy Foster)

MADERA, CALIFORNIA (September 17, 2016) - The 45th Harvest Classic at the LoanMart Madera Speedway brought out a complete night of open wheel horsepower combined with multi-engine tractor pulls and vintage Super Modifieds on Saturday night. Cody Gerhardt took over the Madera Western Winged Sprint points with a big victory while Chad Nichols dominated for a strong BCRA Midget win.

Rookie Dylan Nobile took quick time in qualifying over his teammate Gerhardt, and they occupied the third row of the 30 lap feature televised on MAVTV. Justin Kawahata of Clovis took the lead on the opening lap from the outside of incoming points leader Tom Baker of Carmichael. Chowchilla's Eric Humphries fell backwards to sixth from the third starting position allowing Winton's Gordon Rogers to snake into third. Gerhardt jumped inside Rogers to challenge for third and ended up going two for one when Baker swung wide in turn four.

With Gerhardt up into second on only the fifth lap, he turned his attention to Kawahata. He reeled in the rookie and took over the top spot on lap 12. Nobile followed suit to take second on lap 14. On the 15th lap, car #15 of Humphries fell out of the race with mechanical problems.

Kawahata and Rogers staged a nice battle for third with a 26 year-old and a 62 year-old dueling. Gerhardt managed to maintain a solid lead on Nobile across the finish line in the six minute, 31 second main with Kawahata taking a well deserved third-place finish over Rogers and Baker.

Chad Nichols of Colma had no trouble motoring away for one of the most substantial winning margins of the year in the BCRA Midget 30 lap feature. His margin of victory was 9.7 seconds at nearly 2/3rds of a lap. Antioch's Nick Foster, Jr. led the opening three laps of the race but the three-time BCRA champion was quickly passed by fourth starting Nichols.

Foster, Dr. David Goodwill, and Redding's Alex Schutte, who entered the race five-for-five in BCRA dirt Midget races this year, had an intense competition for second all race long. Nichols, Foster, Goodwill, Schutte, and Bobby Wilson were the top-five finishers after a 6:55 race for BCRA.

Folsom's Jerry Kobza got a big come from behind win in the NCMA Sprint Cars to unofficially take the overall division championship for 2016 as well. Kobza overcame an incident in his heat race to come from shotgun on the field to win the 30 lap feature. Kobza was the third different leader of a busy main event.

Jeff Burrows started the race from the pole with Madera's Cody Jessop shooting up into second place from sixth starting position early on. Burrows' car owner Dan Ariaz spun in turn four to bring out the first caution on lap five. Jessop used that caution period to get past Burrows for the lead position.

Jessop pulled away while a great battle developed with Kobza taking over second from Burrows. Jessop had the race in hand before he lost a left rear wheel entering turn one to end his evening on lap 20.

Kobza assumed the top position and fended off points rival Denny Burrell of Ripon in a thrilling ten lap shootout down to the wire. Rocklin's John Mamula held on for third ahead of Ariaz the final of the finishing cars.

The CSS 360 Super Modifieds had one of their best programs of 2016 and it was a race about being in the right place at the right time. Clovis' AJ Russell took over the lead on the initial start from the 18 car of Lance Jackson who fell back to fourth early on.

Russell had a sizeable lead on the rest of the field while Bakersfield's Justin Tuey and the fast-time qualifier Chowchilla's Eric Humphries staged a great duel for second. That duel ended up being the duel for the lead when Russell blew his engine as he came to the conclusion of lap 15.

Tuey assumed the top position with Humphries in tow while Russell came to a stop about 30 feet inside turn one in the infield. The caution was waved on lap 20 when an incident in the infield between an official and a crew member caused additional attention. After the incident was resolved, the racing resumed hot and heavy up front with Tuey proving strong enough to get the victory head of Humphries, Jackson, Carl Mott, and Clovis' Austin Carter.

San Martin's Tom Patterson, 16 years old and known affectionately as "Mr. T.", earned his first USAC HPD Midget victory at LoanMart Madera Speedway leading all 30 laps. Patterson maintained a three-to-four car length advantage throughout the contest while double-duty racer Cody Jessop held off a furious pack including Jesse Love IV and the Briedinger sisters of Annie and Toni. Young rookie Joey Iest of Madera also kept his nose in the battle.

Love made numerous attempts to get around Jessop in a wildly entertaining battle. A spin on lap 20 involving Annie Breidinger gave the rest of the field another shot at Patterson, but he proved too strong en route to the five car length win. Jessop did a great job to get second ahead of the hard charging Love with Toni Briedinger and Iest the top-five.

The Twisted Tea Modifieds crowned their champion with Pleasanton's Rick Avila earning his first Madera championship.

The Harvest Classic opened on Friday night with the first champions of the season crowned. Matt Erickson fended off a tremendous 21 car field for the "local" Madera race, not part of the eight race LoanMart Open Late Model televised series. Rick Thompson, the 2015 Madera overall Late Model champion, finished sixth and it was enough to get the local track championship for the non-televised races of 2016. Erickson won Friday's 30 lap feature ahead of Modesto drivers Kyle Gottula and Aaron Coonfield, who were both making their Madera Late Model debuts for the year.

Clovis' Thomas Suarez had a third place effort in Hobby Stocks that was enough to earn him the local Madera Hobby Stock points championship as well. Multi-time track champion Howard Holden, also of Clovis, won Friday's main event ahead of Jesus Hernandez.

LoanMart Madera Speedway continues on Saturday September 24th with Race #7 of the MAVTV televised $1,000 to win LoanMart Open Late Model Series 100 laps (split 50's)! Also in action will be Race #7 of the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series 50 laps (split 25's), Race # 7 of the Super Hobby Stock Series, MST, Toyota Sedans, 4-Bangers, Barrel Race Extreme Enduro Series 40 lap Sprint race & an Enduro Sprint Race (40 laps)

Race fans can catch up on LoanMart Madera Speedway action every Thursday with "Madera Racing" on MAVTV at 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific. Round #6 of the LoanMart Late Models airs this week on MAVTV and also on the LucasOilRacing.TV app.

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