Chowchilla’s Rick Diaz halted IMCA national point leader Fred Ryland’s bid to win another SportMod feature Saturday night at Merced Speedway; and, Keith Brown, Jr. of Pittsburg stole the lead from Diaz Sunday night at Chowchilla Speedway while Ryland was forced to hold on to third place.
“Someone had to give Ryland some competition,” Diaz said after returning to Merced Speedway after several weeks’ absence. “I came out to beat him.”
Diaz drove a blistering pace to work his way from a 10th starting position to third place in just a few laps. Then, he had to contend with Keith Brown, who was running second, before he could reach leader Jeremy Hoff of Copperopolis.
Ryland, also working his way up from the back of the pack, passed Hoff for second with eight laps to go.
“Rick (Diaz) was a little faster than I was. He set up his car better – he knows Merced Speedway well,” Ryland said. “I couldn’t catch him after I got by Jeremy (Hoff.)”
Bruce “Bubba” Nelson of Turlock caught Brown and snatched fourth, just behind Hoff. Brown finished fifth.
Brown Turns The Finish Around At Chowchilla
Sunday afternoon’s IMCA SportMod feature on a very dry and slick Chowchilla 1/3-mile oval found Brown stealing the lead from Diaz on a re-start.
“I kept my car on the bottom and got to the middle of the third and fourth turns first,” Brown explained of his first win of the season. “Rick (Diaz) was outside my door going into the first turn – it was that close.”
Diaz’s teammate, Randy Brown, was piled into during the IMCA modified feature, causing major damage to his car. Diaz helped Randy Brown after the badly damaged car landed upside down in the third turn.
“I did not have time to set up my SportMod for track conditions because I was occupied with my teammates wreck,” Brown said. “The car was very loose in the turns and there was nothing I could do but drive it that way.”
Ryland, with ten wins this season, had to settle for a third at Chowchilla Speedway. His wheels locked with the wheels of Chris Falkenberg of Turlock as they headed into the first turn early in the main event.
“The wheels and tires were not right after that strange incident,” Ryland said. “It is not bad that I finished third. I’ll take it.
Mark Key of Merced won the hobby stock main event with his door flapping in the breeze. Kevin Joaquin of Sonora was second, chased by Kristie Shearer of Los Banos, and Mercedians Andrew Krumm and Marshall Weaver.
Robert Alger won the mini-stock main event, followed by Dan McCabe, Chris Corder. Mike Germait and Alicia Caldwell. Eric Seely of Ceres topped Jeff Bristow Turlock and Marcus Lung of Modesto in the Valley Sportsman main event.
Chowchilla Speedway 2014 IMCA Modified Champion Josh Vogt of Santa Maria continued his winning ways Sunday night. Merced’s Karl Rose was second, with Modesto’s Harley Turner taking third in his modified debut.
Antioch Speedway 2014 Mini-Stock Champion Brent Curran won his first Chowchilla Speedway Mini-Stock feature, topping Jadon Harrington and Alex Odisho, who finished second and third.
Joaquin was not to be denied in the Chowchilla Speedway Hobby Stock main event. Joaquin suffered a flat while leading the race. Since it was on the left front, he was not required to leave the track and change the tire – but he did, opting to restart at the back of the pack with six laps to go.
` Joaquin worked his way back to the front, where Turlock’s Gary Hildebrand had held the lead since Joaquin left.
With his hood flapping in the breeze, Hildebrand tried to outrun Joaquin, but it was Joaquin who pulled into first at the fall of the checkered flag.
“I can’t believe I won!” Joaquin screamed in victory lane. “I though I was done for. I couldn’t control my car with that flat tire, so I pulled in for a pit stop. I didn’t think I would even have a chance after that.
Hildebrand chose the inside on the final restart.
“It was a good, clean race,” Hildebrand said. “And it was a lot of fun.”