Merced, CA…May 5…Paul Stone protected his point lead by winning the IMCA Modified portion of the Ted Stofle Classic Saturday night at Merced Speedway. Ryan Porter led the early laps of the 25 lap race with reigning champion Randy Brown moving past Darrell Hughes II for second on lap nine. The battle up front got heated as the leaders exchanged paint through every corner. Working lap 21, contact from Porter sent Brown spinning. Porter was penalized at that point, giving Paul Stone the lead. Stone led the rest of the race for the victory. Hughes settled for second ahead of Brian Pearce, Ramie Stone, Justin Villanueva, Jeff Streeter, Ricky Thatcher, Troy Stone, Harley Turner and Tim Cecil. Eight lap heat race wins went to Brown, Troy Stone and Hughes.
Tanner Thomas bested the 23 car field to win his second 25 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event. Thomas started on the pole, but he still had to contend with Jeremy Hoff’s constant pressure throughout the race. Thomas was just a little quicker as he took the checkered flag ahead of Hoff. Ryan Bledsaw finished third ahead of Jarrod Mounce, TJ Etchison III, Chase Thomas, Mark Odgers, Kelly Wilkinson, Danny Roe and Chris Falkenberg. Chase Thomas, Hoff, Mounce and Bledsaw each won eight lap heat races.
Reigning champion Kodie Dean won the 25 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. Robbie Loquaci led the first six laps before Dean made a Turn 4 pass to take the lead. Reigning Watsonville champion Rob Gallaher quickly moved into second. Dean ran smooth down the stretch for a well-earned victory. Gallaher had a good battle with point leader Shannon Nelson before finishing second as Nelson placed third. Loquaci settled for fourth ahead of Austin Van Hoff, Michael Shearer, Thomas Suarez, Kristie Shearer, Joe Gallaher and Cody Smiley. Dean, Van Hoff and Shearer each won eight lap heat races.
Eight vintage race cars from the California Hardtop Association made an appearance and ran a 15 lap Main Event. Wet conditions from the freshly watered track resulted in mayhem at the start. Dave Reed spun and was hit hard by Ken Clifford in Turn 1, doing severe damage to the Clifford mount. Jason Armstrong joined Clifford and Reed in the pits, and Dave Mackey jumped out to the lead on the restart. After starting back in the fourth row, Ron Ruiz raced past Joe Shenefield for second. Mackey pitted from the lead on lap eight, putting Ruiz in front. Ruiz led the rest of the way to win ahead of Roger MacShain, Shenefield and Dennis Armstrong.
Jesse Burks use his pole position start to collect the victory in the 14 lap California Sharp Mini Late Model Main Event. Burks won the race ahead of previous winner Tim Crews. Riley Jeppesen settled for third ahead of Ian Shearer and Carson Guthrie. Burks also won the eight lap heat race.
Racing resumes next Saturday night with BCRA Midget Lites making an appearance along with Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and California Sharp Mini Late Models. For further information, go to www.racemerced.com.