Merced, CA…April 12-13…Over 60 Dwarf Cars flocked to Merced Speedway for the Third Annual Dwarf Nationals. The event is hosted by the South Bay Dwarf Cars under the Western States Dwarf Car Association banner and runs a program that breaks the division down into three different groups. Drivers from various associations from throughout the western states made this a true All Star Dwarf Car event.
The headlining group of Dwarf Cars was the Pro Division. Shawn Jones divides his racing time between Dwarf Cars and Wingless Spec Sprints and is a champion in both divisions. Jones started in the third row of the Main Event and worked his way to the front, where he battled Ryan Winter for the 30 lap victory. Nevada’s Joe Frock finished third, followed by South Bay competitor Terre Rothweiler and Michael Grenert.
Friday night winner Derren Brown won the Fast Dash to earn the pole for the feature, but he fell back to a seventh place finish in that race, right behind Oregon star Camden Robustelli. Grenert won the 15 lap B Main ahead of Southern California star John Isabella and Mac Marmon.
Kevin Bender won the 20 lap Veterans Dwarf Car Main Event. Bender finished second behind Mark Biscardi in the 10 lap Fast Dash. Second row starter Eric Weisler proved to be the closest threat to Bender in the end, but he settled for second ahead of Scott Dahlgren.
Lonnie Tekaat was the only driver with a perfect weekend as he won both the Preliminary Feature on Friday and Saturday’s 20 lap Sportsman Main Event. Tekaat had a disappointing effort in the Fast Dash, won by Mike Affonso. He started back in the fourth row and charged forward to take the win. John Damron finished second ahead of Gary Brady.
The Friday night portion of the Nationals ran a full program with the Preliminary Features designed to take the Top 10 drivers into the Saturday night Fast Dash. The Dash determined the first five rows of Saturday’s Main Event. Southern California star Darren Brown won the 30 lap Pro Feature ahead of Nevada’s Joe Frock, Ben Haney, Ryan Plexico and Ryan Winter. With 27 cars in that group, they also ran a 15 lap B Main, won by Camden Robustelli ahead of Michael “Spanky” Grenert and Ben Wiesz.
Scott Dahlgren picked up the 20 lap Veterans Preliminary Feature win for the older drivers, followed by Kevin Miraglio and Buddy Olschowka. For the newer drivers to Dwarf Car racing, it was Lonnie Tekaat winning the Sportsman 20 lap Preliminary Feature ahead of Tom Weglin and Taylor Hanson.
The IMCA Sport Modifieds joined the Dwarf Cars on both evenings. On Saturday night, it was front row starter Andrew Peckham winning what turned out to be a rapidly paced 25 lap Main Event. 2016 champion Fred Ryland came from the third row to challenge Peckham before settling for second ahead of Bruce Nelson, Nick Tucker, KC Keller, Kelly Wilkinson, Patti Ryland, Keith Brown Jr. Danny Roe and Tim Elias.
With a strong turnout of 26 competitors, Tanner Thomas had to win the 12 lap B Main ahead of TJ Etchison III, Brown and Paul Espino to make it into the show. Eight lap heat race wins were earned by Guy Ahlwardt, Peckham, Tucker and Fred Ryland.
The Sport Modifieds also had a 26 car turn out on Friday, and Kelly Wilkinson won the 20 lap Main Event from his pole position start. Nick Tucker earned a second place finish ahead of Patti Ryland, Tanner Thomas, 2015 State champion Fred Ryland, Tim Elias, Chuck Weir, Guy Ahlwardt, Keith Brown Jr and Bruce “Bubba” Nelson.
Nelson earned his feature start by winning the 12 lap B Main in front of Garrett Jernagan, Danny Roe and Michael Johnson. Thomas, Brown, Fred Ryland and Andrew Peckham were the eight lap heat race winners.
The IMCA Modifieds ran a 25 lap Main Event on Friday night, and two-time champion Randy Brown came from the third row to win that race ahead of Ryan Porter, reigning State champion Shane DeVolder, Jesse James Burks, season opener winner Troy Foulger, Ethan Dotson, Kellen Chadwick, Paul Stone, Ramie Stone and Derek Nance. It was Burks and Porter picking up their respective eight lap heat race wins.
Rounding out Saturday’s program was the season debut of the California Sharp Mini Late Models. Reigning champion Tim Crews battled fellow front-row starter Riley Jeppesen to win the 15 lap Main Event. Logan Clay finished third, followed by Kaylin Lopez and Rodger Guthrie. Kennzzie Brown was a Main Event scratch in her division debut, and Jeppesen won the six lap heat race.
The USAC Western States Midgets are coming to town next Saturday for an exciting show that will also include the IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks. For further information, go to www.mercedspeedway.net or the Merced Speedway Facebook page.