By Don Martin II
Guy Ahlwardt won the 30 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event Saturday night at Merced Speedway. Ahlwardt is the runaway IMCA State point leader and is currently third in points at Merced.
This was his second win here, and it paid $2,000 as the track was offering an increased purse.
The money helped draw a 28 car field for the show. Ahlwardt made the redraw and drew the pole for the race. He battled Les Friend early, but Bakersfield Speedway stars Michael Johnson and Ricky Childress Jr came from further back to make a challenge. Ahlwardt wasn’t about to let the rich victory get away as he took the checkered flag ahead of Johnson, Childress, KC Keller and Friend. Kelly Wilkinson finished sixth, followed by point leader Fred Ryland, Chuck Weir, Chris Falkenberg and Jeremy Hoff.
The Sport Modifieds ran four eight lap heat races with wins going to Johnson, Doff Cooksey, Kyle Wood and Wilkinson. Keller also picked up four lap Trophy Dash honors. They ran a pair of 12 lap B Mains to determine the remainder of the field. Nick Tucker won the first one ahead of Jack Aguiar and Jeremy Hoff. Fred Ryland snapped his wife Patti’s two-race B Main win streak by holding her off to win the other B Main as Falkenberg finished third.
Shawn DePriest won the 20 lap Mini Stock Main Event. This was the fourth win of the season for DePriest. Point leader Lee Ragsdale had the pole and led some early laps before DePriest went charging by. Hanford star Gene Glover started in the third row and presented the bigger challenge for DePriest. However, DePriest prevailed ahead of Glover, Matthew Herod, Ragsdale, Dan McCabe, Jennifer Rodgers, Austin Sprague, Jerry Tubbs, James McGranahan and DJ Keldsen. Dakota Keldsen and his brother DJ Keldsen were the eight lap heat race winners, and the four lap Trophy Dash went to Dakota Keldsen.
Logan Clay won the 12 lap California Sharp Mini Late Model Main Event. This was his first win of the season. Eight lap heat race winner and current point leader Timmy Crews started fourth, and Clay saw his biggest challenge from Carson Guthrie. However, Clay held off Guthrie for his milestone victory. Riley Jeppesen and Crews completed the finishing order.
Point leader Rick Elliott scored his third 12 lap Valley Sportsman Main Event win of the season ahead of Dwayne Short and reigning champion Jerry Cecil. Elliott also won the eight lap heat race.
Merced Speedway will be hosting a big CRA/USAC Wingless Sprint Car Speedweek race on Friday. Also on the card will be the Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and California Sharp Mini Late Models. For further information, go online to: mercedspeedway.net.