By Don Martin II
Special to the Times
Austin Liggett won the 30 lap USAC/CRA Sprint Car Main Event Friday night at Merced Speedway. Liggett is the reigning USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car champion, but this was his first win with the CRA Sprint Car Series. This was also the fourth round of the five race Sprint Week Series, and series point leader Danny Faria Jr finished second to Liggett in the feature race.
Sunday Calistoga winner Jake Swanson bolted into the lead at the start of the Main Event ahead of Brody Roa. The red flag flew on lap four for a Matt McCarthy flip. Swanson continued to lead Roa and Liggett on the restart and through another quick yellow flag on lap five. After a yellow flag waved on lap 10. Liggett and Faria raced into the first and second positions on the restart as the rest of the race went caution free. As the laps wore on, Liggett began to build a comfortable lead over Faria, and Faria also had a good hold on second. The battle was for the third position. Saturday Calistoga winner Austin Williams held third until Roa got by on lap 24. Roa held the position until Monday Petaluma winner Chase Johnson got by on lap 28. Liggett scored the victory ahead of Faria, Chase Johnson, Roa, Swanson, Williams, overall point leader Damian Gardner, Ryan Bernal, Charles Davis Jr and Colby Johnson.
There were 20 Sprint Car competitors in action, and Gardner turned the quarter-mile clay oval in a lap of 12.085 for the fastest time. Liggett was second quick at 12.219. The 10 lap heat race wins went to Gardner, Swanson and Williams.
Timmy Crews won the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. Crews is a rookie in this class, and this was his first win. Bakersfield visitor Kevin Irwin charged into the lead at the start and held off Michael Shearer. Irwin had built a straightaway lead by lap five as Crews got past Shearer for the second position. Austin Van Hoff settled into third on lap seven, and Irwin’s run at the front ended on a lap 14 yellow flag. This put Crews into the lead, and he set the pace ahead of Van Hoff and top rookie Allen Neal on the restart. Crews ran smoothly down the stretch to pick up the victory. Van Hoff finished second, followed by Neal, Michael Shearer, Shannon Nelson, DJ Keldsen, Mike Germait, Race Shelton, Kristie Shearer and Irwin. Eight lap heat race wins went to Nelson and Keldsen.
Tyler Post won the 20 lap Mini Stock Main Event. This was the first career victory for Post. Eight lap heat race winners Shawn DePriest and Lee Ragsdale shared the front row of the Main Event. However, it was Post who would score the win in this race after starting in the second row. Once Post got the lead, he pulled away from the pack with only Austin Sprague anywhere close to him in second. Post went on to the impressive victory with Sprague a career best second. Lucy Falkenberg was about a straightaway behind the winner in third, followed by point leader Ragsdale, Jennifer Rodgers, Eddie Humphrey, DePriest, Jerry Tubbs, James McGranahan and Alex Widdowson.
Timmy Crews also won the 15 lap California Sharp Mini Late Model Main Event. This was the sixth win of the season for the current point leader. Crews also won the eight lap heat race. Crews had the outside front row starting position after Riley Jeppesen had problems for a restart. Cruz led all the way to win by nearly a straightaway in victory. Carson Guthrie held second until previous feature winner Logan Clay went racing by on the white flag lap. Crews won ahead of Clay, Guthrie, Ian Shearer and Billy Quinlan.
Racing continues next Saturday night with the point season finale for the IMCA Modifieds. The Hobby Stocks, South Bay Dwarf Cars and the Valley Sportsman division will also be in action. For further information, go online to: mercedspeedway.net.