Visiting drivers dominated the six stock car divisions racing in the season finale at Merced Speedway Saturday night. Dubbed “Sibling Rivalry”, the races challenged drivers from sister track Antioch Speedway to race against the locals. Drivers from Antioch, Modesto, Marysville and Watsonville swept the main events.
“The racing should have been close, we use the same gear (sizes) at both tracks,” said Antioch Super Stock Champion Jim Freethy of Danville after he won his division’s main event.
Freethy’s closest competition came from fellow Antioch competitor Fred Ryland of Brentwood. The first Merced regular across the line was third place Donnie Shearer.
“More importantly, everyone is friendly here,” added Freethy. “It is fun to race with the Merced drivers.”
The battle in the modified stock car main event was between three drivers from Salinas. Cody Burke out ran continuous pass attempts from his brother Austin. Robert Marsh was right behind the two brothers, who raced side-by-side most of the feature event.
“We still race each other in video games like we did years ago as kids,” Cody Burke said in victory lane. “I know what he (Austin) is going to do, so I race him harder.”
Though the two brought the crowd to their feet, there was never contact in the 20-lap battle.
“If there was an accident between us, it would be a long ride home,” Cody Burke added. “We were racing to test our cars out before the big race in Las Vegas.”
The West’s last big race event is traditionally held in November at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Many drivers are already preparing for that event.
Antioch driver Mitch Enos was fourth in the modified main, followed by Chet Reeves of Bakersfield. Sixth went to Antioch’s Ed Davies. Atwater’s Bill Egleston was the first local across the line as he finished seventh.
Keith Brown, Jr. of Pittsburg, a third-generation Antioch driver, won the SportMod feature event handily once he got by Merced regular Shawn Bryant of Los Banos. Locals Tim Elias of Los Banos and Alex Odisho of Merced nailed down third and fourth, followed by Bakersfield’s Matt Mayo.
“All it took was to leave the door open one time,” Bryant said to Brown in victory lane.
“We worked hard to get to where we are today,” Brown said. “We’re ready to race in Las Vegas now.”
The Antioch Dwarf Car division made its second appearance of the season in Merced, with Jeremy Blackshere of Marysville beating his teammate Scott Dahlgren. A lapped car slowed Dahlgren down, and Blackshere used the opportunity to make the winning pass.
Only two cars competed in the Valley Sportsman Division. Tim Prothro of Merced topped Michael Shearer of Los Banos.
A thrilling Hobby Stock main event saw Watsonville’s Billy Nelson fight off several challenges by Antioch champ Brad Myers of Brentwood. Josh Hensley of Atwater was the fist local across the line.
“I almost lost it when a lapped car got in the way,” Nelson said in victory lane. “This is only the second time I have raced in Merced – it was three years ago the first time.”
Myers, who was fender to door with Nelson, couldn’t pass him despite an incredible effort.
“I had my foot to the floor all the way around the track,” Myers said. “I never lifted. The track was really hooked up to be able to drive that way. I just couldn’t pass him.”
Brian Corder of Modesto beat his father Chris in the Mini-Stock main event. It was the younger Corder’s third race ever.
“I had to beat him,” he kidded his dad in victory lane. “I’m the up and coming driver – I have to take over for him.”
Oval Motorsports, Inc. will announce awards banquet information for each track later this week. The 2014 schedule for each track will be announced in January.