by Mike Adaskaveg
Merced Sun Star
Paul Stone drove an ailing racecar to victory in the IMCA Modified Stock Car main event Sunday night at Merced Speedway. Stone, from Winton, survived a third turn pileup then went on to take on veteran Merced Racer Bob Williamson, who finished second.
“A can spun out, I slowed down, and my car got drilled from behind,” Stone said of the early incident. “I thought I was done at that point.”
Stone had an old engine in the car, but never let up as he saw Williamson coming on strong.
“The engine is pretty tired,” Stone said. “Time to freshen it up.”
Meanwhile, Alex Wilson of Salinas was driving a car with an obvious broken tie rod, as the left front wheel was 90 degrees to the car. He still managed to finish third.
“I had to use an old style of driving,” Wilson said. “I used the throttle to turn the car – I kept the car on the bottom of the track where it was wet then hit the gas to turn.”
Odgers Scores First IMCA SportMod Win
Mark Odgers of Mariposa kept his car tight to the inside of the track to out-run Merced’s Dwayne Short and win the IMCA SportMod feature event. Short battled Odgers most of the race, then had to contend with Josh Hensley, who emerged from the pack and snatched second with two laps to go.
“The inside of the track was where everyone wanted to be tonight,” said Odgers in victory lane. “I held the bottom and it paid off.”
Odgers, who has raced at the speedway since 1995, had not won in the SportMod division. Mark’s daughter, Marisa, finished fourth and ahead of Mark Squadrito from Stockton.
First Win For Van Hoff, Too
Chowchilla High School Senior Austin Van Hoff is in his sophomore year at Merced Speedway, but he graduated to the winner’s circle in taking the Hobby Stock main event by steering through spinning cars and fighting off challenges from Balico’s Dexter Long.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” said Van Hoff in victory lane. “I’m so excited I’m shaking.”
Van Hoff is a second-generation driver, his dad being Merced Speedway driver Jack Van Hoff.
The spinouts included last week’s winner, Merced high school student Cody Parker and Sonora’s Kevin Joaquin. Jenifer Corder of Modesto moved up into third as Joaquin fought to take fourth after coming from the back of the pack. Michael Shearer of Los Banos was fifth.
Corder Wins Again in Mini-Stocks
Modesto’s Chris Corder waged a thrilling battle with Kelly Campanile of San Ramon. Campanile, driving a Ford Pinto, fought off several side-by-side challenges from Corder, only to lose the lead on a restart.
“I thought I had him,” Campanile said after the race. “He got me on that restart, and I couldn’t pass him back.”
“In mini-stocks, It is all about the rpm at takeoff,” Corder said. “I had the momentum going into the first turn after the green flag on the restart.”
Garner First in Limited Late Models
Mark Garner of Antioch won the Limited Late Model stock car feature, trading places with Roy Hart, Jr., who won the qualifying race with Garner finishing second. Buddy Thatcher of Mariposa finished third in both races.