From the desk of Kevin Triplett
A field of ten speedy Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midgets was part of Stockton 99 Speedway’s “Night of Champions” on Saturday night August 5. Eight of the ten cars posted times in the 13-second bracket in time trials, paced by third generation racer Chad Nichols in the Shanoanian Esslinger as he set a new track record of 13.072 seconds to tour the high-banked paved quarter mile track.
Davey Hamilton Junior, himself a third-generation racer posted the night’s second fastest qualifying lap of 13.165 seconds in Bob Rosen’s midget, which just edged out Alex Schutte’s fast lap of 13.176 seconds in Del Morris’ #71R machine. Cody Gerhardt, also a multi-generational racer wound up fourth fastest at 13.207 seconds.
Maria Cofer in the Arata Racing #88 led the early laps of the first heat race, as Nichols picked off car after car as he moved up from his fifth starting position. Late in the six-lap event, Nichols slipped past point leader Cofer on the low side of turns one and two to grab the lead which he held to the drop of the checkered flag trailed by Cofer, Schutte, Randi Pankratz, and Mark Maliepaard.
Pole-sitter David Goodwill immediately jumped into lead at the start of the second heat race with Hamilton in close pursuit, trailed by Floyd Alvis, Gerhardt and JR Williams. As Hamilton exited turn four on lap four, he spun the Mr. Espresso #4 machine in the oil-absorbent left over from late model time trials. Hamilton locked down the brakes and spun harmlessly to a stop backwards at the head of the front straightaway. After he restarted, Hamilton stormed back through the field to challenge Gerhardt for second place but had to settle for third place. Goodwill won the heat race as he led all six laps ahead of Gerhardt, Hamilton Alvis and Williams.
Fast qualifier Nichols drew the #6 pill to set the invert for the 30-lap Tom Manning Memorial feature race, with Goodwill and Maliepaard sharing the front row, Gerhardt and Schutte in row two and Hamilton and Nichols side-by-side in row three. The first attempt at a start was called back, as Goodwill proved a little quick on the throttle. Goodwill led away in the second start, trailed by Gerhardt, Maliepaard, Schutte and Hamilton.
As the race settled down, Nichols began his march forward and ran in third place on lap three, and then moved into second place on lap four. Hamilton had had contact with another car which bent the front axle and negatively affected the handling for the rest of the race but on lap six Hamilton and Cofer battled for sixth position, which was settled in Hamilton’s favor but he could not make the expected threat for victory.
Nichols stalked Goodwill for many laps, then on lap twelve he began to press for the lead; at the end of the fifteenth lap Goodwill and Nichols crossed the start-finish line side-by-side. On lap 17, Nichols in the orange #17 machine surged past into the lead trailed by Goodwill, Gerhardt Maliepaard and Schutte. Hamilton rode in sixth place followed by Cofer, Alvis and Pankratz, as Williams had pulled in the pit area with handling problems. As Nichols cruised to victory to complete his “clean sweep” of the evening, in the closing laps Schutte slipped past Maliepaard to claim fourth place in a race that was completed in six minutes.
On August 29, the BCRA midgets will return to action in Stockton, but this time across town at the Stockton Dirt track located on the grounds of the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.