Nichols dominates 2017 Harvest Classic

By Kevin Triplett

On Saturday night September 16, the mighty midgets of the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) were in action at the ultra-fast Madera Speedway paved oval as part of the 45th annual Harvest Classic. The first car out for time trials, the #17 Shanoian Special Esslinger-powered Beast chassis piloted by Chad Nichols, spun on the slick surface during his second lap and had to settle for his first lap time of 14.455 seconds.

Chad’s time wound up being fifth fastest, as the six fastest cars all broke into the 14-second bracket. Cody Gerhardt in the Eskesen Racing Beast powered by a Mopar engine set the night’s fastest time with a best lap of 14.352 seconds, to edge out Mark Maliepaard’s best lap of 14.359 seconds in the Maliepaard & Morris’ #51 Beast/Esslinger.

David Goodwill was third fastest qualifier in his Beast/Mopar, trailed by Scott Pierovich in Morris’ #71R midget, while Nichols’ teammate Nick Foster timed in sixth fastest in the #1N Shanoian Beast/Esslinger at 14.601 seconds. Maria Cofer, Floyd Alvis, JR Williams and 2106 BCRA champion Bobby Wilson rounded out the night’s qualifiers.

Chad Nichols jumped into the lead from the pole position in the night’s first 8-lap heat race and led all the way to the checkered flag trailed by Gerhardt, Goodwill, Cofer and JR Williams. Nick Foster grabbed the lead at the start of the second heat race with Mark Maliepaard in hot pursuit before Mark bobbled as he tried for the lead on lap four and spun to a stop at the head of the front straightaway. Maliepaard restarted at the tail of the field but had lost a lap in scoring as Foster cruised to victory over Pierovich, Alvis and Wilson.

The BCRA 30-lap feature was the last event of the evening following the hobby stocks, USAC HPD midgets, winged sprint cars, NCMA sprint cars, Super Modifieds, Legends of Kearney Bowl, California Hard Tops, and two sessions of pulling tractors. Teammates Nichols and Foster shared the front row for the start and Nichols sped into the lead at the drop of the green flag, as behind him Foster battled Malipaard for position and Gerhardt moved up to make it three car battle for third place behind Nichols and Pierovich.

Following a lap eight restart for Bobby Wilson’s second spin of the race, Gerhardt executed an outside pass of Maliepaard to secure third place. The three leading machines then streaked away from the rest of the field as they wove through traffic and built up a 6 car advantage over fourth place Foster by lap 20. As the laps wound down, Gerhardt tried an inside move on Pierovich for second place but could not maintain another momentum to complete the pass.

On lap 24, David Goodwill felt the Mopar engine in his #3G machine tighten up and he shut it down and coasted to a stop on the high side of turn number two. Neither Pierovich nor Gerhardt could challenge over the last five laps, and Chad Nichols took the Harvest Classic win. Fourth place went to Nick Foster, with Maliepaard fifth and BCRA points leader Maria Cofer sixth after she battled braking problems over the last half of the race. Floyd Alvis and JR Williams rounded out the finishers, and Goodwill and Wilson failed to finish.

The BCRA midgets return to Madera Speedway on September 30 in a program with the 75-lap Open Hobby Stock Race, USAC HPD Midgets, BCRA Midgets, Super Modifieds, Legends of the Pacific, and the Legends of Kearney Bowl.