by, Mark Sublett
Merced, CA….Dreams do come true. After trying five times to win the tribute race in honor of his father Wayne, Dakota Albright dominated in his sixth try at winning the “Wayne Albright Memorial” BCRA Midget Lite main event Saturday night at Merced Speedway. Albright traded the lead with three time winner Bobby Michnowicz the first couple of laps until taking control and pulling out to a comfortable lead at times but he had to survive several yellow flag restarts and a red flag period to take a well deserved win in the race he’s always wanted to win. A more popular win hasn’t been seen in years.
At the start of the 25 lap main event pole-sitter Bobby Michnowicz from Lomita lead lap one until outside front row starter Dakota Albright made his move coming off turn four to pass Michnowicz down the front straight-away to lead lap two. Racing was fast and furious around Merced Speedway’s 1/3rd mile clay oval with eighteen main event starters racing two and three wide at times. Three time BCRA Midget Lite champion Doug Nunes raced up from his sixth starting spot to run third by lap four. On lap 8 2006 Champion Jeff Griffin and Chase Gaal from O’Neals got together ending both their nights in turn one. The red flag was thrown to clean up the accident. When racing resumed Albright pulled out to a comfortable lead with Michnowicz and Nunes in a heated battle for the runner up spot. On lap 16 the two came together resulting in Nunes stopped in turn two. He restarted at the tail of the field. On the ensuing restart Albright once again took off at the starters green flag to lead Michnowicz with S. Kinney now third. A car on the move was tenth starting Craig Holsted who raced fourth and rookie Jacob Williams who started eighth. Holsted was one of the fastest cars on the track late as he got by S. Kinney and quickly caught second running Michnowicz. He made the pass on Michnowicz on lap twenty and set his sights on the race leader. In the closing laps Holsted closed the gap but Albright held his lead to the checkered flag ending a six year dream of winning the tribute to his father Wayne plus the $1,035 winners share of the purse he worked hard to raise. Michnowicz got back by Holsted in the final laps to earn a $750.00 second. Current points leader S. Kinney had an eventful race to earn $500 for third. Holsted fell back to fourth at the finish with Williams an impressive fifth. Defending Champion Hunter Kinney raced sixth with sixteenth starter Jimmy Riddell seventh when all was said and done. Long tows James Turnbull III from Indio ended up eighth and Yucca Valley’s Jeff Dyer ninth. Nunes rounded out the top 10.
Eight lap money to win heat races were won by Hunter Kinney, Terry Bergstrom and Scott Kinney who all earned $35. A scary incident in the second heat saw Danika’Jo Parker flip across the finish line second. She was uninjured. Her hard working crew and others helped her get back out for the main event later in the night. Albright was fastest in time trails with a 13.585 second lap earning $100. Extra money was raised for this special race through sponsorship’s from numerous donors in memory of Wayne Albright. Wayne was a life long race fan who was very involved with the BCRA up until his passing in 2014. His accomplishments include BCRA Championships in the Midget Lite division and is a member of their Hall of Fame. This race has been run in his honor every year since his passing and a more fitting ending to this years addition couldn’t have been scripted better. Racing has it’s special moments and tonight we witnessed one of them. A son winning his fathers memorial race after years of trying. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
6th annual “Wayne Albight Memorial” – BCRA Midget Lites – Merced Speedway
Main Event (25 laps) 1. Dakota Albright 2. Bobby Michnowicz 3. Scott Kinney 4. Craig Holsted 5. Jacob Williams 6. Hunter Kinney 7. Jimmy Riddell 8. James Turnbull III 9. Jeff Dyer 10. Doug Nunes 11. Terry Bergstrom 12. Adam Teves 13. Steve Brown 14. Danika’Jo Parker 15. Josef Ferolito 16. Brandon Leedy 17. Jeff Griffin 18. Chase Gaal
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. H. Kinney 2. Michnowicz 3. Albright 4. Turnbull III 5. Gaal 6. Riddell
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Bergstrom 2. Parker 3. Holsted 4. Williams 5. Dyer 6. Griffin
Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. S. Kinney 2. Teves 3. Nunes 4. Brown 5. Ferolito 6. Leedy
Fast Time: Albright 13.585