Gerhardt Tops Pombo/Sargent Classic
MADERA, Calif. — Cody Gerhardt grabbed the feature by 0.628 seconds over Dr. David Goodwill for his first Bay Cities Racing Association/United States Auto Club victory, taking the highly-contested win on the Madera Speedway quarter-mile paved oval.
The youngest member of one of California’s oldest racing families emerged the winner in a madcap race finale that saw leader-board change drastically over the final laps.
The race began with Gerhardt taking the initial lead from the pole in the Paul Eskesen Beast/Mopar, to be challenged by Nick Chivello. Chivello took the lead on the fourth lap aboard the Dan Chivello Beast/Esslinger to pace Gerhardt, Chad Nichols and Tanner Swanson in side-by-side action.
Dr. David Goodwill, Darin Snider and Jarred Blondel followed in close contention as the remainder of the field began dropping back. Swanson, in the Bob Rosen Redline Oil Beast/Fontana and Nichols’ Beast/Esslinger raced side-by-side, exchanging wheel contact on several occasions with Swanson coming out on top and challenging Gerhardt, taking the second spot on the eighth circuit.
Meanwhile Darin Snider moved up to fourth with Goodwill dropping back to seventh as Blondel moved up a spot.
The first caution flag spotted the field at the halfway point when the lapped car of J.R. Williams was clipped and forced into the front-straight wall. At the drop of the green, Swanson pressured Chivello for the lead, taking over with an inside pass entering turn-3, then losing the lead back as Chivello drove hard to the inside exiting turn-4 to regain the top spot, then only to see the second yellow flag for the spun car of Blondel in turn-3.
At the resumption of the race Nichols worked on Swanson with the two at a virtual tie for second on the 17th round, then made good his bid to take over the runner-up position.
The 21st lap saw the third caution flag as Darin Snider came to an abrupt halt against the turn-4 wall. Off again and the top-three appeared glued together with Gerhardt lurking not far behind.
Again, as the race progressed, Nichols pressured Chivello for the lead, finding success with an outside pass in turn-4 to lead the 22nd circuit. One lap later Chivello was out of contention with a broken shaft bearing that stalled him against the wall at the exit of turn-4. This put Swanson on the tail of Nichols with Gerhardt and Goodwill up to third and fourth.
Again a yellow as Goodwill and fifth-running Blondel tangled to a halt at the beginning of the front stretch on lap-27.
At the green, with three laps remaining, the top three, Nichols, Swanson and Gerhardt, were under the proverbial “blanket” on the 29th lap, while exiting turn-2 onto the backstretch. Running side-by-side, Swanson appeared to drop down and struck Nichols. With no place to go, Gerhardt also rammed Nichols, sending him into a partial spin.
Nichols nearly recovered, but stalled as Swanson and Gerhardt emerged untethered. During this caution period Swanson was sent to the rear of the field by the referee for overly aggressive driving.
For the final green Gerhardt inherited the lead over Goodwill and Blondel as the restarted Nichols and penalized Swanson charged through the field with Nichols finishing forth and Swanson sixth behind Lauren Snider.
Darin Snider was the fast qualifier, also winning the first heat race. Nick Chivello scored the second eight-lap heat win.
Cody Gerhardt, David Goodwill, Jarid Blondel, Chad Nichols, Lauren Snider, Tanner Swanson, David Prickett, Floyd Alvis, Marvin Mitchell, Nick Chivello, Gary Conterno, Darrin Snider, J.R. Williams.