Michael Lewis Endures for 100 Lap USAC Western States Cash - By Bobby Gerould - Madera, CA. 04/10/04 …The United States Auto Club Western States and Bay Cities Racing Association came together for the 2nd Annual Fred Gerhardt Classic for midgets Saturday night. Under breezy conditions the speedy cars took to the one-third mile paved oval Madera Speedway for a 100-lap 'throwback' style race.
Michael Lewis of Noblesville, Indiana walked away with the $3,000 winner's share after leading every lap of a caution filled endurance test. "When the car is as good as it was tonight, our job is easy", said Lewis from the winner's circle. "The guys that work on this Western Speed Racing #40 put in so many hours. 100 laps was hectic but there is not anywhere I'd rather be."
The top 20 qualifiers were locked into the first twenty starting spots for the three-wide start of the feature. Thirteen transfers from a Qualifying Race, plus one BCRA provisional filled the field. The opening 75 laps were run with caution flag laps counting, while the final 25 circuits were green flag only. Row one of the 34-car feature consisted of three out-of-state drivers, with Hoosiers, Lewis, and Brad Kuhn, and Jerry Coons Jr. from Arizona.
Lewis jumped into the lead from the pole. The action stalled for the first time on lap three when Cameron Beard and Greg Dennett stopped on the backchute. The green flag reappeared on lap ten with Lewis leading Kuhn, John Sarale, Rick Moss, and Coons Jr. A lap 12 caution for Rob Lindsey bunched the field, and the race resumed at lap 18.
Elk Grove's Johnny Rodriguez was turning heads as he moved up eight positions, from 17th starting, to ninth by lap 20. Lewis hit traffic on lap 22 and quickly went to work passing the backmarkers. Cliff Servetti dropped from the race four laps later. A lap 28 yellow flag for a spinning Matt Streeter bunched the group under caution but the race didn't resume until lap 39. Lewis was still leading when Garrett Hansen and Matt Mitchell stopped in turn one. At the same time, Irwindale Twin 25 winner, Thomas Meseraull stalled in turn two.
The race restarted at lap 57 but was also short-lived. Brian Gard's midget suffered a mechanical problem and spilled oil on the track forcing a red flag for cleanup. On the ensuing restart, both Jerome Rodela, and Rodriguez moved past John Sarale for fifth and sixth place respectively.
On lap 61, Dennett spun on the front chute forcing a caution. A tangle on lap 68 between Streeter, and Carly Lawrence took the race up to the lap 75 mark, meaning the rest of the feature would be green flag laps only. The final 25 laps set up with Lewis in front of Kuhn, Coons Jr., Washington pilot Moss, and Jerome Rodela. Rodriguez was sixth, with Brad Olson, Sarale, Dallen McKinney, and Tony Hunt completing the top ten.
Rodriguez moved by Rodela on the back straightaway on lap 78. Rodela tried to take the high line in turn three, in response, with a deep drive but his #25 went spinning. He continued but had to go to the rear for bringing out a yellow flag. Kuhn's car started smoking on lap 80, and Coons Jr. was able to move by him for second place before the black flag forced Kuhn to the pits. Rodriguez passed Moss in turn three for fourth place on the lap 81 restart that occurred after Steve Graves spun on the back chute. Graves stopped again on lap 86, also bringing out the caution flag.
With thirteen to go, John Sarale drove over the rear end of Bobby Santos III as the midgets bunched up to restart. Sarale was done for the night but Santos continued at the rear of the pack. Laps 86-89 saw Hunt venturing to the high-line on the track which allowed him to pass McKinney for sixth. The eleventh and final caution flag came out on lap 89 for a Greg Nelson, Pete Davis tangle in turn three.
Coons Jr.'s #11d stumbled on the restart and he dropped five spots. Lewis hit traffic on lap 95 just as a donnybrook for fourth through seventh erupted between Olson, Hunt, McKinney, and Coons Jr. Their final five laps of dicing were perhaps the most crowd pleasing racing of the night.
At the checkered flag it was Lewis comfortably over Rodriguez (he advanced 15 spots!), Moss, Olson, and Hunt. Sixth through tenth fell to Coons Jr., a hard charging Rodela, Wally Pankratz, Mike Hubert III, and McKinney who did a 360 right before crossing the finish line. The untimely spin cost McKinney at least five spots. Hubert III is a 16 year-old rookie that could not have been more impressive; finishing in the top-ten in his family owned #56.
Streeter won the 15 lap qualifying race. In the highly entertaining, 25 lap, companion USAC North-South Ford Focus feature event, Ramona, California's Bobby McGowan was the winner. McGowan held off the repeated challenges of Bradley Galedrige, Chris Rahe, and Chase Barber to score the popular victory.
Time Trials: Car # / Driver / Time #1 / Best Time
40 Michael Lewis - Noblesville, IN. 13.91 13.82 74 Brad Kuhn - Avon, IN. 13.99 13.99 11D Jerry Coons Jr. - Tucson, AZ. 14.37 14.10 32 John Sarale - Stockton, CA. 14.53 14.14 50 Rick Moss - Lynwood, WA. 14.20 14.17 77 Brian Olson - Puyallup, WA. 14.31 14.22 4 Tony Hunt - Fair Oaks, CA. 14.41 14.221 8 Wally Pankratz - Orange, CA. 14.43 14.27 88 Dallen McKinney - Clovis, CA. 14.46 14.28 37 Matt Mitchell - Yorba Linda, CA. 14.53 14.30 60 Bobby Santos III - Franklin, MA. 14.52 14.33 70 Garrett Hansen - Manhattan Beach, CA. 14.54 14.38 69 Thomas Meseraull - San Jose, CA. 14.47 14.40 94 Steven Graves - Upland, CA. 14.41 14.41 25 Jerome Rodela - El Monte, CA. 14.51 14.411 56 Mike Hubert III - Anderson, CA. 14.48 14.48 30 Johnny Rodriguez - Elk Grove, CA. 15.00 14.53 1B Floyd Alvis - San Carlos, CA. 14.74 14.57 23 Rob Lindsey - Arlington, WA. 15.19 14.571 47 Greg Dennett - Livermore, CA. 14.67 14.59 97 Matt Streeter - Manteca, CA. 14.87 14.65 00 Pete Davis - Pleasanton, CA. 14.90 14.68 1 Cameron Beard - Turlock, CA. 14.70 14.70 28 Josh Lakatos - Pasadena, CA. 14.89 14.70 57 Brian Gard - Kelseyville, CA. 14.91 14.73 42 Garrett Boyden - Santa Cruz, CA. 15.15 14.74 17 Greg Nelson - Newcastle, CA. 14.75 14.75 99 Tim Joyce - San Francisco, CA. 14.89 14.89 20 Steve Roza - Clovis, CA. 15.05 14.93 11 Travis Berryhill - American Canyon, CA. 14.97 14.97 83 Cliff Servetti - San Francisco, CA. 15.40 15.11 23x Joe Lindsey - Danville, CA. 15.33 15.24 36 Bobby Dalton - San Martin, CA. 16.29 15.32 11L Carly Lawrence - Merced, CA. 15.70 15.39 59 Mike Simpson - Apple Valley, CA. 15.88 15.41 25x Eddie Abrew - Manteca, CA. 16.59 15.92 12 Eric Mostin - Lakeport, CA. 16.61 16.61 21 Ryan Kaplan - Chico, CA. 17.26 17.26 91 Rick Faeth NT
Qualifying Race: 15 Laps. 1. Streeter, 2. Davis, 3. Boyden, 4. Beard, 5. Nelson, 6. Gard, 7. Roza, 8. Joyce, 9. Servetti, 10. Lawrence, 11. Joe Lindsey, 12. Lakatos, 13. Dalton, 14. Berryhill, 15. Simpson, 16. Abrew, 17. Mostin, 18. Kaplan.
Feature: 100 Laps - 1. Lewis, 2. Rodriguez, 3. Moss, 4. Olson, 5. Hunt, 6. Coons Jr., 7. Rodela, 8. Pankratz, 9. Hubert III, 10. McKinney, 11. Santos III, 12. Lakatos, 13. Davis, 14. Alvis, 15. Roza, 16. Berryhill, 17. J. Lindsey, 18. Dalton, 19. Nelson, 20. Dennett, 21. Kuhn, 22. Sarale, 23. Graves, 24. Boydon, 25. Lawrence, 26. Streeter, 27. Gard, 28. Beard, 29. Meseraull, 30. Hansen, 31. Mitchell, 32. Servetti, 33. Joyce, 34. R. Lindsey.
Lap Leader: Lewis 1-100