WEASE TOPS GERHARDT OPEN WHEEL CLASSIC AT STOCKTON STOCKTON, CA., APRIL 22: Billy Wease scored the win in the annual Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic 100-lap midget race at the Stockton "99" Speedway following a tense on-track confrontation with early leader and teammate Michael Lewis.
Fast qualifier Lewis, looking for his third Gerhardt Classic win, led off the three-abreast start from the pole with Wease slipping in behind from his outside starting berth, dropping center-starting Ryan Kaplan to third. Fourth-quick qualifier Shannon McQueen held fourth over Michael Hubert III. McQueen charged her Stealth/Esslinger into third on the second round as defending USAC Western States champion Jerome Rodela worked his TCR/VanDyne up to sixth.
Lewis and Wease, driving two of the three Western Speed Racing Esslinger Ford powered Gerhardt machines, indicated their dominance with the third Gerhardt-owned team car running seventh behind Scott Pierovich with young Alex Pruett at the wheel.
Ben Petter brought out the caution flag on the fourth lap with a spin into the turn-two infield. The green was short lived on the ninth circuit when Pete Davis and Brad Galedrige locked horns on the front stretch at the green. Galedrige spun and Davis retired. During the ensuing caution period Steve Roza was flagged for dropping liquid. At the green the Lewis-Wease duo continued their dominance as the battles for position continued to their rear. Rodela displaced Hubert's Beast/Gaerte Chevy for fifth and began his battle with Stealth/Stanton Mopar shod Kaplan.
All appeared to be smooth-sailing for the two frontrunners until the 29th lap. Exiting turn-four as they ran up to lap Eddie Abrew, Lewis elected to take the high side. Wease seized the opportunity and charged to the apron of the quarter-mile paved oval. As Abrew drifted a bit high Lewis changed his strategy and dove under the to-be-lapped machine. As Wease powered out of the turn it appeared that the acceleration projected him outward just as Lewis projected himself under Abrew....and thus, the teammates became one!....Lewis was struck mid-car by Wease, sending the leader into a glancing blow off the front-stretch wall, regaining control and continuing down track to eventually fill in the rear during the caution period. Abrew, attempting to avoid the melee, reverse-spinned into the wall and was removed with suspension damage.
Following the race while in conversation with his fellow Noblesville, IN. Competitor and air traveler, Lewis, accepted most of the blame, stating, "He (Wease) did exactly what I would have done. But I was determined not to give up the lead and gave him no room", shrugging of the incident as "that's racing".
Following the caution period Wease held a strong lead over McQueen, Kaplan, Rodela, Pierovich, Hubert, Chase Barber, Pruett and Garratt "Surfer Dude" Boyden. With yellow laps counting at this juncture, the green was displayed on the 41st lap, but reappeared on the 42nd round when McQueen displaced her second position with a 360-degree spin in turn-two. Everyone avoided the spinning car and she aligned into the tenth spot. Rodela had outdueled Kaplan to now hold second with Pierovich and Hubert next over Pruett. Petter brought back the caution on the 51st circuit with another spin into the turn-two infield. Pierovich's Beast/Wirth Mopar lost several positions on the restart.
The 59th lap saw another yellow flag as Galedrige spun his Beast/Bob Wirth Mopar exiting onto the backstretch. As he spun, Evan Margeson and John Sarale tangled in their attempt to miss the spinning car and ended up into the infield barrier. Lewis was left with no room and struck the outer wall, disabling his Western Speed Racing machine and concluding his frustrating evening. Wease led the field to the green on the 70th lap, but before reaching the line Margeson and the lapped Rick Faeth tangled in the fourth turn to negate the restart.
Again, the track went green, with Wease over Rodela, Kaplan, Hubert, Barber, Boyden, Pruett and Matt Mitchell. McQueen had regained one position to hold ninth....an again, the green was short-lived with Galedrige spinning into the infield. As the 80th lap was reached, the counting of laps under caution ceased to insure a final 20-laps of racing.
Wease sailed undaunted toward the checkered flag as his pursuers battled for position. Pruett began asserting the third Western Speed Racing Gerhardt machine and overtook a slipping Hubert to hold fourth. Hubert's fine drive slipped away even more with a souring engine. Kaplan made good his attempt to displace Rodela for second and re-took the runner-up spot on the 94th round. Boyden, holding eighth with the loss of brakes, spun into turn-one in a cloud of smoke, nearly collecting Mitchell and Tony Hunt. Boyden 360'd nearly into the wall and all cars involved continued on-track.
At the century mark Wease took the win over Kaplan, Rodela, Pruett, Barber, a charging McQueen, and fading Hubert, with Boyden in for the eighth spot over Hunt, Tyler Brown, Mitchell, Travis Berryhill and Dallen McKinney, all reaching the 100-lap mark and followed by six lapped cars.
The next scheduled BCRA midget race is Friday, May 12 at the Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, CA. USAC runs the Altamont Raceway Park half-mile pavement on May 13.
QUAL.: 1. Michael Lewis, #40 Western Speed 13.337; 2. Ryan Kaplan, #21 Kaplan 13.341; 3. Billy Wease, #80 Western Speed 13.374; 4. Shannon McQueen, #7 McQueen 13.385; 5. Alex Pruett, #60 Western Speed 13.474; 6. Brad Galedrige, #29 Galedrige 13.489; 7. Ben Petter, #22 Petter 13.511; 8. Michael Hubert III, #56 Hubert 13.520; 9. Scott Pierovich, #35 L. Pierovich 13.579; 10. Chase Barber, #91 B. Barber 13.583; 11. Garratt Boyden, #42 Boyden 13.597; 12. Jerome Rodela, #5 Rodela 13.628; 13. Matt Mitchell, #37 J.W. Mitchell 13.725; 14. Tony Hunt, #4 Rosen 13.727; 15. Pete Davis, #00 Davis 13. 727; 16. Evan Margeson, # 11 Margeson 13.777; 17. Travis Berryhill, #11Z Berryhill 13.794; 18. Steve Roza, #30 B. Roza 13.846; 19. Dallen McKinney, #88X McKinney 13.848; 20. David Prickett, #15 Prickett 13.849; 21. Tyler Brown, #34 Brown 13.883; 22. John Sarale, #32 Sarale 13.924; 23. Bryan Gard, Arata 13.925; 24. Dan Gundo, #6 Gundo 14.086; 25. Floyd Alvis, #18 Alvis 14.107; 26. Eddie Abrew, #25 Abrew 14.212; 27. Cameron Beard, #94 Beard 14.430; 28. Bill Lindsey, #61 Fowler 14.503; 29. Rick Faeth, #3 Faeth 14.625.
MAIN EVENT (100-LAPS): 1. Billy Wease, 2. Ryan Kaplan, 3. Jerome Rodela, 4. Alex Pruett, 5. Chase Barber, 6. Shannon McQueen, 7. Michael Hubert III, 8. Garratt Boyden, 9. Tony Hunt, 10. Tyler Brown, 11. Matt Mitchell, 12. Travis Berryhill, 13. Dallen McKinney, 14. David Prickett, 15. Dan Gundo, 16. Floyd Alvis, 17. Evan Margeson, 18. Cameron Beard, 19. John Sarale, 20. Brad Galedrige, 21. Rick Faeth, 22. Scott Pierovich, 23. Michael Lewis, 24. Bryan Gard, 25. Ben Petter, 26. Bill Lindsey, 27. Eddie Abrew, 28. Steve Roza, 29. Pete Davis.