15th to first, Tyler Brown wins wild USAC Western Midget event at Santa Maria by Bobby Gerould 06/18/05 …Santa Maria, CA. ...Oh, how quickly things can change in auto racing. Early in the 30-lap feature event for USAC Western Midgets Saturday night, Norco, California's Tyler Brown was struggling. After starting 15th, Brown had moved up three spots to 12th by lap ten but it didn't appear to be his night. "If you asked me who was going to win, I would have said anyone but me", explained Brown, after hopping from his #34 TCR in the winners circle.

The opening stages of the feature event on the 1/3-mile high-banked dirt-oval were highly entertaining. 2004 Ford Focus California South Champion Chris Rahe got the jump and led the opening lap. The first caution flag appeared one circuit later when two-time 2005 USAC Western Midget feature winner Ryan Kaplan came to a stop after smacking the turn one wall. On the restart, Bradley Galedridge made an impressive high groove, turn-two pass on quick qualifier Jerome Rodela. By lap six Garrett Hansen was moving forward from his tenth starting spot. He moved into fourth dropping Rodela, and Galedridge back a position. Hansen then went to work on Robby Flock.

The two drivers dazzled fans by swapping third position on lap 13. One lap later, Rodela jumped to the cushion and drove around both Hansen and Flock! The slicing and dicing rivaled a Ginsu commercial. At the halfway point, the top-five were; Rahe, Quinton Sall, Rodela, Hansen, and Galedridge. Sall, a 16 year-old rookie in just his fourth midget start, did a half-spin on lap 17 while running second, directly in front of Rodela. Sall gathered it up but Rodela had nowhere to go and stalled bringing out a caution.

On the ensuing restart, Sall drove to the highest portions of Santa Maria Speedway to pass Rahe for the lead as the crowd stood. Hansen moved into second on the next lap. On lap 21 Hansen put a slide job on Sall in turn three but it didn't stick, and Sall drove underneath Hansen in turn four to maintain the lead.

An already exciting race turned flat out wacky on lap 22 when the top four cars were all involved in a back chute tangle. The crazy stuff started in turn one on lap 22 when second place running Hansen made contact with the leader, Sall. Hansen wrestled the lead from Sall and motored down the back straightaway only to be tagged from behind by third place running Thomas Meseraull. As Hansen and Meseraull slid sideways, the fourth place car of Rahe spun to avoid contact. Sall made it through the maze of sideways cars only to go into turn three with a broken radius rod that sent him into a spin.

After the caution, the lineup showed Brown at the point. He withheld Stephen Graves to the checkered flag to score the popular win in front of a standing room only crowd. The 20 year-old Brown thanked his car owner father Troy Brown, TCR Chassis, and sponsor Phil Goodwine during his victory interview. Rob Russell was outstanding in driving the Bay Muffler #10 from 17th starting position to a third place finish. Galedridge was fourth, and Rodela rebounded for fifth. Sixth through tenth fell to Flock, Scott Pierovich, Hansen, Garratt Boyden, and Michael Trimble.

Rodela paced qualifying with a 13.857 second lap. Dallen McKenney and Kaplan were heat race winners. Flock won the Last Chance Race. Wally Pankratz never had a chance to compete after blowing an engine in hot laps.

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Jerome Rodela, 25, Rodela-13.857; 2. Thomas Meseraull, #N/A, N/A-13.980; 3. Robby Flock, 79, Sala-14.115; 4. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-14.170; 5. Quinton Sall, #N/A, N/A-14.170; 6. Chris Rahe, 31, Rahe-114.186; 7. Rob Russell, #N/A, N/A-14.237; 8. Ryan Kaplan, 21, Kaplan-14.297; 9. Bradley Galedrige, 29, Galedrige-14.300; 10. Stephen Graves, 86, Graves-14.300; 11. Garrett Hansen, 70, Hansen-14.362; 12. Garrett Boyden, #N/A, N/A-14.429; 13. Dallen McKenney, 88, McKenney-14.504; 14. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-14.526; 15. Scott Pierovich, 35, Pierovich-14.655; 16. Michael Trimble, #N/A, N/A-14.739; 17. Tyler Brown, 34, Brown-14.949; 18. David Prickett, #N/A, N/A-15.489; 19. Wally Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-NT.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. McKenney, 2. Pierovich, 3. Brown, 4. Rodela, 5. Hansen, 6. Russell, 7. Sall, 8. Flock, 9. Galedrige. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kaplan, 2. Trimble, 3. Meseraull, 4. Rahe, 5. Boyden, 6. McQueen, 7. Prickett, 8. Mitchell, 9. Graves. NT

SEMI: (10 laps) 1. Flock, 2. Graves, 3. McQueen, 4. Galedrige, 5. Sall, 6. Mitchell, 7. Prickett, 8. Russell. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Tyler Brown, 2. Stephen Graves, 3. Rob Russell, 4. Bradley Galedrige, 5. Jerome Rodela, 6. Robby Flock, 7. Scott Pierovich, 8. Garrett Hansen, 9. Garrett Boyden, 10. Michael Trimble, 11. Chris Rahe, 12. Shannon McQueen, 13. Thomas Meseraull, 14. Quinton Sall, 15. Matt Mitchell, 16. Dallen McKenney, 17. Ryan Kaplan. ----------------

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-16 Rahe, Laps 17-22 Sall, Laps 23-30 Brown.

NEW WESTERN MIDGET CAR STANDINGS: 1-Flock-301; 2-Rodela-270; 3-Kaplan-244; 4-Brown-238; 5-Hansen-222; 6-Steve Paden-212; 7-Graves-203; 8-McQueen-203; 9-Pierovich-190; 10-Rahe-166.