Lewis leaves `em in USAC Western Midget Fred Gerhardt Classic - By Bobby Gerould - Stockton, CA. September 11, 2005 - Michael Lewis from Noblesville, Indiana started in the middle of the three-wide front row Sunday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. The United States Auto Club (USAC) Western Midget series was contesting the Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic on the quarter-mile paved oval. Lewis led all 99 laps of the feature event aboard the Western Speed #40. It was his second feature event win of the 2005 season in USAC Western Midget racing.
The caution flag plagued feature event in cool conditions was scheduled to run 100 laps but was called at lap 99 after 16 different caution periods. Good racing did occur when the green light was on. Tony Hunt, who set quick-time in the Bob Rosen #4, challenged Lewis in traffic from laps 9 through 14. Their battle was interrupted by a spin of Thomas Meseraull in turn one. The San Jose driver was racing for third place with Ben Petter at the time. With 30 laps down Lewis led Hunt, Petter, Garratt Boyden, and Scott Pierovich.
On the move was Bobby Santos in the Western Speed #67. The Massachusetts pilot started 13th and climbed into the top-five on lap 32 with a high groove pass. Six laps later, Hunt again pressured Lewis while the fans cheered their contest. Their battle was halted with a yellow-flag on lap 39 for a spun out Robby Flock. The USAC Western Midget points leader apparently had contact with Jerome Rodela; whom he gestured to as Rodela drove by the accident scene. Rodela is second in points. After two more caution periods, Lewis hit traffic on lap 67. By lap 72, Lewis was leading by a half-straightaway while Hunt and Santos engaged in a crowd pleaser for second place. On lap 80 Santos moved around Hunt and set his sights on his teammate Lewis. Five re-starts later on lap 87, Kevin Swindell passed Petter for fourth place on the lowest part of turn four. The 16 year-old Swindell from Germantown, TN was making his initial start on the Stockton pavement.
Another caution on lap 88 for a stalled Meseraull preceded a turn one spin by Rodela while running fifth. On lap 93 Shannon McQueen looped it in turn four as Pierovich ran out of fuel setting up a lap 94 restart. Swindell went under the yellow line to pass Hunt in turn four for third place but was consulted by USAC Officials at the next caution for doing so. The pass was negated and Swindell was moved back behind Hunt. On the ensuing restart Swindell's Western Speed #80 contacted the rear of Hunt's car, sending the Lincoln, CA driver into s spin as the field raced into turn one. The penultimate caution flag set up the three Western Speed cars running one-two-three. With five laps to go Swindell challenged Santos for the runner-up spot in turn four. Swindell's front-end nailed into the rear of Santos in turn three. The two drivers recovered from the contact but Santos lost positions while he did a 360 degree spin.
A final caution on lap 99 led to a yellow-checkered finish with Lewis the winner. The official finish showed Brian Gard of Kelseyville, CA. as runner-up, with Santos third. Rodela was fourth and Petter was fifth. The top ten was completed by Dallen McKenney, McQueen, Ryan Kaplan, Brian Olson, and Tyler Brown. Swindell was scored 12th after being penalized for rough driving. Rodela's finish sliced Western Midget point leader Robby Flock's lead to 55 points as Flock finished 27th in Sunday's race.
The series resumes Sept. 24 at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, Calif.
USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: September 11, 2005 - Stockton, California - Stockton 99 Speedway - "Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic"
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Tony Hunt, 4, Rosen-13.334; 2. Michael Lewis, 40, Western Speed-13.449; 3. Scott Pierovich, 35, Pierovich-13.478; 4. Ben Petter, 11D, DeBeaumont-13.518; 5. Brian Olson, 71, Olson-13.527; 6. Thomas Meseraull, 69, Ferrari-13.537; 7. Kevin Swindell, 80, Western Speed-13.539; 8. Bradley Galedrige, 29, Galedrige-13.582; 9. Garratt Boyden, 42, Boyden-13.593; 10. Ryan Kaplan, 21, Kaplan-13.664; 11. Robby Flock, 79, Sala-13.669; 12. Greg Dennett, 47, 3D Racing-13.707; 13. Bobby Santos III, 167, Western Speed-13.725; 14. Jerome Rodela, 5, VanDyne-13.780; 15. Dallen McKenney, 88, McKenney-13.780; 16. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-13.812; 17. Floyd Alvis, 18, Alvis-13.879; 18. Pete Davis, 00, Davis-13.914; 19. Bobby Dalton, 36, Dalton-13.938; 20. Brian Gard, 57, Borghesian-13.954; 21. Stuart Birkinbine, 02, Birkinbine-13.954; 22. Tyler Brown, 34, Brown-14.114; 23. Dan Gundo, 6, Gundo-14.235; 24. Stephen Graves, 86, Graves-14.326; 25. David Prickett, 15, Prickett-14.420; 26. Jimmy Christian, 10x, Walker-14.888; 27. Dan Parker, 38, Parker-15.010; 28. Jim Silva, 19, Silva-NT; 29. Rob Russell, 10, Walker-NT. FEATURE: (99 laps - Halted by multi-car tangle) 1. Michael Lewis, 2. Brian Gard, 3. Bobby Santos III, 4. Jerome Rodela, 5. Ben Petter, 6. Dallen McKenney, 7. Shannon McQueen, 8. Ryan Kaplan, 9. Brian Olson, 10. Tyler Brown, 11. Tony Hunt, 12. Kevin Swindell, 13. Greg Dennett, 14. Bobby Dalton, 15. Jim Silva, 16. Pete Davis, 17. Scott Pierovich, 18. Stephen Graves, 19. Garratt Boyden, 20. Dan Parker, 21. Thomas Meseraull, 22. Bradley Galedrige, 23. Dan Gundo, 24. Floyd Alvis, 25. Stuart Birkinbine, 26. David Prickett, 27. Robby Flock, 28. Jimmy Christian. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-99 Lewis.
NEW WESTERN MIDGET CAR STANDINGS: 1-Flock-621; 2-Rodela-566; 3-Brown-474; 4-Kaplan-468; 5-Graves-425; 6-Garrett Hansen-404; 7-McKenney-337; 8-Galedrige-336; 9-Pierovich-326; 10-McQueen-321.
NEXT WESTERN MIDGET CAR RACE: September 24 - San Bernardino, CA - Orange Show Speedway