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Paden takes advantage, wins Ventura USAC Western States Midgets event - By Bobby Gerould, 09/25/04 - Ventura, CA. ůSteven Paden capitalized on a tangle between the first and second place running cars Saturday night to win the 30 lap USAC Western States Midget feature event at Ventura Raceway. The 2003 series champion assumed the lead on a lap 21 restart when Wally Pankratz and leader Jerome Rodela crashed. It was Paden's fourth win on the 2004 season.

Under cool and breezy conditions, the feature race had all sorts of trouble getting started. Five starts and 40 minutes transpired before a lap was completed. The original green flag for 22 starters saw Bakersfield's Shannon McQueen slide to a stop on the back chute. That brought about a complete restart. As the cars raced off turn two a huge tangle ensued that involved points leader Johnny Rodriguez, Danny Ebberts, Robby Flock, and Mitchell. Ebberts retired from the race.

The third attempt to start the race was done single file. Kirk Kubik suffered a high and hard flip down the front chute that brought out a red flag. Kubik ended up okay. The fourth try was the charm. Kind of. After one lap was in the books, Shain Matthews and Josh Lakatos got together in turn two bringing out yet another caution flag. Garratt Boyden was the next to be a victim of the sticky, hooked-up racing surface. On the lap two restart he suffered a big nasty ride in turn one. Michelle Decker, a visiting winged sprint car driver from Oklahoma was also involved.

The race finally got into a groove from laps 3-21. Rodela, who started from the pole, was racing away from the field and looked like a sure winner. He had a straightaway lead over Pankratz that evaporated when Matt Mitchell spun in turn two on lap 22. That set up the race changing scenario. On the restart, Pankratz made an aggressive move to the inside of Rodela in turn one pulling nearly even with him on the back chute. As they raced into turn three, Pankratz powered in on the bottom and made contact with Rodela's #25. Both cars did a half-spin and stopped. Rodela could not continue.

Paden took command and won the race by three car-lengths over Jimmy Christian. Flock recovered from his early tangle to race back to third place at the checkered. He and Matthews battled hard to provide the most entertaining moments of the race. They swapped fourth place three times between laps 22 and 27. Dallen McKenney finished fourth and Rick Hendrix was fifth. Paden posted quick time turning the tight 1/5-mile clay surface in 12.142 seconds. Rodriguez, Mitchell, and Lakatos were the three heat race winners.

Bobby Michnowicz started on the pole and won the 20-lap USAC Ford Focus California South feature event. Points leader, Chris Rahe pressured Michnowicz but could not make a pass. Rahe ended up as the runner up after moving forward from the eighth starting position. Rob Kershaw passed Bradley Galedridge on a lap 13 restart and held on for third. Galedridge was fourth and Ryan Pace completed the top five. Pace charged from 15th on the grid. J.J. Ercse had a rough night in his Ford Focus #40. Ercse flipped on the opening lap of the feature, restarted, and then flipped very violently on lap 13. The second series of snap rolls caused Ercse to take a body inventory. He got out of the car under his own power but rode a cart back to the pit area. Chase Barber advanced more than any driver. He lined up 21st in the 23-car field and finished seventh.

USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: September 25, 2004 - Ventura, California - Ventura Raceway QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Steve Paden, 01, Farrier-12.142; 2. Danny Ebberts, 14, Ebberts/Schlachter-12.258; 3. Wally Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-12.412; 4. Robby Flock, 79, Sala-12.448; 5. Tyler Brown, 34, Brown-12.463; 6. Jerome Rodela, 25, Rodela-12.490; 7. Johnny Rodriguez, 30, Rodriguez-12.495; 8. Stephen Graves, 94, Graves-12.513; 9. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-12.563; 10. Rick Hendrix, 12, Hendrix-12.630; 11. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-12.687; 12. Josh Lakatos, 4P, Lakatos-12.750; 13. Jimmy Christian, 16, Christian-12.775; 14. Jimmy Voitel, 14x, Voitel-12.782; 15. Garratt Boyden, 42, Boyden-12.823; 16. Dallen McKenney, 88, McKenney-12.838; 17. Michelle Decker, 10x, Walker-13.229; 18. Shain Matthews, 10, Walker-13.334; 19. James Miller, Jr., 48, Miller-13.374; 20. Kirk Kubik, 03, Kubik-13.456; 21. Robert Ellis, 41, Ellis-13.500; 22. Tony Everhart, 55, Everhart-NT; 23. Victor Mencarini, 85, Mesikian-NT; 24. Garrett Hansen, 70, Hansen-NT.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rodriguez, 2. McKenney, 3. Flock, 4. Paden, 5. Hendrix, 6. Miller, 7. Christian, 8. Everhart. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Mitchell, 2. Decker, 3. Graves, 4.Ebberts, 5. Brown, 6. Voitel, 7. Kubik, 8. Mencarini. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Lakatos, 2. Pankratz, 3. Rodela, 4.Matthews, 5. McQueen, 6. Boyden, 7. Ellis. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Steve Paden, 2. Jimmy Christian, 3. Robby Flock, 4. Dallen McKenney, 5. Rick Hendrix, 6. Shain Matthews, 7. Johnny Rodriguez, 8. Josh Lakatos, 9. Wally Pankratz, 10. James Miller, Jr., 11. Stephen Graves, 12. Jerome Rodela, 13. Tyler Brown, 14. Matt Mitchell, 15. Jimmy Voitel, 16. Tony Everhart, 17. Michelle Decker, 18. Garratt Boyden, 19. Danny Ebberts, 20. Shannon McQueen, 21. Kirk Kubik, 22. Victor Mencarini.NT ----------------------------------------

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Rodela, Laps 22-30 Paden.

NEW WESTERN MIDGET CAR POINTS: 1-Rodriguez-988; 2-Pankratz-895; 3-Rodela-835; 4-Paden-698; 5-Hansen-652; 6-Flock-647; 7-McKenney-624; 8-Mitchell-507; 9-McQueen-464; 10-Brown-434.

NEXT WESTERN MIDGET CAR RACE: October 9 - Hanford, CA - Kings Speedway

USAC CALIFORNIA FORD FOCUS (South) MIDGET CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: September 25, 2004 - Ventura, California - Ventura Raceway

FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. J.J. Ercse (#40 CamLand), 2. Alex Harris (#54 Harris), 3. Chris Rahe (#31 Rahe), 4. Steve Koster, Jr. (#12 Koster), 5. J.R. Williams (#74 Williams), 6. Scott Nogrady (#25 Nogrady), 7. Randi Pankratz (#32 Pankratz), 8. Tom Fish (#2 Fish). NT

SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Rob Kershaw (#20 Kershaw), 2. Josh Lakatos (#4 Bristing), 3. Eric Pace (#28 Pace), 4. Steve Davis (#77 Davis), 5. Ryan pace (#14 Pace), 6. James Miller, Jr. (#48 Miller), 7. Chase Barber (#91Barber). NT

THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ashley Swanson (#10 Walker), 2. Bradley Galedrige (#19 Galedrige), 3. Bobby Michnowicz (#21 Michnowicz/Zoriki), 4. Jeff Gregory (#8 Gregory), 5. Cal Smith (#39 Cal Sun), Jake Vail (#11 Vail), 7. Bobby McGowan (#15 McGowan), 8. Jet Davison (#59 Davison). NT

FEATURE: (20 laps) 1. Bobby Michnowicz, 2. Chris Rahe, 3. Rob Kershaw, 4. Bradley Galedrige, 5. Ryan Pace, 6. Eric Pace, 7. Chase Barber, 8. Bobby McGowan, 9. Steve Koster, Jr., 10. Steve Davis, 11. Cal Smith, 12. Randi Pankratz, 13. Jake Vail, 14. James Miller, Jr., 15. J.R. Williams, 16. Jeff Gregory, 17. Tom Fish, 18. Alex Harris, 19. J.J. Ercse, 20. Josh Lakatos, 21. Scott Nogrady, 22. Jet Davison, 23. Ashley Swanson. NT -----------------------------------

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-20 Michnowicz.

NEW CALIFORNIA FORD FOCUS SOUTH MIDGET CAR STANDINGS: 1-Rahe-912; 2-Galedrige-801; 3-Michnowicz-741; 4-Barber-690; 5-Lakatos-677; 6-McGowan-667; 7-R.Pace-643; 8-E.Pace-511; 9-Smith-508; 10-Williams-436.

NEXT CALIFORNIA FORD FOCUS MIDGET CAR RACE (South): October 9 - Irwindale (CA) Speedway