By Floyd Busby
STRATTON CHARGES TO BCRA/USAC MIDGET WIN AT HANFORD HANFORD, CA., OCT. 9: Danny Stratton charged from twelfth to capture the 30-lap Bay Cities Racing Association and Untied States Auto Club Western States co-sanctioned Midget race in the Pacific Coast Open at the Kings Speedway in Hanford.
The turbulent event was immediately red-flagged when a triple-car flip occurred on the front stretch as the field approached to take the starter's green flag. The results sidelined second and third USAC pointmen Wally Pankratz and Jerome Rodela. The melee began as the Pankratz's Edmunds/Fontana slid high from his fourth row outside starting spot as he accelerated through turn-four to the green, then bounded inward, catching Rodela's Beast/Pink Ford as he attempted to pass on the inside from the ninth starting berth. As both car began to flip, Shannon McQueen was squeezed into, and rode up the front straight wall, overturning. Matt Streeter was knocked into a spin.
Emergency crews extracted both Pankratz and Rodela on back boards and they were transported to the local hospital, then released, sore but uninjured. McQueen and Streeter were able to restart. At the complete restart Josh Wise put the Sala Stealth/Riolo Chevy into the lead over Ryan Kaplan and Robby Flock in the second Sala machine, with Jimmy Christian holding a close fourth. The front-four remained the same through the seventh lap with USAC point leader Johnny Rodriguez in fifth over Tyler Brown, Garrett Hansen and defending USAC champ Steve Paden.
On the eighth round leader Wise caught a rut high in turn three, bounded off the outer rim of the track high into the air, nearly overturning. Looking as though he had overturned from the starter's stand, the red flag was thrown. At the restart BCRA rookie Kaplan's Stealth/Fontana led Flock, Christian, Rodriguez and Brown, with Stratton up to sixth. BCRA point leader Thomas Meseraull dropped out with a broken rear end gear in the Ferrari Stealth/Esslinger. Rodriguez was clipped exiting turn-two on the tenth circuit and was forced high down the backstretch, dropping from fourth to eighth in his Beast/Mopar. Flock put pressure on the leader as Stratton moved up to fourth, then began battling Christian.
On the 13th circuit Stratton maneuvered his Schanterman Stealth/Esslinger by both Christian and Flock, setting his front nerf directly behind Kaplan in a machine that appeared dominate. One lap later, rounding turn-four, Stratton dove under Kaplan. His exit from the turn slid wide, making contact with the leader and forcing Kaplan into a glancing blow off the wall. Kaplan, driving an exemplary race, managed to regain control in second, but then began dropping back.
On the 17th round local Sprint Car point leader Ronnie Day, driving the McKenney Stealth/Gowens team car, spun into the infield exiting the fourth turn to bring out the caution flag. At this point third-running Paden pulled his Farrier Beast/Esslinger into the infield and Kaplan pitted to inspect damage from his contact with the wall. He returned before the green, only to fight handling problems for the remainder of the race with rear suspension damage.
Stratton continued his lead over Flock, with Brown now up to third over Hansen's Beast/Fontana and a charging Rob Russell in the Guerrini Stealth/Gaerte Ford. One lap later Brian Gard slowed to a stop exiting turn-two with a disabled engine for the final caution period. The race to the checkered saw Stratton begin to pull away from the field. Flock held Brown at bay with Hansen in close pursuit. On the final lap Hansen's fine run came to an end when a fuel fitting snapped, relegating the youngster to stop short of a fourth-place finish in the last turn. Stratton claimed the 30-lap win over Flock, Brown, Russell, Rodriguez, Dallen McKenney, Greg Dennett, Day, Brad Kahn, Kaplan and Pete Davis, the only cars remaining on-track.
Paden claimed the top qualifying time over the 31-car field at 16.215. Meseraull won the first straight-up-start heat race over Matt Mitchell, Day and Kahn with Stratton claiming the second eight-lapper ahead of Russell, Gard and McQueen, the top-four transferring to the main event. The third heat, made up of the ten fastest qualifiers in inverted order, went to Wise over Christian and Brown. The first two finishers of the semi graduated to the rear of the feature with McKenney and Streeter getting the nod over Davis and Floyd Alvis.
SUMMARY: QUAL: 1. Steve Paden, 01 Farrier-16.215; 2. Jerome Rodela, 25 Rodela-16.237; 3. Wally Pankratz, 8 Pankratz-16.253; 4. Garrett Hansen, 70 Hansen-16.283; 5. Tyler Brown, 34 Brown-16.300; 6. Johnny Rodriguez, 30 Rodriguez-16.421; 7. Jimmy Christian, 16 Christian-16.423; 8. Robby Flock, 79 Sala-16.438; 9. Josh Wise, 19x Sala-16.522; 10. Ryan Kaplan, 27 Kaplan-16.548; 11. Thomas Meseraull, 6 Ferrari-16.598; 12. Brian Gard, 57 Borghesani-16.707; 13. Matt Mitchell, 37 Mitchell-16.722; 14. Rob Russell, 63 Guerrini-16.759; 15. Greg Dennett, 47 3D Racing-16.773; 16. Shannon McQueen, 7 McQueen-16.791; 17. Ronnie Day, 88x McKenney-16.805; 18. Danny Stratton, 50 Schankerman-16.829; 19. John Sarale, 32 Sarale-16.912; 20. Dallen McKenney, 88 McKenney-16.921; 21. Brad Kuhn, 10 Walker-16.935; 22. Matt Streeter, 97 Streeter-16.977; 23. Pete Davis, 00 Davis-17.028; 24. Floyd Alvis, 18 Alvis-17.131; 25. Scott Pierovich, 35 Pierovich-17.303; 26. Mike Hubert III, 56 Hubert-17.385; 27. Jimmy Voitel, 14 Voitel-17.590; 28. Tim Joyce, 99 Segur-17.632; 29. Joe Lindsey, 23 Lindsey-18.055; 30. David Prickett, 12 Prickett-18.762; 31. Greg Nelson, 17 Thurston-NT.
HEAT-1: (8 laps) 1. Meseraull, 2. Mitchell, 3. Day, 4. Kuhn, 5. Sarale, 6. Dennett, 7. Davis, 8. Pierovich, 9. Lindsey, 10. Voitel. 2:12.96
HEAT-2: (8 laps) 1. Stratton, 2. Russell, 3. Gard, 4. McQueen, 5. McKenney, 6. Streeter, 7. Alvis, 8. Hubert, 9. Joyce, 10. Prickett. 2:10.56
HEAT-3: (8 laps) 1. Wise, 2. Christian, 3. Brown, 4. Flock, 5. Rodriguez, 6. Pankratz, 7. Paden, 8. Hansen, 9. Rodela, 10. Kaplan. NT
SEMI: (10 laps) 1. McKenney, 2. Streeter, 3. Davis, 4. Alvis, 5. Pierovich, 6. Hubert, 7. Joyce, 8. Sarale, 9. Voitel, 10. Nelson, 11. Prickett, 12. Lindsey, 13. Dennett. NT
MAIN EVENT: (30 laps) 1. Danny Stratton, 2. Robby Flock, 3. Tyler Brown, 4. Rob Russell, 5. Johnny Rodriguez, 6. Dallen McKenney, 7. Greg Dennett, 8. Ronnie Day, 9. Brad Kuhn, 10. Ryan Kaplan, 11. Pete Davis, 12. Garrett Hansen, 13. John Sarale, 14. Brian Gard, 15. Steve Paden, 16. Jimmy Christian, 17. Thomas Meseraull, 18. Josh Wise, 19. Shannon McQueen, 20. Matt Streeter, 21. Wally Pankratz, 22. Jerome Rodela, 23. Matt Mitchell (N/S). NT
MAIN EVENT LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-7 Wise, 8-13 Kaplan, 14-30 Stratton.
John Sarale was leading the semi main when he was nudged into a spin by Dallen McKenney. Sarale was placed at the tail of the feature through the promoter's provisional option.
Greg Dennett also made the main by way of BCRA's first provisional option.
Pete Davis started the main as the alternate when Matt Mitchell's car would not start in the attempted push-off for the race.
In the first-lap multi-car flip, Wally Pankratz was momentarily knocked unconscious. Both he and Jerome Rodela were disoriented, thus the long wait as emergency medical crews took care in removing both on back boards.