For the Madera Tribune
The 45th Harvest Classic at the LoanMart Madera Speedway brought out a complete night of open wheel horsepower combined with multi-engine tractor pulls and vintage Super Modifieds.
Cody Gerhardt took over the Madera Western Winged Sprint points with a big victory Sept. 17 while Chad Nichols dominated for a strong BCRA Midget win.
Gerhardt managed to maintain a solid lead on Justin Nobile across the finish line in the main with Justin Kawahata taking a well-deserved third place finish over Gordon Rogers and Tom Baker.
Nichols of Colma had no trouble motoring away for one of the most substantial winning margins of the year in the BCRA Midget 30-lap feature. His margin of victory was 9.7 seconds. Antioch’s Nick Foster, Jr. led the opening three laps of the race but the three-time BCRA champion was quickly passed by fourth starting Nichols.
Nichols, Foster, David Goodwill, Alex Schutte, and Bobby Wilson were the top-five finishers after a quick race for BCRA.
Folsom’s Jerry Kobza got a big come-from-behind win in the NCMA Sprint Cars to unofficially take the overall division championship for 2016. Kobza overcame an incident in his heat race to come from shotgun on the field to win the 30 lap feature. Kobza was the third different leader of a busy main event.
Kobza assumed the top position and fended off points rival Denny Burrell of Ripon in a thrilling 10-lap shootout down to the wire. Rocklin’s John Mamula held on for third ahead of Dan Ariaz the final of the finishing cars.
The CSS 360 Super Modifieds had one of their best programs of 2016 and it was a race about being in the right place at the right time. Clovis’ AJ Russell took over the lead on the initial start from the 18 car of Lance Jackson, who fell back to fourth early on.
After the incident was resolved, the racing resumed hot and heavy up front with Justin Tuey proving strong enough to get the victory head of Eric Humphries, Jackson, Carl Mott, and Clovis’ Austin Carter.
San Martin’s Tom Patterson earned his first USAC HPD Midget victory at LoanMart Madera Speedway, leading all 30 laps. Double-duty racer Cody Jessop held off a furious pack, including Jesse Love IV and the Briedinger sisters of Annie and Toni. Young rookie Joey Iest of Madera also kept his nose in the battle.
Jessop did a great job to get second ahead of the hard charging Love with Toni Briedinger and Iest the top-five.
The Twisted Tea Modifieds crowned their champion with Pleasanton’s Rick Avila earning his first Madera championship.
The Harvest Classic opened on Sept. 16 with the first champions of the season crowned.
Matt Erickson fended off a tremendous 21-car field for the “local” Madera race, not part of the eight-race LoanMart Open Late Model televised series.
Rick Thompson, the 2015 Madera overall Late Model champion, finished sixth and it was enough to get the local track championship.
Erickson won Friday’s 30-lap feature, ahead of Modesto drivers Kyle Gottula and Aaron Coonfield, who were both making their Madera Late Model debuts for the year.
Clovis’ Thomas Suarez had a third place effort in Hobby Stocks that was enough to earn him the local Madera Hobby Stock points championship as well. Multi-time track champion Howard Holden, also of Clovis, won Friday’s main event ahead of Jesus Hernandez.