Bernal hangs on for Sprint Car win at Bakersfield Speedway
BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer email@example.com
Ryan Bernal led all but two laps to win the 30-lap USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway. Bernal, of Hollister, powered past pole-sitter Richard Vander Weerd and led until he was caught up in lapped traffic midway through the race. Danny Faria Jr. got past Bernal on the 15th lap but Bernal retook the led on the 17th lap and led the rest of the way. “I knew he wouldn’t go far because there was so much traffic,” Bernal said of being passed by Faria. “So I waited for my opportunity, took it and got the lead back.” Bernal has now won four of the six stand-alone West Coast Sprint Car races. Vander Weerd has won the other two races, including one at Bakersfield Speedway on March 23. Bernal was second in that race. Vander Weerd fell back as far at fourth, but battled back to finish as runner-up. “I’m happy with second,” he said. “Two guys got by me up on top at the start, there was nothing I could do. Their cars were a little better than mine at the beginning and mine was a little better at the end.” Bud Kaeding, who finished third in the first Bakersfield Speedway race, was third again. Faria wound up fourth with Marcus Niemela fifth. Bakersfield’s Rusty Carlile finished sixth.
In Sports Mod action, Wayne Dotson became the fourth different winner in as many races, leading the las 12 laps of the 20-lap feature. “Terry Henry (who prepares the car) told me we could win tonight, I can’t thank him enough,” Dotson said. The last time the Sport Mods ran, the feature was plagued by numerous caution flags. This one was only slowed by two brief cautions. “I think everybody is trying to do a better job,” Dotson said. “It’s a great class and is really growing.” Ray Crumb, who led the first eight laps, finished third, followed by Dylan Hagar and Cale Kanke.
Doug Shepherd took the lead eight laps into the Mini Stock feature and sailed to his first win of the season in the 20-lap race. Shepherd held a full straightaway lead when a caution brought him back to the field with five laps to go, but when the race restarted he easily pulled away. “It all worked out,” Shepherd said. “The track came in and I could hold the bottom and nobody could get by me.” Gary Spiller Jr. finished second with Johnny Winchester third, which unofficially puts them in a tie in the championship points battle. Dylan Baker edged out Tina Wheeler-Bell by a bumper to take fourth.
Ronnie Williams raced to victory in the 20-lap California Dwarf Car Racing Association 20-lap feature. Williams powered past Angel Figueroa following a restart on the ninth lap and ran unchallenged the rest of the way. Figueroa, who led the first eight laps, held on for second with Eric Lopez third.