Piker gets first win in Sports Mod main event
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
John Piker’s first-ever trip to Victory Lane had plenty of detours along the way. The Bakersfield driver skillfully navigated his way through nine restarts to win the 25-lap IMCA Sports Mod feature Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway. Piker passed Justin Tuey for the lead with 20 laps remaining and then held off David Childress to take the checkered flag. “Oh man, I don’t even believe it,” Piker said. “We’ve tried for so long to win one of these deals. This is my first win in a race car.” Piker, who stayed up until 2 o’clock in the morning working on his car in preparation for the race, quickly pulled out a two-car advantage over Childress after a restart with four laps to go. That gave him all the cushion he would need. “We had so many restarts in a row and I knew I had to change it up and hopefully I could catch him off-guard,” Piker said. “And I guess I did.” Childress lost ground to Piker over the final few laps but held on to take second place. “My car was real loose,” Childress said. “I had nothing for (John Piker). He had an awesome car tonight. I got to give it to him and his crew … I was just happy to finish this race.” Piker said the race’s nine yellow flags, including six during the first seven laps, caused him to stay extremely focused behind the wheel. “The track was tricky but the hardest thing was just all the cautions in a row, and just it weighing on your head, trying not to make mistakes,” Piker said. Dylan Hagar ended up finishing third, followed by Tina McGowan, Jared Schweitzer, and Kyle Griffith. Taylor Paddock was fourth to cross the finish line but was disqualified for failing to report to the claim area immediately after the race, an IMCA rules violation.
Cody Swanson did a wheel-stand and then a couple of celebratory laps after winning the 30-lap USAC Western Dirt Midget feature Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
The Norco driver had plenty to be happy about following a dominant performance in which he led wire-to-wire despite being pressured by runner-up Ronnie Gardner for most of the race. Jake Swanson took third. Ryan Bernal finished fourth and David Prickett was fifth. Swanson was able to keep Gardener behind him even after suffering a broken rear sway bar late in the race “That was a tough race,” Swanson said. “It was a lot of fun battling with those guys.”
Kenny Wiley of Sunland edged Chuck West by half a car length to win the 15-lap NMRA Midgets A-main event “I wasn’t sure I had (the car) right tonight, but it worked out,” Wiley said. Michael Black was third followed by early race leader Don Kiefer and West Evans. Wiley, the 2007 series champion, took over the point from Black with a handful of laps remaining and then pulled away until the final time around the third-mile clay oval. That’s when Evans made his charge, driving his car hard into turn three and then drag racing Wiley off the final turn to the flag stand.
Darren Sherman of Tehachapi held off Bakersfield’s Doug Shepherd in green-white-checkered finish to win a caution-filled Mini Stocks A-main. The race was originally scheduled for 20 laps but was shortened to 15 because of five yellow flags. Tina Bell was third, followed by Dylan Baker and Johnny Winchester. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here,” Sherman said after his first-ever win in a Mini Stock. “It’s a good feeling.” Billy Lay started on the outside of the front row and held the point until turn four of the sixth lap when his right front tire went flat. That allowed Sherman to take over the lead.