Sawyer Tops Merced Dirt Nationals Opener

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Robby Sawyer claimed night one of the Merced Speedway Dirt Nationals on Friday. (Joe Shivak Photo)
Robby Sawyer claimed night one of the Merced Speedway Dirt Nationals on Friday. (Joe Shivak Photo)

MERCED, Calif. – Robby Sawyer won the opening night of the Merced Speedway Dirt Nationals on Friday night.

The Bakersfield, Calif., veteran drove his modified to victory in the 25-lap contest which opened the two-day Merced Speedway Dirt Nationals.

Shane DeVolder finished a close second after dogging Sawyer for the last five laps of the contest. Troy Foulger who was an early threat, faded in the closing laps and settled for the third spot. Randy Brown and Jerry Flippo completed the top-five.

Gavyn Manning and Ethan Dotson paced the 20-car starting field. Each driver took a turn at leading with slide job moves at each end of the track. Unfortunately for Dotson, his slide job in the fourth turn on the second lap failed and he made contact with Manning, which took Dotson out of contention.

Manning managed to hold on to the second spot, but the shunt allowed Sawyer to take command.

With Sawyer easily out front, it would be Brown who would battle Manning while Foulger who was trying the bottom groove. Manning’s bad luck continued as he made contact with another car, causing even more damage to an already bent race car. As he slowed to pull off the on to the pit entrance the faster pack behind him failed to reduce speed and a multi car melee occurred on lap 13. The accident damaged several cars and ended the night for Troy Morris III.

Foulger showed his strength on the bottom groove during the restart to pass Sawyer, but the fastest way around the track proved to be the top side. Sawyer and Brown used the top to get back around the bottom feeding Foulger.

A caution once again slowed the race when a car went up in smoke. Sawyer used the single file restart to his advantage and started to pull away again. Brown pushed too hard and tagged the backstretch wall on the 18th lap and fell to fourth.

A determined DeVolder made it to the back bumper of Sawyer. However, on the white flag lap, DeVolder made a mistake and lost ground. Sawyer took the checkered flag by three car lengths after starting from the third spot.

More than 130 cars making up five divisions jammed the speedway pit area. The event honoring John Fore Jr. and Bob Smith concludes on Saturday.

The Finish:

Robby Sawyer, Shane DeVolder, Troy Foulger, Randy Brown, Jerry Flippo, Paul Stone, D J Shannon, Bobby Hogge IV, Darrell Hughes, Austin Kiefer, Trevor Fitz, Justin Dunn, Brian Cass, Kellen Chadwick, Jim Pettit II, Jeffrey Hudson, Gavyn Manning, Troy Morris III, Dylan Thornton, Ethan Dotson.