STOCKTON, Calif. — Darin Snider rocketed to the finish line by inches over hard-charging Chad Nichols to score the Bay Cities Racing Ass’n midget victory Saturday Stockton 99 Speedway.
Following the fast-paced duo was Nick Chivello in the Dan Chivello Beast Esslinger, the only other driver to be on the winner’s lap at the conclusion of the 30-lap feature.
Snider immediately jumped into the lead from his inside second row starting berth, besting pole-sitter Mark Maliepaard’s Beast/Esslinger into the first turn. Outside front row starter Cody Gerhardt quickly succumbed to fourth-starting Nick Chivello and Nichols, who had started sixth in his Beast/Esslinger. By the end of the first lap Maliepaard slipped to fourth. Fast-qualifier Nichols challenged Chivello’s Beast/Esslinger and jumped to second one lap later.
By the third round Snider, handling the Lauren Snider Beast/Mopar, held a scant lead over Nichols as both began to pull away from the pack. From that point on all eyes were on the two leaders. It became a game of cat-and-mouse as Nichols challenged the leader repeatedly lap-after-lap with the field steadily falling far behind. On the seventh round, the first car to be lapped was Snider’s own sister, midget rookie Jodi Snider, making only her second midget start aboard the Floyd Alvis Stealth/Esslinger.
Nichols continued the pressure on the leader, crossing the finish line on the eighth lap side-by-side, but failing to roust Snider from the lead. Nichols utilized inside and outside attempts to unseat Snider, nearly making it stick on lap-19, several times sliding from the inside line, up in front for the lead, only to have Snider dive back down, powering out of the turn to retain his edge.
The only caution flag came on the 27th circuit when Maliepaard completed a half-spin from track center to the pole in the first turn, sliding in the liquid spewing from his own car. This allowed third-running Chivello to move up directly behind the two leaders, but, at the drop of the green, he was unable to match the resumption of the torrid Snider/Nichols pace.
With but four laps remaining Nichols applied all of his skills, mercilessly threatening Snider around the quarter-mile paved oval, moving up along side on several occasions. On the final lap, with Nichols charging to the inside, the two cars appeared to touch in turn one. It looked as though Nichols finally had the upper hand as they raced down the backstretch with Nichols maintaining the inside edge. Through the final turn and onto the front straight Nichols made his final challenge, powering out of the turn, side by side within an inch or two of Snider, and crossing the line just short of a last-lap victory. Snider took his masterful drive to the finish by a wheel length for the win.
The jubilant driver stated afterward, “Another lap and I’m sure Nichols would have won — he would have had the inside line going into the first turn, that would have been it.”
Chivello placed third some distance back as the remainder of the field trailed one or more laps in arrears.
Darin Snider, Chad Nichols, Nick Chivello, Cody Gerhardt, Gary Conterno, Floyd Alvis, Jodi Snider, Mark Maliepaard, Mike Donaldson, Bill Lindsey, J.R. Williams, Rick Holbrook, Jimmy Screeton, Kevin Morris.