Rocha Rocks Merced IMCA RaceSaver Field

0
942
Ryan Rocha (5R) on his way to victory Friday at Merced Speedway. (Joe Shivak Photo)
Ryan Rocha (5R) on his way to victory Friday at Merced Speedway. (Joe Shivak Photo)

MERCED, Calif. – Ryan Rocha won the 25-lap IMCA Western RaceSaver 305 sprint car feature at Merced Speedway on Friday night.

The 14-year-old Hanford, Calif., youth, in only his fourth series event, drove the family owned R&R Farms/K&M AG sponsored No. 5R car to victory.

Rocha started from the seventh starting spot in an 11 car field and inherited the lead when the two cars ahead of him crashed out while battling for the top spot. Ryan Delisle, the previous race winner, was second in front of Tony Pombo.

Kyle Rasmussen and Delisle brought the field to the green flag with Rasmussen taking the early advantage. Rasmussen held the point until he was passed by Grant Champlin with a fourth turn move as the two had to deal with slower traffic.

A high flying Champlin would soon get into a tangle trying to put Phil Heynen a lap down.  The encounter sent the two cars spinning just before the entry to the third turn. Heynen stalled during his spin, but Champlin was able to keep going and by series rule was able to restart in the front spot.

On the restart and with a damaged small wing, Champlin would be passed by Rasmussen in the first turn, but he wasn’t giving up the lead without a fight and the two cars collided, sending Rasmussen flipping towards the outside wall and Champlin spinning out.  Rasmussen’s night was over but Champlin would pit in the work area and return to the tail of the field.

After the red flag stoppage, third place Rocha would inherit the lead and survive the final few laps by taking to the high side of the track.

Heynen and Champlin each won their respective eight-lap heat races. Rocha bested the 11 car field in group qualifying.

The finish:

Ryan Rocha, Ryan Delisle, Tony Pombo, Albert Pombo, Maura Simone, Phil Heynen, Grant Champlin, Sean Quinn, Kyle Rasmussen, Brandon Emmett, Gordon Rodgers.