MADERA, Calif. – Michael Snider led the final five laps to take Saturday’s Fred Gerhardt Classic 100-lap BCRA/USAC midget feature on Madera Speedway’s high-banked paved oval.
Snider, aboard the Lauren Snider Beast/Esslinger. inherited the lead when engine problems brought Chad Nichols’ claim for the win to a halt on the 95th lap. Nichols, the fastest qualifier, also gained the inheritance for the lead when early leader Jerome Rodella was involved in a skirmish while lapping a car on the 39th circuit, causing him to spin the VanDyne/Swanson Beast/VanDyne.
Rodella, campaigning in his first pavement race since 2009, was the dominating factor after taking the initial lead from his outside front row position in the three-abreast start. Returning to the back of the field after his lapping encounter with Jarid Blondel’s Beast/Esslinger, high expectations for a come-from-behind charge was evident.
That charge began immediately at the drop of the green, but was short-lived when the two-time USAC Western States Champion pulled from the track with overheating problems after moving back up to fifth.
Rodella was challenged several times for the lead by Nichols prior to his spin, which Nichols narrowly averted. With Rodella, then Nichols, dominating, nearly the entire field had been lapped by the time Nichols pitted. He had just lapped third-running Dr. David Goodwill, who had not yet been lapped by second-running Snider.
With Nichols demise, Goodwill’s Beast/Wirth Mopar was once again on the leader’s lap at the finish. Bondel placed third with Gary Conterno in fourth, both one lap in arrears. Although he was not running over the final five laps, Nichols was scored fifth as the remainder of the field was more than five laps down.
Tanner Swanson, one of the early favorites coming off his win the previous week at Lakeport, lasted only 14-laps when the injector butterfly housing broke in the Bob Rosen Red Line Oil Beast/Fontana while running third.