Bernal Steals Winter Heat Night Two Win!
The term “narrowest of margins” doesn’t do it justice.
“It” being the finish of Saturday night’s 30-lap USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature event, as Hollister, California’s Ryan Bernal edged Dave Darland at the line by just .005 seconds for the $2,000 winner’s share in Round Two of the E&K Winter Challenge at Canyon Speedway Park.
Bernal’s photo finish triumph wasn’t the only close finish of the night either, as reigning track champion Ricky Thornton, Jr., rallied from 17th to win the 25-lap IMCA Modified feature with the winning move off the final corner. Other Saturday night winners included Jon Courchaine in Pure Stocks, Joel Huggins in Mod Lites and Gary Winter in Micro Sprints as a total of 124 cars filled the pit area.
Bouncing back from a grinding crash while dicing for the lead in Friday night’s E&K Winter Challenge opener, Bernal rallied from the tenth position and snuck by Darland at the line to steal the win in the non-wing USAC Sprint Car main event.
“I saw the door open and I just gassed it,” Bernal said afterward. “There was a lapper there but I was gonna move him if I had to, it feels great to get this win after what happened last night.”
While Bernal started the feature outside the fifth row aboard the Tri-L Mandarin Ranch No. 56, Charles Davis, Jr., raced past front row starters Dalten Gabbard and Darland to snare the early lead.
Darland battled back in the Mike Martin No. 16 though, sliding past Davis, Jr., for the lead in turns one and two on the fifth round.
Following a quick red flag stoppage for Rick Ziehl’s turn four flip with six laps in the books, Darland separated himself from the field at the midway point after a brief challenge from R.J. Johnson in traffic on the 13th lap.
With Darland out front, Bernal was seventh after Ziehl’s tumble and among the top five by the tenth round. He was up to third by the midway point and held that spot behind Darland and Johnson when the race’s final caution flew with five laps to go for a Dennis Giles spin in turn one.
As Darland took off on the cushion on the restart, Johnson ducked to the low line. Bernal took quick advantage, railing the topside around Johnson into second and closing in on Darland to challenge with two laps to go.
With Bernal still two car-lengths back entering the final pair of corners, Darland hesitated momentarily to negotiate his way around a lapped car coming off the final turn and opened a door that Bernal blasted right through.
While Bernal snuck by on the high side to take the win by five-thousandths of a second over Darland, Johnson settled for the show position with Friday night winner Brady Bacon in fourth.
The IMCA Modifieds didn’t lack for drama either, with Ricky Thornton, Jr., ultimately charging from 17th to take the win in the 25-lapper at the line by .100 seconds over Tim Ward.
Gunning for a second win in as many nights, Ward settled for second behind Thornton, who also won a “B” Main just to make it to the feature event.
Pole starter Lance Mari rounded out the Modified podium behind Thornton and Ward with Hunter Marriott charging from 22nd to fourth. Jesse Williamson advanced nine positions to round out the top five.
Jon Courchaine held off Friday night winner Matt Martinez to take Pure Stock honors with Zack Madrid, Steve Bitting and Tony Hill rounding out the top five.
Gary Winter raced from ninth to take his second Micro Sprint win in as many nights ahead of Colton Hardy and Mason Keefer while Joel Huggins took Mod Lite honors in front of Jim Hock and Brenden Priest.
The E&K Winter Challenge resumes with Round Three at Canyon Speedway Park on Sunday firing off at 5:00 p.m.
Canyon Speedway Park
E&K Winter Challenge Round Two Results:
USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Cars:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 73-Brady Bacon, 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 3. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 4. 21az-Stevie Sussex, 5. 4-Jonas Reynolds, 6. 55nm-David Dykes, 7. 98-Matt Lundy.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 16-Mike Martin, 2. 16b-Dave Darland, 3. 74-Rick Ziehl, 4. 51-R.J. Johnson, 5. 13-Dennis Giles, 6. 56-Ryan Bernal, 7. 20-Shon Deskins.
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 56-Ryan Bernal, 2. 16d-Dave Darland, 3. 51-R.J. Johnson, 4. 73-Brady Bacon, 5. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 6. 21az-Stevie Sussex, 7. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 8. 16-Mike Martin, 9. 98-Matt Lundy, 10. 4-Jonas Reynolds, 11. 55nm-David Dykes, 12. 13-Dennis Giles, 13. 74-Rick Ziehl, 14. 20-Shon Deskins.
First Heat: 1. 97-Jay Marks, 2. 4tw-Tim Ward, 3. 393-Scott Eaton, 4. 13-Jeff Sheppard, Jr., 5. X04-Mike Strobl, 6. 1-Ronnie Gould, 7. 16-Aaron Spangler, 8. 32-Rob Krull, 9. 12-Guy Norton, 10. 62-Hunter Marriott.
Second Heat: 1. 6-Eric Center, 2. 78-Steve Stultz, 3. 59-Mark Stewart, 4. 7k-Lance Salo, 5. 4c-Cale Carter, 6. 45h-Jason Hickingbottom, 7. 44L-Steve Lunderby, 8. 101bc-Bryson Curry, 9. 101-Derrall Bradford, 10. 39-Derek Huggins.
Third Heat: 1. 55ak-Scott Slukak, 2. 44-Jason Noll, 3. 16s-Jerry Schran, 4. 6c-Caleb Stone, 5. S-Collen Winebarger, 6. L8-Brian Schultz, 7. 18-Paul Jones, Jr., 8. 15s-William Slocum, 9. 102-Pat Castel.
Fourth Heat: 1. 18z-Zane Devilbiss, 2. 21-Phil Penney, 3. 19sb-Lance Mari, 4. 7-Ricky Thornton, Jr., 5. 82-John Parmeley, 6. 75c-Bo Partain, 7. 45T-Trent Gaust, 8. 57p-Jim Perkins, 9. 41-George Fronsman.
Fifth Heat: 1. 66p-Paul Stone, 2. 74-Garrett Funk, 3. W5-Jesse Williamson, 4. 8-Nate Warren, 5. 40jr-Bubba Stafford, 6. 37-Mike Jergens, 7. 87-Clifton Maggard, 8. 4r-Ross Statham, 9. 77-Jason Haug.
First “B” Feature: 1. 7-Ricky Thornton, Jr., 2. 82-John Parmeley, 3. 393-Scott Eaton, 4. S-Collen Winebarger, 5. 45T-Trent Gaust, 6. L8-Brian Schultz, 7. 8-Nate Warren, 8. 41-George Fronsman, 9. 57P-Jim Perkins, 10. 101-Derrall Bradford, 11. 18-Paul Jones, Jr., 12. 12-Guy Norton, 13. 39-Derek Huggins, 14. 4r-Ross Statham, 15. 44L-Steve Lunderby, 16. 4c-Cale Carter.
Second “B” Feature: 1. 37-Mike Jergens, 2. 16-Aaron Spangler, 3. 62-Hunter Marriott, 4. 40jr-Bubba Stafford, 5. X04-Mike Strobl, 6. 101bc-Bryson Curry, 7. 75c-Bo Partain, 8. 77-Jason Haug, 9. 87-Clifton Maggard, 10. 45h-Jason Hickingbottom, 11. 15s-William Slocum, 12. 7k-Lance Salo, 13. 102-Pat Castel, 14. 32-Rob Krull, 15. 1-Ronnie Gould.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 7-Ricky Thornton, Jr., 2. 4tw-Tim Ward, 3. 19sb-Lance Mari, 4. 62-Hunter Marriott, 5. W5-Jesse Williamson, 6. 97-Jay Marks, 7. 74-Garrett Funk, 8. 37-Mike Jergens, 9. 18z-Zane Devilbiss, 10. 6-Eric Center, 11. 21-Phil Penney, 12. 82-John Parmeley, 13. 59-Mark Stewart, 14. 40jr-Bubba Stafford, 15. 66p-Paul Stone, 16. 16s-Jerry Schran, 17. 78-Steve Stultz, 18. 55ak-Scott Slukak, 19. 13-Jeff Sheppard, Jr., 20. 393-Scott Eaton, 21. S-Collen Winebarger, 22. 44-Jason Noll, 23. 6c-Caleb Stone, 24. 16-Aaron Spangler.
First Heat: 1. 14k-Ryan Campbell, 2. 3-Jeff Stafford, 3. 22x-Richard Veralrud, 4. 27J-Jessica McGullam, 5. 84-Mike Goodwin, 6. 28-Vincent Depalma, 7. 5z-Zack Madrid, 8. 22-Kim Hansen.
Second Heat: 1. 5J-Anthony Madrid, 2. 15-Speedy Madrid, 3. 21m-Matt Martinez, 4. ACE-Doug Porter, 5. 90-Steve Bitting, 6. 44s-Steve Shumaker, 7. 2jr-Robert McClelland, 8. 40a-Ashley Stafford.
Third Heat: 1. 15r-Race Fisher, 2. 195-Jon Courchaine, 3. 007-Tony Hill, 4. 03-Kevin Risachaer, 5. 13m-Johnny Madrid, 6. 22a-Aaron Hernandez, 7. 51J-Gary Everett, 8. 192-Pete Dixon.
“B” Feature: 1. 90-Steve Bitting, 2. 5z-Zack Madrid, 3. 22a-Aaron Hernandez, 4. 2jr-Robert McClelland, 5. 13m-Johnny Madrid, 6. 40a-Ashley Stafford, 7. 84-Mike Goodwin, 8. 44s-Steve Shumaker, 9. 51J-Gary Everett, 10. 28-Vincent Depalma, 11. 22-Kim Hansen, 12. 192-Pete Dixon.
“A” Feature: 1. 195-Jon Courchaine, 2. 21m-Matt Martinez, 3. 5z-Zack Madrid, 4. 90-Steve Bitting, 5. 007-Tony Hill, 6. 5J-Anthony Madrid, 7. 3-Jeff Stafford, 8. 15-Speedy Madrid, 9. 40a-Ashley Stafford, 10. 03-Kevin Risachaer, 11. 84-Mike Goodwin, 12. 27J-Jessica McGullam, 13. 44s-Steve Shumaker, 14. 13m-Johnny Madrid, 15. 14k-Ryan Campbell, 16. 22a-Aaron Hernandez, 17. 2jr-Robert McClelland, 18. ACE-Doug Porter, 19. 15r-Race Fisher, 20. 22x-Richard Veralrud.
First Heat: 1. 14-Josh Rivera, 2. 3-Eric Muse, 3. 95-Collin Bender, 4. 91-Sarah Houton, 5. 30-Lexus Gann, 6. 69-Michael Humphreys, 7. 17x-Ryan Gilleland, 8. 99-Adam Etcher.
Second Heat: 1. 51-Brenden Priest, 2. 33-Shane Hinsley, 3. 9-Mark Hammill, 4. 2k-Taylor Kuehl, 5. 677-Austin Kuehl, 6. 36-Brad Weiss, 7. 97-Steve Bender.
Third Heat: 1. 116-Jim Hock, 2. X50-Joel Huggins, 3. 117-J.C. Gilleland, 4. 17-Steve Moriarty, 5. 26-Jake Boyle, 6. 8-Jeff Eckart, 7. 114-Sean Conyers.
“A” Feature: 1. X50-Joel Huggins, 2. 116-Jim Hock, 3. 51-Brenden Priest, 4. 117-J.C. Gilleland, 5. 17-Steve Moriarty, 6. 17x-Ryan Gilleland, 7. 8-Jeff Eckart, 8. 97-Steve Bender, 9. 26-Jake Boyle, 10. 91-Sarah Houton, 11. 114-Sean Conyers, 12. 30-Lexus Gann, 13. 677-Austin Kuehl, 14. 33-Shane Hinsley, 15. 3-Eric Muse, 16. 14-Josh Rivera, 17. 95-Collin Bender, 18. 36-Brad Weiss, 19. 99-Adam Etcher, 20. 2k-Taylor Kuehl, 21. 9-Mark Hammill, 22. 69-Michael Humphreys.
First Heat: 1. 10x-Christine Root, 2. 91-Aaron Miller, 3. 44-Dave Ferneau, 4. 7m-Mason Keefer, 5. 6az-Gary Winter, 6. 6-Dave Van Ess, 7. 20az-Jarrett Martin, 8. 101-Jim Branum, 9. 4s-Spencer Hill.
Second Heat: 1. 41-Colton Hardy, 2. 94-Cassie Klenkie, 3. 55-Greg Pritts, 4. 53-Joe Pritts, 5. 27-Doug Tallent, 6. 7-Michael Curtis, 7. 77-Ryan Hennessy, 8. 9-Marty Morin.
“A” Feature: 1. 6az-Gary Winter, 2. 41-Colton Hardy, 3. 7m-Mason Keefer, 4. 4s-Spencer Hill, 5. 44-Dave Ferneau, 6. 20az-Jarrett Martin, 7. 9-Marty Morin, 8. 77-Ryan Hennessy, 9. 94-Cassie Klenkie, 10. 91-Aaron Miller, 11. 7-Michael Curtis, 12. 101-Jim Branum, 13. 6-Dave Van Ess, 14. 55-Greg Pritts, 15. 10x-Christine Root, 16. 27-Doug Tallent, 17. 53-Joe Pritts.
Article Credit: Lonnie Wheatley