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Aug.18: Down to the Wire – IMCA Sport Mod Drivers Danny Roe and Bubba Nelson Tied With Two Races Left Going into the Ed Parker Tribute

Bruce “Bubba” Nelson of Winton (48) passes Jarrod Mounce of Merced coming out of the second turn at Merced Speedway during IMCA SportMod competition..Photo by Mike Adaskaveg

Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

Friendly foes Danny Roe of Turlock and Bruce “Bubba” Nelson of Winton are tied in points at the top of IMCA SportMod division with two weeks of racing left before Merced Speedway crowns its 2018 champions.

This week, there’s a new twist in the road to the championship for the drivers in the speedway’s four regular divisions. The “Tribute to Ed Parker” event will draw top drivers from across California because of added purse money and contingency prizes that are up for grabs. Cody Parker raised the added bonuses from community businesses in honor of his dad, who returned the speedway to prominence both locally and nationally.

The additional drivers could take top positions and the points that go along with them, changing the course of the season’s outcome for several drivers.

“Us Merced Speedway drivers don’t want to see an outsider win the he Tribute to Ed Parker – it’s our race for our guy,” says Nelson. “Sure, the added cars coming in could change the outcome of the championship, but we are looking to finish up front.”

Roe, who will strive for a showdown with Nelson in this weekend’s race, agrees with his rival.

“Locals will have the advantage,” he says. “I predict a local driver will win. With all those cars coming, it will be a great night of racing.”

Danny Roe (03) of Turlock passes Kelly Wilkinson of Caruthers in IMCA SportMod action at Merced Speedway. Photo by Mike Adaskaveg

LONG TIME CONNECTION

Nelson started racing in 2004, when he was 18 years old. Prior to that he helped Roe, who was racing in the Hobby Stock division.

“We still talk just about every day – all about racing,” Nelson says. “It is fun to race against a friend – I know he wouldn’t deliberately take me out of the race.”

The IMCA SportMod championship has been elusive for Nelson. He finished second in the points tally four years ago, and then followed it up with third. Then, he moved up to the IMCA Modified division, only to repeat a second place finish two years ago, and third place last year.

This year, Nelson has returned to the SportMod division to free up his time to work on more racecars. He’s concentrating on his wife, Shannon’s, car and effort for the championship in the Hobby Stock division, along with helping her teammate, Kristie Shearer.

Nelson bought the current car he drives from former champ Rick Diaz.

“Rick’s been helping us by taking care of the SportMod he sold us,” Nelson says. “I jump in and drive.”

The likelihood of either Roe or Nelson winning the championship is bitter sweet.

“It’s both a tough situation and a good situation to be in,” says Nelson. “Only one of us can be the champion.”

BEST SEASON EVER

Roe works on his car in the garage of his modest home. He’s having his best season ever, and he never thought he would be in contention for the championship.

“I don’t race to accumulate points – I race simply for the fun of it,” says Roe. “I think it is fortunate that I am where I am in the standings at this point in the season.”

His weekly maintenance won’t change.

“I wash my car, check that all the nuts and bolts are tight, check the tire pressure, and go racing,” he says. “I race hard and clean. If something happens to my car –  or to Bubba’s car, we will be there in the pits, helping each other. We will do whatever we could to keep each other in the race.”

POINTS IN OTHER DIVISIONS

All of the speedway’s divisions have more than one driver in contention for the championship.

Darrell Hughes of Manteca leads Brian Pearce of Oakley by 21 points in the IMCA Modified division. Alan Neal of Los Banos is ahead of Lee Ragsdale of Winton by five points in the Mini Stock division.

In the Hobby Stock division, Chowchilla’s Kodie Dean is ahead of Bubba Nelson’s wife, Shannon, by eight points. Kristie Shearer of Los Banos is in contention, 34 points out of first.

SATURDAY NIGHT AT MERCED SPEEDWAY

The “Tribute to Ed Parker” will see the IMCA Modified, SportMod, Hobby Stock and Mini Stock divisions will each have a complete program of qualifying races and a main event. Added incentive in the purse structure plus contingency prizes is expected to draw one of the largest numbers of drivers of the season.

Merced Speedway is located within the Merced County Fairgrounds at 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced.

The racing program begins at 7 p.m. and usually concludes at 10 p.m.

The pit gate opens at 2 p.m. and the grandstand gate opens at 5 p.m.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10.00 for Military and Students with school ID, $5 for children 6-12 years old. Children under 6 years old are free. A family four-pack of ticket is $30.