By Lance Jennings
MERCED, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21, 2022… After a hard fought battle with Michael Faccinto, Ryan Bernal (Hollister, California) emerged victorious at Merced Speedway last Saturday night. Driving Keith Ford’s #73X Naturipe / Walker Performance Air Filtration Triple X, Bernal secured the lead for good on lap 23 and sped to his first $1,200 USAC Western States and BCRA Midget win of the season. Fast qualifier Faccinto, Austin Liggett, Ben Worth, and hard charger Jake Andreotti rounded out the top-five driver at the final round of the Elk Grove Ford Mini-Series.
Bernal began his night at the Merced County Fairgrounds by qualifying fifth overall. The 2-Time USAC Western Classic Sprint Car Champion ran second to C.J. Sarna in his heat race and stormed to his fourth career win after starting second.
Starting sixth, Michael Faccinto (Hanford, California) looked to have this third consecutive win well in hand before Bernal took command. Racing the Graunstadt Enterprises #14J T&T Trucking / Gary Silva Ranches Spike, Faccinto earned his second Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award of the year by posting a time of 12.659 seconds over the 21-car roster. The 2018 Champion claimed the 10-lap Jordan Hanni Well Drilling Heat Race #1 win before settling for second at Merced. Michael won the 4-race Elk Grove Ford Mini-Series and has a 68-point advantage heading to Petaluma on July 23rd.
C.J. Sarna (Brea, California) won Merced’s 10-lap Ammonia Refrigeration Service Heat Race #2. Piloting his #20 ZMax / Final Final Lifestyle Spike, Sarna was seventeenth quick in time trials and finished sixteenth in the main event after an early exit. Despite missing a few races, the former rookie of the year is currently ninth in the point chase.
Austin Liggett (Linden, California) returned to USAC Western States Midget action and won the 10-lap Wireless 101 Third Heat Race. Driving the family owned #83 Excel Environmental Services / Liggett Trucking Spike, Liggett qualified twelfth overall and finished third in the feature after starting seventh. The former USAC West Coast Sprint Car Champion finished second in the Elk Grove Ford standings and left Merced ranked eighth in series points.
Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, California) earned the night’s Rod End Supply Hard Charger Award with a fifth place run from eleventh. Driving the Pete Davis owned #00 Hot Head Competition Heaters / Buchanan Automotive Stealth, Andreotti was ninth fast in time trials and placed third in his heat race. Jake finished third in the Elk Grove Ford standings and sits seventh in the chase for the championship.
Rookie contender Anthony Esberg (Kelseyville, California) earned the night’s Wilwood Disc Brakes “Lucky 13 Award” with a thirteenth place finish in the main event. Racing the #1K T&A Automotive / S&K Automotive Stealth, Esberg qualified eighteenth overall and was sixth in his heat race. Anthony ran seventeenth in Elk Grove Ford points and is currently ranked fifteenth in the standings.
The USAC Western States Midgets will return to action on Saturday, July 23rd, at Petaluma Speedway in Petaluma, California. The event is co-sanctioned with the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Midget Series.
The USAC Western States Midget Series thanks Ammonia Refrigeration Service, AMSOIL, Competition Suspension Incorporated, Elk Grove Ford, Extreme Mufflers, FloRacing.com, High Tech Performance, Jordan Hanni Well Drilling, Hoosier Racing Tire, Rod End Supply, ROW Signs and Graphics, Saldana Racing Products, Vahlco Wheels, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Wireless 101, and Woodland Auto Display for their support.
For more information on the series, visit usacracing.com and the social media for USAC Racing. You can also find exclusive content on the USAC Western States Midget Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET SERIES RACE RESULTS: June 18, 2022 – Merced Speedway – Merced, California – “Elk Grove Ford Mini Series Round #4” – Co-Sanctioned with BCRA
WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Michael Faccinto, 14J, Graunstadt-12.659; 2. Ben Worth, 5K, Alexander-12.739; 3. Blake Bower, 9, Boscacci-12.740; 4. Colton Raudman, 2C, Schutte-12.891; 5. Ryan Bernal, 73X, Ford-12.896; 6. Jake Hodges, 4, Hodges-12.923; 7. Brody Fuson, 51, Carlile-12.931; 8. Caden Sarale, 32, Sarale-12.950; 9. Jake Andreotti, 00, Davis-13.026; 10. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, Buckley-13.166; 11. Randi Pankratz, 55, Lambert-13.180; 12. Austin Liggett, 83, Liggett-13.215; 13. Danika Jo Parker, 13, Parker-13.250; 14. Sage Bordenave, 35, Felkins-13.262; 15. Braden Chiaramonte, 14JR, Streeter-13.307; 16. A.J. Bender, 1X, LKK-13.358; 17. C.J. Sarna, 20, Sarna-13.365; 18. Anthony Esberg, 1K, Esberg-13.961; 19. Thomas Esberg, 8X, Esberg-14.618; 20. Kevin Gray, 7L, Gray-15.623; 21. Michael Snider, 6K, Snider-17.498.
JORDAN HANNI WELL DRILLING FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Faccinto, 2. Raudman, 3. Buckley, 4. Fuson, 5. Parker, 6. Bender, 7. T.Esberg. NT.
AMMONIA REFRIGERATION SERVICE SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Sarna, 2. Bernal, 3. Worth, 4. Sarale, 5. Pankratz, 6. Bordenave, 7. Gray. NT.
WIRELESS 101 THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Liggett, 2. Chiaramonte, 3. Andreotti, 4. Hodges, 5. Bower, 6. A.Esberg, 7. Snider. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps, With Starting Positions) 1. Ryan Bernal (2), 2. Michael Faccinto (6), 3. Austin Liggett (7), 4. Ben Worth (5), 5. Jake Andreotti (11), 6. Caden Sarale (10), 7. Brody Fuson (9), 8. Jake Hodges (1), 9. Blake Bower (4), 10. Braden Chiaramonte (16), 11. Travis Buckley (12), 12. Randi Pankratz (13), 13. Anthony Esberg (18), 14. Colton Raudman (3), 15. Sage Bordenave (15), 16. C.J. Sarna (8), 17. Thomas Esberg (19), 18. A.J. Bender (17), 19. Danika Jo Parker (14), 20. Michael Snider (21), 21. Kevin Gray (20). NT.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Hodges, Lap 2 Raudman, Laps 3-20 Faccinto, Lap 21 Bernal, Lap 22 Faccinto, Laps 23-30 Bernal.
ROD END SUPPLY HARD CHARGER: Jake Andreotti (11th to 5th)
WILWOOD DISC BRAKES LUCKY 13 AWARD: Anthony Esberg
NEW USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET POINTS: 1-Michael Faccinto-470, 2-Ben Worth-402, 3-Brody Fuson-390, 4-Travis Buckley-376, 5-Blake Bower-372, 6-A.J. Bender-366, 7-Jake Andreotti-318, 8-Austin Liggett-251, 9-C.J. Sarna-244, 10-Caden Sarale-236, –Michael Snider-236.
FINAL ELK GROVE FORD MINI-SERIES POINTS: 1-Michael Faccinto-322, 2-Austin Liggett-251, 3-Jake Andreotti-233, 4-Ben Worth-231, 5-Blake Bower-206, 6-Travis Buckley-196, 7-A.J. Bender-191, 8-Caden Sarale-193, 9-Brody Fuson-174, 10-Shane Golobic-159.
TOP QUALIFIER POINTS: 1-Ben Worth-25, –Michael Faccinto-25, 3-Shane Golobic-12, –Jake Andreotti-12, 5-Brody Fuson-9, 6-Blake Bower-8, 7-Chase Johnson-6, –Mitchel Moles-6, 9-Austin Liggett-5, –Robby Josett-5, –Colton Raudman-5.
PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-A.J. Bender-20, –Travis Buckley-20, 3-Caden Sarale-18, 4-Brody Fuson-17, 5-Randi Pankratz-16, 6-Thomas Esberg-15, 7-Michael Faccinto-14, 8-Ben Wiesz-12, 9-Danika Jo Parker-11, 10-Blake Bower-10, –Anthony Esberg-10.
NEXT USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET RACE: July 23 – Petaluma Speedway – Petaluma, California – Co-Sanctioned with BCRA