2016 USAC United States Auto Club Logo Top Story Logo Top Story

By Lance Jennings

APRIL 11, 2023… After two rainouts, the USAC Western States Midgets will invade Merced Speedway this Saturday, April 15th. Promoted by Chris Shannon and Paul Stone, the first point race will be the first of two appearances at the 1/4-mile oval. The action packed card will also showcase IMCA Stock Cars, Mini Stocks, Valley Sportsmans, and Mini Late Models. Located at the Merced County Fairgrounds at 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Merced, California, the pit gates open at 3:00pm, the spectator gates will open at 5:00pm, and racing will start at 7:00pm. For more information, visit the track’s website at or call 209.600.8382.

For those that cannot be at the races, will broadcast a live stream of the USAC Western States Midget portion of the event over the internet.

– MEMBERSHIPS / TEMPORARY PERMITS: All racers MUST PURCHASE their USAC license / membership or temporary permit (TP) online PRIOR TO THE EVENT at Season memberships come with extra insurance.
– ENTRY FEE: There is an entry fee due at registration / pill pick.
– TRANSPONDERS: Transponders ARE MANDATORY and will be available to rent.
– APPROVED/LEGAL MUFFLERS: B&B: FRAC-0375-S w/side outlet, COAST FABRICATION: 300x625x17-2s, 350x625x17-2s, 400x625x17-2s, EXTREME: 3515-3030 (15″ Long 5″ round shell with 3″inlet & 3″ outlet), 3615-3030 (15″ Long 6″ round shell with 3″ inlet & 3″ outlet), 3515-3030-8 (15″ Long 5″ round shell with 3″inlet & 3″ outlet with turnout), 3615-3030-8 (15″ Long 6″ round shell with 3″ inlet & 3″ outlet with turnout), FLOWMASTER: (BCRA Approved) 13009130, 13509130, 13509135, SCHOENFELD: 14272535, 14272730-78, RODELA FAB: 2557-01 *Failure to comply with the muffler rule will risk disqualification from the event.
– RULE BOOK: The USAC Western States Midget Rule Book can be found online at
– California state protocol calls for competitors, crews, officials, and anyone on the grounds to practice safe social distancing, proper sanitizing, and follow local regulations regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

In addition to championship points, every event will award points for the season-long Woodland Auto Display Top Qualifier Standings and the unsponsored Passing Master Standings. Drivers that finish in the top-3 in Woodland points will take home $500-for-1st, $300-for-2nd, and $200-for-3rd. Last season, Michael Faccinto earned Top Qualifier honors and veteran driver Randi Pankratz passed the most cars in the main events.

Since April 20, 2019, eight USAC Western States Midget events have been held at the Merced County Fairgrounds. Austin Liggett scored the inaugural victory and Ryan Bernal added his name to the winner’s list on June 18th. Robert Dalby, Thomas Meseraull, Tanner Thorson, Chase Johnson, Colby Johnson, and Shane Golobic have also celebrated at Merced. NASCAR’s Kyle Larson set the 1-lap qualifying record of 11.838 on November 21, 2020 and a complete series win list at Merced is at the bottom of this release.

Last season, Michael Faccinto (Hanford, California) earned his second series championship. Driving the Graunstadt Enterprises owned #14J T&T Trucking / Gary Silva Ranches Spike, Faccinto had three feature wins, three Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, seven heat race victories, eleven top-5 finishes, eleven top-10 finishes, and 86 feature laps led to his credit. Currently tied with former champions Tommy White and Jay Drake for thirteenth on the series win list, Michael will be looking to start his season with a victory at Merced.

For the second year in a row, Brody Fuson (Bakersfield, California) ranked second in the USAC Western Midget point chase. Piloting Rusty Carlile’s #51 RacePa Motorsports/ W.E. Spike, Fuson posted two feature wins, one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, three heat race victories, eight top-5 finishes, eleven top-10 finishes, and 56 feature laps led in the campaign. Brody has four career wins and will have his sights on adding Merced to his resume.

Ben Worth (Coalinga, California) placed third in the championship point chase. Racing Dean “Kiwi” Alexander’s #5K Walker Air Filtration / WFX Spike, Worth had one feature win, two heat race victories, five top-5 finishes, six top-10 finishes, and 47 feature laps led to his credit. The 2019 Rookie of the Year has three career wins and is a favorite to watch at the speedway.

A.J. Bender (San Diego, California) finished fourth in the point standings and earned Rookie of the Year honors. Racing the LKK Racing #1X Josh Ford Motorsports / Rod End Supply Triple X, Bender had four heat race victories, one Rod End Supply Hard Charger Award, seven top-5 finishes, and eight top-10 finishes on the season. LKK Racing has retired from racing and the California Lightning Sprint and USAC/CRA Sprint Car driver was looking for another ride.

Travis Buckley (Auckland, New Zealand) ranks fifth in the chase for the championship and second in rookie points. Driving the family owned #7NZ Buckley Systems / Esslinger Engineering Spike, Buckley recorded one heat race victory, one Rod End Supply Hard Charger Award, three top-5 finishes, ten top-10 finishes, and 18 feature laps led on the year. Travis will have his sights on his first career win this Saturday night.

Among the other drivers expected to be in action are Jake Andreotti, Blake Bower, Caden Sarale, C.J. Sarna, Randi Pankratz, Danika Jo Faccinto, Robby Josett, Jake Hodges, Zach Telford, “The Panda” Terry Nichols, Steve Paden, Racin Silva, Steve Hix, Bryan Drollinger, Ben Covich, and more.

Merced Speedway is located on the Merced County Fairgrounds at 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Merced, California. Adult tickets are $25, Senior and Military tickets are $20, Kids tickets (6-14) are $10, and Children (5 & Under) are FREE. For more event information, visit the track’s website at or call 209.600.8382.

The USAC Western States Midget Series thanks BR Motorsports, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Competition Suspension Incorporated, Esslinger Engineering, Extreme Mufflers, FloRacing, Graunstadt Enterprises, Hoosier Racing Tire, Hot Head Competition Engine Heaters, Jordan Hanni Well Drilling, Rod End Supply, Saldana Racing Products, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Wireless 101, and Woodland Auto Display for their support. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, email PR Director Lance Jennings at

For more information on the USAC Western States Midget Series, visit the United States Auto Club (USAC) website at 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 CHAMPIONS: 1982-Jeff Heywood, 1983-Sleepy Tripp, 1984-Tommy White, 1985-Sleepy Tripp, 1986-Robby Flock, 1987-Sleepy Tripp, 1988-Sleepy Tripp, 1989-Robby Flock, 1990-Sleepy Tripp, 1991-Sleepy Tripp, 1992-Sleepy Tripp, 1993-Robby Flock, 1994-Johnny Cofer, 1995-Billy Boat, 1996-Jay Drake, 1997-Ricky Shelton, 1998-Rick Hendrix, 1999-Marc DeBeaumont, 2000-Wally Pankratz, 2001-Danny Ebberts, 2002-Robby Flock, 2003-Steve Paden, 2004-Johnny Rodriguez, 2005-Jerome Rodela, 2006-Jerome Rodela, 2007-Johnny Rodriguez, 2008-Nic Faas, 2009-Garrett Hansen, 2010-Alex Schutte, 2011-Cory Kruseman, 2012-Shannon McQueen, 2013-Ronnie Gardner, 2014- Ronnie Gardner, 2015-Ronnie Gardner, 2016-Ronnie Gardner, 2017-Ronnie Gardner, 2018-Michael Faccinto, 2019-Robert Dalby, 2020-NO AWARD, 2021-Blake Bower, 2022-Michael Faccinto.


MERCED USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET WINS: 1-Ryan Bernal, 1-Robert Dalby, 1-Shane Golobic, 1-Chase Johnson, 1-Colby Johnson, 1-Austin Liggett, 1-Thomas Meseraull, 1-Tanner Thorson.