Nichols Win’s his Fourth “Tom Manning Memorial”
By Kevin Triplett
Chad Nichols set quick time in time trials as the #17 Shanoian Esslinger toured the historic ¼-mile banked paved oval in 13.237 seconds to claim the $100 cash prize posted by the BCRA race director. Cody Jessop in his family’s Ford-powered #00 midget was the second fastest qualifier with a best lap of 13.386 seconds, with Dan Parker in the #38 Roza Motorsport/Michael Sala Racing midget third quick at 13.811 seconds while 9-time BCRA champion Floyd Alvis in his green #18 rounded out the top four qualifiers.
Dan Parker led the first two laps of the six-lap heat race before Nichols powered past then a lap later, jessop dropped Parker to third place. Nichols continued his mastery of the Stockton oval and took the victory by .137 seconds ahead of Jessop, Parker and Alvis in a caution-free dash that took just one minute and 22 seconds to complete.
Parker passed polesitter Floyd Alvis as the pair entered turn one at the start of the feature and led the first two circuits before Chad Nichols moved up from his fourth starting position and took command down the backstretch on the third lap. Nichols in the familiar orange #17 midget maintained a 4-car advantage over Cody Jessop as the pair worked through lapped traffic in the gathering dusk.
On lap 17, Jessop’s car spun in its own water and slid to a stop at the exit of turn four. Although Cody’s car was undamaged and rolled into the infield, fluid had leaked from the Jessop machine and with the Gunslinger Sprint Cars yet to run their feature, the BCRA race director made the call to display the checkered flag to the field with 17 laps of the scheduled 25 completed. Nichols scored his fourth Tom Manning Memorial victory and celebrated his first win in 2020, which marked the fourth decade that Chad has won a midget race.
BCRA stalwart JR Williams made the long tow to Stockton from Carson City, but was not feeling 100% and withdrew from the racing program. The BCRA family sends our best wishes to JR Williams and we hope to see him at a BCRA race later this season.
The BCRA midget racing program was supported by the Radical Race Gear Focus Midget Series. The series’ defending champion, Joseph Holiday, started on the front row and led every lap to claim victory in the Focus 25-lap feature. Holiday was followed across the finish line by third-generation racer Nathan Byrd and Johnny Nichols. Byrd the grandson of many-time Indianapolis ‘500’ entrant Jonathon Byrd will head east later this month to compete in the ‘Night before the 500’ midget race scheduled at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg Indiana. Good luck Nathan.
The BCRA racing season continues on Sunday September 6 with a co-sanctioned dirt race with the United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States midget series at Petaluma Speedway. As of this writing, the racing program is scheduled to be run without fans. Please check the BCRA website for updates.
(Chad Nichols 17 passes Dan Parker 38 for the lead in the 5th Annual “Tom Manning Memorial” BCRA Midget Feature)