Bernal Gets the W in Richard Griffin Classic Opener!

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November 5, 2015  |  by Lonnie Wheatley

Ryan Bernal pounced on a late-race opportunity to take the $1,500 winner’s share in Thursday night’s Richard Griffin Classic opener atop the 5/16-mile Southern New Mexico Speedway.   The Hollister, CA, racer took advantage of lapped traffic to race around race-long leader Shon Deskins on the high side with just a handful of laps remaining to put himself in the driver’s seat for Saturday night’s $10,000-to-win share.   “Traffic definitely came into play there, I don’t that I would have had the opportunity to get by him (Deskins) otherwise,” Bernal said after picking off his tenth overall Sprint Car win of the season in the Phulps-owned Tri-L Mandarin Ranch No. 56 machine.   While Bernal worked forward from the sixth position in short order, pole starter Deskins gunned into the early lead ahead of R.J. Johnson.  Bernal was third by the third round but spent much of the race dicing with Mike Martin for the position before capturing it and moving into second by the 15th round.   With lapped traffic in play, the battle for the lead intensified among the frontrunners with Bernal ultimately finding a break in traffic as Deskins got boxed in.   Following a red flag with four laps to go for a wild Spencer Hill flyer off turn four, Bernal checked out in the closing laps to secure the win with Deskins in second.  Martin rounded out the podium in third with Johnson and Charles Davis, Jr., rounding out the top five.   A pair of cautions slowed the proceedings in the opening ten rounds with Dennis Gile biking it off the top of turns three and four in big fashion with Brian Hosford and Blake Hahn getting together as that caution flew.  With eight laps in the books, Dave Darland came to a stop at the top of turn two.  Darland rallied back to finish eighth.   Martin, Hosford and Hahn topped heat race action with Chris Windom, C.J. Leary and Deskins victorious in the qualifying races.  Nick Rael’s night ended after a heat race flip in turn one while Brady Bacon rebounded from a last-lap qualifying race flip in turn three to race from 19th to ninth in the feature.   Action at Southern New Mexico Speedway’s Inaugural Richard Griffin Classic resumes on Friday night with another full card of Heat Races, Qualifying Races and Features.  The top six in combined points from the two nights are locked into Saturday’s $10,000-to-win finale with the balance lined up in heat races according to points.  Friday’s racing action goes green at 7:45 p.m.   Inaugural Richard Griffin Classic Thursday Night Results Southern New Mexico Speedway:   Heat Races:    First Heat (8 Laps):  1. 16-Mike Martin, 2. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 3. 38-Casey Shuman, 4. 74b-John Carney II, 5. 22-Chris Windom, 6. 5-Tye Mihocko, 7. 7-Jesse Baker. DNS: 13-Dennis Gile.    Second Heat (8 Laps):  1. 32-Brian Hosford, 2. 20-Shon Deskins, 3. 56w-Spencer Hill, 4. 56-Ryan Bernal, 5. 26-Randy Smith, 6. 73-Nick Rael, 7. 17w-Harli White. DNS: 21az-Stevie Sussex.    Third Heat (8 Laps):  1. 52-Blake Hahn, 2. 16d-Dave Darland, 3. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 4. 73x-Brady Bacon, 5. 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. 30-C.J. Leary, 7. 55-David Dykes, 8. 87-Aaron Reutzel.    Qualifying Races – Combined Passing/Finishing Points Sets “A” Feature Lineup:   First Qualifier (8 Laps):  1. 22-Chris Windom, 2. 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. 16-Mike Martin, 4. 5-Tye Mihocko, 5. 16d-Dave Darland, 6. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 7. 7-Jesse Baker, 8. 87-Aaron Reutzel.   Second Qualifier (8 Laps):  1. 30-C.J. Leary, 2. 38-Casey Shuman, 3. 32-Brian Hosford, 4. 52-Blake Hahn, 5. 74b-John Carney II, 6. 17w-Harli White, 7. 56w-Spencer Hill. DNS: 21az-Stevie Sussex.    Third Qualifier (8 Laps):  1. 20-Shon Deskins, 2. 56-Ryan Bernal, 3. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 4. 13-Dennis Gile, 5. 26-Randy Smith, 6. 55-David Dykes, 7. 73x-Brady Bacon. DNS: 73-Nick Rael.    “A” Feature    A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses):  1. 56-Ryan Bernal (6), 2. 20-Shon Deskins (1), 3. 16-Mike Martin (3), 4. 77m-R.J. Johnson (2), 5. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (10), 6. 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (7), 7. 30-C.J. Leary (11), 8. 16d-Dave Darland (12), 9. 73x-Brady Bacon (19), 10. 74b-John Carney II (14), 11. 17w-Harli White (18), 12. 7-Jesse Baker (21), 13. 26-Randy Smith (15), 14. 38-Casey Shuman (8), 15. 55-David Dykes (20), 16. 56w-Spencer Hill (13), 17. 5-Tye Mihocko (16), 18. 87-Aaron Reutzel (22), 19. 22-Chris Windom (9), 20. 32-Brian Hosford (4), 21. 52-Blake Hahn (5), 22. 13-Dennis Gile (17). DNS: 73-Nick Rael, Stevie Sussex.    Lap Leaders: Shon Deskins 1-19, Ryan Bernal 20-25.   Points Through Thursday Night (Top Six in Thursday & Friday Preliminary Events lock into Saturday Feature):   1. 56-Ryan Bernal 121 2. 20-Shon Deskins 119 3. 16-Mike Martin 114 4. 77m-R.J. Johnson 110 5. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. 103 6. 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr. 102 7. 30-C.J. Leary 99 8. 16d-Dave Darland 96 9. 73x-Brady Bacon 89 10. 74b-John Carney II 88 11. 38-Casey Shuman 84 12. 17w-Harli White 82 13. 26-Randy Smith 81 14. 7-Jesse Baker 79 15. 56w-Spencer Hill 75 16. 55-David Dykes 74 17. 32-Brian Hosford 73 18. 22-Chris Windom 73 19. 5-Tye Mihocko 73 20. 52-Blake Hahn 70 21. 87-Aaron Reutzel 65 22. 13-Dennis Gile 61 23. 73-Nick Rael 57 24. 21az-Stevie Sussex 53