Thursday, August 12, 2021

1978 - Merryfield Battles for Mid-Continent Crown

Joe Merryfield accepts his trophy and check after winning the Late Model Nationals at Doniphan. Ms. Nebraska, Suzie Socher, makes the presentation while Merryfield's car owner looks on. 

Doniphan, Neb. (August 12, 1978) – Joe Merryfield of Des Moines, Iowa, battled through thick traffic on lap 42 to capture the sixth annual Late Model Nationals at Mid-Continent Raceways on Saturday night.

Merryfield went to the lower part of the track to pass race-leader Bill Martin of Council Bluffs, Iowa, the 1976 champion.

Merryfield, winning his second state title in the past two weeks, had earned the pole position in a field of 24 cars by winning the trophy dash earlier.

But Merryfield, who recently captured the late model championship at the North Dakota State Fair, lost the lead to Martin, who started on the outside of the front row,

“Actually, the outside pole position was the best place to be,” said Merryfield, who earned $2,050 first-place money in the $15,000 race, the largest purse offering ever in Nebraska. “The track was the fastest up high.”

A crowd estimated at 7,000 watched the lead shift several times among Merryfield, Martin and Clayton Petersen Jr. of Grand Island, Neb., who while running third, encountered mechanical problems with 10 laps to go. Earlier in the day, Petersen had set a new track record of 21 seconds flat in qualifying.

Results –

1. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
2. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs, Iowa
3. Don Hoffman, Des Moines
4. Bill Beckman, Lisbon, Iowa
5. Gary Crawford, Independence, Iowa
6. Roger Dolan, Lisbon, Iowa
7. Ken Walton, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
8. Bob Kosiski, Omaha
9. Rex Nun, Lincoln, Neb.
10. Bill Wrich, Kennard, Neb.

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