Sunday, April 14, 2024

1984 – Chandler Wins Oklahoma IMCA National

Merv Chandler topped a field of 40 IMCA modifieds to win the inaugural Oklahoma IMCA Modified National event at Thunderbird Speedway. Promoter Jim Ozment presents the trophy. – Bill Haglund Photo

Muskogee, Okla. (April 14, 1984) – Merv Chandler of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, posted the biggest win of his career Saturday night as he topped a 24-car feature field to win the first Oklahoma IMCA Modified National at Thunderbird Speedway.

The 30-year-old Chandler started the 25-lap feature on the inside of the second row and ran with the lead pack until taking over the top spot on lap 16 when Gary Jellison of Topeka, Kan., tagged the backstretch wall while leading the contest.

From that point on, it was a three-car battle with Chandler holding off Mike Cothron of Moline, Ill., and Denny Pittman of Jefferson, Iowa, to take the win by two-car-lengths.

The late-race mishap occurred midway down the backstretch as the four leaders worked their way through slower traffic. Jellison and Chandler went to the high side and Cothron and Pittman ducked low. Jellison, a former two-time national karting champion, claimed his was hit.

“If he was hit, it wasn’t by me.” Chandler said. “He had been running loose for several laps and it looked to me he lost it – but he could have been tapped by a slower car. I did bump him earlier in the race and I apologized for that, but I didn’t hit him when he wrecked.”

The victory was only Chandler’s second-ever IMCA win, the other coming late last season in a fair race at Bethany, Mo.

Chandler finished fifth in last year’s IMCA modified national point standings and used his $700 point share winnings to get a good start on a new car.

“This is the first new car I’ve ever raced,” said Chandler, who came into IMCA modified racing from the ranks of street stocks. “I didn’t have a lap on this car when I got here but it handled beautifully.”

Rounding out the top five finishers were Steve Mettlin of Cambridge, Ill., and Bernie Juliar of Hudson, Iowa.

Gary Reinhart of Moline, Ill., won the B-feature with Jim Mettlin of Cambridge, Ill., finishing second. Heat wins were registered by Pittman, Jellison, Chandler, and Cothron.

Chandler pocketed more than $500 in cash and took home a trophy for his efforts.

Results –

1. Merv Chandler, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2. Mike Cothron, Moline, Ill.
3. Dennis Pittman, Jefferson, Iowa
4. Steve Mettlin, Cambridge, Ill.
5. Bernie Juliar, Hudson, Iowa
6. Dean Schroeder, Iowa Falls, Iowa
7. Gerald Thompson, Dawson, Minn.
8. Terry Walker, Muskogee
9. Ross Krieger, Jefferson, Iowa
10.Terry Thornton, Clinton, Mo.

1 comment:

  1. Appreciate the attention to Thunderbird.