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Local driver wins Delta Classic
Falkenberg 3
Turlock's Chris Falkenberg and his 1970s Camaro won the Delta Valley Classic in Merced after a nail-biting ending in the Sport Modified Division. - photo by Photo Contributed

Turlock racer Chris Falkenberg may have built his car by the sweat of his brow in his parent's garage, but the work was well worth it when he took the victory in the Sport Modified Division at the Delta Valley Classic on Sunday.

Falkenberg, who is in his second full season, was in a nail-biting race in Merced after starting in the outside of the front row.

Fred Ryland crossed the finish line first in the International Motor Contest Association Sport Mod main event, but he was disqualified in post-race tech along with third place finisher Tim Cecil and fifth place finisher Steve Stone.

Ryland won an early race duel with Falkenberg before claiming the apparent win. Falkenberg was elevated to victory with Ryland's disqualification.

“This is kind of a special day,” said Falkenberg about the two-day event. “I ran the heat before and placed myself in a good situation after drawing second, so I had a huge advantage with the start.”

The race, which was set for a 25-lap contest and 22 participants, was instead moved to 15 due to the high number of crashes and accidents.

“There were tons of wrecks and cautions and it was cut short,” said Falkenberg of the race. “It's a big money race so most guys are driving too hard. The atmosphere was different... we got a big race, lots of guys in pits, it was exciting.”

Falkenberg, who drives an all-black, late 1970s Camaro, with the number 3 on its side, was fearless on Sunday.

He knew the competition was tight and the race was close but he hung in second for the first five laps before the restart.

Once the restart hit, Falkenberg passed Ryland and took the lead for the next four laps before getting passed once and for all till the finish line.

“It was a fun race getting the win however we did,” said Falkenberg, who credited Vance Beltran in helping him get headed in the right direction for a win.

“My family is also super supportive,” he added. “My dad let me take over the garage for race track racing and mom as well. Family behind me 100 percent and that helps. Also, my little sister is getting into it as well.”

The next event for Falkenberg will be this weekend in Watsonville followed by a race in Hanford on Halloween weekend.

“I will be racing in those two for sure and maybe Bakersfield, we will see how we hold up at that point,” said Falkenberg.