SANTA MARIA, California — After a slower car spun and collected leader Mike Spencer on lap fifteen, Hollister's Ryan Bernal fought off a determined "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. to score the feature win at Chris Kearns' Santa Maria Speedway. The victory marked Bernal's third straight triumph with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series and tightens up the championship points battle heading to Hanford on September 10th.
"Bernal stayed close behind the leader as the pair separated themselves from the field. "
By virtue of a four pill drawn for the main event inversion, Ryan Bernal shared the front row with 3-time USAC/CRA Champion Mike Spencer. Making his first career start with the USAC West Coast 360s, Spencer took command in Mark Priestley's #7X Roy Miller Freightlines / Sander Engineering Sherman. Bernal settled into second, followed by the 2009 Series Champion Justyne Hamblin, Faria, and fast time qualifier Dennis Howell.
While several yellow flags plagued the event, Spencer maintained a torrid pace around the Santa Maria clay oval. Bernal stayed close behind the leader as the pair separated themselves from the field. "Hollywood" Faria eventually shook free from the pack and began to reel in the leaders. By mid-race, the trio were in a tight formation and steadily working their way through slower traffic.
That is when lady luck frowned on Spencer. A slower car spun in front of the lead trio in turn four and caught the leader. Mike's machine came to a stop and was tagged by Bernal. Ryan narrowly avoided disaster himself was able to continue on, as did Faria. Spencer was able to rejoin the field and roared back to seventh at the checkered flags.
Now with the lead, Bernal would have his hands full with Faria, Hamblin, and Howell. Executing a great restart, the youngster began to stretch out his lead. Danny was able to close in and apply pressure, but Ryan held tough and hit his marks. The laps counted down in rapid fashion and Bernal scored the victory, with Faria in second followed by Hamblin, Howell, and point leader Richard VanderWeerd rounding out the top five drivers.
Piloting Danny Olmstead's #11D S&S Automotive / Dorso's Automotive Maxim, Ryan Bernal won his third straight main event. The 30-lap victory ties a series record, set last season by T.J. Smith and vaults Bernal to second in the championship points. Now fifty-three points behind Richard VanderWeerd, the race for the crown will heat up with four point races remaining on the schedule. Earlier in the night, the former Wingless Spec Sprint Champion was fourth fast in time trials and scored fourth in his heat race. To date, Bernal has two heat race victories, eight top-10 finishes, and leads the series with 116 feature laps led.
Tipton's "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. raced to second from his fifth starting position. Driving Junior Bowman's #2X Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / Kaeding Performance Bullet, Faria qualified seventh quick and claimed second in his heat race. The veteran driver is fourth in the point chase with one feature win, two Sander Engineering Fast Time Awards, three heat race victories, six top-10 finishes, and thirty-two feature laps led to his credit.
Justyne Hamblin of Hanford had her best finish of the season with a third place performance. Piloting the JH Motorsports #8 Speed Tech sponsored by the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino and Dias Law Firm, the former series champion was second quick on the night and took second in her heat race. Currently seventh in the standings, Hamblin has one heat race victory, one Keizer Wheels Hard Charger Award, and six top-10 finishes on the season.
Scoring fourth in the Santa Maria feature was Dennis Howell of Rancho Palos Verdes. Driving the family owned #62 San Pedro Auto Body / Howell-Meyer Racing Maxim, Dennis was earned his first Sander Engineering Fast Time Award of the season and was third in his heat race. The USAC Western Midget Series graduate is sixth in the title chase with two heat race victories, two Keizer Wheels Hard Charger Awards, and eight top-10 finishes on the year.
Point leader Richard VanderWeerd of Visalia earned the Keizer Wheels Hard Charger / Best Passing Job honors on the night with a fifth place run after starting thirteenth. Piloting the family owned #10 VanderWeerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Richard qualified fifth quick and was fifth in his heat race. To date, VanderWeerd has one feature win, three Sander Engineering Fast Time Awards, three heat race victories, and leads the series with ten top-10 finishes. In addition, he has led seventeen feature laps during the 2011 campaign.
Gardena's Greg Alexander returned to action after a one race absence to claim victory in the Extreme Muffler's Heat Race #1. Making his debut in a Maxim chassis formerly driven by Matt Mitchell, Alexander qualified thirteenth and scored eighth in the feature after an early mishap. The driver of Chuck Tyler's #72 Barnes Systems / Tyler Pool Service entry is ninth in points with two heat race victories, six top-10 finishes, and six feature laps led to his credit.
T.J. Smith of Fresno drove Steve LeGras' #14 UHL Rubber / S&S Automotive Maxim to the Heat Race #2 triumph, sponsored by Saldana Racing Products and Keizer Wheels. The defending Santa Maria track champion was fourteenth quick in time trials and scored sixteenth in the feature. Currently eighth in the standings, Smith has one Sander Engineering Fast Time Award, three heat race victories, four top-10 finishes, and has led thirty feature laps on the season.
Lompoc's Jeff Culver made an infrequent start and narrowly won the DJ Safety Heat Race #3. Piloting his #71C Rancho Nipomo Deli & BBQ / Central Coast Powder Coating Stinger, Culver bested Campbell's Nico Russo and Mike Spencer of Temecula in a 3-wide finish at the checkered flags. Earlier in the program, Culver qualified eighteenth fast on the night, and would later claim fifteenth in the 30-lap main event.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, BR Motorsports, ButlerBuilt, Competition Suspension Inc., Cory Kruseman's Sprint Car & Midget Driving School, Crow Enterprizes, DJ Safety, Extreme Mufflers, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Hinchman-Indy Racing Uniforms, Integra Shocks, Kaeding Performance, Keizer Wheels, King Racing Products, Port City Racing, Rod End Supply, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will return to action on Saturday, September 10th for the Jim Turner Memorial at Scott Woodhouse's Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway in Hanford. Located on the Kings County Fairgrounds at 801 S. 10th Avenue, more event information can be found at www.giantchevroletspeedway.com or calling (559) 584-RACE (7223).
For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, please visit westcoastsprintcars.com, racesantamariaspeedway.com.
|SANDER ENGINEERING TIME TRIALS|
|1. Dennis Howell, 62, Howell-14.810; 2. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-14.855; 3. Mike Spencer, 7X, Priestley-14.870; 4. Ryan Bernal, 11D, Olmstead-14.901; 5. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-14.960; 6. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter-15.085; 7. Danny Faria Jr., 2X, Bowman-15.094; 8. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-15.137; 9. Nico Russo, 3N, Russo-15.165; 10. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-15.211; 11. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-15.227; 12. Bobby Bender, 16, Jones-15.310; 13. Greg Alexander, 72, Tyler-15.345; 14. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-15.595; 15. A.J. Bender, 12, Bender-15.624; 16. Lynn Anderson, 7, Anderson-15.634; 17. Terry Nichols, 33, Nichols-15.651; 18. Jeff Culver, 71C, Culver-15.895; 19. Bill Jones, 16J, Jones-16.033|
|Extreme Mufflers Heat Race 1(8 laps)|
|1. Greg Alexander, 2. Danny Faria Jr., 3. Dennis Howell, 4. Ryan Bernal, 5. Wes Gutierrez, 6. Lynn Anderson, 7. Bill Jones|
|Saldana Racing Products/Keizer Wheels Heat Race 2 (8 laps)|
|1. T.J. Smith, 2. Justyne Hamblin, 3. Jace VanderWeerd, 4. Rusty Carlile, 5. Richard VanderWeerd, 6. Terry Nichols|
|Dj Safety Heat Race 3(8 laps)|
|1. Jeff Culver, 2. Nico Russo, 3. Mike Spencer, 4. Bobby Bender, 5. Ricky Kirkbride, 6. A.J. Bender|
|Feature (30 laps - With Starting Positions)|
|1. Ryan Bernal (1st), 2. Danny Faria Jr. (5th), 3. Justyne Hamblin (3rd), 4. Dennis Howell (4th), 5. Richard VanderWeerd (13th), 6. Rusty Carlile (8th), 7. Mike Spencer (2nd), 8. Greg Alexander (10th), 9. Wes Gutierrez (15th), 10. Ricky Kirkbride (14th), 11. Jace VanderWeerd (6th), 12. Nico Russo (7th), 13. A.J. Bender (16th), 14. Bobby Bender (9th), 15. Jeff Culver (12th), 16. T.J. Smith (11th), 17. Terry Nichols (18th), 18. Lynn Anderson (17th), 19. Bill Jones (19th)|