By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Hanford, CA
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Hanford, CA -- The five race, four track Grand Slam Series for the combined VRA wingless 360 sprints and the Bandit wingless 360 sprint cars opened at Kings Speedway on Saturday night and it was VRA regular Kevin Kierce picking off the $2000 win as he raced into the lead with just 3 laps remaining in the 30 lap feature. Bandit racer Peter Murphy put the Tommy Tarlton car in second and Clark Templeman III enjoyed his best 2005 finish in third. A 33 car field turned out and Santa Maria Speedway point leader Greg Porte ran fourth ahead of VRA racer Chris Wakim. Brad Pounds skipped an event at his hometown Bakersfield Speedway to race in the IMCA Modifieds and he won both his heat race and the feature. Aaron Barnell ran second ahead of Joe Gonella Jr and expanded his season point lead as closest rival Steve Smothermon was 15th in the 16 car feature. Barnell’s point lead grew from two points to 15 points in the process. Only seven of the 11 Hot Stocks were able to start their feature action and point leader Preston Martin from Coalinga raced his Olson Spec Engine to another feature win ahead of Porterville’s Chuck Nevels and J T Contente.
Time trials for the 33 unwinged 360 sprint cars found usual winged racer Chris D’Arcy turning quick time at 16.137 on the 3/8 mile clay oval. Murphy clicked off a 16.285 and Porte was third at 16.415. Wakim ranked fourth with his 16.453 and Kierce claimed fifth with a 16.490. Templeman ran a 16.495 and Darren Simas posted a 16.595. The races in the Grand Slam series will count for track points at Ventura and Santa Maria along with Bandit series points. Top of the favorites coming in were on the trailer before the heat action. SCRA championship contender Chad Boespflug and previous race Ventura winner Greg Taylor had both broken in practice. The four heat races each advanced four cars into the $2000 to win, $200 to start, 30 lap feature and the B Main determined the final six A Main starters. VRA star Blake Miller won the opening heat race ahead of Joey Layman, Kierce and Oren Prosser Jr. Murphy’s big night included a win in heat 2 ahead of Templeman, Bakersfield’s Rick Gifford and Rusty Carlile. Steve Conrad won heat 3 ahead of Porte, Bandit star Jimmy Reeves and Simas. Bobby Elliott gave the Bandit group a win in heat 4 over former VRA champion Tom Stansberry from Bakersfield, John Iturriria and Wakim. Richard McCormick was sidelined before the B Main and Dennis Rodriguez got the B Main win in front of D’Arcy, Luis Espinoza, Mike Knopf, double division racer Wes Richardson and Jonathan Logan. Just missing the transfer were Tim Moon, Hobie Conway and Charles Turner. Top runners Reeves, Rodriguez, Gifford, Elliott, Stansberry and Carlile all failed to finish in the 30 lapper. Kierce led late for the $2000 win as Murphy ran second ahead of Templeman, Porte, Wakim, Miller, Espinoza, Simas, Logan and Prosser. Conrad was 11th ahead of Layman, Knopf and D’Arcy. The Ventura cars were forced to buy Hanford tires for the series while the Bandit teams had to purchase Ventura mufflers. The series continues at Santa Maria on August 6, Bakersfield Speedway on August 20 and concludes with a two day show in Ventura on Labor Day weekend. Winner Kierce was quick to thank Kings Speedway veteran racer Danny Sheridan for his track setup advice. Sheridan was racing in the two day CRA/USAC show at Skagit Speedway in Washington along with 2004 Bandit champion Davey Pombo Jr.
The 16 IMCA Modifieds were split into a pair of heat races and Pounds won the first ahead of Smothermon and Jon Schlundt. Marcus Aue put his Victory Chassis in the winner’s circle for heat 2 ahead of 2004 champion Bryan Burnes and Barnell’s D&M. Rookie Mike Villaneuva was third in points, but recently sold his car and he was out of action. Pounds raced to the feature win ahead of Barnell, Gonella, Claudine Contente, national rookie of the year hopeful Alex Stanford, last starter Wes Richardson, Joe Chapman, Ed Nichols and Ron D’Artenay, the 2004 Hot Stock champion. Stanford is now one point ahead of C Contente in their third place duel, but 36 behind leader Barnell. Top runner Rodney Sullivan joined the Hot Stock action, but broke in hot laps and joined Joe Ealy, James Brown and Jay Jones as a feature scratch. Tony Contente won the opening heat race over Martin and J T Contente. Chris Davis beat Michael Redding and Nevels in heat 2. Martin then posted the feature win ahead of Nevels, J Contente, T Contente, Mark Courtney, Redding and Davis.
The IMCA Modifieds and Hot Stocks both return on August 7 to join the Rebel Cup winged 360 sprint cars.
Summary Hot Stock Heat 1-Tony Contente, Preston Martin, J T Contente, Mark Courtney, Joe Ealy. Heat 2-Chris Davis, Michael Redding, Chuck Nevels, Jay Jones. Main-Martin, Nevels, J Contente, T Contente, Courtney, Redding, Davis. IMCA Modified Heat 1-Brad Pounds, Steve Smothermon, Jon Schlundt, Alex Stanford, Ron D’Artenay Jr. Heat 2-Marcus Aue, Bryan Burnes, Aaron Barnell, Joe Gonella Jr, Claudine Contente. Main-Pounds, Barnell, Gonella, C Contente, Stanford, Wes Richardson, Joe Chapman, Ed Nichols, D’Artenay, Schlundt, Keith Anderson, Todd Hermosillo, Burnes, Tom Stidham, Smothermon, Aue. Unwinged 360 Sprint Car Fast Time-Chris D’Arcy 16.137 Heat 1-Blake Miller, Joey Layman, Kevin Kierce, Oren Prosser Jr, D’Arcy. Heat 2-Peter Murphy, Clark Templeman III, Rick Gifford, Rusty Carlile, Joe Henderson. Heat 3-Steve Conrad, Greg Porte, Jimmy Reeves, Darren Simas, Ron Bach. Heat 4-Bobby Elliott, Tom Stansberry, John Iturriria, Chris Wakim, Luis Espinoza. B Main-Dennis Rodriguez, D’Arcy, Espinoza, Mike Knopf, Wes Richardson, Jonathan Logan, Tim Moon, Hobie Conway, Charles Turner, Ray Knight, Bach, Henderson, Thad Bennett, Ryan Devitt. A Main-Kierce, Murphy, Templeman, Porte, Wakim, Miller, Espinoza, Simas, Logan, Prosser, Conrad, Layman, Knopf, D’Arcy, Richardson, Carlile, Stansberry, Iturriria, Elliott, Gifford, Rodriguez, Reeves.