By Lance Jennings
SANTA MARIA, CA – MAY 7, 2012… Last Saturday night, Ryan Bernal of Hollister led the final four laps to claim his second straight USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series main event. With the $1,500 victory at Santa Maria Speedway, Bernal leads the championship points heading to Tulare’s “Faria Memorial Weekend” doubleheader that begins this Friday.
With a four pill drawn for the main event inversion, Jace Vander Weerd and Markus Niemela shared the front row of the 30-lap feature. Vander Weerd grabbed the early lead from the pole position as drivers quickly looked to the low line of the Santa Maria clay. Bud Kaeding had slipped into second from his third starting spot with Niemela, Danny Faria Jr., and Richard Vander Weerd rounding out the top five.
By the fifth circuit, Ryan Bernal had moved to third from his fifth starting position. A few laps later Kaeding pressured Vander Weerd for the lead, while Faria challenged Bernal for third. With track conditions changing with every lap, Vander Weerd continued to hit his marks and inch away from Kaeding. Bernal had found his rhythm, shaking free from Faria to secure third and chase after second. Gaining momentum, the point leader reeled in Kaeding and was able to complete the pass two laps later.
With twenty laps down, Vander Weerd still held command with Bernal now in striking distance. Kaeding held third as the top three broke free from the pack. Six laps later, Vander Weerd’s machine developed a push in the third corner, leaving an opening. Bernal shot for the hole and the resulting contact spun Vander Weerd’s machine to a stop. Jace was done for the night, officially scoring a sixteenth place finish. Now with the lead, Bernal had an excellent restart and quickly stretched his advantage during the closing laps. At the checkered flags, it was Ryan Bernal, followed by Bud Kaeding, Danny Faria Jr., Markus Niemela, and Ricky Kirkbride.
Piloting Keith Ford’s #73 King Racing Products / A&A Precision Machine Spike, Ryan Bernal currently holds an eighteen point advantage heading into the Faria Memorial. The defending Santa Maria track champion qualified second fast on the night, finished sixth in his heat race, and won the 10-lap Competition Suspension Inc. / Diversified Machine Inc. Semi-Main. In the four events of the 2012 campaign, the young driver has four podium appearances.
Campbell’s Bud Kaeding raced Junior Bowman’s #29 Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / Kaeding Performance Bullet to a runner-up finish at Santa Maria. Tied for the lead in career series feature wins, Kaeding qualified fifth and placed third in his heat race. Last year’s Faria Memorial winner has moved into second in the point standings and has three podium appearances on the year.
“Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. of Tipton won the LRB Inc. Race Products Award for claiming third in the 30-lap feature. Driving his #17V Johnston Calf Pens / Buster & Ziggy Enterprises Bullet, Faria bested the twenty-six car field in qualifications and earned his ninth career Sander Engineering / Rod End Supply Fast Time Award. “Hollywood” was second in his heat race and now sits fourth in the point chase.
Rauma, Finland’s Markus Niemela scored fourth in the Santa Maria feature. Piloting Steve Watt’s #81 Lost Reality / Steve Watt Enterprises Maxim, Niemela was seventh fast in time trials and placed fourth in his heat race. As the series heads to Tulare for the doubleheader, Markus is third in the championship standings twenty-one points behind Bernal.
Bakersfield’s Ricky Kirkbride raced to fifth in the main event after starting twelfth. Driving Bob & Toni Van meter’s #87 Fred Cummings Motorsports Maxim, Kirkbride qualified fifteenth and won the 10-lap DJ Safety Heat Race #3. “The Rickster” missed the last point race at Hanford and is currently thirteenth in the championship hunt.
Fresno’s Tyler Dolacki earned the Ringers Gloves “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors with a thirteenth place run after starting twenty-first. Racing his #18X Ridgeline Framing / Norman Dietrich Inspection Service KPC, Dolacki was twenty-third in time trials, fifth in his heat race, and fifth in the semi-main. With only two career sprint car starts to his credit, Tyler is twenty-fifth in the standings.
Don Gansen of Verdemont Heights won the 10-lap Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. Piloting the family owned #7G Trench Shoring / Dynamic Powder Coating Maxim, Gansen was seventeenth fast on the night and scored eighteenth in the feature. Gansen will be looking for better luck at Tulare’s Faria Memorial as he is sixteenth in points.
Hanford’s Justyne Hamblin drove to victory in the Saldana Racing Products / Keizer Wheels Heat Race #2. Driving the JH Motorsports’ #8 Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino / Kings River Commodities Speed Tech, Hamblin qualified twenty-second and placed fifteenth in the main event. The 2009 Champion is tenth in the standings and will be looking to rebound at Tulare.
Austin Liggett of Tracy won the SBI Fuel Systems / Integra Racing Shocks Heat Race #4. Piloting the family owned #83 Excel Environmental Services / Home Connections Inc. Maxim, Liggett was sixteenth fast in time trials and fourteenth in the main event. Austin is fifteenth in the point chase and is gaining valuable experience.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will return to action for a rare doubleheader starting this Friday, May 11th, at Steve Faria’s Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. Joining the “Chris & Brian Faria Memorial Weekend” showcase will be the Cancen Oil King of the West Sprint Cars and IMCA Modifieds. Located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare, the Front Gates will open at 5:00pm, with time Trials at 6:00pm, and Racing at 7:00pm. Reserved Grandstand Tickets are $20 and Bleacher Tickets are $17. Advance tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the track office at (559) 688-0909. For more event information, visit the track’s website at www.tularethunderbowl.com.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, ButlerBuilt, Competition Suspension Inc., Cory Kruseman’s Sprint Car & Midget Driving School, Crow Enterprizes, DJ Safety, Diversified Machine Inc., Extreme Mufflers, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Hinchman-Indy Racing Uniforms, Integra Shocks, Kaeding Performance, Keizer Wheels, LRB Inc. Race Products, ParkerStore of Phoenix, Ringers Gloves, Rod End Supply, SBI Fuel Systems, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support.
For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, please visit westcoastsprintcars.com, usacracing.com, racesantamariaspeedway.com, or follow the series on facebook.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE RESULTS:
May 5, 2012 – Santa Maria, California – Santa Maria Speedway
SANDER ENGINEERING / ROD END SUPPLY TIME TRIALS:
1. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-15.727; 2. Ryan Bernal, 73, Ford-16.054; 3. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-16.221; 4. Kevin Barnes, 36B, Barnes-16.314; 5. Bud Kaeding, 29, Bowman-16.323; 6. Danny Sheridan, 18K, Kittle-16.332; 7. Markus Niemela, 81, Watt-16.357; 8. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-16.483; 9. Kyle Smith, 51T, Smith-16.587; 10. Matt Mitchell, 18, Watt-16.656; 11. Tom Hendricks, 14K, Kruseman-16.742; 12. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-16.778; 13. Austin DeBlauw, 65, DeBlauw-16.787; 14. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-16.804; 15. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter-16.815; 16. Austin Liggett, 83, Liggett-16.866; 17. Don Gansen, 7G, Gansen-16.911; 18. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-17.056; 19. Steve Conrad, 56, Swaim-17.118; 20. Bob Alderman, 21X, Alderman-17.193; 21. Jeff Culver, 71C, Culver-17.194; 22. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-17.348; 23. Tyler Dolacki, 18X, Dolacki-17.459; 24. Ray Knight, 6K, Knight-18.151; 25. Brian Baker, 5X, Swaim-NT; 26. Andrew Murray, 21, Murray- NT.
EXTREME MUFFLERS HEAT RACE 1: (10 laps)
1. Don Gansen, 2. Danny Faria Jr., 3. Bud Kaeding, 4. Kyle Smith, 5. Jeff Culver, 6. Austin DeBlauw, 7. Brian Baker. NT
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS / KEIZER WHEELS HEAT RACE 2: (10 laps)
1. Justyne Hamblin, 2. Chris Ennis, 3. Matt Mitchell, 4. Rusty Carlile, 5. Danny Sheridan, 6. Ryan Bernal. NT
DJ SAFETY HEAT RACE 3: (10 laps)
1. Ricky Kirkbride, 2. Steve Conrad, 3. Tom Hendricks, 4. Markus Niemela, 5. Tyler Dolacki, 6. Richard Vander Weerd. NT
SBI FUEL SYSTEMS / INTEGRA RACING SHOCKS HEAT RACE 4: (8 laps)
1. Austin Liggett, 2. Jace Vander Weerd, 3. Bob Alderman, 4. Chris Gansen, 5. Ray Knight, 6. Kevin Barnes. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION INC. / DIVERSIFIED MACHINE INC. SEMI-MAIN: (10 laps)
1. Ryan Bernal, 2. Richard Vander Weerd, 3. Danny Sheridan, 4. Kevin Barnes, 5. Tyler Dolacki, 6. Jeff Culver, 7. Brian Baker. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Ryan Bernal (5th), 2. Bud Kaeding (3rd), 3. Danny Faria Jr. (4th), 4. Markus Niemela (2nd), 5. Ricky Kirkbride (12th), 6. Matt Mitchell (8th), 7. Richard Vander Weerd (6th), 8. Chris Ennis (15th), 9. Kyle Smith (7th), 10. Rusty Carlile (11th), 11. Chris Gansen (10th), 12. Steve Conrad (16th), 13. Tyler Dolacki (21st), 14. Austin Liggett (13th), 15. Justyne Hamblin (18th), 16. Jace Vander Weerd (1st), 17. Kevin Barnes (20th), 18. Don Gansen (14th), 19. Danny Sheridan (19th), 20. Bob Alderman (17th), 21. Jeff Culver (22nd), 22. Tom Hendricks (9th). NT
**Brian Baker flipped during qualifications.
**Austin DeBlauw flipped during the first heat.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-26 Jace Vander Weerd, Laps 27-30 Ryan Bernal.
RINGERS GLOVES HARD CHARGER: Tyler Dolacki (21st to 13th)
LRB INC. RACE PRODUCTS AWARD: Danny Faria Jr.
NEW USAC WEST COAST SPRINT STANDINGS:
1. Ryan Bernal-199; 2. Bud Kaeding-181; 3. Markus Niemela-178; 4. Danny Faria Jr.-175; 5. Matt Mitchell-146; 6. Chris Ennis-118; 7. Steve Conrad-101; 8. Rusty Carlile-97; 9. Kevin Barnes-96; 10. Justyne Hamblin-96; 11. Richard Vander Weerd-96; 12. Danny Sheridan-88; 13. Ricky Kirkbride-87; 14. Chris Gansen-77; 15. Austin Liggett-71; 16. Don Gansen-67; 17. Josh Ford-55; 18. Peter Murphy-52; 19. Jonathon Logan-48; 20. Matt Day-46.
2012 USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT CAR SERIES SCHEDULE
DATE – TRACK – LOCATION
May 11: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (Chris & Brian Faria Memorial)
May 12: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (Chris & Brian Faria Memorial)
June 9: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA
June 23: Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (Bud Stanfield Memorial)
July 7: *Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (War At The Shore / Doug Fort Memorial)
July 14: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (John Anthony Sharp Memorial)
August 4: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA (Jim Evett Memorial)
September 8: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA (Jim Turner Memorial)
September 22: *Canyon Speedway Park – Peoria, AZ (Brawl For It All / Non-Points)
September 29: Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (Billet Cup / John Jewett Memorial / Non-Points)
October 13: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA (Cotton Classic)
* = Co-Sanctioned Event With ASCS Canyon Region Sprints.
This schedule is subject to change.