The 3rd Annual “Winter Challenge” opens this week at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz. as USAC participants begin the 2014 racing season. Six races in nine nights are planned at the 3/8-mile dirt oval showcasing the stars of USAC’s Southwest and West Coast Sprint Car Series.
Defending champions of the two USAC series are R.J. Johnson of Phoenix, Ariz. (Southwest) and Danny Faria Jr. of Visalia, Calif. (West Coast). Johnson recorded 10 victories in 21 starts in 2013, while Faria had seven “podiums” including three feature wins in 16 West Coast appearances.
Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Ind., the 2013 AMSOIL USAC National Champion, is the defending “Winter Challenge” king, while Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind. won the inaugural 2012 title.
Hines scored three “Winter Challenge” feature wins in 2012 and Clauson won three this past year. Other “Winter Challenge” feature winners have included Charles Davis Jr. (2 in 2013), Jon Stanbrough in 2013 and R.J. Johnson in 2013.
This year’s events commence on Friday night, January 24 and continue Saturday and Sunday nights. The finales are Thursday and Friday (Jan. 30-31) and the $5,000-to-win race Saturday, February 1.
In 18 USAC Sprint events at Canyon during 2013, Johnson and Clauson each won seven times! Davis won twice, while 5-time USAC/CRA Sprint Champ Mike Spencer and National veteran Chase Stockon also earned wins.
Despite the fact that the “Winter Challenge” races do not carry championship points toward either series, the Canyon races have produced memorable races in the two previous events.
The Southwest Sprint Car points race officially commences March 16 at Peoria, while the West Coast Sprint point race kicks in March 15 and 16 at Tulare, Calif.