By Lance Jennings
AUGUST 31, 2016… This Friday, September 2nd, the “Border Tour” featuring the USAC SouthWest and New Mexico Motor Racing Association (NMMRA) Sprint Cars will resume at the Western Tech Speedway Park in El Paso, Texas. The following night, the popular mini-series will shift to Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Southern New Mexico. Both main events will pay $2,000-to-win as drivers from each series will battle for bragging rights and a nice payday.
Dubbed as the “Last Lap at the Park,” the event will be the closing night of El Paso’s 3/8-mile oval. The traditional sprint cars of Arizona and New Mexico made their debut on June 8, 2012 and veteran Rickey Hood claimed the checkered flags. R.J. Johnson earned back-to-back USAC SouthWest wins in 2013 and 2014, but rain washed out the 2015 visit. On June 3rd, Stevie Sussex took the lead from Wes Wofford on the ninth lap and sailed to the 30-lap victory. Friday’s “Last Lap at the Park” will also feature the USRA Modifieds, X-Mods, 305 Winged Sprints, Super Trucks, Southwest Late Models, Casa Nissan Legends Cars, and Claimers. The Front Gates will open at 5:30pm with Racing scheduled to begin at 7:45pm. For more information, visit www.epspeedwaypark.com or call 915.791.8749.
The “2nd Annual Joe Herrera Memorial” promises to be a must see event at the Southern New Mexico Speedway. Like El Paso, the Las Cruces’ 5/16-mile oval has also showcased the non-wing Arizona and New Mexico Sprints for five straight years. On June 9, 2012, Rickey Hood backed up his El Paso triumph and “The Real Deal” Rick Ziehl earned a popular hometown win in 2013. R.J. Johnson (2014) and “The Magic Man” Mike Martin (2015) have also celebrated wins at Las Cruces as well as Stevie Sussex on June 4th. The “2nd Annual Joe Herrera Memorial” will also showcase 305 Winged Sprints, USRA Modifieds, Street Stocks, Mini Sprints, and Claimers. The Front Gates will open at 5:00pm with Racing scheduled to begin at 7:45pm. For more information, visit www.snmspeedway.com or call 575.524.7913.
Heading to Friday’s point race, R.J. Johnson (Tempe, Arizona) sits atop the standings with a 107-point advantage. Driving Bill Michael’s #77M Kodiak Products / Beal’s Auto Body Sherman, Johnson has eight wins on the season along with seven heat race victories, six top-qualifier awards, twenty top-10 finishes, and 182 feature laps led. The three-time champion leads all drivers with 40 career SouthWest wins and will be looking to win both “Border Tour” shows.
“Chargin” Charles Davis Jr. (Buckeye, Arizona) ranks second in the chase for the championship. Piloting the Massey Motorsports’ #50 RSS Industries / Rod End Supply RSS, Davis has ten heat race victories, two top-qualifier awards, one hard charger award, nineteen top-10 finishes, and 39 feature laps led on the season. “Chargin” Charles ranks second on the series win list with thirteen triumphs and will have his sights on his first victory of the campaign.
“The Magic Man” Mike Martin (Yuma, Arizona) sits third in the championship point standings. Racing his #16 Sherwin-Williams / Boulevard Truck Maxim, Martin has six heat race victories, one top-qualifier award, two hard charger awards, fifteen top-10 finishes, and 27 feature laps led to his credit. The former Hall of Fame Classic winner is tied with Josh Pelkey for fifth on the series win list and will be looking for his first triumph of the season.
Matt Rossi (Glendale, Arizona) is fourth in the USAC SouthWest point chase. Driving the family owned #02 Apache Scapes / IWR Spike, Rossi has two heat race victories, one semi-main win, nine top-10 finishes and 13 feature laps led on the year. The former 360 Western World Champion is tied with Brady Bacon, Dave Darland, Josh Hodges, and Rick Ziehl for eighth on the series win list and will have his sights on his first feature win of the year.
Stevie Sussex (Tempe, Arizona) ranks fifth in the point standings. The pilot of Mike Burkhart’s #21AZ Stratis Construction / Westin Diversified RSS has five feature wins, five heat race victories, two top-qualifier awards, one hard charger award, nine top-10 finishes, and 112 feature laps led on the year. Stevie has announced plans to compete in USAC/CRA’s “California Sprint Week” and may skip the “Border Tour” shows.
Among the other drivers expected to be in action are Nick Aiuto, “The Bull” Tye Mihocko, Dennis Gile, Andy Reinbold, Brian Hosford, Chris Bonneau, Landon Cling, Shon Deskins, “The Radio Flyer” Bruce St. James, Michael Curtis, Tom Ogle, Matt Lundy, and more.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico’s Michael Fanelli leads the NMMRA point standings. Nick Rael, Randy Smith, Matthew Cardenas, Jason Grady, Caleb Saiz, JR Bonesteel, David Dykes, Ted Schlote, and Robert Marfia round out the top-10 drivers.
Western Tech Speedway Park is at 14751 Marina Boulevard in El Paso, Texas. Located 6 miles east of FM 375 on US 62, then 0.5 miles north on Krag Street, then east on Tangerine Avenue. Adult Tickets are $15, Family Packs are $30 (2 Adults & 4 Children Under 16), Kids Tickets (10 & Under) are FREE, and Pit Passes are $35. For more event information, visit www.epspeedwaypark.com or call 915.791.8749.
Southern New Mexico Speedway is located at 12125 Robert Larson Boulevard in Las Cruces, New Mexico. To get to the track, I-10 to exit 132, then south to the frontage road, then 3.1 miles west on Robert Larson Blvd. Adult Tickets are $15, Family Packs are $30 (2 Adults & 4 Children Under 16), Kids Tickets (10 & Under) are FREE, and Pit Passes are $35. For more event information, visit www.snmspeedway.com or call 575.524.7913.
For more information on the USAC SouthWest Sprint Car Series, visit www.southwestsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, or follow the series on Facebook.
2013-R.J. Johnson, 2014-R.J. Johnson, 2015-R.J. Johnson.
2016 USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR WINS:
8-R.J. Johnson, 5-Stevie Sussex, 4-Bryan Clauson, 3-Josh Hodges.
EL PASO USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR WINS:
2-R.J. Johnson, 1-Stevie Sussex.
LAS CRUCES USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR WINS:
1-R.J. Johnson, 1-Mike Martin, 1- Stevie Sussex, 1-Rick Ziehl.
USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS:
- R.J. Johnson-903, 2. Charles Davis Jr.-796, 3. Mike Martin-740, 4. Matt Rossi-736, 5. Stevie Sussex-640, 6. Nick Aiuto-639, 7. Tye Mihocko-614, 8. Dennis Gile-546, 9. Andy Reinbold-533, 10. Josh Pelkey-500, 11. Chris Bonneau-442, 12. Brian Hosford-441, 13. Landon Cling-408, 14. Bruce St. James-346, 15. Michael Curtis-345, 16. Dustin Burkhart-330, 17. Shon Deskins-320, 18. Tom Ogle-241, 19. Matt Lundy-192, 20. Jonas Reynolds-190.
NMMRA SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS:
- Michael Fanelli-332, 2. Nick Rael-297, 3. Randy Smith-281, 4. Matthew Cardenas-272, 5. Jason Grady-270, 6. Caleb Saiz-262, 7. JR Bonesteel-252, 8. David Dykes-232, 9. Ted Schlote-216, 10. Robert Marfia-179, 11. David Burns-146, 12. Cody Mansfield-104, 13. Stephen Spiak-93, 14. Kristy Smith-85, 15. John Bicht-82, 16. Chuck Jackson-79, 17. Jacob Johnston-78, 18. Josh Grady-76, 19. Austin Mansfield-67, 20. R.J. Johnson-37.