By Lance Jennings
APRIL 4, 2017… After a successful show at Placerville, the Light Up The World Beverages USAC Western States Midgets are back in action this Saturday, April 8th at Tulare’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway. Located on the Tulare County Fairgrounds, the third point race will also feature the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, Western RaceSaver Sprint Cars, IMCA Stock Cars, and Legends of Kearney Bowl Vintage Cars. The spectator gates will open at 4:00pm, time trials at 5:00pm, and racing will start at 7:00pm. For more event information, visit the track’s website at www.tularethunderbowl.com or call 559.688.0909.
Heading into Saturday’s event, the Tulare County Fairgrounds has hosted eight USAC Western Midget races. P.J. Jones won the September 7, 1988 Tulare debut and Ronnie Gardner claimed victory last October. At press time, Bryan Clauson holds the 1-lap qualifying record of 15.628, set on November 13, 2010 and the series win list at Thunderbowl Raceway is at the bottom of this release.
Heading to Tulare, Ronnie Gardner (Corona, California) has a thirteen point lead over the competition. Racing the Six8 Motorsports’ #68 PAC Springs / Wilwood Brakes Stewart, Gardner led five laps at Placerville before running second to Shane Golobic. At press time, the defending four-time champion has one feature win, one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, one heat race victory, two top-10 finishes, and 30 feature laps led to his credit. Ronnie ranks fourth on the series win list with twenty victories and will be looking to add another Tulare win to his resume.
Cory Elliott (Bakersfield, California) ranks second in the chase for the championship. Driving the family owned #11E FK Indy / Oilwize Spike, Elliott charged from ninth to score third at Placerville. To date, the 2015 Rookie of the Year has one heat race victory, and two top-10 finishes on the season. Cory has one career series win and will have his sights on gaining valuable points with a Tulare victory.
Courtney Crone (Corona, California) has climbed to third in the USAC Western States Midget point chase. Piloting Jerome Rodela’s #25 Trench Shoring / Ed Pink Racing Engines Breka, Crone ran fourth in the Placerville feature. As this writing goes to press, the 2016 Rookie of the Year has two top-10 finishes in the campaign. Fresh off a Madera BCRA Midget victory, Courtney will be looking to earn her first USAC triumph this Saturday night.
Frankie Guerrini (San Rafael, California) sits fourth in the championship standings. Racing the family owned #63 F&F Racing / Davis Motorsports Spike, Guerrini scored tenth in the “Placerville Short Track Outlaw Showdown.” At press time, the 2015 BCRA Champion has two top-10 finishes on the season and will have his sights on his second career USAC victory.
Leading rookie contender Mason Daniel (Visalia, California) has risen to fifth in the championship points. Driving the family owned #33M Young’s Racing / Dylon Risk Management Spike, Daniel took seventh in the Placerville feature. To date, Mason has one Esslinger Engineering Hard Charger Award and two top-10 finishes on the year. The young driver will have his sights on earning his first win at the Tulare County Fairgrounds.
Other rookie contenders are Clayton Ruston (Upland, California) and Bryan Drollinger (Lomita, California).
Among the other drivers expected to be in action are “The Panda” Terry Nichols, Robert Dalby, Randi Pankratz, David Prickett, Michael Faccinto, Maria Cofer, Alex Schutte, J.J. Ercse, Shannon McQueen, Nate Wait, Tyler Dolacki, and more.
Tulare, California’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway is located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets. Grandstand Tickets are $25 and Bleacher Seats are $20. 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.