Jake Swanson Leads USAC West Coat Sprints to Peter Murphy Classic

Jake Swanson – USAC West Coast Sprint Car Point Leader. Photo by MMRacingPhotos.com

Jake Swanson – USAC West Coast Sprint Car Point Leader. Photo by MMRacingPhotos.com
From Lance Jennings

TULARE, Ca. (April 18, 2017) — After a break in the schedule, the USAC West Coast Sprint Cars are back in action this Saturday, April 22nd, at Tulare, California’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway. Promoted by Steve Faria, the “4th Annual Peter Murphy Classic” will also feature the winged King of the West / NARC Sprints and the Legends of Kearney Bowl Vintage Cars. The front gates will open at 4:00pm, time trials at 6:00pm, with racing scheduled for 7:00pm. For more information, visit the track’s website at www.tularethunderbowl.com or call 559.688.0909.

Since its inception, the “Peter Murphy Classic” is one of the best paying dates on the schedule. A special thanks goes to Peter and his family for gathering sponsorship and raising extra prize money. As this writing goes to press, Murphy is working to increase the purse and create extra bonuses right up until the green flag waves on Saturday.

Noted as one of the most popular drivers in the Central Valley, Peter Murphy established himself in both the winged and non-wing sprint car ranks. Driving the potent Tarlton & Son #21 entry, the Australia native won championships with the SCRA 360s, Bandits, Kings Bandits, VRA/Bandit Grand Slam Mini-Series, and the Santa Maria Sprints. In West Coast action, Murphy won six races during the inaugural season and currently ranks sixth on the win list with eight triumphs. In addition, he posted one fast time award and still holds the track record at Hanford’s Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds. Returning to the winged 410s, Murphy was very competitive until injuries sustained in a July 2013 crash forced his retirement as a driver. Still a great ambassador for sprint car racing, he has worked behind the scenes to make the “Peter Murphy Classic” a successful event to rave reviews and higher purses. Ryan Bernal won the inaugural non-sanctioned 2014 event and following races were claimed by Matt Mitchell and Troy Rutherford.

Since March 6, 2010, the Tulare County Fairgrounds has hosted thirty-five USAC West Coast Sprint Car races. Ryan Bernal leads all drivers with twelve victories and Jake Swanson holds the 1-lap qualifying record of 14.984, set on March 17th. In the two previous appearances at Tulare in March, Swanson and Bernal took the checkered flags. The series win list at the Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway is at the bottom of this release.

Entering the sixth point race, Jake Swanson (Anaheim, California) has a 26-point advantage over the competition. Piloting Tom and Laurie Sertich’s #92 Huntington Beach Glass & Mirror / Clackamas Rigging and Transfer XXX, Swanson rebounded to score fifth at Hanford on March 25th after a late race restart from the back. At press time, the 2012 USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year has one feature win, two Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, one heat race victory, one BR Motorsports / King Racing Products Hard Charger Award, five top-10 finishes, and 17 feature laps led to his credit. Jake has two career USAC West Coast triumphs and will be looking to add the “Peter Murphy Classic” to his resume.

Ryan Bernal (Hollister, California) is second in the chase for the championship. Splitting time between Mike Phulps’ #56 Metal Works ART and Keith Ford’s #73 Naturipe XXX, Bernal did not compete at the Hanford March 25th show. To date, the two-time USAC Western Classic Champion has posted three feature wins, one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, one heat race victory, one BR Motorsports / King Racing Products Hard Charger Award, four top-10 finishes, and 57 feature laps led. Ryan leads all drivers with thirty series wins and is a fan favorite.

Richard Vander Weerd (Visalia, California) sits third in the West Coast point standings. Driving the family owned #10 Vander Weerd Construction / Stone Gate Development Maxim, Richard scored tenth at the Kings County Fairgrounds. At press time, the 2011 Champion has four top-10 finishes in the campaign and ranks second overall with nineteen career triumphs. This Saturday, Vander Weerd will have his sights adding his name to the “Peter Murphy Classic” winner’s list.

Jace Vander Weerd (Visalia, California) ranks fourth in the championship point chase. Racing the family owned #88 Vander Weerd Construction / Stone Gate Development Maxim, Jace finished sixteenth in the March 27th feature. To date, the 2010 USAC/CRA Sprint Car Rookie of the Year two heat race victories, three top-10 finishes, and 2 feature laps led on the season. Vander Weerd is tied with Peter Murphy for sixth on the series win list and will be looking to claim the Saturday night victory.

“The Human Highlight Reel” Geoff Ensign (Sebastopol, California) is fifth in the USAC West Coast point standings. Piloting Ted Finkenbinder’s #3 Western Industrial X-Ray Eagle, Ensign scored third at Hanford on March 27th. At press time, the 2011 USAC Western Classic Sprint Car Champion has posted two heat race victories, one Competition Suspension Inc. / ButlerBuilt Seats semi-main win, and three top-10 finishes on the year. Geoff has one career West Coast feature win and will have his sights on the “Peter Murphy Classic” victory.

Currently fourteenth in points, Brandon Wiley (Santa Maria, California) leads the chase for Rookie of the Year honors. Steve Hix (Ventura, California) and Steven Garris (Escalon, California) are also in contention.

Among the other drivers expected to be in action are Austin Liggett, Tristan Guardino, “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr., Cody Majors, Ryan Timmons, Jeff Sibley, Shannon McQueen, Jay Ervine, Troy Rutherford, Ryan Stolz, Gary Nelson Jr., 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. Bleacher seats are $20 and Grandstands seats are $25. 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 Sprint Car Series thanks AMSOIL, Hoosier Tire, BR Motorsports, Brown and Miller Racing Solutions, ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems, Chris Kearns Presents, Competition Suspension Incorporated, Extreme Mufflers, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, King Racing Products, Pyrotect Racing Cells, Rod End Supply, Saldana Racing Products, Ultra Shield Race Products, and Woodland Auto Display for their support. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, email PR Director Lance Jennings at lwjennings@earthlink.net.

For more information, visit www.westcoastsprintcars.com and www.usacracing.com. You can also find exclusive content on the USAC West Coast Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Loudpedal Productions has USAC West Coast Sprint Car DVDs and videos on demand available for purchase at www.loudpedal.tv and 805.407.7229.

USAC WEST COAST SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS: 1. Jake Swanson-343, 2. Ryan Bernal-317, 3. Richard Vander Weerd-290, 4. Jace Vander Weerd-259, 5. Geoff Ensign-244, 6. Austin Liggett-218, 7. Tristan Guardino-207, .. Danny Faria Jr.-207, 9. Cody Majors-206, 10. Tye Mihocko-158, 11. Ryan Timmons-150, 12. Brady Bacon-148, 13. Jeff Sibley-144, 14. Brandon Wiley-136, 15. Stevie Sussex-132, 16. Steve Hix-127, 17. Shannon McQueen-126, 18. Jay Ervine-123, … Brody Roa-123, 20. Steven Garris-121.

NOTICE TO RACERS: The Hoosier 105/16 Medium is the ONLY legal right rear tire and all four corners must be Hoosier. Cockpit adjustable shocks are NOT allowed and engine restrictor rules are 1-7/8″ with open heads and 2-3/16″ with ASCS cylinder heads. The weight rule is 1,475 lbs. with driver and the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Rule Book can be found online at www.westcoastsprintcars.com and www.usacracing.com. USAC MEMBERSHIPS ARE MANDATORY AT THE FIRST RACE and can be purchased at the track or online at https://usacracing.redpodium.com/2017-usac-sprint-midget-sc.