By Lance Jennings
AUGUST 13, 2018… Making his first start of the year, “The Demon” Damion Gardner (Concord, California) swept last Saturday’s “Bud Stanfield Memorial” at Santa Maria Raceway. Gardner set fast time, won his heat race, and claimed the second Light Up The World USAC Western States Midgets presented by CBD Living Water victory of his career. Piloting Jerome Rodela’s #25 Trench Shoring / Ed Pink Racing Engines Breka, the six-time USAC/CRA Sprint Car Champion finished ahead of Robert Dalby, Ryan Bernal, “Fireball” Maria Cofer, and Michael Faccinto.
Staring on the pole position, “Fireball” Maria Cofer jumped to the early lead. Looking for her first USAC win, last year’s BCRA Champion began to run away from the field on the heavy track. Within a couple of laps, the sixth starting Gardner sliced his way forward and managed to chase down the leader. Now pressuring Cofer for the top spot, Gardner took command with a power move on the seventh circuit. From there, “The Demon” set a blistering pace and controlled the main event. Seemingly passing slower traffic at will, Gardner made some daring moves as he sailed to the $1,200 victory.
Before claiming the USAC Western States Midget portion of the “Bud Stanfield Memorial,” Damion Gardner earned the $100 Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award. “The Demon” out-qualified the 19-car field by turning a 13.713 second lap that nearly eclipsed J.R. Lawson’s 1995 standard of 13.667. After that, Gardner raced to victory in the 8-lap Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1.
Robert Dalby (Anaheim, California) had a strong night at Santa Maria with a second place finish. Driving the family owned #4D R-D Spring & Stamping / Monster Seal Spike, Dalby was sixth fast in time trials and ran second to Gardner in his heat race. At press time, the young driver has climbed to fourth in the point chase with four top-10 finishes and 14 feature laps led.
Ryan Bernal (Hollister, California) fought hard for his third place finish at Santa Maria Raceway. Racing Keith Ford’s #73X Edgewater Construction / Naturipe TCR, Bernal qualified ninth overall and won the night’s Competition Suspension Inc. / Rod End Supply Heat Race #3. The two-time USAC Western Classic Sprint Car Champion ranks fifteenth in the point standings with two heat race victories, one top-10 finish, and 8 feature laps led on the season.
After leading the first six laps, “Fireball” Maria Cofer (Macdoel, California) scored fourth in the “Bud Stanfield Memorial.” Piloting the family owned #57 Tule Vista Ranches / Edmunds Auto Research Spike, Cofer was twelfth quick in time trials and ran second to Bernal in her heat race. To date, the second generation driver is tenth in the standings with three top-10 finishes to her credit.
Starting seventh, Michael Faccinto (Hanford, California) raced to fifth in the 30-lap main event. Driving the Dodenhoff Motorsports’ #9D Lightning Medical / Rocket Sports & Entertainment Spike, Faccinto qualified fourth overall and placed third in his heat race. The former Louie Vermeil Classic winner is second in the point chase with two feature wins, one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, one heat race victory, four top-10 finishes and 29 feature laps led on the year.
Rookie contender Daniel Anderson (Riverside, California) earned the night’s Saldana Racing Products / Racing Optics Hard Charger / Best Passing Job honors with an eighth place run from sixteenth. Racing the family owned #77 Aquatech Glassing / Anderson Surfboards Spike, Anderson was thirteenth fast in time trials and scored sixth in his heat race. After his third start of the campaign, Daniel is eighteenth in the chase for the championship with one heat race victory and one top-10 finish.
Alex Schutte (Redding, California) won the night’s Keizer Aluminum Wheels / Rod End Supply Heat Race #2. Piloting the Schutte/McElwee #28 Proficio / Aircraft Electrical Components Spike, Schutte qualified second overall and scored twelfth after having mechanical issues. The point leader heads to Calistoga’s “Louie Vermeil Classic” with an 18-point advantage on the strength of two feature wins, four heat race victories, four top-10 finishes, and 36 feature laps led.
The Light Up The World USAC Western States Midget Series presented by CBD Living Water will return for two nights of action at Calistoga Speedway on September 1st and 2nd. The “11th Annual Louie Vermeil Classic” at the Napa County Fairgrounds will also showcase the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, more event information can be found at www.calistogaspeedway.org, or calling 916.773.7225.
The Light Up The World USAC Western States Midget Series presented by CBD Living Water thanks Hoosier Tire, ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems, Competition Suspension Incorporated, Extreme Mufflers, Five Star Grafix, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Pyrotect Racing Cells, Racing Optics, 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 email@example.com.
For more information on the series, visit the United States Auto Club (USAC) website at www.usacracing.com. You can also find exclusive content on the Light Up The World Beverages USAC Western States Midget Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
Loudpedal Productions has USAC Western States Midget DVDs and videos on demand available for purchase at www.loudpedal.tv and 805.407.7229.
LIGHT UP THE WORLD USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET SERIES PRESENTED BY CBD LIVING WATER RACE RESULTS: August 11, 2018 – Santa Maria, California – Santa Maria Raceway – “32nd Annual Bud Stanfield Memorial”
WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 25, Rodela-13.713; 2. Alex Schutte, 28, Schutte/McElwee-13.822; 3. Tanner Thorson, 3C, Lamar-13.868; 4. Michael Faccinto, 9D, Dodenhoff-13.983; 5. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-14.064; 6. Robby Josett, 2, Josett-14.068; 7. Frankie Guerrini, 63, Guerrini-14.117; 8. David Prickett, 24X, Neverlift-14.122; 9. Ryan Bernal, 73X, Ford-14.132; 10. Robert Dalby, 4D, Dalby-14.153; 11. Clayton Ruston, 7R, CR-14.194; 12. Maria Cofer, 57, Cofer-14.280; 13. Daniel Anderson, 77, Anderson-14.371; 14. Randi Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-14.391; 15. C.J. Sarna, 20, Sarna-14.595; 16. Kyle Beilman, 31, Beilman-14.703; 17. Dylan Ito, 73, Ford-15.343; 18. Cody Swanson, 71S, Campbell-NT; 19. Ron Hazelton, 15, Hazelton-NT.
EXTREME MUFFLERS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Gardner, 2, Dalby, 3. Faccinto, 4. Guerrini, 5. Beilman, 6. Anderson. NT
KEIZER ALUMINUM WHEELS / ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Schutte, 2. McQueen, 3. Ruston, 4. Pankratz, 5. Ito, 6. Prickett. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION INCORPORATED / ROD END SUPPLY THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bernal, 2. Cofer, 3. Thorson, 4. Josett, 5. Sarna, 6. Hazelton. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions) 1. Damion Gardner (6th), 2. Robert Dalby (3rd), 3. Ryan Bernal (4th), 4. Maria Cofer (1st), 5. Michael Faccinto (7th), 6. Robby Josett (12th), 7. Clayton Ruston (8th), 8. Daniel Anderson (16th), 9. C.J. Sarna (15th), 10. Randi Pankratz (11th), 11. Tanner Thorson (9th), 12. Alex Schutte (5th), 13. David Prickett (17th), 14. Shannon McQueen (2nd), 15. Frankie Guerrini (10th), 16. Kyle Beilman (13th), 17. Dylan Ito (14th). NT
**Ito, Beilman, and Guerrini flipped on lap 1 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-6 Cofer, Laps 7-30 Gardner
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS / RACING OPTICS HARD CHARGER: Daniel Anderson (16th to 8th)