Tulare & Petaluma Double on Tap for Usac West Coast Sprints

Slater Helt. (Photo by Lance Jennings / SCRAFAN.COM)

From Lance Jennings

(May 14, 2019) – After a break in the schedule, the USAC West Coast Sprint Cars are set for a rare doubleheader. Starting this Friday, May 17th, the non-winged 360s will battle at Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway for the “6th Annual Peter Murphy Classic.” Paying $4,000-to-win, the popular event will also showcase the winged Sprint Car Challenge Tour (SCCT) vs. Kings of Thunder Sprint Cars. The Front Gates will open at 3:00PM, Time Trials are scheduled for 5:00PM, and Racing will start at 6:00PM. For more Tulare information, visit the track’s website at thunderbowlraceway.com or call 559.688.0909.

The following night, Saturday, May 18th, the series will travel to Petaluma Speedway to headline an action packed card with Modifieds, Dwarf Cars, and 600 Micro Sprints. The Front Gates will open at 4:00PM and Racing will start at 6:00PM. For more Petaluma details, visit the track’s website at petaluma-speedway.com or call 707.763.RACE (7223).

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 raceday. Murphy has already announced a $500 bonus for longest tow, $500 for quick time (plus $100 Woodland Auto Display Award), $500 for hard charger, and a special 3-lap Dash For Cash paying $500 (1st), $400 (2nd), $300 ($3rd), and $200 (4th).

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 Sprint Cars. In West Coast series action, Murphy won six races in the inaugural 2009 season and is currently tied for sixth on the win list with eight victories. In addition, he posted one fast time award and still holds the track record at Hanford’s Keller Auto Speedway. 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 2014 non-sanctioned event and following races were claimed by Matt Mitchell, Troy Rutherford, Kyle Hirst, and Richard Vander Weerd.

Since March 6, 2010, the Tulare County Fairgrounds has hosted 41 USAC West Coast Sprint Car races. Ryan Bernal leads all drivers with fourteen victories and Jake Swanson set the 1-lap track record of 14.984 on March 17, 2017. The series win list at Thunderbowl Raceway is at the bottom of this release.

On July 29, 2017, the USAC West Coast Sprints made their only appearance at Petaluma Speedway. “The Human Highlight Reel” Geoff Ensign won the feature at the Sonoma-Marin County Fairgrounds and set the 1-lap track record of 13.728.

Entering the sixth point race, Tristan Guardino (Fremont, CA) has a stout 117-point advantage over the competition. Driving the family owned #15T Dorso’s Automotive / Allied Auto Stores Maxim, Guardino ran second to Austin Liggett at Santa Maria on April 27th. To date, the young driver has posted one feature win, one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, three heat race victories, five top-10 finishes, and 23 feature laps led. Tristan is tied with Brody Roa and Craig Stidham for ninth on the series win list and will be looking to score wins at Tulare and Petaluma.

Jake Swanson (Anaheim, CA) ranks second in the USAC West Coast point standings. The pilot of Keith Ford’s #73T Edgewater Construction / Sun Valley AG Transport Triple X skipped the Santa Maria show to compete in Arizona. At press time, the 2017 Champion has one feature win, one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, one heat race victory, one Saldana Racing Products Hard Charger Award, three top-10 finishes, and 8 feature laps led to his credit. Currently tied with Davey Pombo and T.J. Smith for thirteenth in wins, Jake might skip Tulare and Petaluma for USAC SouthWest action in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Ryan Timmons (Pleasant Hill, CA) sits third in the chase for the championship. Racing the family owned #29T Timmons Auto & Truck Repair / Evergood Fine Foods Maxim, Timmons scored twentieth at Santa Maria after an early exit. To date, the 2016 Rookie of the Year has one heat race victory and three top-10 finishes in the campaign. Ryan will be looking to gain valuable points with victories this Friday and Saturday nights.

Koen Shaw (Fresno, CA) has climbed to fourth in the USAC West Coast point chase. Driving the family owned #88 Shaw Structures Unlimited / PMS Investments KPC, Shaw scored a fourteenth place finish on April 27th after a crash ended his night. At press time, the versatile driver has recorded one top-10 finish and will be looking for his first career USAC West Coast triumph.

Two-time champion, “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. (Tipton, CA) ranks fifth in the championship point chase. The pilot of the #17V Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / DeBoer & Sons Trucking Spike skipped Santa Maria, but has two heat race victories and two top-10 finishes on the season. Currently tied with Bud Kaeding for third on the series win list, “Hollywood” will have his sights on victories at Tulare and Petaluma.

Currently sixth in points, Slater Helt (Harrisonville, MO) leads the chase for Rookie of the Year honors. Hannah Mayhew (Acton, CA), J.J. Ringo (Morgan Hill, CA), and Brent Owens (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) are also in contention.

Among the other drivers expected to be in action are Austin Ervine, Cody Majors, Austin Liggett, Troy Rutherford, Steve Hix, T.J. Smith, “The Rickster” Ricky Kirkbride, Kaleb Montgomery, Ryan Stolz, D.J. Johnson, and more.

Thunderbowl Raceway is located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare, California. Adult Grandstand Tickets are $30 and Bleacher Seats are $25. Senior Grandstand Tickets are $28 and Bleacher Seats are $23. Kids (6-12) Grandstand Tickets are $15 and Bleacher Seats are $13. Kids (5 & Under) are FREE. 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 tularethunderbowl.com.

Petaluma Speedway is located at the Sonoma-Marin County Fairgrounds at 100 Fairgrounds Drive in Petaluma, California. Adult Grandstand Tickets are $18, Senior Grandstand Tickets are $14, Junior (6-11) Grandstand Tickets are $14 and Kids (5 & Under) are FREE. Advance tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the track office at 707.763.RACE (7223). For more event information, visit the track’s website at petaluma-speedway.com.

The USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series thanks AMSOIL, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Butlerbuilt Professional Seat Systems, Chris Kearns Presents, Competition Suspension Incorporated, Extreme Mufflers, Five Star Grafix, Hoosier Racing Tire, Loudpedal Productions, Pyrotect Racing Cells, Saldana Racing Products, Ultra Shield Race Products, Wilwood Disc Brakes, 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 on the series, visit usacracing.com and the social media for USAC Racing. You can also find exclusive content at westcoastsprintcars.com and the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

PETER MURPHY CLASSIC WINNERS: 2014-Ryan Bernal, 2015-Matt Mitchell, 2016-Troy Rutherford, 2017-Kyle Hirst, 2018-Richard Vander Weerd.

2019 USAC WEST COAST SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS: 1. Tristan Guardino-355, 2. Jake Swanson-238, 3. Ryan Timmons-229, 4. Koen Shaw-223, 5. Danny Faria Jr.-186, 6. Slater Helt-185, 7. Kyle Edwards-178, 8. Hannah Mayhew-172, 9. J.J. Ringo-170, 10. Austin Ervine-158, 11. Brody Roa-154, 12. Cody Majors 150, 13. Charles Davis Jr.-147, –. Austin Liggett-147, 15. Stevie Sussex-145, 16. Troy Rutherford-139, 17. Steve Hix-138, 18. Dennis Gile-113, 19. Michael Faccinto-104, 20. Colton Hardy-101, –. T.J. Smith-101.