By Lance Jennings
JANUARY 27, 2020… Last Saturday afternoon, the United States Auto Club (USAC) honored their 2019 western racers at Bally’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Competitors with the USAC/CRA Sprints, USAC SouthWest Sprints, USAC West Coast Sprints, and USAC Western States Midgets were celebrated at the annual Western Awards Banquet.
USAC Western Director Chris Kearns served as master of ceremonies of the event, which featured a roaring 20s theme. Series champions, rookies of the year, top-five in points, and special award winners were recognized at the hotel’s Jubilee Ballroom. The western champions were also celebrated at the December 13th “USAC Night of Champions” in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“The Demon” Damion Gardner (Concord, CA) was honored for his seventh consecutive (eighth overall) AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car championship. Driving Mark Alexander’s #4 Spike, Gardner claimed his fourth “California Sprint Week” crown and posted wins at Bakersfield (May 11), Perris (July 13), and Santa Maria (September 7). In addition, “The Demon” had ten Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, eight heat race victories, one semi-main win, two Wilwood Disc Brakes “Lucky 13” Awards, eighteen top-10 finishes, 86 feature laps led on the season.
Racing for three different teams, Brody Roa (Garden Grove, CA) was celebrated for winning his first Sands Chevrolet USAC SouthWest Sprint Car title. On the strength of strong finishes and two victories at Peoria’s Canyon Speedway Park (April 27 & on September 14), Roa outdueled five-time champion R.J. Johnson to claim the title. Switching between the BR Performance #91R Maxim, Tanner Grau’s #34 Maxim, and Dwight Cheney’s #42 Maxim, Roa posted one Beaver Stripes Fast Time Award, four heat race victories, three hard charger awards, thirteen top-10 finishes, and 109 feature laps led to his credit.
Tristan Guardino (Fremont, CA) scored his first USAC West Coast Sprint Car crown in 2019. Piloting the family owned #15T Maxim, Guardino recorded wins at Ventura (March 23), Tulare (June 7), and Santa Maria (June 15). The two-time “Chris & Brian Faria Memorial” winner also recorded two Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, four heat race victories, eleven top-10 finishes, and 87 feature laps led in the campaign.
Robert Dalby (Anaheim, CA) raced to his first USAC Western States Midget championship. Driving the family owned #4D Spike, Dalby topped three consecutive main events at Merced (July 27), Santa Maria (August 10), and Ventura (September 14). In addition, the young champion had one Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award, four heat race victories, eight top-10 finishes, and 46 feature laps led on the season.
After earning his seventh consecutive (eighth overall) AMSOIL USAC/CRA Entrant crown, Mark Alexander was recognized with his second “Jack Jory Car Owner Championship Trophy.” The remaining top-5 USAC/CRA car owners were honored and Moose Racing’s Tom and Laurie Sertich received their second place trophy. Robbie and Gaye Allen were also celebrated for earning their first Sands Chevrolet USAC SouthWest Sprint Car Entrant championship.
The other top-five drivers in Western States Midget, West Coast Sprint, SouthWest Sprint, and USAC/CRA Sprint points were celebrated for their efforts. Ben Worth, R.J. Johnson, Stevie Sussex, and Chris Gansen were in attendance to claim their trophies.
Rookie of the Year honors were awarded to Eddie Tafoya Jr. (USAC/CRA & USAC SouthWest Sprint), and Ben Worth (Western States Midget). J.J. Ringo was honored for earning rookie honors with the USAC West Coast Sprints.
Sammy Bahr was recognized with the “Evelyn Pratt Award” for his contributions to racing.
The 2020 western campaign opens on February 14th and 15th with the “4th Annual Steve Stroud Memorial” with the USAC SouthWest Sprint Cars at Canyon Speedway Park (Peoria, AZ).
On March 6th and 7th, the AMSOIL USAC/CRA and Sands Chevrolet USAC SouthWest Sprint Cars will clash at the “Spring Showcase” at Canyon Speedway Park (Peoria, AZ).
On March 14th, the USAC West Coast Sprints will have their first point race of the year at Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA).
The March 21st season opener for the USAC Western States Midgets will be held at Bakersfield Speedway (Bakersfield, CA).
For more information on any of the USAC racing divisions, visit the United States Auto Club (USAC) website at usacracing.com and the social media for USAC Racing. You can also find exclusive content for the USAC/CRA Sprints, USAC SouthWest Sprints (southwestsprintcars.com), USAC West Coast Sprints (westcoastsprintcars.com), and the USAC Western States Midgets on their respective Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.