By Lance Jennings
SANTA MARIA, CA – JUNE 30, 2010… Visalia’s Jace VanderWeerd led flag to flag to score his first win of the year at Chris Kearns’ Santa Maria Speedway. It was not an easy task for VanderWeerd, as he held off a hard charging Davey Pombo to become the ninth different winner in twelve events with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series.
“I was getting a little nervous out there. I saw Davey coming on the outside down the back straightaway, ” remarked VanderWeerd. “I think he just drove it in a little too hard and got a little bit sideways. I was able to get back around him and take the top line away.”
When the 360 Sprints last visited the Santa Maria clay oval on May 8th, VanderWeerd was just five laps from victory until falling to point leader Craig Stidham. This time around, Jace had other plans for the competition.
Starting on the outside of the front row, VanderWeerd powered the family’s VanderWeerd Construction / Mid Valley Pipe & Supply #88 Maxim past pole sitter Geoffrey Strole at the drop of the green flag. Reaching lapped traffic on lap five, VanderWeerd was in command of the feature in front of Jared Little, Davey Pombo, T.J. Smith, and Justyne Hamblin.
Action was slowed on lap twenty-one for Ludvig Solberg IV, who made his first start with the USAC West Coast 360s. Solberg spun to a stop in turn four and collected the third and fourth place running Smith and Hamblin. While Justyne and Ludvig were done for the night, Smith’s crew was assisted by the Hamblin team to make repairs. T.J. was able to rejoin the field and charge to a seventh place finish.
After the restart, Pombo pressured VanderWeerd and two laps later, Davey made a strong move to take the lead at the south turns of the racetrack. Jace battled back at the north turns to retake the lead before the lap was completed. From there, VanderWeerd led the rest of the way to claim the win ahead of Pombo, Richard VanderWeerd, Craig Stidham, and Jared Little.
With the victory, VanderWeerd is seventh in the series point chase. Jace was eighth quick in time trials and claimed his second heat race win of the season and $125 in certificates from BR Motorsports, Saldana Racing Products, and Keizer Wheels. Splitting time with the USAC/CRA 410 series, the young driver has eight top-10 finishes, and one hard charger award.
Kerman’s Davey Pombo took Junior Bowman’s Buster & Ziggy #3 Bullet to the runner-up finish after starting fifth in the feature. The former Bandit Sprint Car champion was fourth quick in time trials and won his second heat race of the year, earning $150 in certificates from Extreme Mufflers and Keizer Wheels. Davey is second in the point standings with eleven top-10 finishes, two fast time awards, and one hard charger award. “The car was just a little bit too tight,” said Pombo. I felt that I was faster than him (VanderWeerd) in turns one and two and he was getting me in turn three.”
Richard VanderWeerd of Visalia scored a third place finish in the feature after starting sixth. Driving the family’s Mid Valley Pipe & Supply / Basic Industries #10 Maxim, VanderWeerd was third quick in time trials and second in his heat race. Like his brother Jace, Richard splits time with the USAC/CRA 410 series. VanderWeerd is ninth in the point chase with seven top-10 finishes, one fast time award, two heat race wins, one semi-main win, and one hard charger award. “This was a good night for us. The track was awesome,” said VanderWeerd. “I was a little tight at the beginning and then at the end I found the top in turn one, diamond it off, and it was fast.”
With his fourth place finish after starting seventh, point leader Craig Stidham of Fresno has eleven top-10 finishes on the season. The pilot of the Brad Johnson Trucking / KRC Safety #3S Maxim was second quick in time trials and second in his heat race. The former Trophy Cup champion has four feature wins, one fast time award, six heat race victories, and one hard charger award. “The track came in pretty good at the end,” said Stidham. “I want to win every night and it is tough. This series is very competitive and it’s harder to do that. These kids are catching up to me.”
Hanford’s Jared Little had his best finish of the 2010 campaign with a fifth place run. Driving the family’s Little Chiropractic / Roche Oil #25 KPC entry, the former Lemoore Raceway champion was sixth quick in time trials and won his first heat race of the year. The victory was worth $100 in certificates from Competition Suspension and Keizer Wheels. In limited action with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprints, Little has two top-10 finishes and is twenty-second in the point chase.
T.J. Smith of Fresno drove to his second Sander Engineering Fast Time award of the season over the nineteen car field. The pilot of Steve LeGras’ UHL Rubber #14 Maxim was second in his heat race behind Davey Pombo. Starting eighth in the main event, Smith made his way forward until he has collected in a lap twenty-one tangle with Ludvig Solberg IV and Justyne Hamblin. The former Plaza Park track champion was able to restart and rebounded with a seventh place finish. Smith is third in the point standings and has ten top-10 finishes.
“Junkyard” Jimmy Thompson of Arroyo Grande earned his first King Racing Products Hard Charger award of the season. Starting thirteenth in the main event, Thompson took Joe Eames’ Cool Hand Luke’s Saloon #71 J&J machine to a sixth place finish. Earlier in the evening, the four time Santa Maria track champion was seventh quick in time trials and fifth in his heat race. In limited action, Thompson is sixteenth in the point chase with two top-10 finishes and one heat race win.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, BR Motorsports, Competition Suspension, Cory Kruseman’s Sprint Car & Midget Driving School, Crow Enterprizes, DJ Safety, Extreme Mufflers, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Hinchman-Indy Racing Uniforms, Integra Shocks, Kaeding Performance, Keizer Wheels, King Racing Products, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Port City Racing, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support.
Round 13 for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be Saturday, July 17th, at Giant Chevrolet Speedway in Hanford, California. Located on the Kings County Fairgrounds, the event will also showcase the Central California Modifieds and the Bud Light Mini-Stocks. The Driver’s Meeting will be at 5:00pm with Hot Laps at 5:30pm. Qualifying is scheduled for 6:30, with racing to follow. For event information, please visit www.giantchevroletspeedway.com or call (559) 584-RACE (7223).
For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, please visit westcoastsprintcars.com, usacracing.com, racesantamariaspeedway.com, or follow the series on facebook.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE RESULTS:
Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, California
June 26, 2010
SANDER ENGINEERING TIME TRIALS:
1. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-14.838; 2. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-15.075; 3. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-15.105; 4. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-15.117; 5. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-15.135; 6. Jared Little, 25, Little-15.218; 7. Jimmy Thompson, 71R, Eames-15.250; 8. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-15.327; 9. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-15.490; 10. Jeff Culver, 71C, Culver-15.675; 11. Bill Jones, 16J, Jones- 15.890; 12. Koen Shaw, 88K, Shaw- 15.952; 13. Marty Hawkins, 3M, Hawkins-16.083; 14. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter- 16.278; 15. Jon Harshbarger, 5K, Knopf- 16.840; 16. Ron Menane, 35D, DeMott- 17.350; 17. Brian Weber, 71X, Culver-17.353; 18. Adam Frith-Smith, 62, Frith-Smith-NT; 19. Ludvig Solberg IV, 13, Solberg-NT.
EXTREME MUFFLERS / KEIZER WHEELS HEAT RACE 1: (8 laps)
1. Davey Pombo, 2. T.J. Smith, 3. Jeff Culver, 4. Marty Hawkins, 5. Jimmy Thompson, 6. Ludvig Solberg IV, 7. Ron Menane. NT.
BR MOTORSPORTS / SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS HEAT RACE 2: (8 laps)
1. Jace VanderWeerd, 2. Craig Stidham, 3. Justyne Hamblin, 4. Ricky Kirkbride, 5. Bill Jones, 6. Brian Weber. NT.
COMPETITION SUSPENSION INC. / KEIZER WHEELS HEAT RACE 3: (8 laps)
1. Jared Little, 2. Richard VanderWeed, 3. Koen Shaw, 4. Geoffrey Strole, 5. Jon Harshbarger. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Jace VanderWeerd (2nd), 2. Davey Pombo (5th), 3. Richard VanderWeerd (6th), 4. Craig Stidham (7th), 5. Jared Little (3rd), 6. Jimmy Thompson (13th), 7. T.J. Smith (8th), 8. Ricky Kirkbride (12th), 9. Jeff Culver (9th), 10. Bill Jones (14th), 11. Koen Shaw (10th), 12. Marty Hawkins (11th), 13. Geoffrey Strole (1st), 14. Brian Weber (17th), 15. Jon Harshbarger (15th), 16. Ron Menane (16th), 17. Justyne Hamblin (4th), 18. Ludvig Solberg IV (18th). NT.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Jace VanderWeerd.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS:
1. Craig Stidham 713; 2. Davey Pombo 655; 3. T.J. Smith 589; 4. Justyne Hamblin 554; 5. Peter Murphy 503; 6. Rusty Carlile 473; 7. Jace VanderWeerd 450; 8. Danny Faria Jr. 440; 9. Richard VanderWeerd 394; 10. Chris Ennis 387; 11. Andy Ferris 322; 12. Ricky Kirkbride 302; 13. Geoffrey Strole 281; 14. Jonathan Logan 259; 15. Jesse Mack 243; 16. Jimmy Thompson 236; 17. Wes Gutierrez 234; 18. Danny Sheridan 222; 19. Albert Pombo 191; 20. Koen Shaw 167.
NEXT USAC WEST 360 SPRINT CAR RACE:
July 17 – Hanford, CA – Giant Chevrolet Speedway