From Lance Jennings

HANFORD, CA – SEPTEMBER 16, 2010… Last Saturday night, Hanford’s Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway played host to the Jim Turner Memorial, the final event of the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash. The special four race mini-series with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars featured a top prize of $2500 for the championship. In the end, it all came down to two drivers and how they finished the 30-lap main event.

Heading into the night’s program, Fresno’s Craig Stidham held a one point lead over Davey Pombo of Kerman. Stidham, who won the first two 360 Clash events at Tulare and Bakersfield, looked to make an early statement. Driving the #3S Brad Johnson Trucking / KRC Safety Maxim, the former Trophy Cup champion earned the Sander Engineering Fast Time Award, gaining six points. Pombo, who was set to qualify last in the #3 Junior Bowman / Buster & Ziggy Bullet, suffered a mechanical failure with a broken u-joint.

As the Pombo team hustled to make repairs for heat race action, they were helped by crew members from other teams. This included a replacement u-joint from Craig Stidham’s inventory. With both drivers in the Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1, Stidham gained even more points with a fourth place run as Pombo finished sixth. In the end, the title would be decided in the main event, where Stidham started eighth and Pombo was scheduled to start dead last in nineteenth.

Before the start of the feature, Bakersfield’s Chris Ennis scratched from his sixteenth starting spot with engine problems. Pombo had gained one position, but he was still a long way from catching Stidham.

San Martin’s Wes Gutierrez shared the front row of the feature with hometown favorite Jared Little. As the field took the green flag, Gutierrez got out of shape as Little streaked to the lead. Before the first lap was completed, a yellow flag was brought out for “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. who spun to a stop at the north end of the track. Faria’s machine had a power steering failure and the veteran driver was done for the night.

Facing a complete restart, Gutierrez took advantage of the opportunity and battled had with Little for the lead. As both drivers looked for their first win of the 2010 season, Wes took command followed by Little, Peter Murphy, T.J. Smith, and Justyne Hamblin. Murphy and Smith soon dropped Little to fourth as they gave chase after Gutierrez. Within a few laps, the trio of drivers were in tight formation as they ran away from the field.

On the eleventh circuit, Murphy shot for the lead with a turn three slide job past Gutierrez. Peter’s machine jumped the cushion and while recovering, contact was made with T.J. Smith who had nowhere to go. Suffering damage, Murphy slowed to a stop and brought out a yellow flag. With the caution light still displayed, Craig Stidham came to a rest. Murphy’s crew was able to make repairs, but Stidham’s night was over and the point leader was credited with a fifteenth place finish.

As action resumed, Gutierrez picked up the lead but was now faced with heavy pressure from Smith as Little, Hamblin, Ricky Kirkbride and Richard VanderWeerd followed. Nine laps later, Jace VanderWeerd flipped his mount in turn two, bringing out a red flag. Jace was uninjured and was scored fourteenth.

A couple of laps later, Smith powered to the lead with a turn one pass on Gutierrez. Wes tried to battle back, but the former Plaza Park track champion was too strong on this night. Leading the rest of the way, Smith won his second 360 Clash main event, followed by Wes Gutierrez, Jared Little, Justyne Hamblin, and Richard VanderWeerd. Davey Pombo had charged to a sixth place finish as officials had to double check the final points. Pombo had won the 360 Clash championship, with Hamblin in second and Stidham taking a heartbreaking third.

Kerman’s Davey Pombo drove to his second King Racing Products / Kirkey Racing Fabrication Hard Charger Award with a sixth place run after starting nineteenth. Pombo finished fourth at Tulare, fifth at Bakersfield, and was third at Santa Maria. The former Bandit Sprint Car champion added the title of Southwest Contractors 360 Clash champion to his resume.

Hanford’s Justyne Hamblin drove to a fourth place finish in the #8 JH Motorsports / Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino Speed Tech. Justyne finished sixth at Tulare, third at Bakersfield, and was fifth at Santa Maria. The defending West Coast 360 Sprint Car champion finished second in the 360 Clash, pocketing $1500 for her efforts.

Fresno’s Craig Stidham scored a fifteenth place finish at Jim Turner Memorial. Craig was victorious at both the Tulare and Bakersfield events and finished ninth at Santa Maria on August 28th. The veteran driver earned $1000 by finishing third in the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash.

Fresno’s T.J. Smith won the last two main events in the 360 Clash. Driving the #14 UHL Rubber / K&N Filters Maxim, Smith finished nineteenth at Tulare and was sixth at Bakersfield. The Bud Stanfield Memorial winner finished fourth in the 360 Clash points and is currently the hottest driver on the circuit.

San Martin’s Wes Gutierrez had his best finish of the year with a second place finish. Piloting the #007 WG Motorsports / California Graphics DRC, Wes finished thirteenth at Tulare, seventh at Bakersfield, and was sixth at Santa Maria. The Bandit Sprint Car feature winner claimed fifth in the 360 Clash point chase.

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 19 for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be this Saturday, September 18th, at the Santa Maria Speedway. Located at 1900 Hutton Road in Nipomo, California, the speedway will also host the West Coast Street Stocks, MMI Hobby Stocks, and Toste Mini-Stocks. The Front Gates will open at 4:00pm, Time Trials will start at 5:00pm, with Racing at 6:00pm. Adult tickets are $16, Senior, Military, and Student tickets are $14, Kids tickets (6-12) are $5, and Children’s tickets (5 and under) are FREE. For event information, please visit www.racesantamariaspeedway.com or call (805) 922-2232.

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.
Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway – Hanford, California
September 11, 2010 – Race #18 – “Jim Turner Memorial / Southwest Contractors 360 Clash Finale”

1. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-16.044; 2. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-16.214; 3. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-16.428; 4. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter-16.480; 5. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-16.572; 6. Dave Knott, 28, Knott-16.579; 7. Peter Murphy, 11, Bowman-16.602; 8. Jared Little, 25, Little-16.649; 9. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-16.686; 10. Jeff Gardner, 51T, Revcon-16.725; 11. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-16.734; 12. Jonathan Logan, 32, Evett/Logan-16.804; 13. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-16.831; 14. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-17.136; 15. Garrett Ishii, 71G, Ishii-17.180; 16. Rick Eberhardt, 4, Eberhardt-17.728; 17. Ray Knight, 99K, Knight-18.726; 18. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-20.982; 19. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-NT.

1. Danny Faria Jr., 2. Peter Murphy, 3. Ricky Kirkbride, 4. Craig Stidham, 5. Jeff Gardner, 6. Davey Pombo, 7. Rick Eberhardt. NT.

1. Jared Little, 2. Justyne Hamblin, 3. Jace VanderWeerd, 4. Richard VanderWeerd, 5. Ray Knight. NT.

1. Garrett Ishii, 2. Wes Gutierrez, 3. T.J. Smith, 4. Geoffrey Strole, 5. Dave Knott. NT.

FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. T.J. Smith (6th), 2. Wes Gutierrez (1st), 3. Jared Little (2nd), 4. Justyne Hamblin (4th), 5. Richard VanderWeerd (9th), 6. Davey Pombo (19th), 7. Jeff Gardner (14th), 8. Peter Murphy (3rd), 9. Garrett Ishii (11th), 10. Jonathan Logan (15th), 11. Dave Knott (13th), 12. Geoffrey Strole (12th), 13. Ricky Kirkbride (5th), 14. Jace VanderWeerd (7th), 15. Craig Stidham (8th), 16. Rick Eberhardt (17th), 17. Ray Knight (18th), 18. Danny Faria Jr. (10th) NT.
**Jace VanderWeerd flipped during the feature.
**Chris Ennis was slated to start 16th, but did not start.

Laps 1-21 Wes Gutierrez, Laps 22-30 T.J. Smith.

Davey Pombo (19th to 6th)

1. Davey Pombo 232; 2. Justyne Hamblin 221; 3. Craig Stidham 219; 4. T.J. Smith 217; 5. Wes Gutierrez 201; 6. Danny Faria Jr. 168; 7. Rusty Carlile 144; 8. Jared Little 136; 9. Ricky Kirkbride 135; 10. Geoffrey Strole 133; 11. Peter Murphy 117; 12. Chris Ennis 115; 13. Richard VanderWeerd 109; 14. Jesse Mack 89; 15. Jonathan Logan 87; 16. Jace VanderWeerd 75; 17. Dave Knott 70; 18. Albert Pombo 59; 19. Jeff Gardner 46; 20. Andy Ferris 44; Ronnie Case 44; Garrett Ishii 44; 23. Adam Frith-Smith 35; 24. Koen Shaw 31; 25. Jimmy Thompson 27; Trent Carter 27; 27. Bill Jones 26; 28. Kevin Barnes 24; 29. Rick Eberhardt 21; 30. Ray Knight 17.

September 18 – Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, California