By Dick Jordan
Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif. has assumed the early lead in the 2011 USAC National Drivers Championship after winning two of three “Bubba Army Sprint Nationals” USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car features at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway last week.
Gardner, driving his Pace Lighting Eagle/Shaver, won Thursday and Saturday nights, while Bryan Clauson wheeled his Curb Records/R & B Truckers Spike/Chevy to Friday’s 30-lap victory.
Gardner also leads the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car standings going into April 8 and 9 races at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Thursday’s 30-lapper came down to the final corners as Gardner trailed Jon Stanbrough for 29 laps, then made his winning move. Stanbrough, Clauson, Levi Jones and Bud Kaeding followed at the checkered flag. On Friday Clauson led the last eight laps after passing Blake Fitzpatrick on lap 23. Trailing Fitzpatrick who finished second, were Scotty Weir, Gardner and Hunter Schuerenberg. Gardner passed Fitzpatrick on the second lap of Saturday’s race and led the final 29 laps to beat Fitzpatrick, Jones, Schuerenberg and Casey Shuman.
The races were the first for USAC at Ocala Speedway and recuperating driver Shane Hmiel was on hand to congratulate winners in victory lane.
The victories also gave Gardner four wins in five Florida outings for the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Cars the past two years. He swept back-to-back races at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton last year.
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS
1-Damion Gardner-194; 2-Levi Jones-172; 3-Bryan Clauson-171; 4-Hunter Schuerenberg-160; 5-Jon Stanbrough-159; 6-Blake Fitzpatrick-145; 7-Bud Kaeding-137; 8-Bobby East-118; 9-Casey Riggs-115; 10-Scotty Weir-110.
USAC NATIONAL DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
1-Damion Gardner-136, 2-Bryan Clauson-113, 3-Levi Jones-106, 4-Jon Stanbrough-104, 5-Hunter Schuerenberg-100, 6-Bud Kaeding-90, 7-Blake Fitzpatrick-90, 8-Robert Ballou-78, 9-Bobby East-76, 10-Casey Riggs-70.