By Lance Jennings
SANTA MARIA, CA – APRIL 4, 2011… This Saturday night, April 9th, the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will return to action at Chris Kearns’ Santa Maria Speedway. Joining the powerful 360 sprints will be the Toste Mini Stocks, USAC Ford Focus Midgets, and the USAC Quarter Midgets. The Front Gates will open at 4:00pm, Time Trials will start at 5:00pm, with Racing at “The West Coast’s Best Short Track” to begin at 6:00pm.
Last season, events at the 1/3-mile facility played a key role in the championship chase. Fresno’s T.J Smith claimed the Bud Stanfield Memorial on July 24th and the 360 Clash on August 28th. Santa Maria’s “Showtime” Danny Sheridan, Series Champion Craig Stidham of Fresno, Visalia’s Jace VanderWeerd, and “Wide Open” Wes Gutierrez of San Martin scored Santa Maria victories.
After scoring the 30-lap feature win at Tulare’s Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway on March 19th, Campbell’s Bud Kaeding sits atop the point standings. Driving Junior Bowman’s #29 Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / Kaeding Performance Maxim, Kaeding also has two heat race wins on the year. The 3-time USAC Silver Crown Champion carries a seven point advantage heading into Santa Maria and is always a threat to win.
Gardena’s Greg Alexander is second in the championship point chase. Piloting Chuck Tyler’s #72 Trench Shoring / Barnes Systems Maxim, Alexander won the Competition Suspension Inc. Heat Race #4 at Hanford’s season opener. The following night, the young driver placed third in a photo finish at Tulare. Alexander has enjoyed success at Santa Maria, winning the 360 Grand Slam Series feature on August 8, 2009.
Ryan Bernal of Hollister sits third in the point standings. Driving Danny Olmstead’s #11X Steve Watt Enterprises / S&S Automotive Maxim, Bernal claimed second in Tulare’s 30-lap feature. The multi-time Wingless Spec Sprint Car Champion pressured Kaeding for the top spot at Tulare and will be in the mix for the Santa Maria victory.
Kerman’s Davey Pombo is fourth in the point chase. Piloting Joey Eames’ #3E TCR sponsored by Eames Trucking and Cool Hand Luke’s Saloon, Pombo scored fifth in the Tulare main event. Last season’s Southwest Contractors 360 Clash Champion sits fourteen points behind Kaeding and is poised for a championship run in his new ride.
“Wide Open” Wes Gutierrez of San Martin is fifth in the point standings. Driving the #007 WG Motorsports machine sponsored by ButlerBuilt and Competition Suspension Inc., Gutierrez won the Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1 and was sixth in the Tulare main event. The hard charger won at Santa Maria on September 18th and will be looking for the top spot on Saturday.
Among the other top contenders expected to be in action are defending champion Craig Stidham of Fresno, Visalia’s Jace and Richard VanderWeerd, Fresno’s T.J. Smith, Rusty Carlile of Bakersfield, Hanford’s Justyne Hamblin, Tipton’s “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr., Jonathan Logan of Hanford, and many more.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, BR Motorsports, ButlerBuilt, Competition Suspension Inc., 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, Port City Racing, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support.
Santa Maria Speedway is located 1/4-mile north of the 101/166 interchange at 1900 Hutton Road in Nipomo, California. Adult tickets are $16, Senior, Military, and Student tickets (13-17) are $14, Kids tickets (6-12) are $6, and Children’s tickets (5 and under) are FREE. For more event information, visit the track’s website at www.racesantamariaspeedway.com or call (805) 922-2232.
For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, visit www.westcoastsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, www.racesantamariaspeedway.com, or follow the series on facebook.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS:
1. Bud Kaeding 76; 2. Greg Alexander 69; 3. Ryan Bernal 63; 4. Davey Pombo 62; 5. Wes Gutierrez 58; 6. Andy Forsberg 57; 7. Craig Stidham 55; 8. Richard VanderWeerd 49; 9. Jace VanderWeerd 43; 10. Garrett Ishii 39; 11. T.J. Smith 36; 12. Marty Hawkins 33; 13. Rusty Carlile 32; 14. Justyne Hamblin 30; 15. Johnathon Logan 25; 16. Danny Faria Jr. 25; 17. Kevin Barnes 23; 18. Dennis Howell 22; 19. Matt Day 21; 20. Jon Stanbrough 8.
NEXT WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE:
April 9th – Santa Maria, CA – Santa Maria Speedway