By Lance Jennings

SANTA MARIA, CA – AUGUST 2, 2011… After scoring multiple runner-up finishes throughout the season, Hollister’s Ryan Bernal won his first career USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series feature last Saturday night at Santa Maria Speedway. The young driver escaped a fierce battle with veteran Danny Faria Jr. through the early laps and secured the lead on the third circuit. In dominating fashion, Bernal stretched out his advantage and faced a tense moment on lap nineteen after contact with slower traffic. Unfazed, Ryan led the rest of the way to score the 30-lap main event victory. Faria, Richard VanderWeerd, Davey Pombo, and Dennis Howell rounded out the top five finishers.

Piloting Danny Olmstead’s #11D S&S Automotive / Dorso’s Automotive Maxim, Ryan Bernal was fifth quick in time trials and scored third in his heat race. By virtue of a four pill drawn for the main event inversion and a faster qualifier missing a top four finish in his heat, the former Wingless Spec Sprint Champion inherited the pole position. Bernal made the most of the opportunity and was not to be denied on this night. Now third in the point chase, Ryan has two heat race victories, six top-10 finishes, and leads the series with seventy-nine feature laps led.

After leading the first two laps of the feature, “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. settled for a second place finish. Driving Junior Bowman’s #2 Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / Kaeding Performance Bullet, Faria qualified third fast and finished second in his heat race. Currently fourth in the standings, “Hollywood” has one feature win, two Sander Engineering Fast Time Awards, three heat race victories, five top-10 finishes, and had led thirty-two feature laps on the season.

Visalia’s Richard VanderWeerd drove the family owned #10 VanderWeerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim to third place in the 30-lap main event. Earlier in the program, the series point leader earned his third Sander Engineering Fast Time Award of the season and scored second in his heat race. To date, Richard holds a seventy-one point advantage over his twin brother Jace with one feature win, three heat race victories, eight top-10 finishes, and seventeen feature laps led to his credit.

Davey Pombo of Kerman had one of his best finishes of the year with a fourth place run. Piloting the Joey Eames #3E Eames Trucking / Cool Hand Luke’s Saloon Maxim, Pombo qualified seventh quick on the night and was fourth in his heat race. Last year’s Southwest Contractors 360 Clash Champion is twelfth in points with one Keizer Wheels Semi-Main win and five top-10 finishes in 2011.

Dennis Howell of Rancho Palos Verdes earned the night’s Keizer Wheels Hard Charger / Best Passing Job honors with a fifth place run after starting thirteenth. Driving the family owned #62 San Pedro Auto Body / Howell-Meyer Racing #62 Maxim, Howell was fourth fast in time trials and fifth in his heat race. Dennis is currently eighth in the point standings with two heat race victories and six top-10 finishes on the year.

Fresno’s T.J. Smith won the night’s 10-lap Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. Piloting Steve LeGras’ #14 UHL Rubber / S&S Automotive Maxim, Smith was thirteenth quick on the night and eighth in the feature. The defending Santa Maria track champion is ninth in series points with one Sander Engineering Fast Time Award, two heat race victories, and three top-10 finishes on the season.

“Wide Open” Wes Gutierrez of San Martin won his series leading fourth heat race by taking the Saldana Racing Products / Keizer Wheels sponsored event. Driving the WG Motorsports’ #007 Competition Suspension Inc. / ButlerBuilt DRC, Gutierrez qualified eighth fast in time trials and finished sixth in the feature. Currently fifth in the points, the young hard charger has six top-10 finishes in the 2011 campaign.

Jace VanderWeerd of Visalia won the DJ Safety Heat Race #3. Piloting the family owned #88 VanderWeerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Jace was fifteenth fast on the night and seventh in the main event. Sitting second in points, VanderWeerd has one feature win, eight top-10 finishes, and led fourteen feature laps on the season.

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, Rod End Supply, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support.

The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will return to action on Saturday, August 20th, at Scott Woodhouse’s Giant Chevrolet Speedway in Hanford. Located on the Kings County Fairgrounds at 801 S. 10th Avenue, more event information can be found at www.giantchevroletspeedway.com or calling (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.
July 30, 2011 – Santa Maria, California – Santa Maria Speedway

1. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-14.445; 2. Greg Taylor, 7, Taylor-14.544; 3. Danny Faria Jr., 2, Bowman-14.563; 4. Dennis Howell, 62, Howell-14.609; 5. Ryan Bernal, 11D, Olmstead-14.650; 6. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-14.700; 7. Davey Pombo, 3E, Eames-14.718; 8. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-14.792; 9. Jared Little, 25, Litte-14.795; 10. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter-14.807; 11. Greg Alexander, 72, Tyler-14.824; 12. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-14.850; 13. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-14.885; 14. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-14.889; 15. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-14.957; 16. Jimmy Crawford, 72X, Ford-15.023; 17. Marty Hawkins, 3M, Hawkins-15.493; 18. Greg Edenholm, 73, Ford-15.498; 19. Bill Jones, 16, Jones-16.011; 20. John Penaflor, 16J, Jones-16.565.

1. T.J. Smith, 2. Richard VanderWeerd, 3. Jimmy Crawford, 4. Davey Pombo, 5. Dennis Howell, 6. Ricky Kirkbride, 7. Bill Jones. NT.

1. Wes Gutierrez, 2. Geoffrey Strole, 3. Ryan Bernal, 4. Greg Taylor, 5. Marty Hawkins, 6. Greg Alexander, 7. John Penaflor. NT.

1. Jace VanderWeerd, 2. Danny Faria Jr., 3. Jared Little, 4. Justyne Hamblin, 5. Rusty Carlile, 6. Greg Edenholm. NT.

FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Ryan Bernal (1st), 2. Danny Faria Jr. (2nd), 3. Richard VanderWeerd (4th), 4. Davey Pombo (5th), 5. Dennis Howell (13th), 6. Wes Gutierrez (6th), 7. Jace VanderWeerd (11th), 8. T.J. Smith (9th), 9. Justyne Hamblin (8th), 10. Greg Taylor (3rd), 11. Rusty Carlile (14th), 12. Geoffrey Strole (10th), 13. Jared Little (7th), 14. Ricky Kirkbride (15th), 15. Marty Hawkins (17th), 16. Jimmy Crawford (12th), 17. Greg Edenholm (18th), 18. Greg Alexander (16th), 19. Bill Jones (19th), 20. John Penaflor (20th). NT.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Danny Faria Jr., Laps 3-30 Ryan Bernal.

KEIZER WHEELS HARD CHARGER AWARD: Dennis Howell (13th to 5th)

1-Richard VanderWeerd-517; 2-Jace VanderWeerd-446; 3-Ryan Bernal-436; 4-Danny Faria Jr.-436; 5-Wes Gutierrez-424; 6-Bud Kaeding-376; 7-Greg Alexander-352; 8-Dennis Howell-349; 9-T.J. Smith-330; 10-Justyne Hamblin-323.

August 20 – Hanford, CA – Giant Chevrolet Speedway