By Dick Jordan
“The Finals” this Saturday at Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif. will bring the curtain down on the 2011 AMSOIL USAC National and USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series. It will be USAC’s ninth Sprint car appearance at the 3/8-mile dirt oval this year and champions will be crowned at the drop of the season’s final checkered flag.
Levi Jones and Mike Spencer took steps toward historic USAC championships last weekend at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway and enter Saturday’s Hanford race as the favorites to earn 2011 titles. Jones emerged from the three-race “Budweiser Oval Nationals” at Perris with a 33-point lead over Chris Windom in the National standings in search of a record fifth crown, while Spencer is 53 points ahead of Nic Faas in search of a record fourth straight AMSOIL USAC/CRA championship. A total of 74 points are available Saturday.
Hanford has hosted eight previous USAC Sprint outings this season and Bud Kaeding and Ryan Bernal each own two victories. Other winners include USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Champ Richard VanderWeerd, Danny Faria Jr., Wes Gutierrez and Peter Murphy.
Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif. is the 2011 champion of the 16th “Budweiser Oval Nationals” after his wire-to-wire victory in Saturday night’s 40-lap AMSOIL USAC National and CRA Sprint race at Perris Auto Speedway. Gardner started on the pole and led all 40 laps in his Pace Lighting Eagle/Shaver to beat Spencer, Jones, Kaeding and Windom. Spencer capped the evening by winning the $10,000-to-win “Legends of Ascot Match Race.”
Windom, of Canton, Ill., won Saturday afternoon’s second round of the 2011 “Budweiser Oval Nationals” at Perris. Rain forced postponement of Friday night’s racing program, forcing a “double” program of racing Saturday. Windom trailed Cory Kruseman for eight laps, then led the final 17 laps of the race after Kruseman encountered problems and dropped out of the race. Windom piloted the Fox Paving/Claxton Engines Maxim/Claxton Mopar entry to the victory over Spencer, Jones, Gardner and Thursday night winner Nic Faas.
Faas, of Huntington Beach, Calif., led all 25 laps in dominating fashion in winning Thursday night’s “Budweiser Oval Nationals” preliminary feature opener at Perris. His victory in the Mark Alexander Scott Sales Company/VP Racing Fuels Spike/J & D entry came over Hunter Schuerenberg, Kaeding, Spencer and Wes Gutierrez.
AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS
1-Levi Jones-1,602; 2-Chris Windom-1,569; 3-Hunter Schuerenberg-1,378; 4-Jon Stanbrough-1,376; 5-Tracy Hines-1,250;6-Damion Gardner-1,248; 7-Robert Ballou-1,238; 8-Bryan Clauson-1,187; 9-Dave Darland-1,119; 10-Bobby East-994.
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS
1-Mike Spencer-1,212; 2-Nic Faas-1,159; 3-Matt Mitchell-1,073; 4-Austin Willams-741; 5-Cody Williams-633; 6-Greg Bragg-631; 7-Danny Sheridan-570; 8-Rip Williams-552; 9-Rickie Gaunt-520; 10-Ronnie Gardner-484.