Ryan Bernal. - Lance Jennings Photo

By Lance Jennings

HANFORD, CA – APRIL 8, 2012… Taking the lead from Richard Vander Weerd on lap five, Hollister’s Ryan Bernal led the rest of the way to claim his first USAC West Coast 360 win of 2012. With the $1,500 victory at Hanford’s Kings Speedway, the new point leader and last year’s Rookie of the Year is tied for third in career feature wins.

With a four pill drawn for the main event inversion, Vander Weerd and Rusty Carlile paced the field to the green flag. Vander Weerd took the early command as Carlile had his hands full with a hard charging Bernal and fast qualifier Matt Mitchell. Action was briefly halted on the second lap for Richard’s twin brother Jace, who suffered front end damage, and a stalled Austin DeBlauw. Both drivers were uninjured and done for the night.

On the restart, Vander Weerd looked to sail away from the field, but soon had heavy pressure applied by Bernal. Richard shook free from the challenge, but a later miscue on the tricky surface opened the door. Ryan took advantage with a strong run off the second turn to claim the lead. Vander Weerd mounted a strong counter in the fourth turn, but last year’s champion was tagged and sent into the infield, bringing out a yellow.

With Vander Weerd restarting at the back, Bernal got an excellent jump and quickly sped away from the field. “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. made his presence felt by taking second, followed by Carlile and Markus Niemela. Bud Kaeding was another driver on the move, battling for twelfth in the early stages after starting twentieth.

Bernal’s machine was on a rail, exhibited by the youngster’s staightaway advantage by lap eleven. Two laps later, Ryan caught slower traffic and enjoyed a half-lap lead over Faria, Carlile, Niemela, and Danny Sheridan. Slicing up traffic at will, Bernal was not to be denied on this night. Behind the leader, there was an absolute war for position as the top five diced and moved past the lapped traffic. Niemela had claimed second from Faria, but the native of Finland was soon under attack from Danny Sheridan. Sheridan dispatched Niemela to third and at the checkered flags, Bernal scored the win, followed by Sheridan, Niemela, Faria, and Kaeding. The scorers confirmed that Ryan had lapped up to tenth after twenty-five laps of green flag action.

Driving Keith Ford’s #73 King Racing Products / A&A Precision Machine Spike, Ryan Bernal claimed his first win of the year after starting third. The Santa Maria track champion qualified second quick in time trials and finished second in his heat race to Sheridan. With three podium finishes on the year, Bernal now enjoys a nine point lead over the competition heading to Saturday’s “Chris and Brian Faria Memorial” at Tulare.

“Showtime” Danny Sheridan of Santa Maria battled hard in the feature, scoring second after starting sixth. Piloting Warren Dorathy’s #21 WD Racing / Pace Lighting KPC, the USAC/CRA standout was sixth fast on the night and claimed the 10-lap Saldana Racing Products / Keizer Wheels victory. Sheridan missed the previous race at Bakersfield, but now sits eighth in the point standings.

Making his second career start at Hanford, Rauma, Finland’s Markus Niemela came home third after starting fifth. Driving Steve Watt’s #81 Lost Reality / SWE Maxim, Niemela qualified fifth and took second in his heat race to teammate Matt Mitchell. Markus is quickly adapting to the race tracks of Central California and is second in the championship chase.

Early in the feature, “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. of Tipton made his way to second after starting eighth. Racing hard with Niemela and Sheridan while slicing through slower traffic, the pilot of the # 17V Johnston Calf Pens / Buster & Ziggy Enterprises Bullet had to settle for fourth. Earlier in the program, Faria was eighth fast in time trials and took second in his heat race to Richard Vander Weerd. “Hollywood” is fourth in points and will be looking for Tulare’s Faria Memorial victory on Saturday.

Campbell’s Bud Kaeding earned the Ringers Gloves “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors with a fifth place run after starting twentieth. Kaeding had a wild flip in Junior Bowman’s #29 Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / Kaeding Performance Bullet during time trials, but he walked away uninjured and his crew thrashed to repair the battered machine. Missing his heat race and tagging the back of the semi-main, the 3-Time USAC Silver Crown Champion raced hard to earn a transfer spot to the feature. Kaeding continued his determined drive in the feature and claimed fifth at the checkered flags. Bud now sits third in the point chase as the series heads to Tulare.

Matt Mitchell of Yorba Linda earned the night’s Sander Engineering / Rod End Supply Fast Time Award over the other twenty-nine cars in attendance. Piloting Steve Watt’s #18X Christian Stover Foundation / SWE Maxim, the USAC/CRA standout won the 10-lap Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1 and was running third in the feature before suffering a flat front tire. The early exit resulted in a twentieth place finish for Matt, as he is fifth in points going into Saturday’s Faria Memorial.

Bakersfield’s Rusty Carlile debuted a new chassis for his #51 Southwest Contractors / Taylor Excavation Bullet after a hard crash at his hometown track. Carlile responded with third quick in time trials and winning the 10-lap DJ Safety Heat Race #3. The former Cotton Classic winner finished sixth in the main event after battling hard to stay up front. The veteran driver is currently tenth in the point standings.

Richard Vander Weerd of Visalia won the night’s SBI Fuel Systems / Integra Racing Shocks Heat Race #4. Piloting the family’s #10 Vander Weerd Construction / Basic Industries Maxim, Richard qualified fourth fast and led the first four laps of the feature before his early spin. Last year’s champion remained poised and battled back to claim eighth after restarting at the back of the field. Heading to Tulare, Vander Weerd is fourteenth in points.

Bakersfield’s Matt Day raced to the 10-lap Competition Suspension Inc. / Diversified Machine Inc. Semi-Main victory. Driving his #97 Coffey Manufacturing / Undercover Innovations Stinger, Day was sixteenth in time trials, seventh in his heat race, and scored fifteenth in the feature. Running a partial schedule, Matt is currently sixteenth in the chase for the championship.

The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will return to action this Saturday, April 14th, at Steve Faria’s Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. Joining the “Chris & Brian Faria Memorial” showcase will be the winged Cancen Oil King of the West Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, and Vintage Super Modifieds. Located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare, the Front Gates will open at 5:00pm, with time Trials at 6:00pm, and Racing at 7:00pm. Reserved Grandstand Tickets are $20 and Bleacher Tickets are $17. Advance tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the track office at (559) 688-0909. For more event information, visit the track’s website at www.tularethunderbowl.com.

The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, ButlerBuilt, Competition Suspension Inc., Cory Kruseman’s Sprint Car & Midget Driving School, Crow Enterprizes, DJ Safety, Diversified Machine Inc., Extreme Mufflers, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Hinchman-Indy Racing Uniforms, Integra Shocks, Kaeding Performance, Keizer Wheels, LRB Inc. Race Products, ParkerStore of Phoenix, Ringers Gloves, Rod End Supply, SBI Fuel Systems, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, please email PR Director Lance Jennings at lwjennings@earthlink.net.

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.
April 7, 2012 – Hanford, California – Kings Speedway

1. Matt Mitchell, 18, Watt-15.549; 2. Ryan Bernal, 73, Ford-15.605; 3. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-15.626; 4. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-15.636; 5. Markus Niemela, 81, Watt-15.760; 6. Danny Sheridan, 21, Dorathy-15.791; 7. Marty Hawkins, 3M, Hawkins-16.098; 8. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-16.131; 9. Adam Frith-Smith, 62, Frith-Smith-16.208; 10. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-16.287; 11. Austin Liggett, 83, Liggett-16.290; 12. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-16.371; 13. Steve Conrad, 56, Swaim-16.417; 14. Burt Foland Jr., 4, Foland-16.556; 15. Dave Knott, 28, Knott-16.615; 16. Matt Day, 97, Day-16.640; 17. Kolby Araki, 30K, Araki-16.662; 18. Kevin Barnes, 36B, Barnes-16.797; 19. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-16.811; 20. Jared Little, 25, Little-16.875; 21. Austin DeBlauw, 65, DeBlauw-16.970; 22. Zach Sawyers, XXX, Sawyers-17.042; 23. Terry Nichols, 33, Nichols-17.419; 24. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-17.465; 25. Jeremy Ellertson, 98, Ellertson-17.738; 26. Brian Baker, 5X, Swaim-21.025; 27. Bud Kaeding, 29, Bowman-NT; 28. Jonathan Logan, 32, Evett/Logan-NT; 29. Ray Knight, 6K, Knight-NT; 30. Don Gansen, 7G, Gansen-NT.

1. Matt Mitchell, 2. Markus Niemela, 3. Steve Conrad, 4. Kolby Araki, 5. Jeremy Ellertson, 6. Adam Frith-Smith, 7. Ray Knight, 8. Austin DeBlauw. NT

1. Danny Sheridan, 2. Ryan Bernal, 3. Kevin Barnes, 4. Jace Vander Weerd, 5. Zach Sawyers, 6. Don Gansen, 7. Burt Foland Jr. NT

DJ SAFETY HEAT RACE 3: (10 laps)
1. Rusty Carlile, 2. Chris Ennis, 3. Marty Hawkins, 4. Austin Liggett, 5. Dave Knott, 6. Terry Nichols. NT

1. Richard Vander Weerd, 2. Danny Faria Jr., 3. Jonathan Logan, 4. Justyne Hamblin, 5. Jared Little, 6. Chris Gansen, 7. Matt Day. NT

1. Matt Day, 2. Jared Little, 3. Austin DeBlauw, 4. Bud Kaeding, 5. Jeremy Ellertson, 6. Burt Foland Jr., 7. Chris Gansen, 8. Brian Baker, 9. Terry Nichols, 10. Adam Frith-Smith, 11. Dave Knott, 12. Zach Sawyers, 13. Don Gansen. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Ryan Bernal (3rd), 2. Danny Sheridan (6th), 3. Markus Niemela (5th), 4. Danny Faria Jr. (8th), 5. Bud Kaeding (20th), 6. Rusty Carlile (2nd), 7. Jonathan Logan (18th), 8. Richard Vander Weerd (1st), 9. Marty Hawkins (7th), 10. Austin Liggett (10th), 11. Chris Ennis (16th), 12. Jared Little (17th), 13. Justyne Hamblin (11th), 14. Steve Conrad (12th), 15. Matt Day (13th), 16. Jeremy Ellertson (21st), 17. Kevin Barnes (15th), 18. Burt Foland Jr. (22nd), 19. Kolby Araki (14th), 20. Matt Mitchell (4th), 21. Jace Vander Weerd (9th), 22. Austin DeBlauw (19th). NT.
**Bud Kaeding flipped during qualifications.
**Dave Knott, Chris Gansen, and Brian Baker flipped during the semi-main.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Richard Vander Weerd, Laps 5-30 Ryan Bernal.

RINGERS GLOVES HARD CHARGER: Bud Kaeding (20th to 5th)

1. Ryan Bernal 131; 2. Markus Niemela 122; 3. Bud Kaeding 116; 4. Danny Faria Jr. 108; 5. Matt Mitchell 95; 6. Kevin Barnes 74; 7. Chris Ennis 69; 8. Danny Sheridan 66; 9. Steve Conrad 65; 10. Rusty Carlile 59; 11. Josh Ford 55; 12. Justyne Hamblin 55; 13. Peter Murphy 52; 14. Richard Vander Weerd 50; 15. Jonathan Logan 48; 16. Matt Day 46; 17. Don Gansen 42; 18. Marty Hawkins 42; 19. Austin Liggett 38; 20. Chris Gansen 37.

April 14: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (Chris & Brian Faria Memorial)
April 21: Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (Ron Otto Memorial)
May 5: Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA
May 12: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA
June 9: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA
June 23: Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (Bud Stanfield Memorial)
July 7: *Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (War At The Shore / Doug Fort Memorial)
July 14: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (John Anthony Sharp Memorial)
August 4: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA (Jim Evett Memorial)
September 8: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA (Jim Turner Memorial)
September 22: *Canyon Speedway Park – Peoria, AZ (Brawl For It All / Non-Points)
September 29: Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, CA (Billet Cup / John Jewett Memorial / Non-Points)
October 13: Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA (Cotton Classic)
* = Co-Sanctioned Event With ASCS Canyon Region Sprints.
This schedule is subject to change.