USAC West Coast 360's

by Lance Jennings

SANTA MARIA, CA – MAY 8, 2012… Starting this Friday, May 11th, the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will compete in a rare doubleheader at Steve Faria’s Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. After rains cancelled the previous Tulare dates, the 2-day “Chris & Brian Faria Memorial Weekend” will also feature the winged Cancen Oil King of the West Sprint Cars and IMCA Modifieds. The Front Gates will open at 5:00pm, with Racing at the lightning fast 1/3-mile to start at 7:00pm.

In addition to the two nights of racing action, Steve Faria and his staff have organized a free breakfast on Saturday for anyone with a ticket stub or pit pass from Friday. The breakfast will be held in the Fairgrounds, just north of the RV camping area. For more details and times, visit tularethunderbowl.com.

After winning the last two features, Hollister’s Ryan Bernal holds an eighteen point advantage over the competition. Piloting Keith Ford’s #73 King Racing Products / A&A Precision Machine Spike, last year’s runner-up in points has finished on the podium in all of the four races to date. In addition, Bernal has one Competition Suspension Inc. / Diversified Machine Inc. Semi-Main win, one Ringers Gloves Hard Charger Award, and leads the series with forty-three feature laps led. Ryan won the last Tulare race on October 8th and will have his sights on adding the Friday and Saturday shows to his resume.

Bud Kaeding of Campbell is second in the point chase. Driving Junior Bowman’s #29 Buster & Ziggy Enterprises / Kaeding Performance Bullet, Kaeding finished second last Saturday at Santa Maria. With feature wins coming at Las Vegas and Bakersfield, Bud also has one heat race victory, one Ringers Gloves Hard Charger Award, three podium appearances, and five feature laps led. The defending wingless “Faria Memorial” winner will be looking to repeat and overtake Peter Murphy as the series leader in career feature wins.

Sitting third in the championship points is Rauma, Finland’s Markus Niemela. Piloting Steve Watt’s #81 Lost Reality / Steve Watt Enterprises Maxim, Niemela claimed fourth at Santa Maria. The star of his own reality show has one heat race victory and three top-five finishes on the season. Markus will be making his first career start at Tulare’s 1/3-mile facility and has his eyes on the Faria Memorial victory.

“Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr. of Tipton is fourth in the hunt for the championship. Driving his #17V Johnston Calf Pens / Buster & Ziggy Enterprises Bullet, Faria was third at Santa Maria and earned his series leading ninth career Sander Engineering / Rod End Supply Fast Time Award. To date, “Hollywood” has two top-five finishes on the year and the hard charger will be determined to win the race that honors the memory of his family.

Yorba Linda’s Matt Mitchell is currently fifth in the point standings. Driving Steve Watt’s #18 Christian Stover Foundation / Steve Watt Enterprises Maxim, Mitchell was sixth at Santa Maria after starting eighth. The USAC/CRA standout has one Sander Engineering / Rod End Supply Fast Time Award, two heat race victories, and one top-five finish in 2012. The former USAC Western Midget Series Rookie of the Year will be looking for his first series win at Tulare.

Among the other top contenders expected to be in action are Chris Ennis, Steve Conrad, “The Bakersfield Bullet” Rusty Carlile, 2009 Champion Justyne Hamblin, 2011 Champion Richard Vander Weerd and his brother Jace, “Showtime” Danny Sheridan, Ricky Kirkbride, Chris and Don Gansen, and Jonathan Logan. In addition, Peter Murphy and Eldora 4-Crown Winner Kyle Larson will be on hand to challenge the stars of the USAC West Coast 360s.

Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway is located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets. 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.

For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, visit westcoastsprintcars.com, usacracing.com, racesantamariaspeedway.com, or follow the series on facebook.

2010- Craig Stidham; 2011- Bud Kaeding.

1. Ryan Bernal-199; 2. Bud Kaeding-181; 3. Markus Niemela-178; 4. Danny Faria Jr.-175; 5. Matt Mitchell-146; 6. Chris Ennis-118; 7. Steve Conrad-101; 8. Rusty Carlile-97; 9. Kevin Barnes-96; 10. Justyne Hamblin-96; 11. Richard Vander Weerd-96; 12. Danny Sheridan-88; 13. Ricky Kirkbride-87; 14. Chris Gansen-77; 15. Austin Liggett-71; 16. Don Gansen-67; 17. Josh Ford-55; 18. Peter Murphy-52; 19. Jonathon Logan-48; 20. Matt Day-46.
May 11: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (Chris & Brian Faria Memorial)
May 12: Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (Chris & Brian Faria Memorial)
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.