By Lance Jennings
PEORIA, AZ – FEBRUARY 1, 2014… After finishing eighth on Thursday, “The People’s Champion” Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana returned to his winning ways at Peoria’s Canyon Speedway. Outdueling young Josh Hodges, Darland earned $2,000 for his third USAC SouthWest and West Coast Sprint Car triumph of the “3rd Annual Winter Challenge.” Hodges, Nic Faas, “The Magic Man” Mike Martin, and Josh Pelkey followed the veteran driver to Friday’s checkered flags. The six-race mini-series will end tonight with a $5,000-to-win main event with racing starting at 5pm.
Starting on the pole position, Dave Darland led the first ten laps before Hodges powered to the lead. Racing Casey Minks’ #1X Mesilla Valley Transportation / Shark Racing Engines Eagle, the former USAC National Champion regained command on lap eighteen and was not to be denied. Also winning the night’s third 8-lap heat race, Darland has taken over the point lead with a six point advantage going into the final night. To his credit, “The People’s Champion” has recorded three feature wins, four heat race victories, four top-10 finishes, and 66 feature laps led after five events.
Charging from seventh, Tijeras, New Mexico’s Josh Hodges battled hard with Darland to grab the lead but had to settle for second on this night. Piloting the family owned #74X Napa Auto Parts / Mesilla Valley Transportation Maxim, Hodges finished second in his heat race and is currently eighth in the point standings. The 2009 ASCS SouthWest Rookie of the Year has four top-10 finishes and 13 feature laps led in the “Winter Challenge.”
Nic Faas of Huntington Beach, California had his best “Winter Challenge” finish with a third place run. Driving Keith Ford’s #73 Berry Pack / King Racing Products Spike, Faas scored second in his heat race and has climbed to fifth in the point chase. Getting settled in his new ride, the 2008 USAC Western Midget Champion has three top-10 finishes in five races at Canyon Speedway.
Yuma’s “The Magic Man” Mike Martin had his best night of the mini-series by racing to fourth from the eleventh starting spot. Piloting his #16 PPG Industrial Coatings / Desert Building Materials Maxim, Martin claimed fourth in his heat race and is now tied for tenth in the point standings. To date, the former “Hall of Fame Classic” winner has one semi-main win and two top-10 finishes at the 1/3-mile facility.
Josh Pelkey of Peoria stormed to fifth in the 30-lap main event after starting thirteenth. Racing Robbie & Gaye Allen’s #12 ABC Body Shop / Napa Auto Parts Maxim, Pelkey claimed second in his heat race and is currently second in “Winter Challenge” points. Looking for his first win of 2014, the 1997 ASCA Champion has one hard charger award, five top-10 finishes, and 13 feature laps led.
Visalia, California’s Richard Vander Weerd earned the night’s “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors with a seventh place finish after starting twenty-first. Driving the family owned #10 Vander Weerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Richard placed sixth in his heat race and fifth in the 10-lap semi-main. In limited starts, the 2011 USAC West Coast Champion sits eighteenth in the mini-series points with two top-10 finishes.
Thursday’s feature winner Colby Copeland of Roseville, California took the victory in the program’s first 8-lap heat race. Piloting Ted Williams’ #74 Bandit Racing / Marks Bolts #74 Maxim, Copeland scored fourteenth in Friday night’s 30-lap main event. Currently twelfth in the “Winter Challenge” points, the former “Salute to Indy” winner has three heat race victories, one top-10 finish, and 30 feature laps led at Canyon.
Ventura, California’s Jimmy “Neutron” Crawford won his second 8-lap heat race of the mini-series. Driving his #51X Twister-X / Pro Shocks Triple X, Crawford scored seventeenth in the feature after a flip ended his night. The 2002 VRA Champion is now seventeenth in the “Winter Challenge” standings as he looks to rebound after a tough night of racing.
Jace Vander Weerd of Visalia, California drove to victory in the fourth 8-lap heat race. Racing the family owned #88 Vander Weerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Jace placed eighth in the 30-lap main event. In limited appearances, the 2010 USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year is nineteenth in the point chase with two heat race wins and two top-10 finishes.
In his first start of the “Winter Challenge,” Gilbert’s Andy Reinbold won the 10-lap semi-main. Piloting Todd Underwood’s #19 AME Electrical / Ross Equipment Rentals RSS, Reinbold placed fifth in his heat race and scored thirteenth in the feature after starting seventeenth. Noted as one of the tallest sprint car drivers in the nation, Andy is twenty-eighth in the point standings.
The USAC Southwest and West Coast Sprint Cars are back in action Saturday, February 1st, at Canyon Speedway in Peoria. The final round of the “Winter Challenge” will also feature IMCA Modifieds, Pure Stocks, Mini Sprints, and Renegades. Located at 9777 West Carefree Highway, more event information can be found at www.canyonspeedwaypark.com or calling (602) 258-RACE (7223).
The USAC SouthWest Sprint Car Series would like to thank Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Tire, Hose Advantage Store, and the Racers Advantage Store for their support. For more information on the series, visit www.southwestsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, or follow the series on Facebook (www.facebook.com/
For more information on the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series, visit www.westcoastsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, follow the series on Facebook (www.facebook.com/#!/pages/
USAC-West-Coast-Sprint-Car- Series/369549755817), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/#!/USACwc360) .
USAC SOUTHWEST & WEST COAST “SPECIAL EVENT” SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS:
January 31, 2014 – Peoria, Arizona – Canyon Speedway – “2014 Winter Challenge”
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Colby Copeland (#74 Williams), 2. Josh Hodges (#74X Hodges), 3. Casey Shuman (#21X Pollock), 4. Josh Pelkey (#12 Allen), 5. Shon Deskins (#20 Deskins), 6. R.J. Johnson (#51 Martin), 7. Charles Davis Jr. (#50 Massey). NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Jimmy Crawford (#51X Crawford), 2. Tye Mihocko (#5 Mihocko), 3. Kenny Perkins (#0K Perkins), 4. Stevie Sussex (#4 Price), 5. Brady Bacon (#99 Bacon), 6. Richard Vander Weerd (#10 Vander Weerd), 7. Mike Colegrove (#17M Colegrove), 8. Ryan Bernal (#111 Minks). NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Dave Darland (#1X Minks), 2. Michael Woodruff (#83 Woodruff), 3. Aaron Reutzel (#21A Miller), 4. Josh Grady (#12J Grady), 5. Andy Reinbold (#19 Reinbold), 6. James Aragon (#57X Stone), 7. Taylor Walton (#77X Hockett). NT
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Jace Vander Weerd (#88 Vander Weerd), 2. Nic Faas (#73 Ford), 3. Michael Curtis (#11C Turner/Wheeler), 4. Mike Martin (#16 Martin), 5. Jason Grady (#45 Grady), 6. Mitch Mack (#92 Mack), 7. Will Perkins (#0 Perkins). NT
ALSO AT TRACK: David Dykes (#55NM Dykes).
SEMI: (10 laps)
1. Andy Reinbold, 2. Shon Deskins, 3. R.J. Johnson, 4. Mike Colegrove, 5. Richard Vander Weerd, 6. Jason Grady, 7. James Aragon, 8. Mitch Mack, 9. Will Perkins, 10. Brady Bacon, 11. Ryan Bernal, 12. Charles Davis Jr. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Dave Darland (1st), 2. Josh Hodges (7th), 3. Nic Faas (3rd), 4. Mike Martin (11th), 5. Josh Pelkey (13th), 6. Casey Shuman (14th), 7. Richard Vander Weerd (21st), 8. Jace Vander Weerd (4th), 9. Shon Deskins (18th), 10. R.J. Johnson (19th), 11. Tye Mihocko (8th), 12. Michael Curtis (12th), 13. Andy Reinbold (17th), 14. Colby Copeland (5th), 15. Kenny Perkins (10th), 16. Josh Grady (16th), 17. Jimmy Crawford (2nd), 18. Aaron Reutzel (6th), 19. Mike Colegrove (20th), 20. Jason Grady (22nd), 21. Michael Woodruff (9th), 22. Stevie Sussex (15th). NT
**Taylor Walton flipped during the third heat.
**Charles Davis Jr. flipped during the semi.
**Aaron Reutzel, Jimmy Crawford, Jason Grady, and Josh Grady flipped during the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-10 Dave Darland, Laps 11-17 Josh Hodges, Laps 18-30 Dave Darland.
HARD CHARGER: Richard Vander Weerd (21st to 7th)
NEW WINTER CHALLENGE POINT STANDINGS:
1-Dave Darland-290, 2-Josh Pelkey-284, 3-Casey Shuman-277, 4-Charles Davis Jr.-238, 5-Nic Faas-219, 6-R.J. Johnson-213, 7-Brady Bacon-203, 8-Josh Hodges-196, 9-Shon Deskins-194, 10-Aaron Reutzel-193, —Mike Martin-193, 12-Colby Copeland-182, 13-Tye Mihocko-179, 14-Ryan Bernal-178, 15-Stevie Sussex-159, 16-Michael Curtis-127, 17-Jimmy Crawford-120, 18-Richard Vander Weerd-108, 19-Jace Vander Weerd-107, 20-Josh Grady-95, —Jason Grady-95.
2014 WINTER CHALLENGE SCHEDULE:
DATE – TRACK – LOCATION
February 1: Canyon Speedway – Peoria, AZ ($5,000-to-Win)