By Richie Murray
San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 10, 2020)………Sprint Car racing has been a staple of the Western World Championships since the dawn of the event in 1968 with Bob Cleberg’s triumph at Manzanita Speedway. This weekend, Fri. & Sat., Nov. 13-14, the 53rd chapter of the event will be authored at the 1/3-mile Arizona Speedway in San Tan Valley.
Taking the stage for “Western World” presented by San Tan Ford are both the AMSOIL USAC CRA and Southwest Sprint Car divisions. Forty-three previous Southwest Sprint events have been held at Arizona Speedway, eight of which have been part of the Western World festivities since 2016.
Of those 43 previous visits by the series to the track, R.J. Johnson (Laveen, Ariz.) owns more victories than any other individual with 19. Johnson, a five-time USAC Southwest Sprint champion, has yet to score a Western World final night win in his career, but has won during the prelims of year’s past.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) will be among those performing double-duty with both the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets and the Sprint Cars at Western World and will wheel the Bill Michael #77m, who owns 39 career USAC Southwest Sprint Car wins as an owner, 14 of which have come at Arizona Speedway, all with R.J. Johnson as the pilot. The Michael team has already won twice this year with C.J. Leary as the driver in March in USAC CRA/Southwest competition at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz.
Windom, the 2016 USAC Silver Crown and 2017 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion has twice won the final night of Western World, with the National Sprints in 2016 and the Southwest Sprints in 2017. In 2016, Windom swept both classes on the prelim night with the National and Southwest series.
Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.), who will be chasing a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget championship at Western World, swept both sprint car features last year in the event. Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) twice won the final night of sprint car racing at Western World in 2016 & 2018 when it’s been held at Arizona Speedway in addition to a prelim in 2017. Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), the 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champ, won a prelim night as well in 2018.
Arizonians such as 2018 USAC Southwest Sprint champion Charles Davis Jr. (Buckeye, Ariz.) has eight wins at Arizona Speedway with USAC Southwest while Stevie Sussex (Tempe, Ariz.) has four and Mike Martin (Yuma, Ariz.), Tye Mihocko (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Josh Pelkey (Peoria, Ariz.) each have one along with Californian Logan Seavey.
Damion Gardner will run the No. 1 at Western World in recognition of him being the reigning USAC CRA champion. In fact, the Concord, Calif. driver’s 83 points wins with the series, and eight titles, lead all drivers by a country mile. He won with USAC CRA at Arizona Speedway in 2018.
Courtney’s three victories lead all USAC CRA drivers at Arizona Speedway. Windom has two while Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.), Gardner, Swanson, Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), Johnson and Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) each own one apiece.
Reigning USAC Southwest Sprint champion and 2016 USAC West Coast Sprint Car titlist Brody Roa (Garden Grove, Calif.) has yet to win with USAC at Arizona Speedway, but he did record his bit of Western World glory by capturing the final night sprint car win at USA Raceway in Tucson, Ariz. in 2015. Arizonian Matt Rossi snagged a victory for the home crowd in 2014 during Western World at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz.
Five-time USAC National champion J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, Ariz.) is also expected to compete in this year’s Western World sprint car events. His father, Jack, was victorious in the midget portion of the event in 1988. J.J., one of two drivers to win all three USAC National championships in a single season in 2003, is seeking his first Western World main event victory.
Western World’s sprint car winners over the past half century can boast many of the greatest names to ever strap on a helmet, including Jan Opperman, Rick Ferkel, Ron Shuman, Bubby Jones, Lealand McSpadden, Steve & Mark Kinser, Sammy & Kevin Swindell, Danny Lasoski, Donny Schatz, Jay Drake, Tony Elliott, Dave Darland, Cory Kruseman, Jerry Coons Jr., Jesse Hockett, Tracy Hines, Bryan Clauson and on and on and on – a murderer’s row of sprint car talent.
Western World marks the resumption of USAC CRA and Southwest Sprint competition for the first time since March when C.J. Leary won two-straight nights at Canyon. In February at Canyon, Jake Swanson performed likewise, sweeping both nights for himself.
Friday night’s Western World sprint car winner will take home a $2,500 prize with Saturday night’s main event victor collecting $5,000.
Western World activities at Arizona Speedway begin this Thursday night, Nov. 12, with open practice for both sprint cars and midgets. Pits open at 3pm MT with on-track practice from 5-8pm. Adult pit passes are $30 while pit passes are $10 for kids age 7-12 and free for kids ages 6 and under. Thursday night’s practice will feature an extra treat with the Beaver Stripes Racer Appreciation BBQ dinner.
On both Friday and Saturday night, Nov. 13-14, the pits open at 1pm MT, grandstands at 3pm and racing at 6:30pm. General admission adult tickets are $30, while kids 11 and under are just $10. Pit passes are $40 for adults and $15 for ages 7-12 and free for ages 6 and under.
The previous year’s Western World Midget winners include Kevin Thomas Jr. and Brady Bacon, who each raced their way to San Tan Ford / Beaver Stripes victory lane in 2019.
Western World tickets are on sale now at www.arizonaspeedway.net.
Both nights of the 53rd Western World Championships will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2Zs7zFP.
ARIZONA SPEEDWAY USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR WINS:
8-Charles Davis, Jr.
2-Tyler Courtney & Chris Windom
1-Mike Martin, Tye Mihocko, Josh Pelkey, Logan Seavey & Jake Swanson
ARIZONA SPEEDWAY USAC CRA SPRINT WINS:
1-Chase Stockon, Damion Gardner, Jake Swanson, Justin Grant, R.J. Johnson & Thomas Meseraull
PAST WESTERN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SPRINT CAR WINNERS:
1968: Bob Cleberg
1969: Bob Huebner
1970: Jerry McClung
1971: Jan Opperman
1972: Jan Opperman
1973: Earl Wagner
1974: Rick Ferkel
1975: Ron Shuman
1976: Bubby Jones
1977: Ron Shuman
1978: Lealand McSpadden
1979: Tim Green
1980: Jeff Swindell
1981: Ron Shuman
1982: Steve Kinser
1983: Steve Kinser
1984: Ron Shuman
1985: Steve Kinser
1986: Bobby Davis Jr.
1987: Steve Kinser
1988: Mark Kinser
1989: Sammy Swindell
1990: Steve Kinser
1991: Danny Lasoski (Wing Sprint) & Wayne Bennet (360 Non-Wing Sprint)
1992: Steve Kinser (Wing Sprint) & Bob Ream Jr. (360 Non-Wing Sprint)
1993: Lealand McSpadden
1994: Ron Shuman
1995: Lealand McSpadden (Sprint), Ricky Johnson (360 Non-Wing Sprint)
1996: Steve Kinser
1997: Mark Kinser
1998: Tyler Walker
1999: Donny Schatz
2000: Jay Drake
2001: Jeremy Sherman
2002: Bud Kaeding (SCRA Sprint) & Jeremy Sherman (360 Sprint)
2003: Tony Elliott (SCRA Sprint) & Jeremy Sherman (360 Sprint)
2004: Bud Kaeding (USAC Sprint) & Josh Ford (360 Sprint)
2005: Dave Darland (USAC Sprint) & Cory Kruseman (360 Sprint)
2006: Josh Wise (USAC Sprint) & Cory Kruseman (360 Sprint)
2007: Jerry Coons, Jr. (USAC Sprint) & Cory Kruseman (360 Sprint)
2008: Kevin Swindell (USAC Sprint) & Jesse Hockett (360 Sprint)
2009: Brady Bacon (ASCS Non-Wing Sprint) & Sammy Swindell (ASCS Wing Sprint)
2010: Brady Bacon (ASCS Non-Wing Sprint) & Donny Schatz (ASCS Wing Sprint)
2011: Tracy Hines (ASCS Non-Wing Sprint) & Donny Schatz (ASCS Wing Sprint)
2012: Bryan Clauson (ASCS Non-Wing Sprint) & Wayne Johnson (ASCS Wing Sprint)
2013: Bryan Clauson (USAC 360 Sprint)
2014: Matt Rossi (USAC 360 Sprint)
2015: Bryan Clauson (USAC Sprint) & Brody Roa (360 Sprint)
2016: Chris Windom (USAC Sprint) & Brady Bacon (360 Sprint)
2017: Chase Stockon (USAC Sprint) & Chris Windom (360 Sprint)
2018: Tyler Courtney (USAC Sprint) & Brady Bacon (360 Sprint)
2019: Tyler Courtney (USAC Sprint)