By Lance Jennings
PERRIS, CA – JULY 17, 2021… After reclaiming the lead on lap 27 with a dramatic “slide job” on lapped traffic and “The Demon” Damion Gardner, “The Big Game Hunter” Austin Williams (Yorba Linda, CA) raced to victory at Perris Auto Speedway.
Piloting the Tom and Laurie Sertich owned #92 Huntington Beach Glass and Mirror / CSI Construction DRC, Williams scored his first AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car triumph of the campaign. With ten career victories to his credit, Austin is now tied with Nic Faas, Mike Kirby, and his father “The Ripper” Rip Williams for sixth overall on the USAC/CRA win list.
“The Pride of Garden Grove” Brody Roa, hard charger Eddie Tafoya Jr., “The Cadillac” Cody Williams, and “Speedy” Stevie Sussex rounded out the top-five drivers.
Starting on the pole position, “Thunder” Tommy Malcolm had his sights on his first career win and led the first two circuits. Austin Williams, who sliced his way from fifth, took command from Malcolm on the half-mile oval and set a torrid pace. The sixth starting Damion Gardner was moving forward and grabbed the lead from Williams with a “turn three slider” on lap twenty. Gardner began to extend his lead, but Williams rallied and powered to the lead seven laps later. Action was soon halted for a hard hit between Malcolm and Matt Mitchell that brought out a red flag. Both drivers were ok. Before the restart, the second running Gardner had to retire with mechanical issues and Roa was now on Williams’ bumper. From there, the night belonged to “The Big Game Hunter.”
Before winning the 30-lap feature, Austin Williams was second fast in time trials and won the night’s Huntington Beach Glass and Mirror Second Heat Race. The former co-rookie of the year heads to Santa Maria ranked third in the chase for the championship.
Eddie Tafoya Jr. (Chino Hills, CA) earned the night’s In Memory of Jim & Chet Gardner Hard Charger Award with a third place run from twelfth. Racing the family owned #51T Specialty Fasteners / DRC Chassis entry, Tafoya qualified twelfth overall, ran third in his heat race, and left the Lake Perris Fairgrounds sitting thirteenth in points.
“The Demon” Damion Gardner (Concord, CA) claimed the fifth Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award (96th career) of the season. Driving Mark Alexander’s #1 PerformanceOnline.com / Carman Trucking Spike, Gardner finished second in his heat race to A.J. Bender and earned the night’s Wilwood Disc Brakes Lucky 13 Award after mechanical issues sidelined the point leader, placing Damion thirteenth in the main event.
A.J. Bender (San Diego, CA) took the checkered flag in the 10-lap Flowdynamics Inc. First Heat Race. Piloting the family owned #21 K&R Motorsports / Schweitzer Racing DRC, Bender qualified thirteenth overall and scored eighteenth in the main event. The former California Lightning Sprint Rookie of the Year heads to Santa Maria ranked ninth in the point chase.
Veteran driver, Verne Sweeney (Lomita, CA) took Ken Tracy’s #98 Bill’s Ol Fashion Jerky / Faas Cores DRC to victory in the 10-lap All Coast Construction Third Heat Race. Verne was fifteenth quick in time trials and placed tenth in the main event after starting fifteenth. At press time, Sweeney has climbed to eighth in the championship standings.
The non-winged USAC/CRA Sprint Cars are back in action on Saturday, August 14th at Santa Maria Raceway (Santa Maria, CA) for the “Bud Stanfield Memorial.”
The AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series thanks All Coast Construction, BillsJerky.com, Component Repair Company, Factory Wraps, Flowdynamics, The Gardner Family (In Memory of Jim & Chet Gardner), Hoosier Racing Tires, Huntington Beach Glass and Mirror, Woodland Auto Display, Competition Suspension Incorporated, Extreme Mufflers, Loudpedal Productions, Rod End Supply, Saldana Racing Products, Sway-A-Way Torsion Bars, surfnsprint.com, Ultra Shield Race Products, and Wilwood Disc Brakes for their support.
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AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: July 17, 2021 – Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, California
WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Damion Gardner, 1, Alexander-16.377; 2. Austin Williams, 92, Sertich-16.403; 3. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-16.553; 4. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-16.600; 5. Stevie Sussex, 12, Allen-16.735; 6. Logan Williams, 5W, McCarthy-16.803; 7. Tommy Malcolm, 5X, Napier-16.814; 8. Troy Rutherford, 11, Rutherford-16.818; 9. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-16.825; 10. Matt McCarthy, 28M, McCarthy-16.847; 11. Cody Williams, 44, Williams-16.956; 12. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-16.958; 13. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-16.960; 14. Charles Davis Jr., 11C, Turner/Wheeler-16.990; 15. Verne Sweeney, 98, Tracy-17.099; 16. Chris Bonneau, 15, Bonneau-17.195; 17. Austin Grabowski, 72, Grabowski-17.417; 18. Joel Rayborne, 12B, Blair-17.561; 19. Jonas Reynolds, 0, Reynolds-17.605; 20. Jeff Dyer, 39, Cal-Sun-17.654; 21. Dan Taylor, T5, Taylor-17.933; 22. Brent Owens, 71, Martin-17.948.
FLOWDYNAMICS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bender, 2. Gardner, 3. Roa, 4. Malcolm, 5. Bonneau, 6. McCarthy, 7. Owens, 8. Reynolds. NT.
HUNTINGTON BEACH GLASS & MIRROR SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. A.Williams, 2. Davis, 3. Rutherford, 4. C.Williams, 5. Sussex, 6. Grabowski, 7. Dyer. NT.
ALL COAST CONSTRUCTION THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Sweeney, 2. Mitchell, 3. Tafoya, 4. L.Williams, 5. Gansen, 6. Rayborne, 7. Taylor. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps, With Starting Positions) 1. Austin Williams (5), 2. Brody Roa (3), 3. Eddie Tafoya Jr. (12), 4. Cody Williams (11), 5. Stevie Sussex (7), 6. Matt McCarthy (10), 7. Chris Gansen (9), 8. Chris Bonneau (16), 9. Charles Davis Jr. (14), 10. Verne Sweeney (15), 11. Austin Grabowski (17), 12. Jeff Dyer (20), 13. Damion Gardner (6), 14. Matt Mitchell (4), 15. Tommy Malcolm (1), 16. Jonas Reynolds (19), 17. Logan Williams (2), 18. A.J. Bender (13), 19. Joel Rayborne (18), 20. Dan Taylor (21), 21. Troy Rutherford (8), 22. Brent Owens (22). NT
**Mitchell and Malcolm flipped on lap 27 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Malcolm, Laps 3-19 A.Williams, Laps 20-26 Gardner, Laps 27-30 A.Williams.
IN MEMORY OF JIM & CHET GARDNER HARD CHARGER: Eddie Tafoya Jr. (12th to 3rd)
SHAWN McDONALD MEMORIAL QUALIFYING AWARD: Logan Williams
SHAWN McDONALD MEMORIAL FEATURE AWARD: Matt McCarthy
WILWOOD DISC BRAKES LUCKY 13 AWARD: Damion Gardner
NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Damion Gardner-638, 2-Brody Roa-602, 3-Austin Williams-579, 4-Chris Gansen-524, 5-Tommy Malcolm-441, 6-Cody Williams-434, 7-Matt Mitchell-374, 8-Verne Sweeney-368, 9-A.J. Bender-353, 10-Matt McCarthy-340.
NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: August 14 – Santa Maria Raceway – Santa Maria, California – “Bud Stanfield Memorial”