By Scott Daloisio
(Perris, CA, October 24, 2022) Three more past winners are among the latest entries into the November 3rd, 4th and 5th 26th Annual Heimark Anheuser Busch Budweiser Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway. The trio is made up of three-time and defending champion Kevin Thomas Jr., C.J. Leary, and Robert Ballou. In addition, Justin Grant, and Brady Bacon, who are currently ranked first and second respectively in the USAC National Sprint Car point standings, have also submitted their entries.
Thomas has been the dominant driver in the Oval Nationals in recent years. The Cullman, Alabama native has won three of the last four running’s of the prestigious race. He went back to back in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, he started 16th in the stacked field and came all the way forward to sixth at the finish. Due to Covid, the race was not held in 2020, but last year Thomas came back to win again. That victory tied him with Concord, California’s Damion Gardner (2009, 2011, 2016) and Bud Kaeding of Campbell, California (2001, 2002, 2007) as one of only three drivers to have won the Ovals three times. Thomas will be wheeling a car for California native Michael Dutcher while Gardner will be in Mark Alexander’s famous silver #1 as they each try to become the first four time winner of the race.
Kevin Thomas Jr. on his way to his first Oval Nationals victory in 2017. Doug Allen photo.
When Thomas finished sixth in 2019, all eyes were on Leary at the end of the 40-lap grind. The Greenfield, Indiana star started on the pole and led 24-laps to secure his first-ever win at the Ovals. While Leary was the winner of the race, he was not the favorite going into the final night. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Bacon started on the pole in the Thursday preliminary and proceeded to lead all 30-laps. On Friday night he dominated again. He started third and led every single lap for the second night in a row. Anyone would have been a fool to bet against him in the 40-lap finale. Starting fourth he was a contender throughout and was challenging for the lead when a yellow flag came out. Leader Chase Stockon slowed dramatically going into turn three when he saw the yellow light. Bacon clipped Stockon’s left rear tire and slid to a stop by the wall ending his hopes of sweeping the weekend.
For Ballou, 2022 will be his first Oval Nationals since 2017. In 2014, the Rocklin, California native finished 23rd in the Thursday preliminary main. However, from that point on, he was on a roll. He won the Friday night preliminary and backed that up with a win in Saturday’s 40-lap final. Twelve months later in 2015, Ballou mowed through the competition and won the 30-lappers on both preliminary nights. Counting the prelim mains and the 2014 finale, he had won four main events in a row at the Ovals. He was the favorite for the finale, but Bryan Clauson stole the show. After blowing an engine late in the Friday preliminary, Clauson left the track and drove to Phoenix to borrow a loner engine from Mike Martin. He picked up the bullet and drove straight back to Perris, arriving early in the morning. He then proceeded to win the main event from the middle of the pack. Ballou ended up fifth. While Ballou lost the battle that night, he won the war by winning his lone USAC National Sprint Car Series championship.
Thus far, entries have been received for the top six drivers – Grant, Bacon, Leary, Ballou, series leading rookie Emerson Axsom of Franklin, Indian, and Suter, California’s Logan Seavey – in the USAC National Sprint Car Series. Going into this weekend’s 55th Annual Chapman Chevrolet Of Yuma Western World Championships Presented By Yuma Insurance and Avanti at the Cocopah Speedway, Grant sits on top of the National Sprint standings. He has a 78-point lead over three-time series champion Bacon. Leary is third and trails Grant by 129 points. Ballou is fourth and Axsom is fifth. The title will be decided at the Oval Nationals.
The eight combined wins by past champions Thomas, Ballou, Leary, and Gardner accounts for 32% of the first 25 Oval Nationals.
Tickets for the 26th Annual Heimark Anheuser Busch Budweiser Oval Nationals are on sale online at the following link or by calling 1-800-595-4849. For those who do not wish to buy tickets in advance, there will be plenty of tickets available for everyone at the ticket window all three nights. In addition to the three nights of racing, there will be a practice for Oval Nationals entered cars on Wednesday, November 2nd. The practice will begin at 6:00 PM and it will be free for fans in the grandstands. In addition, fans will be treated to $2.00 pizza, beer, and soda.
2022 Oval Nationals Entries (as of October 24)
1 Damion Gardner Concord, CA Mark Alexander
1J Jake Neal Omaha, NB Brian Kracht
2 Austin Williams Corona, CA Austin Williams
4 Justin Grant Ion, CA Topp Motorsports
4G Chris Gansen Verdemont Hts, CA Gansen Motorsports
5 Tye Mihocko Peoria, AZ Tim Mihocko
5W Logan Williams Yorba Linda, CA John & Tammy McCarthy
5X Tommy Malcolm Corona, CA Dino Napier
6 Logan Calderwood Goodyear, AZ Logan Calderwood
12 Danny Sheridan Santa Maria, CA Robbie & Gaye Allen
12 Robert Ballou Rocklin, CA Ballou Motorsports
15 Nate Schank Santa Rosa, CA Nate Schank
15 Chris Bonneau Peoria, AZ Chris Bonneau
17GP Kevin Thomas Jr. Cullman, AL Michael Dutcher Motorsports
21 AJ Bender Ramona, CA Richard Bender
28M Matt McCarthy Riverside, CA John & Tammy McCarthy
39T Troy DeGaton Live Oak, CA Troy DeGaton
42 Logan Seavey Sutter, CA Cheney Racing
44 Cody Williams Norco, CA Cody Williams
47 Charles Davis Jr. Buckeye, AZ Charles Davis Jr.
47BC Emerson Axsom Franklin, IN Clauson/Marshal Racing
51T Eddie Tafoya Jr. Chino Hills, CA Eddie Tafoya Sr.
69 Brad Bacon Broken Arrow, OK Dynamics, Inc.
72 Austin Grabowski Riverside, CA Austin Grabowski
74 Shane Sexton Warner Springs, CA Shane Sexton
77 C.J. Leary Greenfield, IN Michael Motorsports
91R Brody Roa Garden Grove, CA Brody Roa Performance
98 Verne Sweeney Lomita, CA Ken Tracy
Oval Nationals Winners
1996 – Jimmy Sills
1997 – Rip Williams
1998 – Rodney Argo
1999 – Rickie Gaunt
2000 – Tony Jones
2001 – Bud Kaeding
2002 – Bud Kaeding
2003 – Cory Kruseman
2004 – Cory Kruseman
2005 – Dave Darland
2006 – Dave Darland
2007 – Bud Kaeding
2008 – Jesse Hockett
2009 – Damion Gardner
2010 – Chris Windom
2011 – Damion Gardner
2012 – Mike Spencer
2013 – Dave Darland
2014 – Robert Ballou
2015 – Bryan Clauson
2016 – Damion Gardner
2017 – Kevin Thomas Jr.
2018 – Kevin Thomas Jr.
2019 – C.J. Leary
2220 – No Race
2021 – Kevin Thomas Jr.
Perris Auto Speedway is conveniently located on the freeway close Lake Perris Fairgrounds, home of the Southern California Fair, in nearby Riverside County. The street address is 18700 Lake Perris Drive in The City of Perris. To get to the track, take the 215 freeway, exit at the Ramona Expressway, and go three miles east to the fairgrounds.
Fans can stay up to date on track and driver news on The PAS social media efforts at the links below.
Twitter: Perris Auto Speedway on Twitter.
Perris Auto Speedway wants to thank the following corporate partners. Ahern Equipment Rentals, Anderson Chevrolet, Battery Systems, Chris’ Hauling, City of Perris, Communication Innovations, Daytona Boat & RV Storage, Ed Moore Bullet Proof Driveshaft, Flowdynamics, HD Industries, Heimark/Anheuser Busch, Hoosier Tires, Inland Rigging, Living Water’s Hospice, LKQ Pick Your Part, Luke’s Transmission, Moose Racing, Pepsi-Cola, Performance Online, Pole Position Raceway, PrintItNow.com, Rainbow Bolt & Supply, Rene’s Bar & Grill, Rugged Radios, Shaver Specialties, Square H, Sunoco Race Fuels, Trench Shoring, Upland Rock, Varner Construction and Vista Paint.
Video and DVD productions of all racing sprint cars events at Perris Auto Speedway are available from Loudpedal Productions. For more information on these productions you can contact them by calling (805) 844-3854, E-mailing mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit the website LoudPedal Productions.
DVDs of all the PASSCAR/IMCA racing and Nights of Destruction at The PAS are available from Fourvideos. For more information call (714) 225-9500.