STIDHAM WINS TULARE SHOOTOUT
By Lance Jennings
TULARE, CA – APRIL 5, 2010… Fresno's Craig Stidham charged to his first win of the season with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway. The victory for the series point leader made him the fourth different winner in as many races this season.
Driving his Brad Johnson Trucking / KRC Safety #3S Maxim, Stidham started the 30-lap feature in the third spot behind "Showtime" Danny Sheridan of Santa Maria and Hanford's Justyne Hamblin. After battling with Sheridan for second, Stidham found the low groove to his liking as he passed the high-riding Hamblin to take the lead on lap five. After a rear tire problem on lap eleven sent Justyne to the pits for repairs, Craig fought off several challenges from San Martin's Wes Gutierrez and Davey Pombo from Kerman. "That was probably the hardest 30 laps that I've ever driven," remarked Stidham. "There was nobody in front of me and I couldn't tell how hard to drive it." With the win, the former Trophy Cup champion now has a 48 point advantage over Pombo.
"Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. from Tipton set fast time in qualifying over the 23-car field. In the late stages of the feature, Faria was one of the few drivers that were determined to make the outside groove work. This move served him well as he charged forward in the Louie DeGroot & Sons Dairy #17V Maxim after starting eighth. Coming for the checkered flags, "Hollywood" was able to motor past Pombo for a second place finish. Unfortunately for Faria, his car failed to pass a post-race technical inspection. Officials found a left rear tire that was deemed illegal, resulting in a disqualification.
After winning the previous weekend at Bakersfield, Davey Pombo had his sights set on another victory. Starting seventh in the Junior Bowman / Buster & Ziggy #3 Bullet, he had steadily made his way up to third. After second place running Wes Gutierrez spun to a stop on lap thirteen, Davey would now have a shot at the leader. Pombo challenged Stidham for the lead several times, but could not make it happen. "Early on we were fast." said Pombo. "We had the car a little too loose towards the end."
Clovis' Peter Murphy was looking for a better change of luck in Tom Tarlton's Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino #21 KPC. The veteran driver had a rough start to his 2010 campaign. In the previous three main events, Murphy was involved in tangles that took him out of contention. After starting in the fifth position, the Australia native followed Pombo across the line. "Running fourth tonight is like a victory for us they way we have been crashing lately." said Murphy. "We'll take fourth and hats off to them three fellas up in front."
With the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars having an off night, "Showtime" Danny Sheridan made his second start of the season in the Kittle Motorsports / Pace Lighting #18 SpeedTech. Starting on the pole position of the feature, Sheridan lost the jump to defending series champion Justyne Hamblin. Preferring to use the outside line of Tulare's clay oval, "Showtime" battled hard to stay in the mix as he raced with Gutierrez, Pombo, Murphy, and Faria. Danny crossed the finish line behind Murphy.
Visalia's Jace VanderWeerd was credited with a fifth place finish after starting ninth in the family's Mid Valley Pipe & Supply #88 Maxim. VanderWeerd, who missed last weekend's event at Bakersfield to compete at the Perris Auto Speedway with the USAC/CRA 410 Sprints, is seventh in the series point standings.
"The Central Valley Samurai" Garrett Ishii had a hard flip in time trials. The driver from Caruthers walked away uninjured, but his racecar was done for the night. Galt's Matt Streeter flipped his Delta Demolition #14 Maxim while racing for the ninth spot on lap thirteen of the feature. He also walked away uninjured.
"Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. won the first heat race and received a $100 certificate from Extreme Mufflers. Justyne Hamblin and Hanford's Jonathan Logan won the other 10-lap heat races. For winning their respective heats, Keizer Wheels will award all three drivers with a $50 certificate. Scott Kinney earned "Best Passing Job" honors on the night in his first ever non-wing start. Kinney, the 2004 BCRA Midget Lite champion, finished tenth starting twenty-second.
The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, Cory Kruseman's Sprint Car & Midget Driving School, Crow Enterprizes, DJ Safety, Extreme Mufflers, Hinchman-Indy Racing Uniforms, Integra Shocks, Kaeding Performance, Keizer Wheels, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Port City Racing, and Saferacer.com for their support.
Round 5 for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be this Saturday, April 10th, at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California. The Chris and Brian Faria Memorial is also the first race of the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash. The four race mini-series will carry it’s own $5000 point fund, with $2500 to the series winner, $1500 for second, and $1000 for third. As this writing goes to press, the four main events will pay $1200 to win and $200 to start.
Joining the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars will be the Golden State Challenge King of California Sprint Cars and the Central California Modifieds. Advance tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the track office at (559) 688-0909.
The Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway is located on the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare. For more event information, please visit the track’s website at www.tularethunderbowl.com.
For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, please visit www.racesantamariaspeedway.com, and www.usacracing.com.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS:
Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway - Tulare, California
April 3, 2010
1. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-16.945; 2. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-17.015; 3. Jonathan Logan, 32, Evett/Logan-17.158; 4. Peter Murphy, 21, Tarlton-17.196; 5. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-17.348; 6. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-17.376; 7. Scott Kinney, 25K, Kinney-17.448; 8. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-17.573; 9. Matt Streeter, 14JR, Streeter-17.592; 10. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle-17.611; 11. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-17.632; 12. Andy Ferris, 4J, Ferris-17.647; 13. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-17.657; 14. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-17.700; 15. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-17.826; 16. Jesse Mack, 8M, May-17.843; 17. Jared Little, 25, Little-17.965; 18. T.J. Smith, 14, Legras-18.032; 19. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-18.228; 20. Kevin Barnes, 36B, Barnes-18.249; 21. Adam Frith-Smith, 62, Frith-Smith-18.361; 22. Dave Knott, 28, Knott-18.393; 23. Garrett Ishii, 71G, Ishii-NT.
EXTREME MUFFLERS HEAT RACE 1: (10 laps)
1. Danny Faria Jr., 2. Danny Sheridan, 3. Rusty Carlile, 4. Peter Murphy, 5. Jesse Mack, 6. Scott Kinney, 7. Davey Knott, 8. Geoffrey Strole. NT.
KEIZER WHEELS HEAT RACE 2: (10 laps)
1. Justyne Hamblin, 2. Wes Gutierrez, 3. Davey Pombo, 4. Jace VanderWeerd, 5. Chris Ennis, 6. Jared Little, 7. Kevin Barnes. NT.
HEAT RACE 3: (10 laps)
1. Jonathan Logan, 2. Richard VanderWeerd, 3. Craig Stidham, 4. Andy Ferris, 5. T.J. Smith, 6. Matt Streeter, 7. Adam Frith-Smith. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps - With Starting Positions)
1. Craig Stidham (3rd), 2. Davey Pombo (7th), 3. Peter Murphy (5th), 4. Danny Sheridan (1st), 5. Jace VanderWeerd (9th), 6. Rusty Carlile (11th), 7. T.J. Smith (15th), 8. Justyne Hamblin (2nd), 9. Richard VanderWeerd (13th), 10. Scott Kinney (22nd), 11. Jared Little (17th), 12. Kevin Barnes (19th), 13. Dave Knott (21st), 14. Andy Ferris (10th), 15. Jesse Mack (14th), 16. Jontahan Logan (6th), 17. Wes Gutierrez (4th), 18. Chris Ennis (12th), 19. Matt Streeter (16th), 20. Geoffrey Strole (18th). NT.
**Garrett Ishii flipped during time trials. Matt Streeter flipped during the feature.
**The car of Danny Faria Jr. failed to pass post-race technical inspection after finishing second.
**Adam Frith-Smith was slated to start 20th, but did not start the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS:
Laps 1-4 Justyne Hamblin, Laps 5-30 Craig Stidham.
NEW USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT POINTS:
1-Craig Stidham-250; 2-Davey Pombo-202; 3-T.J. Smith-186; 4-Peter Murphy-179; 5-Rusty Carlile-174; 6-Danny Faria Jr.-169; 7-Jace VanderWeerd-169; 8-Justyne Hamblin-163, 9-Jonathan Logan-162; 10-Chris Ennis-162.
NEXT USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE:
April 10 – Tulare (CA) Thunderbowl Raceway – “Chris & Brian Faria Memorial” – Southwest Contractors 360 Clash Series