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By Lance Jennings

TULARE, CA – APRIL 12, 2010… Fresno's Craig Stidham kicked off the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash Mini-Series with an impressive 30-lap feature victory at Tulare's Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway. By adding the Chris and Brian Faria Memorial win to his resume, Stidham became the first repeat winner of the 2010 campaign with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series.

Driving his Brad Johnson Trucking / KRC Safety #3S Maxim, Stidham started the main event in the third position behind Jonathan Logan of Hanford and Visalia's Jesse Mack. At the drop of the starter's green flag, it was Logan that took command over the nineteen car field. Jonathan managed to hold off Stidham and Bakersfield's Rusty Carlile for the first two circuits until Stidham powered past the 2006 SCRA champion on the third lap. 

Once in the lead, the current USAC West Coast 360 point leader was running away from the field until Peter Murphy was able to chase him down. The veteran driver from Clovis made several challenges for the lead, but Stidham was too strong and scored the win. "I was getting nervous when I saw Peter on the leader board," remarked Stidham. "He tried to pass me a couple of times and I white knuckled up, but I had to settle down." With the win, Craig has a 58 point advantage over Kerman's Davey Pombo.

Peter Murphy was looking for his first main event victory after a tough start to his 2010 season. The pilot of Tom Tarlton's Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino #21 KPC entry finished in the runner-up spot after starting sixth. "The car has been getting better and better all night," said Murphy. "We gave Craig as good of a run as we could and I needed him to make a mistake." The 2009 Santa Maria track champion now sits third in the point standings.

Another driver looking for a better change of luck was Rusty Carlile. Carlile switched to last year's bright green Southwest Contractors / N.T.S. Incorporated #51 Bullet in the hopes of scoring the Tulare win. Last year's Cotton Classic winner battled with the early leaders and came home third after starting fourth. "I had a good race with Pombo and Logan," said Carlile. "It was fun and I had nothing for Stidham and Murphy." Rusty is now fourth in the point chase. 

Davey Pombo had his sights set on another victory after the Bakersfield win on March 27th. Last season's Grand Slam Series champion had a tough run in his heat race and would have to start the feature in the thirteenth spot. Driving Junior Bowman's Buster & Ziggy #3 Bullet, Pombo had an inspired run as he made his way to the front. By finishing fourth, Davey earned "Best Passing Job" honors on the night and was awarded a $100 certificate from Kirkey Racing Fabrication.

Jonathan Logan had his second top-5 finish of the season in the Evett Racing / Mike Downing Racing Engines #32 KB entry. Starting on the pole, Logan led the first two laps until Craig Stidham motored by on lap three. Jonathan fought hard to stay up front all 30 laps and crossed the finish line in fifth. The Hanford driver is now fifth in the point standings.

With this night honoring his two brothers, "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. from Tipton, recorded his third straight Sander Engineering fast time award. Starting eighth in the main event in his Borges Farms #17V Maxim, Faria was racing for the fourth spot until problems on lap thirteen ended his night. Scored with a fourteenth place finish, Danny now sits eighth in the point chase.

Craig Stidham won the first heat race and received a $100 certificate from Extreme Mufflers. Four-time Santa Maria track champion "Junkyard" Jimmy Thompson from Arroyo Grande and Peter Murphy won the other 10-lap heat races. For winning their respective heats, Keizer Wheels awarded all three drivers with a $50 certificate. 

Bakersfield's Chris Ennis flipped the family's Skarphol Associates / West Olive Welding #86 777 entry on lap thirteen of the main event. Ennis' car was done for the night and he walked away uninjured. "Wide Open" Wes Gutierrez from San Martin flipped his WG Motorsports / California Graphics #007 DRC while racing in the third spot on lap twenty of the feature. He also walked away uninjured. Defending series champion Justyne Hamblin of Hanford had a solid run in the feature with a sixth place finish after starting fourteenth.

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, Saferacer.com, and Sander Engineering for their support.

Round 6 for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be this Saturday, April 17th, at the Santa Maria Speedway. Joining the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars will be the Toste Grading & Paving Mini Stocks and the Okie Bowl Hardtops. The Front Gates will open at 3:00pm, Time Trials will start at 5:00pm, with Racing at 6:00pm. Adult tickets are $16, Senior, Military, and Student tickets are $14, Kids tickets (6-12) are $5, and Children’s tickets (5 and under) are FREE.

For event information, please visit www.racesantamariaspeedway.com,

For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car series, visit www.racesantamariaspeedway.com, and www.usacracing.com. 
Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway - Tulare, California
April 10, 2010 – “Southwest Contractors 360 Clash / Chris & Brian Faria Memorial”

1. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-16.112; 2. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-16.651; 3. Peter Murphy, 21, Tarlton-16.680; 4. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-16.807; 5. Ronnie Case, 8X, Case-16.834; 6. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-16.960; 7. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-17.008; 8. Jesse Mack, 8M, May-17.17.238; 9. Jonathan Logan, 32, Evett/Logan-17.312; 10. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-17.316; 11. Jimmy Thompson, 71R, Eames-17.411; 12. T.J. Smith, 14, Legras-17.432; 13. Andy Ferris, 4J, Ferris-17.436; 14. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-17.600; 15. Jared Little, 25, Little-17.670; 16. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-17.722; 17. Dave Knott, 28, Knott-18.410; 18. Kevin Barnes, 36B, Barnes-19.026; 19. Ray Knight, 99K, Knight-23.059.

1. Craig Stidham, 2. Chris Ennis, 3. Danny Faria Jr., 4. Andy Ferris, 5. Davey Pombo, 6. Justyne Hamblin, 7. Ray Knight. NT.

1. Jimmy Thompson, 2. Wes Gutierrez, 3. Ronnie Case, 4. Jesse Mack, 5. Geoffrey Strole, 6. Dave Knott. NT.

HEAT RACE 3: (10 laps) 
1. Peter Murphy, 2. T.J. Smith, 3. Jonathan Logan, 4. Rusty Carlile, 5. Jared Little, 6. Kevin Barnes. NT.

FEATURE: (30 laps - With Starting Positions) 
1. Craig Stidham (3rd), 2. Peter Murphy (6th), 3. Rusty Carlile (4th), 4. Davey Pombo (13th), 5. Jonathan Logan (1st), 6. Justyne Hamblin (14th), 7. Jesse Mack (2nd), 8. Andy Ferris (11th), 9. Ronnie Case (5th), 10. Jared Little (16th), 11. Dave Knott (17th), 12. Geoffrey Strole (15th), 13. Wes Gutierrez (7th), 14. Danny Faria Jr. (8th), 15. Chris Ennis (12th), 16. Kevin Barnes (18th), 17. Jimmy Thompson (9th), 18. Ray Knight (19th), 19. T.J. Smith (10th). NT.
**Chris Ennis and Wes Gutierrez flipped during the feature.

Laps 1-2 Jonathan Logan, Laps 3-30 Craig Stidham.

1- Craig Stidham-318; 2- Davey Pombo-260; 3- Peter Murphy-248; 4- Rusty Carlile-234; 5- Jonathan Logan-216; 6- Justyne Hamblin-211; 7- T.J. Smith-208; 8- Danny Faria Jr. -206; 9- Andy Ferris-193; 10- Chris Ennis-192.

NEXT USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE: April 17 – Santa Maria (CA) Speedway

NEXT SOUTHWEST CONTRACTORS 360 CLASH RACE: May 29 – Bakersfield (CA) Speedway