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By Lance Jennings

SANTA MARIA, CA – AUGUST 30, 2010… On a cool Saturday evening at the Santa Maria Speedway, T.J. Smith of Fresno made a statement to his competitors by scoring the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash victory. The 30-lap feature win was his third triumph in the last four events with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series as the group heads to Hanford on September 11th.

Pacing the sixteen car main event were San Martin's Wes Gutierrez and Richard VanderWeerd of Visalia. With both young drivers looking for their first main event win of the 2010 season, VanderWeerd grabbed the early lead. Piloting the #10 VanderWeerd Construction / Mid Valley Pipe & Supply Maxim, Richard was followed by Gutierrez, Justyne Hamblin, and T.J. Smith on the Santa Maria clay oval.

The race was halted on lap two for point leader Craig Stidham, who slowed to a stop on the back straightaway. Originally starting fifth, the former Trophy Cup champion was able to restart at the tail of the field and rebounded with a ninth place finish. 

As action resumed, VanderWeerd held the lead as a torrid battle raged behind him between Gutierrez, Smith, Hamblin, Danny Faria Jr., Rusty Carlile, and Davey Pombo. Four laps later, local driver Bill Jones brought out a yellow flag after spinning his machine in turn one. VanderWeerd's slim lead was erased with Smith on his tail. Richard set the pace as T.J. chose a higher line and used his momentum for a slingshot pass to take the lead. VanderWeerd battled back, but Smith was too strong and led the seventh circuit.

Another yellow flag was displayed for Bill Jones, who spun to his second stop of the feature on lap fourteen. VanderWeerd had another shot at Smith on the restart, but had to settle for second. "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. had charged his way to third from the eighth starting spot. A few laps later, Faria wrestled second from VanderWeerd and drove hard to chase after Smith. As the two leaders navigated their way though the traffic, the checkered flag flew. Smith took the victory, followed by Faria, Pombo, VanderWeerd, and Hamblin.

After recording his third win of the season, T.J. Smith sits third in the series points and fourth in the 360 Clash chase. Piloting the #14 UHL Rubber / K&N Filters Maxim, Smith was third quick in time trials and finished second in his heat race to Jared Little. To date, the former Plaza Park track champion has three fast time awards, three heat race wins, and fourteen top-10 finishes on the season. 

Tipton's "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. had another strong performance with his fourth straight runner-up finish. Driving the #17V Louie De Groot & Sons Dairy / Borges Farms Maxim, Faria recorded his series leading sixth Sander Engineering Fast Time Award of the year. The March 13th Hanford winner also claimed his seventh heat race victory by taking the Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. With eight top-10 finishes and one hard charger award, Faria is now fifth in the series points and sixth in the 360 Clash standings.

Kerman's Davey Pombo fought his way to a third place finish after starting seventh. Piloting Junior Bowman's #3 Buster & Ziggy sponsored Bullet, Pombo was second quick in time trials and third in his heat race. The former Bandit Champion has two feature victories, three fast times, four heat race wins, sixteen top-10 finishes, and one hard charger award in 2010. As this writing goes to press, Pombo is second in both the series points and 360 Clash standings.

Richard VanderWeerd had a fourth place finish after leading the first six laps of the main event. Earlier in the evening, VanderWeerd was seventh quick in time trials and fourth in his heat race. The Visalia driver has one fast time award, two heat race wins, eleven top-10 finishes, one hard charger award, and one semi-main victory on the year. Despite missing several key point races to compete with the USAC/CRA 410 series, Richard is eighth in the series standings and fifteenth in the 360 Clash points.

Hanford's Justyne Hamblin drove the JH Motorsports / Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino #8 Speed Tech to a fifth place finish. Earlier in the program, Hamblin was sixth quick in time trials and finished third in her heat race. The June 5th Hanford winner has three heat race wins, twelve top-10 finishes, and three hard charger awards on the season. The defending champion is currently fourth in the series points and third in the 360 Clash chase.

Jace VanderWeerd of Visalia won his third heat race of the year by taking the BR Motorsports / Saldana Racing Products Heat Race #2. Piloting the #88 VanderWeerd Construction / Mid Valley Pipe & Supply Maxim, Jace was fourteenth quick in time trials and finished eleventh in the feature. The June 26th Santa Maria winner has ten top-10 finishes and one hard charger award on the season. Like his brother Richard, Jace has missed several shows, but is ninth in the series points and nineteenth in the 360 Clash. 

Hanford's Jared Little scored his second heat race win of the year by claiming the Competition Suspension Inc. / Keizer Wheels Heat Race #3. Driving the #25 Little Chiropractic / Roche Oil KPC entry, Little was twelfth quick in qualifying and twelfth in the 30-lap main event. With five top-10 finishes, the former Lemoore track champion is currently eighteenth in the series points and twelfth in the 360 Clash.

Bakersfield's Chris Ennis drove to his first King Racing Products Hard Charger Award with an eighth place drive after starting sixteenth. The Ennis crew battled motor problems with the #86 Skarphol Associates / West Olive Welding 777 machine and missed both time trials and their heat race. The team fixed the problem in time for the feature and Chris made the best of the opportunity. Ennis has one heat race win and seven top-10 finishes in the 2010 campaign.

The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series would like to thank Southwest Contractors, Hoosier Tire, Amsoil, BR Motorsports, Competition Suspension, Cory Kruseman's Sprint Car & Midget Driving School, Crow Enterprizes, DJ Safety, Extreme Mufflers, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Hinchman-Indy Racing Uniforms, Integra Shocks, Kaeding Performance, Keizer Wheels, King Racing Products, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Port City Racing, Saferacer.com, Saldana Racing Products, and Sander Engineering for their support.

Round 18 for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be Saturday, September 11th, at Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway in Hanford, California. Located on the Kings County Fairgrounds, the "Jim Turner Memorial" is also the last round of the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash. The event will also showcase the IMCA Stocks and Bud Light Mini-Stocks. The Front Gates will open at 5:30pm, Qualifying is scheduled for 6:30pm, with Racing to follow. For event information, please visit www.giantchevroletspeedway.com or call (559) 584-RACE (7223).

For more information on the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, please visit westcoastsprintcars.com, usacracing.com, racesantamariaspeedway.com, or follow the series on facebook. 

Santa Maria Speedway - Santa Maria, California
August 28, 2010 - Race #17 - “Ron Otto Memorial / Southwest Contractors 360 Clash”

1. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-14.222; 2. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-14.289; 3. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-14.454; 4. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-14.474; 5. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-14.484; 6. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-14.553; 7. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-14.558; 8. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-14.605; 9. Bill Jones, 16J, Jones-14.620; 10. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter-14.685; 11. Koen Shaw, 88K, Shaw-14.698; 12. Jared Little, 25, Little-14.715; 13. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-14.837; 14. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-14.936; 15. Trent Carter, 71R, Eames-15.478; 16. Michael Steele, 29S, Steele-20.255; 17. Jason Swaim, 52, Swaim-NT, 18. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-NT.

1. Danny Faria Jr., 2. Geoffrey Strole, 3. Craig Stidham, 4. Richard VanderWeerd, 5. Ricky Kirkbride. NT

1. Jace VanderWeerd, 2. Rusty Carlile, 3. Davey Pombo, 4. Wes Gutierrez, 5. Koen Shaw. NT.

1. Jared Little, 2. T.J. Smith, 3. Justyne Hamblin, 4. Bill Jones, 5. Trent Carter. NT.

FEATURE: (30 laps - With Starting Positions)
1. T.J. Smith (6th), 2. Danny Faria Jr. (8th), 3. Davey Pombo (7th), 4. Richard VanderWeerd (2nd), 5. Justyne Hamblin (3rd), 6. Wes Gutierrez (1st), 7. Rusty Carlile (4th), 8. Chris Ennis (16th), 9. Craig Stidham (5th), 10. Ricky Kirkbride (13th), 11. Jace VanderWeerd (12th), 12. Jared Little (10th), 13. Koen Shaw (14th), 14. Geoffrey Strole (11th), 15. Trent Carter (15th), 16. Bill Jones (9th). NT.
Laps 1-6 Richard VanderWeerd, Laps 7-30 T.J. Smith.

1. Craig Stidham 1006; 2. Davey Pombo 977; 3. T.J. Smith 887; 4. Justyne Hamblin 792; 5. Danny Faria Jr. 742; 6. Rusty Carlile 697; 7. Peter Murphy 685; 8. Richard VanderWeerd 641; 9. Jace VanderWeerd 601; 10. Chris Ennis 530; 11. Ricky Kirkbride 479; 12. Wes Gutierrez 444; 13. Andy Ferris 406; 14. Geoffrey Strole 400; 15. Jonathan Logan 355; 16. Jesse Mack 340; 17. Koen Shaw 328; 18. Jared Little 308; 19. Jimmy Thompson 269; 20. Danny Sheridan 226.

1. Craig Stidham 185; 2. Davey Pombo 184; 3. Justyne Hamblin 161; 4. T.J. Smith 147; 5. Rusty Carlile 144; 6. Danny Faria Jr. 143; 7. Wes Gutierrez 137; 8. Chris Ennis 115; 9. Ricky Kirkbride 99; 10. Geoffrey Strole 99; 11. Jesse Mack 89; 12. Jared Little 74; 13. Peter Murphy 69; 14. Albert Pombo 59; 15. Richard VanderWeerd 56; 16. Jonathan Logan 54; 17. Andy Ferris 44; 18. Ronnie Case 44; 19. Jace VanderWeerd 39; 20. Adam Frith-Smith 35.

September 11 – Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway – Hanford, California – “Jim Turner Memorial” - “Southwest Contractors 360 Clash”