SMITH WINS HANFORD'S JIM TURNER MEMORIAL
By Lance Jennings
HANFORD, CA – SEPTEMBER 14, 2010… Fresno's T.J. Smith continued his hot streak with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series by adding the Jim Turner Memorial to his resume. The 30-lap feature win at Hanford's Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway was Smith's fourth victory in the last five main events.
The Turner Memorial also featured a tight point battle for the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash. With $2500 in prize money to be awarded to the champion, Craig Stidham held a one point lead over Davey Pombo. Stidham gained six points by setting fast time over the nineteen car field as Pombo suffered a mechanical failure. Pombo's team made repairs for heat race action as Craig continued to extend his lead. The championship for the 360 Clash came down to the night's main event where Stidham started eighth and Pombo was scheduled to start dead last in nineteenth.
Wes Gutierrez shared the front row of the main event with hometown favorite Jared Little. As the field took the green flag, Gutierrez got out of shape as Little streaked to the lead in his #25 Little Chiropractic / Roche Oil KPC entry. Before the first lap was completed, a yellow flag was brought out for "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. who spun to a stop at the north end of the track. Faria's machine had a power steering failure and the veteran driver was done for the night.
Facing a complete restart, Gutierrez took advantage of the opportunity and battled had with Little for the lead. As both drivers looked for their first win of the 2010 season, Wes took command in his #007 WG Motorsports / California Graphics DRC, followed by Little, Peter Murphy, T.J. Smith, and Justyne Hamblin. Murphy and Smith soon dropped Little to fourth as they gave chase after Gutierrez. Within a few laps, the trio of drivers were in tight formation as they ran away from the field.
On lap eleven, Murphy shot for the lead with a turn three slide job past Gutierrez on the Hanford clay oval. Peter's #11 Buster & Ziggy / Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino Maxim jumped the cushion and while recovering, contact was made with T.J. Smith, who had nowhere to go. Suffering damage, Murphy slowed to a stop and brought out a yellow flag. With the caution light still displayed, point leader Craig Stidham came to a rest. The Buster & Ziggy crew made repairs to Murphy's machine, allowing the Australian native to rejoin the field and battle back to eighth. Stidham's night was over and the point leader was credited with a fifteenth place finish.
As action resumed, Gutierrez picked up the lead but was now faced with heavy pressure from Smith as Little, Hamblin, Ricky Kirkbride and Richard VanderWeerd followed. Nine laps later, Jace VanderWeerd flipped his mount in turn two, bringing out a red flag. Jace was uninjured and was scored fourteenth.
A couple of laps later, Smith powered to the lead with a turn one pass on Gutierrez. Wes tried to battle back, but Smith's #14 UHL Rubber / K&N Filters Maxim was too strong on this night. Leading the rest of the way, Smith took the Jim Turner Memorial victory, followed by Wes Gutierrez, Jared Little, Justyne Hamblin, and Richard VanderWeerd. Davey Pombo charged to a sixth place finish and officials double checked the points for the 360 Clash title.
Now tied with Craig Stidham for most victories on the season with four main event wins, T.J. Smith has been on a roll since July 24th. Smith timed in third quick in qualifications and finished third in his heat race. Sitting third in the overall points, the Bud Stanfield Memorial winner has three fast time awards, three heat race wins, and fifteen top-10 finishes in 2010. The former Plaza Park track champion finished fourth in the 360 Clash standings.
After leading the first twenty-one laps of the main event, "Wide Open" Wes Gutierrez of San Martin recorded his best finish of the year with a second place run. Earlier in the program, Gutierrez was ninth quick in time trials and second in his heat race to Garrett Ishii. The Bandit Sprint feature winner has five top-10 main event finishes on the season and is currently twelfth in the point chase. In the 360 Clash mini-series, Gutierrez finished fifth.
Hanford's Jared Little battled hard to score a third place finish and record his best performance of the season. The former Lemoore Raceway champion was eighth quick in time trials and claimed the BR Motorsports / Saldana Racing Products Heat Race #2 victory. Little is currently sixteenth in the overall point standings with three heat race wins and six top-10 finishes on the year. Jared finished eighth in the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash.
Justyne Hamblin of Hanford drove to a fourth place finish on the night in the #8 JH Motorsports / Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino Speed Tech. Hamblin was fifth quick in time trials and finished second in her heat race to Jared Little. The June 5th Hanford winner is fourth in the overall point standings with three heat race wins, thirteen top-10 finishes, and three hard charger awards on the season. Justyne finished second in the 360 Clash, pocketing $1500 for her efforts.
Richard VanderWeerd of Visalia had a fifth place performance in the feature after starting ninth. Driving the #10 VanderWeerd Construction / Mid Valley Pipe & Supply Maxim, Richard was eleventh quick in time trials and fourth in his heat race. VanderWeerd is currently eighth in the overall point chase with one fast time award, two heat race wins, twelve top-10 finishes, one hard charger award, and one semi-main victory on the year. In the 360 Clash standings, VanderWeerd finished thirteenth.
Driving the #3S Brad Johnson Trucking / KRC Safety Maxim, Fresno's Craig Stidham earned his second Sander Engineering Fast Time Award of the season and was fourth in his heat race. Unfortunately, the former Trophy Cup champion dropped out early with mechanical problems and scored a fifteenth place finish. As officials tallied the points, Craig finished third in the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash and earned $1000. To date, Stidham has four feature victories, eight heat race wins, sixteen top-10 finishes, one hard charger award, and maintains a fifteen point lead over Davey Pombo.
Tipton's "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. won his eighth heat race of the year in the #17V Louie De Groot & Sons Dairy / Borges Farms Maxim. After qualifying thirteenth in time trials, Faria won the 10-lap Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. The March 13th Hanford winner had problems in the main event and dropped out early, scoring an eighteenth place finish. Danny sits fifth in the point standings with six fast time awards, eight top-10 finishes, and one hard charger award. Faria finished sixth in the Southwest Contractors 360 Clash.
"The Central Valley Samurai" Garrett Ishii of Caruthers made his first start with the USAC West Coast 360s since April 3rd at Tulare. Driving the #71G Ishii Racing / MKI Designs Maxim, Garrett was fifteenth in time trials and won the 10-lap Competition Suspension Inc. / Keizer Wheels Heat Race #3. The former Rebel Cup feature winner was ninth in the main event and sits twenty-third in the point standings. To date, Ishii has four top-10 finishes on the year and tied for twentieth in the 360 Clash.
Kerman's Davey Pombo drove to his second King Racing Products / Kirkey Racing Fabrication Hard Charger Award with a sixth place run after starting nineteenth. Piloting the #3 Junior Bowman / Buster & Ziggy Bullet, Pombo broke in time trials and was sixth in his heat race. The former Bandit Sprint champion won the 360 Clash championship and is second in the point chase. To date, Pombo has two feature victories, three fast time awards, four heat race wins, and seventeen top-10 finishes on the season.
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 19 for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be this Saturday, September 18th, at the Santa Maria Speedway. Located at 1900 Hutton Road in Nipomo, California, the speedway will also host the West Coast Street Stocks, MMI Hobby Stocks, and Toste Mini-Stocks. The Front Gates will open at 4:00pm, 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 or call (805) 922-2232.
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.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE RESULTS:
Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway - Hanford, California
September 11, 2010 - Race #18 - “Jim Turner Memorial / Southwest Contractors 360 Clash Finale”
SANDER ENGINEERING TIME TRIALS:
1. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-16.044; 2. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-16.214; 3. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-16.428; 4. Ricky Kirkbride, 87, Van Meter-16.480; 5. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-16.572; 6. Dave Knott, 28, Knott-16.579; 7. Peter Murphy, 11, Bowman-16.602; 8. Jared Little, 25, Little-16.649; 9. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-16.686; 10. Jeff Gardner, 51T, Revcon-16.725; 11. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-16.734; 12. Jonathan Logan, 32, Evett/Logan-16.804; 13. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Faria-16.831; 14. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-17.136; 15. Garrett Ishii, 71G, Ishii-17.180; 16. Rick Eberhardt, 4, Eberhardt-17.728; 17. Ray Knight, 99K, Knight-18.726; 18. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-20.982; 19. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-NT.
EXTREME MUFFLERS HEAT RACE 1: (10 laps)
1. Danny Faria Jr., 2. Peter Murphy, 3. Ricky Kirkbride, 4. Craig Stidham, 5. Jeff Gardner, 6. Davey Pombo, 7. Rick Eberhardt. NT.
BR MOTORSPORTS / SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS HEAT RACE 2: (10 laps)
1. Jared Little, 2. Justyne Hamblin, 3. Jace VanderWeerd, 4. Richard VanderWeerd, 5. Ray Knight. NT.
COMPETITION SUSPENSION INC. / KEIZER WHEELS HEAT RACE 3: (10 laps)
1. Garrett Ishii, 2. Wes Gutierrez, 3. T.J. Smith, 4. Geoffrey Strole, 5. Dave Knott. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps - With Starting Positions)
1. T.J. Smith (6th), 2. Wes Gutierrez (1st), 3. Jared Little (2nd), 4. Justyne Hamblin (4th), 5. Richard VanderWeerd (9th), 6. Davey Pombo (19th), 7. Jeff Gardner (14th), 8. Peter Murphy (3rd), 9. Garrett Ishii (11th), 10. Jonathan Logan (15th), 11. Dave Knott (13th), 12. Geoffrey Strole (12th), 13. Ricky Kirkbride (5th), 14. Jace VanderWeerd (7th), 15. Craig Stidham (8th), 16. Rick Eberhardt (17th), 17. Ray Knight (18th), 18. Danny Faria Jr. (10th) NT.
**Jace VanderWeerd flipped during the feature.
**Chris Ennis was slated to start 16th, but did not start.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS:
Laps 1-21 Wes Gutierrez, Laps 22-30 T.J. Smith.
KING RACING PRODUCTS / KIRKEY RACING FABRICATION HARD CHARGER:
Davey Pombo (19th to 6th)
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS:
1. Craig Stidham 1040; 2. Davey Pombo 1025; 3. T.J. Smith 957; 4. Justyne Hamblin 852; 5. Danny Faria Jr. 767; 6. Peter Murphy 731; 7. Rusty Carlile 697; 8. Richard VanderWeerd 694; 9. Jace VanderWeerd 637; 10. Chris Ennis 530; 11. Ricky Kirkbride 515; 12. Wes Gutierrez 508; 13. Geoffrey Strole 434; 14. Andy Ferris 404; 15. Jonathan Logan 388; 16. Jared Little 370; 17. Jesse Mack 340; 18. Koen Shaw 328; 19. Jimmy Thompson 270; 20. Danny Sheridan 226.
FINAL SOUTHWEST CONTRACTORS 360 CLASH POINT STANDINGS:
1. Davey Pombo 232; 2. Justyne Hamblin 221; 3. Craig Stidham 219; 4. T.J. Smith 217; 5. Wes Gutierrez 201; 6. Danny Faria Jr. 168; 7. Rusty Carlile 144; 8. Jared Little 136; 9. Ricky Kirkbride 135; 10. Geoffrey Strole 133; 11. Peter Murphy 117; 12. Chris Ennis 115; 13. Richard VanderWeerd 109; 14. Jesse Mack 89; 15. Jonathan Logan 87; 16. Jace VanderWeerd 75; 17. Dave Knott 70; 18. Albert Pombo 59; 19. Jeff Gardner 46; 20. Andy Ferris 44; Ronnie Case 44; Garrett Ishii 44.
NEXT USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE:
September 18 – Santa Maria Speedway – Santa Maria, California