WES GUTIERREZ STRIKES AT SANTA MARIA
By Lance Jennings
SANTA MARIA, CA – SEPTEMBER 21, 2010… San Martin's Wes Gutierrez added his name to the winner's list by scoring the 30-lap feature win at Santa Maria Speedway. With the victory, Gutierrez became the eleventh different driver to win in the nineteen events with the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series.
Point leader Craig Stidham of Fresno shared the front row with Bakersfield's "Wild Child" Chris Ennis. At the drop of the green flag, Stidham got the jump but Ennis took to the top groove and powered to the lead coming out of turn two.
Action was halted on lap three as Rusty Carlile slowed, Bill Jones flipped, and Mike Knopf suffered damage to his machine. With the caution light displayed, Geoffrey Strole and Bud Kaeding pulled to the work area for repairs. Jones was uninjured in his flip, but done for the night along with Carlile and Knopf. Strole and Kaeding were able to rejoin the field.
On the restart, the top five were Ennis, Stidham, Wes Gutierrez, Justyne Hamblin, and T.J. Smith. As the field picked up the throttle, ninth place "Hollywood" Danny Faria Jr. slowed his #8M May Motorsports entry with a steering component failure. Faria's night was over and the March 13th Hanford winner recorded a thirteenth place finish.
As action resumed, Ennis was in control but facing heavy pressure by going three wide through turn four with Stidham and Gutierrez. On the next circuit, Gutierrez slipped by Ennis to take command of the feature. As the laps counted down and the coastal fog rolled in, T.J. Smith charged to second. Smith, who was looking for his fifth win in six races pulled right up to leader's rear bumper.
Gutierrez held strong and maintained the lead on the Santa Maria clay oval. Smith suffered a broken jacob's ladder but stayed close until Richard VanderWeerd motored by. VanderWeerd, who started seventh, gave chase after Gutierrez to make a bid for his first win of the year. Richard closed in, but at the checkered flags it was all Gutierrez, followed by VanderWeerd, Smith, Hamblin, Stidham, and Peter Murphy.
Driving the #007 WG Motorsports / Vital Signs DRC, San Martin's Wes Gutierrez was seventh quick in time trials and finished second in his heat race to Chris Ennis. Gutierrez, who finished second the previous week at Hanford, moved up to tenth in the point chase with six top-10 finishes.
Visalia's Richard VanderWeerd recorded his best run of the year with a second place finish. Piloting the #10 VanderWeerd Construction / Mid Valley Pipe & Supply Maxim, Richard was fourth quick in time trials and fifth in his heat race. Currently seventh in the point standings, Richard has one fast time award, two heat race wins and thirteen top-10 finishes on the year.
Fresno's T.J. Smith was looking for his third Santa Maria win in a row. Driving the #14 UHL Rubber / K&N Filters Maxim, Smith was sixth quick in time trials and second in his heat race to Craig Stidham. The Jim Turner Memorial winner is third in the point chase with three fast time awards, three heat race wins, and sixteen top-10 finishes on the season.
Hanford's Justyne Hamblin scored her fourteenth top-10 finish with a fourth place run. Piloting the #8 JH Motorsports / Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino Speed Tech, Hamblin was eighth quick in time trials and fourth in her heat race. The June 5th Hanford winner is fourth in the point standings with three heat race wins and three hard charger awards.
Fresno's Craig Stidham gained some points on Davey Pombo in the hunt for the title after running fifth. Driving the #3S Brad Johnson Trucking / KRC Safety Maxim, Stidham was tenth quick in time trials and won the BR Motorsports / Saldana Racing Products Heat Race #2. The point leader has two fast time awards, four feature victories, nine heat race wins, seventeen top-10 finishes, and one hard charger award.
Kerman's Davey Pombo earned his fourth Sander Engineering Fast Time Award of the season. Piloting the #3 Junior Bowman / Buster & Ziggy Bullet, Pombo was third in his heat race and finished tenth in the main event. The former Bandit Sprint Car champion is twenty-six points behind Stidham heading into the Tulare point finale on October 2nd. To date, Davey has two feature victories, four heat race wins, eighteen top-10 finishes, and two hard charger awards.
Bakersfield's Chris Ennis won the 8-lap Extreme Mufflers / Keizer Wheels Heat Race #1. Driving the #86 Skarphol Associates / West Olive Welding 777 entry, Ennis was ninth quick in time trials and finished ninth in the main event. The Rookie of the Year candidate is eleventh in the point chase with two heat race wins, eight top-10 finishes, and one hard charger award.
Campbell's Bud Kaeding won the King Racing Products Hard Charger Award with an eighth place finish after starting fourteenth. Driving the #2 Junior Bowman / Buster & Ziggy Bullet, Kaeding was fourteenth in time trials and seventh in his heat race. In four appearances, the USAC Silver Crown champion is twenty-fourth in the points, with two feature victories, one heat race win, and three top-10 finishes.
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.
The final point race for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series will be Saturday, October 2nd, at the Groppetti Automotive Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. Located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare, the "Sprinting For The Cure" event is a $2000-to-win, $300-to-start race with proceeds going to Breast Cancer Research. Joining the traditional 360 sprint cars will be the IMCA Modifieds and Vintage Super Modifieds.
The Front Gates will open at 5:00pm, with Time Trials at 6:00pm, and Racing at 7:00pm. Reserved Grandstand Tickets are $25 and Bleacher Tickets are $20. Advance tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the track office at (559) 688-0909.
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 westcoastsprintcars.com, usacracing.com, racesantamariaspeedway.com, or follow the series on facebook.
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE RESULTS:
Santa Maria Speedway - Santa Maria, California
September 18, 2010 - Race #19
SANDER ENGINEERING TIME TRIALS:
1. Davey Pombo, 3, Bowman-13.928; 2. Peter Murphy, 11, Bowman-14.000; 3. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-14.031; 4. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-14.096; 5. Danny Faria Jr., 8M, May-14.103; 6. T.J. Smith, 14, LeGras-14.155; 7. Wes Gutierrez, 007, WG-14.167; 8. Justyne Hamblin, 8, JH-14.195; 9. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-14.248; 10. Craig Stidham, 3S, Stidham-14.305; 11. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carilie-14.325; 12. Jimmy Thompson, 71R, Eames-14.365; 13. Jared Little, 25, Little-14.445; 14. Bud Kaeding, 2, Bowman-14.447; 15. Geoffrey Strole, 09S, Strole-14.498; 16. Bill Jones, 16J, Jones-14.668; 17. Mike Knopf, 5K, Knopf-14.710.
EXTREME MUFFLERS / KEIZER WHEELS HEAT RACE 1: (8 laps)
1. Chris Ennis, 2. Wes Gutierrez, 3. Davey Pombo, 4. Danny Faria Jr., 5. Rusty Carlile, 6. Jace VanderWeerd, 7. Geoffrey Strole, 8. Mike Knopf, 9. Jared Little. NT.
BR MOTORSPORTS / SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS HEAT RACE 2: (8 laps)
1. Craig Stidham, 2. T.J. Smith, 3. Jimmy Thompson, 4. Justyne Hamblin, 5. Richard VanderWeerd, 6. Peter Murphy, 7. Bud Kaeding, 8. Bill Jones. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps - With Starting Positions)
1. Wes Gutierrez (4th), 2. Richard VanderWeerd (7th), 3. T.J. Smith (5th), 4. Justyne Hamblin (3rd), 5. Craig Stidham (1st), 6. Peter Murphy (11th), 7. Jimmy Thompson (10th), 8. Bud Kaeding (14th), 9. Chris Ennis (2nd), 10. Davey Pombo (8th), 11. Jace VanderWeerd (12th), 12. Geoffrey Strole (15th), 13. Danny Faria Jr. (6th), 14. Mike Knopf (17th), 15. Rusty Carlile (9th), 16. Bill Jones (16th). NT.
**Jared Little flipped during the first heat.
**Bill Jones flipped during the feature.
**Jared Little was slated to start 13th in the feature, but did not start.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Chris Ennis, Laps 5-30 Wes Gutierrez.
KING RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Bud Kaeding (14th to 8th)
USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT POINT STANDINGS:
1. Craig Stidham 1096; 2. Davey Pombo 1070; 3. T.J. Smith 1019; 4. Justyne Hamblin 908; 5. Danny Faria Jr. 801; 6. Peter Murphy 784; 7. Richard VanderWeerd 758; 8. Rusty Carlile 724; 9. Jace VanderWeerd 675; 10. Wes Gutierrez 575; 11. Chris Ennis 574; 12. Ricky Kirkbride 515; 13. Geoffrey Strole 463; 14. Andy Ferris 404; 15. Jonathan Logan 388; 16. Jared Little 370; 17. Jesse Mack 340; 18. Koen Shaw 328;
19. Jimmy Thompson 318; 20. Danny Sheridan 226.
NEXT USAC WEST COAST 360 SPRINT RACE:
October 2 – Groppetti Automotive Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, California – “Sprinting For The Cure”