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By Lance Jennings

SANTA MARIA, CA – JUNE 17, 2014... This Saturday, June 21st, the USAC West Coast Sprint Cars will invade Tulare’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway for the final time in 2014. Promoted by Steve Faria, the ninth point race will also feature the IMCA Modifieds and RaceSaver Wing Sprint Cars. The spectator gates will open at 4:30pm, time trials at 6:30pm, with racing to follow at 7:00pm.

Since March 2010, twenty USAC West Coast Sprint Car races have been held at the Tulare County Fairgrounds. Ryan Bernal of Hollister leads all drivers with six Tulare wins and holds the 1-lap qualifying track record of 15.158, set on October 8, 2011. This season, Rancho Palos Verdes’ Dennis Howell claimed his first series win on March 14th and rain washed out the April 26th date. Bernal has won the last four main events, including the May 17th “Faria Memorial” and the May 31st point race at Tulare.

Markus Niemela of Rauma, Finland sits atop the point standings and has a thirty-four point advantage over the competition. Piloting Keith Ford’s #73 Berry Pack / King Racing Products Spike, Niemela raced to sixth from eleventh at Hanford’s Kings Speedway on June 7th. To date, last season’s USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year has two Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, one heat race victory, eight top-10 finishes, and 12 feature laps led to his credit. Markus will be looking to extend his point lead and score his first series win at Thunderbowl Raceway.

Fresh off last Saturday’s USAC/CRA win at Perris, Yorba Linda’s Matt Mitchell is second in the point standings. Driving his #37 MPD Racing / ART Enterprises Maxim, Mitchell took fourth in the June 7th main event at Hanford. Currently, the former USAC Western Midget Rookie of the Year has two heat race victories, one Competition Suspension Inc. / Rod End Supply Semi-Main win, two Keizer Wheels / Racing Optics Hard Charger Awards, seven top-10 finishes, and two feature laps led in 2014. This Saturday, Matt will have his sights on his first USAC West Coast Sprint Car victory.

Troy Rutherford of Ojai has climbed to third in the West Coast point chase. Racing Steve Watt’s #81 JD Machine Tech / AAA Propane Maxim, Rutherford placed tenth in the Hanford main event. At press time, the 2010 VRA Champion has one feature win, one heat race victory, seven top-10 finishes, and 14 feature laps led on the season. At Thunderbowl Raceway, Troy will be looking to earn the $1,500 payday and claim his third series main event win.

Visalia’s Jace Vander Weerd ranks fourth in the championship point standings. Piloting the family owned #88 Vander Weerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Vander Weerd scored twenty-third at Hanford after an early flip ended his night. Currently, the 2010 USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year has one feature win, two Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, two heat race victories, eight top-10 finishes, and 20 feature laps led. Jace will have his sights on his fifth series win and adding Tulare’s first place trophy to his collection.

After finishing second to Ryan Bernal at Hanford, Richard Vander Weerd of Visalia has climbed to fifth in the point standings. Driving the family owned #10 Vander Weerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Vander Weerd has one feature win, six heat race victories, one Keizer Wheels / Racing Optics Hard Charger Award, seven top-10 finishes, and 16 feature laps led. The 2011 Champion will be looking for his sixteenth career USAC West Coast win on Saturday.

Currently seventeenth in points, Springville’s Garrett Long leads the chase for Rookie of the Year honors. Terra Bella’s Trent Carter, Robert Nuckles of Hanford, and Hanford’s Connor Kassik are also in contention.

Among the other drivers expected to be in action are defending champion “Hollywood” Danny Faria Jr., Nic Faas, Dennis Howell, Austin Liggett, “Shifter” Landon Hurst, Ryan Bernal, Marty Hawkins, Kevin Barnes, “The Wild Child” Chris Ennis, Jeff Sibley, Matt Day, Davey Pombo, Austin Stone, T.J. Smith, and more.

Tulare’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway is located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bardsley and K Streets. Reserved tickets are $15 and General Admission seats are $13. Advance tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the track office at 559.688.0909. For more event information, visit the track’s website at www.tularethunderbowl.com.

The USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series thanks Amsoil, Hoosier Tire, Chris Kearns Presents, Competition Suspension Inc., Deist Safety, Engler Machine & Tool, Extreme Mufflers, Five Star Grafix, Keizer Wheels, Pyrotect Racing Cells, Racing Optics, Rod End Supply, Rugged Radios, Saldana Racing Products, SouthWest Contractors, VanLare Steering Repair, Weld Racing, and Woodland Auto Display for their support. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, email PR Director Lance Jennings at [email protected].

For more information, visit westcoastsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, follow the series on Facebook (www.facebook.com/#!/pages/USAC-West-Coast-Sprint-Car-Series/369549755817), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/USACwc360).
6-Ryan Bernal, 4-Bud Kaeding, 3-Richard Vander Weerd, 2-Kyle Larson, 2-Craig Stidham, 1-Dean Alexander, 1-Dennis Howell, 1-Peter Murphy.

1. Markus Niemela-452, 2. Matt Mitchell-418, 3. Troy Rutherford-388, 4. Jace Vander Weerd-379, 5. Richard Vander Weerd-361, 6. Danny Faria Jr.-360, 7. Nic Faas-342, 8. Dennis Howell-339, 9. Austin Liggett-322, 10. Landon Hurst-297, 11. Ryan Bernal-283, 12. Marty Hawkins-207, 13. Kevin Barnes-180, Bud Kaeding-180, 15. Chris Ennis-154, 16. Jeff Sibley-133, 17. Garrett Long-121, 18. D.J. Johnson-98, 19. Matt Day-92, 20. Trent Carter-90, ---. Davey Pombo-90.

June 21: Thunderbowl Raceway - Tulare, CA
July 19: Kings Speedway - Hanford, CA
August 2: #Kings Speedway - Hanford, CA (Billet Cup / $2,500-to-Win)
August 8: #Ocean Speedway - Watsonville, CA
August 9: #Chowchilla Speedway - Chowchilla, CA
September 27: *Canyon Speedway Park - Peoria, AZ (Brawl For It All / $2,500-to-Win / Grudge Series / Non-Points)
October 11: Kings Speedway - Hanford, CA (Cotton Classic / Non-Points)
November 6: *Perris Auto Speedway - Perris, CA (Oval Nationals / $2,500-to-Win / Grudge Series)
November 20: *Canyon Speedway Park - Peoria, AZ (Western World Championships / Non-Points)
November 21: *Canyon Speedway Park - Peoria, AZ (Western World Championships / Non-Points)
November 22: *Canyon Speedway Park - Peoria, AZ (Western World Championships / $7,500-to-Win / Non-Points)
* = Co-Sanctioned Event with USAC Southwest Sprints.
# = Co-Sanctioned Event with USAC Western Classic Sprints.
This schedule is subject to change.