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By Lance Jennings

TULARE, CA – JUNE 23, 2014... Taking the lead from polesitter Matt Mitchell on lap 12, Ryan Bernal of Hollister powered to his fifth consecutive USAC West Coast Sprint Car win. For Bernal, the $1,500 triumph at Tulare’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway was series leading nineteenth victory. Mitchell, Richard Vander Weerd, Dennis Howell, and Troy Rutherford followed Ryan to the checkered flags.

Looking for his first West Coast win, Matt Mitchell took command at the drop of starter Willie Williams’ green flag. Howell and point leader Markus Niemela gave chase, but the USAC/CRA standout extended his advantage. As most of the competitors chose Tulare’s bottom groove, the sixth starting Bernal favored the high line and gained extra momentum off the cushion. Ryan soon made his way to the front and pressured Mitchell for the top spot on the ninth circuit. Continuing the attack the cushion, Bernal took the lead on lap twelve and raced away from the competition. Slicing through slower traffic at will and getting an excellent restart after a caution, Bernal earned his seventh Tulare win.

Racing the Mike Phulps owned #56 Core Power / Metal Works ART, Ryan Bernal claimed his third Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award of the campaign. After besting the 18 racers in the pit area, the defending USAC Western Classic Champion ran third in his heat race and qualified for the six-car inversion in the main event. Ryan left Thunderbowl Raceway ranked ninth in points with five main event wins, two heat race victories, eight top-10 finishes and 100 feature laps to his credit.

After leading the first eleven laps, Yorba Linda’s Matt Mitchell ran a strong second at Tulare. Piloting his #37 MPD Racing / ART Enterprises Maxim, Mitchell qualified seventh overall and won the 10-lap Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. The 2-time USAC/CRA “Salute to Indy” winner is second in the point chase and has sliced into Markus Niemela’s advantage. To date, Matt has three heat race victories, one Competition Suspension Inc. / Rod End Supply Semi-main win, two Keizer Wheels / Racing Optics Hard Charger Awards, eight top-10 finishes, and 13 feature laps led.

Richard Vander Weerd of Visalia had a late charge from seventh to score third at Thunderbowl Raceway. Driving the family owned #10 Vander Weerd Construction / Battery Worx Maxim, Vander Weerd was third quick in time trials, placed fifth in his heat race, and missed the feature inversion. The 2011 Champion sits fifth in the championship points with one feature win, six heat race victories, one Keizer Wheels / Racing Optics Hard Charger Award, eight top-10 finishes, and 16 feature laps led on the year.

Rancho Palos Verdes’ Dennis Howell raced hard to claim fifth in the 30-lap feature. Piloting the family owned #62 San Pedro Auto Body / Howell-Meyer Racing Maxim, Howell qualified sixth overall and won the Deist Safety Heat Race #2. Climbing to sixth in the point standings, Dennis has one feature win, three heat race victories, six top-10 finishes, and 30 feature laps led in 2014.

Troy Rutherford of Ojai battled to claim fifth in the Tulare main event. Racing Steve Watt’s #81 JD Machine Tech / AAA Propane Maxim, Rutherford was fourth fast in time trials and placed fourth in his heat race. The 2010 VRA Champion sits third in the standings with one heat race victory, eight top-10 finishes, and 14 feature laps led in the campaign.

Subbing for “Shifter” Landon Hurst, Laton’s Heath Duinkerken earned his first Keizer Wheels / Racing Optics “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors with an eleventh place run from seventeenth. Driving John Hurst’s #179 Kings River Commodities / Duinkerken Farms Maxim, Heath qualified twelfth overall and scored eight in his heat race. Making his first West Coast start, the winged 360 racer is forty-fourth in the point standings.

With Hanford’s Kings Speedway closing, USAC’s Chris Kearns is looking for other venues to host the “Jim Evett Memorial” and “3rd Annual Billet Cup.” Watsonville’s Ocean Speedway will host a USAC Western Classic co-sanctioned event on August 8th and both groups will battle the following night at Chowchilla. Watsonville has a strict 90db at 100 feet state mandated sound rule and the Flowmaster “Suitcase” (Part 53545-USAC) is the track legal muffler.

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). Mike Truex's Loudpedal Productions has DVDs available for purchase that feature the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series. For more information, call 805.407.7229 or visit www.loudpedalvideo.com.
June 21, 2014 – Tulare, California – Thunderbowl Raceway

1. Ryan Bernal, 56, Phulps-15.344; 2. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-15.415; 3. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-15.479; 4. Troy Rutherford, 81, Watt-15.592; 5. Markus Niemela, 73, Ford-15.676; 6. Dennis Howell, 62, Howell-15.736; 7. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-15.802; 8. Austin Liggett, 83, Liggett-15.970; 9. Austin Stone, 29X, Coffman-16.048; 10. Kevin Barnes, 36B, Barnes-16.229; 11. T.J. Smith, 87, Van Meter-16.273; 12. Heath Duinkerken, 179, Hurst-16.325; 13. Garrett Long, 38, Long-16.394; 14. Trent Carter, 13, Carter-16.477; 15. Johnny White, 51, Carlile-16.775; 16. Jonathan Logan, 32, Evett/Logan-16.958; 17. Matt Day, 97, Day-17.339; 18. Terry Nichols, 33, Nichols-NT.

1. Matt Mitchell, 2. Markus Niemela, 3. Ryan Bernal, 4. T.J. Smith, 5. Richard Vander Weerd, 6. Austin Stone, 7. Garrett Long, 8. Johnny White, 9. Matt Day. NT

1. Dennis Howell, 2. Jace Vander Weerd, 3. Austin Liggett, 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Jonathan Logan, 6. Trent Carter, 7. Kevin Barnes, 8. Heath Duinkerken. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Ryan Bernal (6th), 2. Matt Mitchell (1st), 3. Richard Vander Weerd (7th), 4. Dennis Howell (2nd), 5. Troy Rutherford (4th), 6. Jace Vander Weerd (5th), 7. Austin Liggett (8th), 8. Markus Niemela (3rd), 9. Austin Stone (9th), 10. T.J. Smith (11th), 11. Heath Duinkerken (17th), 12. Garrett Long (12th), 13. Trent Carter (13th), 14. Kevin Barnes (10th), 15. Matt Day (16th), 16. Johnny White (14th), 17. Jonathan Logan (15th). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 Matt Mitchell, Laps 12-30 Ryan Bernal.
KEIZER WHEELS / RACING OPTICS HARD CHARGER: Heath Duinkerken (17th to 11th)

1. Markus Niemela-500, 2. Matt Mitchell-483, 3. Troy Rutherford-444, 4. Jace Vander Weerd-436, 5. Richard Vander Weerd-423, 6. Dennis Howell-399, 7. Austin Liggett-370, 8. Danny Faria Jr.-360, 9. Ryan Bernal-355, 10. Nic Faas-342, 11. Landon Hurst-297, 12. Kevin Barnes-207, ---. Marty Hawkins-207, 14. Bud Kaeding-180, 15. Chris Ennis-154, 16. Garrett Long-152, 17. Jeff Sibley-133, 18. Trent Carter-120, 19. Matt Day-115, 20. Austin Stone-112.

July 19: TBA (Jim Evett Memorial)
August 2: #TBA (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: TBA (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.