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By Lance Jennings

PEORIA, AZ – JANUARY 25, 2015... In one of the closest finishes in the history of Canyon Speedway Park, Ryan Bernal of Hollister, California emerged victorious in Saturday’s “Winter Challenge” main event. Charging from the tenth staring spot, Bernal powered to a photo finish with “The People’s Champion” Dave Darland at the checkered flags. With transponders registering a .005 victory for Ryan, the $2,000 triumph was his third career USAC SouthWest win. Darland, R.J. Johnson, Brady Bacon, and “Chargin” Charles Davis Jr. rounded out the top-five drivers as the third round of the Winter Challenge continues tonight.

By scoring the dramatic victory, Ryan Bernal took Mike Phulps’ #56 Tri-L Mandarin Racing / Core Power ART to the night’s “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors. Rebounding from a flip the previous night, the 2-time USAC Western Classic Champion ranked tenth in passing points after placing sixth in his heat race. Bernal enters the $4,000-to-win Sunday feature seated fifth in the Winter Challenge standings.

Lincoln, Indiana’s “The People’s Champion” Dave Darland had to settle for second after the photo finish. Piloting Mike Martin’s #16B Ultimate Offroad / Sherwin-Williams Maxim, Darland was second to Martin in his heat race, placing him fifth in passing points. Starting second in the feature, the veteran driver took the top spot from Davis on the fifth circuit and set the pace for twenty-five laps. Heading to tonight’s action, “The People’s Champion” ranks third in the “Winter Challenge.”

R.J. Johnson of Phoenix had another solid evening by scoring third from seventh at Canyon Speedway Park. Driving Bobby Martin’s #51 Weiler Farms / Pecon Builders Maxim, Johnson ran fourth in his heat race, placing the 2-time USAC SouthWest Champion seventh in passing points. Ranked second in the Winter Challenge, the second generation driver will have his sights on the $4,000 payday.

After winning Friday’s mini-series opener, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon took fourth in the Saturday feature. Racing Keith Ford’s #73 Berry Pack / King Racing Products Spike, Bacon won the program’s first 8-lap heat race and was seated third in passing points. The defending USAC National Champion and current Winter Challenge point leader has a three point advantage over Johnson.

“Chargin” Charles Davis Jr. of Buckeye ran fifth in Canyon Speedway Park’s 30-lap feature. Piloting the Massey Motorsports’ #50 RSS Industries / MP Environmental RSS, Davis ran second to Bacon in his heat race and placed fourth in the nightly passing points. The five-time state champion sits fourth in the mini-series points and will have his sights on celebrating the Sunday night triumph.

Yuma’s “The Magic Man” Mike Martin raced to victory over his teammate in the second 8-lap heat race. Driving his #16 Ultimate Offroad / Sherwin-Williams Maxim, Martin was the top ranked driver in passing points before scoring eighth in the main event. The former Hall of Fame Classic Champion is currently sixth in the “Winter Challenge” standings.

The USAC Southwest and West Coast Sprint Cars will return to action tonight, January 25th, at Canyon Speedway in Peoria. Round #3 of the “Winter Challenge” will also feature IMCA Modifieds, Stock Cars, Mini Sprints, and AMA Modlites. Located at 9777 West Carefree Highway, more event information can be found at www.canyonspeedwaypark.com or calling (602) 258-RACE (7223).

The USAC SouthWest Sprint Car Series would like to thank Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Tire, Hose Advantage Store, and the Racers Advantage Store for their support. For more information on the series, visit www.southwestsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, or follow the series on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SouthwestSprintCars).

For more information on the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series, 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).
January 24, 2015 - Peoria, AZ - Canyon Speedway Park - "2015 E&K Winter Challenge"

FIRST HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Brady Bacon (#73 Ford), 2. Charles Davis Jr. (#50 Massey), 3. Dalten Gabbard (#77 Gabbard), 4. Stevie Sussex (#21AZ Burkhart), 5. Jonas Reynolds (#4 Reynolds), 6. David Dykes (#55NM Dykes), 7. Matt Lundy (#98 Lundy). NT

SECOND HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Mike Martin (#16 Martin), 2. Dave Darland (#16B Martin), 3. Rick Ziehl (#74 Williams), 4. R.J. Johnson (#51 Martin), 5. Dennis Gile (#13 Gile), 6. Ryan Bernal (#56 Phulps), 7. Shon Deskins (#20 Deskins). NT

FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Ryan Bernal (10th), 2. Dave Darland (2nd), 3. R.J. Johnson (7th), 4. Brady Bacon (4th), 5. Charles Davis Jr. (3rd), 6. Stevie Sussex (8th), 7. Dalten Gabbard (1st), 8. Mike Martin (6th), 9. Matt Lundy (13th), 10. Jonas Reynolds (9th), 11. David Dykes (12th), 12. Dennis Gile (11th), 13. Rick Ziehl (5th), 14. Shon Deskins (14th). NT
*Ziehl flipped during the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Davis, Laps 5-29 Darland, Lap 30 Bernal.
HARD CHARGER: Ryan Bernal (10th to 1st)

1-Bacon-131, 2-Johnson-128, 3-Darland-126, 4-Davis-115, 5-Bernal-106, 6-Martin-103, 7-Sussex-100, 8-Gabbard-94, 9-Ziehl-85, 10-Dykes-73.

1-$2,000; 2-$1,000; 3-$800; 4-$600; 5-$500; 6-$400; 7-$375; 8-$350; 9-$325; 10-$300; 11-$280; 12-$260; 13-$245; 14-$230; 15-$215; 16-$210; 17-$205; 18-$205; 19-$200; 20-$200.

1-$4,000; 2-$2,000; 3-$800; 4-$1,200; 5-$700; 6-$600; 7-$575; 8-$550; 9-$525; 10-$500; 11-$480; 12-$460; 13-$445; 14-$430; 15-$420; 16-$410; 17-$405; 18-$400; 19-$400; 20-$400.

January 25: Canyon Speedway Park - Peoria, AZ ($4,000-to-Win)
January 29: USA Raceway - Tucson, AZ (Open Practice, 6-9pm)
January 30: USA Raceway - Tucson, AZ ($2,000-to-Win)
January 31: USA Raceway - Tucson, AZ ($4,000-to-Win)
This schedule is subject to change.