KENNEDY: California Coast
LOS ANGELES — The 18th annual Budweiser Oval Nationals presented by All Coast Construction ran three nights through Nov. 2.
The all-360 powered sprint car Thursday event pitted USAC West Coast Series against USAC Southwest Series competitors in round three of the second annual Grudge Series.
The Perris Auto Speedway series finale paid $300 to start and $2,500 to win for a 30-lap feature. A 35-car field of 360s competed. Drivers came from three states —California (25), Arizona (8) and Indiana (2). The main event saw four lead changes among three leaders — Richard Vander Weerd, Mike Spencer and Bryan Clauson in Mike Martin’s second car from Arizona.
Five-time USAC-CRA champion Spencer won in Mark Priestley’s No. 7. Matt Mitchell and 2012 Grudge Series champion Ryan Bernal finished second and third. Brody Roa earned the hard charger award after starting 21st in a 22-car field and finishing fourth with 17 cars still racing.
Entering the PAS finale, Arizonans Shon Deskins and Charles Davis Jr. held the top two Grudge Series point positions with Spencer third. Deskins and Davis did not finish the PAS feature and Spencer earned the title.
Oval Nationals 410 sprint cars raced Nov. 1-2. The purse topped $73,000. It paid $700 to start and $15,000 to win Saturday’s 40-lap feature. A 53-car field raced and drivers came from seven states — California (33), Indiana (11), Arizona (five) and one each from North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Nic Faas won Friday’s 30-lap main and $5,000.
Damion Gardner won his second USAC-CRA 410 championship and Clauson captured his second consecutive AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series title. Seven 360 sprints were in the 53-car field Friday and Saturday. The top four 360s each night earned bonus money from Mike Grosswendt’s All Coast Construction. Jake Swanson was the top finishing 360 driver both nights.
Dave Darland, 47, won his third Oval Nationals eagle trophy by leading all 40 laps of Saturday’s finale. He drove the DRC/Foxco No. 71p owned by Steve and Carla Phillips. It was the team’s seventh win of the season and Darland’s 47th career USAC National Sprint Car Series triumph, second only to the 52 won by Tom Bigelow.
Clauson was a closing runner-up, 0.106 back in Tony Stewart’s No. 20. Spencer placed third in his usual 410 ride — Ron Chaffin’s No. 50 Maxim/Shaver.
The 15th annual Fred Ercse Classic slick kart race to benefit the American Heart Ass’n will be held Nov. 26. It honors the late father of USAC midget/sprint car driver J. J. Ercse. A 7 p.m. sign-up with a $25 entry fee will be held on race night for a maximum of 60 entrants. Racing starts at 8 p.m. at Go Kart World, 21830 Recreation Rd. in Carson, Calif.
A Nov. 17 press release from Trophy Cup organizer Dave Pusateri, of San Jose, proclaimed $135,000 as the 2013 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation the annual three-night sprint car event. The site was the third-mile clay Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare. Pusateri said the 20-year total donation from the Trophy Cup to Make-A-Wish is $940,000.
On Nov. 19 USAC and Perris Auto Speedway released the entry list for the 73rd running of the Thanksgiving Night Midget Grand Prix. It shows 60 entrees. The granddaddy of midget racing classics started in 1934 and will be held for the second consecutive year on the PAS half-mile clay.
A Wednesday night practice session will have the grandstands open to the public free of charge.
Irwindale Speedway completed its 14th racing season Nov. 2. The 2013 track champions were Rip Michels (super late model), Ryan Partridge (late model), Zack Green (super stock), Robby Hornsby (mini stock), Darren Amidon (Legends), Darren Cheek (trucks), Ricky Lewis (Bandolero) and Rod Proctor (Figure-8).
The touring Southwest Truck Series title went to Neil Conrad, who set five fast times and won all five Irwindale features en route to his first series title.