2006 Western Banquet notes

PARNELLI JONES ACCEPTS "McCLUSKEY" AWARD AS USAC TOASTS 2006 WESTERN CHAMPIONS Indianapolis 500 Champion Parnelli Jones, who captured the 1963 classic and earned USAC Indy Car, Stock Car and Sprint Car championships during his...

PARNELLI JONES ACCEPTS "McCLUSKEY" AWARD AS USAC TOASTS 2006 WESTERN CHAMPIONS

Indianapolis 500 Champion Parnelli Jones, who captured the 1963 classic and earned USAC Indy Car, Stock Car and Sprint Car championships during his legendary career, was formally presented USAC's prestigious "Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence" Saturday night at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Arcadia, Calif. The occasion was USAC's Western Awards Banquet, saluting racing accomplishments from the 2006 racing season, USAC's busiest ever.

USAC's Western champions, as well as many other West Coast drivers, crewmembers and officials, were honored during the ceremonies, emceed by nationally renowned broadcaster and announcer Pat Sullivan, USAC President/CEO Rollie Helmling also attended and addressed the audience, then presented the McCluskey Award to Jones.

Tony Hunt, Cory Kruseman, Jerome Rodela, Michael Faccinto, Tim Skoglund, Bobby Michnowicz and Jimmy Wysong were acknowledged for their driving championships, closing out the 2006 season.

Hunt, of Lincoln, Calif., topped the Western Sprint standings, winning seven of 14 feature events to earn his fifth USAC driving championship, third in the Western Sprint Car series. Hunt's crew chief, Kerry Fasig, was also awarded the Lincoln Electric Western Mechanical achievement award, while his car owner, Alan Kaiser of Vallejo, Calif., earned the Western Sprint car owner's championship.

Kruseman, of Ventura, Calif., captured his first USAC driving title in the CRA Sprint Car series, outduelling defending series champion Damion Gardner and posting 16 podium finishes. Kruseman's car owner, Glenn Crossno of Alta Loma, Calif., claimed the series car owner title.

Rodela, of El Monte, Calif., repeated as the Western Midget Champion, scoring 11 "top-five" finishes. The car owner title, however, went to Bret Barber of Morgan Hill, Calif., whose driver, Chase Barber, finished second in the final driver points.

Skoglund, of Fresno, Calif., and Michnowicz, of Torrance, Calif., won the Pavement and Dirt Ford Focus Midget championships respectively. The car owner champions were Western Speed Racing of Fresno (Pavement) and Howard Veach of Livermore, Calif. (Dirt). Michael Faccinto of Hanford, Calif. and Gary Scelzi Racing of Fresno were also saluted for their National Ford Focus Championship.

The Salt Lake City, Utah driver Wysong, who was honored for his Rocky Mountain Sprint Car Series championship during that series' recent banquet, began the 2006 season with four straight victories and sailed to the series title for the second straight year. Wysong also earned the series car owner's title.

Drivers awarded Rookie of the Year honors included Blake Miller of Yorba Linda, Calif. (CRA Sprints), Bradley Galedrige of Los Altos, Calif. (Western Sprints), Chase Barber of Morgan Hill, Calif. (Western Midgets) and Skoglund and Faccinto (who shared the Ford Focus). Earning most "Most Improved Driver" awards were Johnny Rodriguez of Elk Grove, Calif. (CRA Sprints), Bryan Warf of Meridian, Idaho (Western Sprints), Shannon McQueen of Bakersfield, Calif. (Western Midgets) and Jenna Frazier of Fairfield, Calif. (Ford Focus).

Jack Engstrom of Long Beach, accepted the Walt Johnson Memorial Achievement Award from Pat Johnson, recognizing Jack's valued volunteer assistance at numerous USAC racing events during the 2006 racing season.

Drivers earning Earl's Fast Qualifier Championships in 2006 were also recognized and they included Faccinto (Ford Focus), Ryan Kaplan of Chico, Calif. (Western Midgets), Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif. (CRA Sprints) and Hunt (Western Sprints).

Josh Lakatos was the surprise recipient of the "Joe Lynch Memorial Award," which was presented this year by Jerome Rodela. This year's "Curly Merrill Lets Go Racing Award went to longtime USAC Official Bob Pool.

Drivers earning "Most Popular Driver Awards" based on an open internet survey conducted during 2006, included Danny Sheridan of Santa Maria, Calif. (CRA Sprints) and Matt DeMartini of Antioch, Calif. (USAC Western).

Altamont Motorsports Park in Tracy, Calif. was awarded the Promoter of the Year for the Western States.

USAC's prestigious Eddie Edenburn Award, presented at the USAC National Awards Banquet Jan. 19 in Indianapolis, was re-presented to USAC VP/Western Operations Tommy Hunt.

Marvin Mitchell accepted a special persistence award for his continuing support of USAC's Western Sprint Car Series as a driver and car owner.

USAC's Western Officials all received special certificates from USAC Western Chief Steward Bob Pool.

Every other Top-10 finisher in CRA, Western Sprints and Midgets and California Ford Focus Pavement and Dirt Series driver and owner points were also given the opportunities to thank their crews and sponsors.

A special addresses was also delivered by USAC Vice President/Communications Director Dick Jordan.

-credit: --USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Parnelli Jones , Cory Kruseman , Johnny Rodriguez , Josh Lakatos , Ryan Kaplan , Jordan Dick , Damion Gardner , Tony Hunt , Shannon McQueen , Danny Sheridan , Bobby Michnowicz