Lakewood, Calif.-- May 20, 2007 -- This Sunday evening will mark the first-ever appearance of the Lucas Oil USAC/CRA sprint car series to the Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. Even though this is the first-time the...
Lakewood, Calif.-- May 20, 2007 -- This Sunday evening will mark the first-ever appearance of the Lucas Oil USAC/CRA sprint car series to the Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif.
Even though this is the first-time the USAC/CRA sprinters have visited the Thunderbowl, 410 c.i. non-wing sprint cars are no stranger to the 1/3 mile Tulare dirt. Since 1998, the "Wingless Warriors" of the West have had 13 events at the Thunderbowl.
Defending USAC/CRA Champion Cory Kruseman of Ventura, Calif., and Rickie Gaunt of Torrance, Calif., each have three Tulare wins to lead all drivers. Kruseman has the distinction earning his wins with three different car owners, Harlan Willis, Mark Alexander and Cory Witherill, who drove in the 2001 Indianapolis 500.
Two of Gaunt's wins came in 2004 driving for Tony Smiley. The other came in 2000 driving for Jack Gardner, Jr. This season, Gaunt currently sits fourth in USAC/CRA points driving for Nadine Gardner.
In addition to his victory with Kruseman, Alexander co-owned a car with Brad Geurin that Mike Kirby drove to Thunderbowl glory in 2001. Alexander's car enters the weekend leading the USAC/CRA points chase with driver Tony Jones of Norco, Calif., on board.
With two wins on the year, Jones currently holds an 82-point advantage over Temecula, California's Mike Spencer, who is one of nine drivers to have posted a single victory this season through 13 events. Spencer drives for car owner Ron Chaffin who resides in nearby Madera, Calif. As a car owner, Chaffin has been to the Thunderbowl's victory lane three times, twice with the now retired Richard Griffin and once with 2005 USAC/CRA Champion Damion Gardner.
Another former Tulare winner is 51 year-old Rip Williams of Yorba Linda, Calif. During a career that spans four decades, "The Ripper" has registered 100 sanctioned 410 c.i. sprint car wins, two of which have come at the Thunderbowl Raceway. Still looking for his first win of 2007, Williams is sixth in series points behind Marion, Indiana's Scott Weir.
Taking over the reins of the car that won the 2006 USAC/CRA title, Weir has driven Glenn Crossno's car to two wins this season, and is the only driver other than Jones to have multiple feature wins in 2007.
Fresh off a runner-up finish at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., Santa Maria, California's Danny Sheridan is enjoying one of the best seasons of his sprint car career. Currently third in series points (170 behind Jones), Sheridan scored an exciting win last month at the Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway.
Earlier in the year, 2005 USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year R.J. Johnson won his first series race at Perris, joining Garrett Hansen, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Weir on the list of first-time USAC/CRA winners. Other drivers to have won USAC/CRA features this season include: Kruseman, Charles Davis, Jr., Darren Hagen, Jeremy Sherman and 2006 USAC National Sprint Champion Josh Wise.