If you're a fan of dirt track racing then you know that the season on this continent is rapidly coming to an end. As October wraps up and the chill of November prepares us for tasty turkey and the fun of Christmas, most sprint car teams have headed West to wrap their season on the left coast.
The USAC Series invaded Perris, California over the weekend for the annually anticipated Budweiser Oval Nationals that brings sprint car's best from the hotbed of the Midwest bullrings to take on the top hotshoes in the CRA. What makes this swing to California and Arizona so intriguing amongst fans is that it's a little like interleague play since many of the West's drivers only head to the Midwest when its Indiana Sprint Week. So these weekends are sort of like a home/away series for sprint cars.
At Perris, some of the Midwest's familiar names that made the trek include USAC regulars like Dave Darland, Tracy Hines, Levi Jones, Jerry Coons Jr. and Cole Whitt, who are all near the top in USAC's sprint standings.
But other talented drivers from the area include Brady Short, Jeff Bland Jr., Hunter Scheurenberg, Chris Windom and Shane Cottle amongst others.
On Nov. 1, Jesse 'the Rocket' Hockett claimed the title at Perris followed by Jerry Coons Jr. and Kevin Swindell. West Coast regulars Bud Kaeding and Darren Hagen were each in the top-10. Some pretty big names were left behind in the alphabet soup as Short, Cottle and Brett Burdette failed to get out of the 'C' Main in the finale.
On Friday night, a robust field of 61 sprinters unloaded at the same track with Jones timing quickest ahead of Coons Jr. and Chad Boat.
In the end, Riverside, CA pilot David Cardey celebrated his birthday in style with no tricks, but plenty of treats. He finished seventh in last year's USAC/CRA sprint points, but undoubtedly, Friday's Oval Nationals Prelinary win was one of his career highlights.
'The Demon' Damion Gardner crossed in second ahead of Coons Jr. and The Rocket with Levi Jones in fifth.
The opening night of the Oval Nationals saw CRA regular Tony Jones score the victory over Blake Miller and Gardner. There was no shortage of drivers who ended up on their head that night as Ricky Williams and Nic Faas toppled in the fourth heat and Darland getting upside down in heat number three. Both Brady Bacon and Dustin Morgan flipped on lap eight of the feature and Chad Boat went over on lap 16.
Coons takes an 89-point lead into Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, AZ for the Western World Championships on Nov. 7-8. Jones is second with 1,201 points followed by Whitt in third with 1,121.
At Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC, the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and Late Models hit the dirt track for some good old fashioned, dirty fun.
Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart Racing wrapped up a great season by claiming his 18th win of the season and finished off the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series title. His TSR teammate, Kraig Kinser ended a second half surge with a runner-up spot on Saturday night to Schatz.
Josh 'Kid Rocket' Richards scored the win on the final night as Darrell Lanigan was crowned the champion.
Forty-five sprint cars were on hand for the final night's competition while 66 late models competed.
On the indoor circuit, Jon Stanbrough, no stranger to sprint car fans in this state, added another notch to his belt by claiming his first midget victory. Stanbrough bested Geoff Kaiser to win the Buckeye Bowl Indoor Midget Nationals in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend.
The event was part of the Rumble Series, which continues on Dec. 19-20 at the SeaGate Center in Toledo, Ohio and finishes up on Dec. 26-27 at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center in Fort Wayne. Those heading to the events will truly get a treat as 75-year old midget legend, Mel Kenyon, is slated to race at both events. NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader will race in the Ohio race while Tony Stewart is scheduled to race in Fort Wayne as the defending champion.