By Lance Jennings
PEORIA, AZ – FEBRUARY 4, 2013… After tire problems erased hopes for a third straight “Winter Challenge” victory, Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Indiana claimed Saturday night’s $5,000-to-win finale. Leading all 30-laps, the USAC Southwest vs. West Coast Sprint Car victory at Canyon Speedway Park also earned Clauson the mini-series championship. Jeremy Sherman, Charles Davis Jr., Colby Copeland, and Jon Stanbrough rounded out the top-five finishers.
After drawing the pole position, Bryan Clauson seized command of the Winter Challenge finale. While several caution flags would plague the event, the Western World Champion remained unfazed. Problems would later sideline front row starter R.J. Johnson, as Sherman and Davis waged war for the runner-up spot. The five-time Arizona Champions looked to chase down Clauson and Jon Stanbrough made a late charge from tenth to fourth.
While the feature was dominated by Clauson, the championship of the Winter Challenge was up for grabs. Heading into the main event, Jon maintained a six-point lead over Bryan. Needing to finish one spot behind his rival to claim the title, Stanbrough’s move to the front kept things interesting. It was not to be on this night, as Clauson sailed to the checkered flags and Colby Copeland dropped Stanbrough to fifth.
Piloting Mike Martin’s #16B Ultimate Offroad / Naquin Precision Earth Moving Maxim, Bryan Clauson won three of the four Winter Challenge races. After running second in his heat race, Clauson won the mini-series title and led all drivers with 69 feature laps led and three heat race victories (tied).
“The Shermanator” Jeremy Sherman of Surprise came home second after starting fifth in the Saturday night feature. Driving Bill Michael’s #77M Mammoth Sound / Beal’s Auto Body Sherman, Jeremy won the program’s second heat race. Placing fourth in points, Sherman had three heat race victories and recorded two top-five finishes in the four race Winter Challenge.
Buckeye’s Charles Davis Jr. raced to third from sixth in the Winter Challenge finale. Piloting the Massey Motorsports #50 RSS Industries / Rod End Supply entry, last year’s ASCS Canyon Champion scored third in his heat race. Claiming third in mini-series points, Davis had one heat race victory, one semi-main win, one hard charger award, and three top-five finishes.
Roseville, California’s Colby Copeland had his best run of the Winter Challenge and earned “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors. Scoring fourth from seventeenth, the driver of Ted Williams’ #74 Bandit Racing / Marks Bolts Ellis was also eighth in his heat race. Copeland won the 10-lap semi-main and finished the Winter Challenge with three top-10 finishes.
Jon Stanbrough of Avon, Indiana scored fifth at the checkered flags after starting tenth. Racing Shon Deskins’ #20 Performance Plus / Ellis Race Cars entry, the veteran driver was second in his heat to R.J. Johnson. Running second in points, Stanbrough had one heat race victory, three top-five finishes, and nine feature laps led to his credit.
Phoenix’s R.J. Johnson won the night’s first heat race and scored nineteenth in the main event. The pilot of Bobby Martin’s #51 Weiler Farms / Pecon Builders Maxim won the early Saturday feature and broke Clauson’s string of victories. In addition, Johnson recorded one top-five finish and 30 feature laps led at Canyon Speedway Park.
Josh Hodges of Tijeras, New Mexico won the night’s third heat race. Racing the family owned #74X Napa Auto Parts / Mesilla Valley Transportation Maxim, Hodges scored twenty-first in the main event after an early exit. The young driver closed out the Winter Challenge with one top-10 finish.
The USAC Southwest and West Coast Sprint Cars will return to action on Thursday, March 7th at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. The non-point, $2,500-to-win “Sin City Showdown” is the first round of the Grudge Series and will showcase the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars, Modifieds, and Street Stocks. More event information can be found at www.lvms.com/dirt or calling (702) 644-4444.
The USAC Southwest Sprint Car Series would like to thank Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Tire, and the Hose 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 www.westcoastsprintcars.com, www.usacracing.com, or follow the series on Facebook (www.facebook.com/#!/pages/USAC-West-Coast-Sprint-Car-Series/369549755817)
USAC SOUTHWEST & WEST COAST SPRINT SPECIAL EVENT RACE RESULTS:
February 2, 2013 (Night) – Peoria, Arizona – Canyon Speedway Park – “Winter Challenge”
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps)
1. R.J. Johnson (#51 Martin), 2. Jon Stanbrough (#20 Deskins), 3. Charles Davis Jr. (#50 Massey), 4. Brian Hosford (#32B Weber), 5. Jimmy Crawford (#3X Crawford), 6. Richard Vander Weerd (#10 Vander Weerd), 7. Matt Lundy (#20L Reinbold), 8. Colby Copeland (#74 Williams), 9. Tom Lee (#53 Lee). NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Jeremy Sherman (#77M Michaels), 2. Bryan Clauson (#16B Martin), 3. Robert Ballou (#77 Hockett), 4. Rick Ziehl (#20Z Ziehl), 5. Jace Vander Weerd (#88 Vander Weerd), 6. Mike Martin (#97 Colcord/Norman), 7. Lonnie Oliver (#11T Oliver), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (#21 Ellis), 9. Bruce St. James (#7K St. James). NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Josh Hodges (#74X Hodges), 2. Andy Reinbold (#19 Underwood), 3. Ryan Bernal (#73 Ford), 4. Ronnie Clark (#6 Clark), 5. Tom Ogle (#48 Ogle), 6. Josh Pelkey (#12 Allen), 7. Tony Everhart (#55 Everhart), 8. Stevie Sussex (#1AZ Sussex), 9. Jason Grady (#45 Grady). NT
SEMI-MAIN: (10 laps)
1. Colby Copeland, 2. Josh Pelkey, 3. Tom Ogle, 4. Stevie Sussex, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Bruce St. James, 7. Lonnie Oliver, 8. Tom Lee, 9. Matt Lundy, 10. Tony Everhart. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps)
1. Bryan Clauson (1st), 2. Jeremy Sherman (5th), 3. Charles Davis Jr. (6th), 4. Colby Copeland (17th), 5. Jon Stanbrough (10th), 6. Richard Vander Weerd (16th), 7. Josh Pelkey (18th), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (21st), 9. Andy Reinbold (3rd), 10. Ryan Bernal (4th), 11. Mike Martin (12th), 12. Jace Vander Weerd (15th), 13. Stevie Sussex (20th), 14. Jimmy Crawford (14th), 15. Bruce St. James (22nd), 16. Brian Hosford (13th), 17. Robert Ballou (11th), 18. Tom Ogle (19th), 19. R.J. Johnson (2nd), 20. Ronnie Clark (9th), 21. Josh Hodges (7th), 22. Rick Ziehl (8th). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Bryan Clauson.
HARD CHARGER: Colby Copeland (17th to 4th)
FINAL WINTER CHALLENGE POINT STANDINGS:
1-Bryan Clauson-232, 2-Jon Stanbrough-226, 3-Charles Davis Jr.-215, 4-Jeremy Sherman-186, 5-Richard Vander Weerd-180.
NEXT SOUTHWEST & WEST COAST SPRINT SPECIAL EVENT:
March 7 – Las Vegas (NV) Motor Speedway Dirt Track – “Sin City Showdown” / Grudge Series.