WITH NATIONAL TITLE TO BE DETERMINED AT “PACIFIC COAST NATIONALS”
Numerous drivers participating in the “Budweiser Oval Nationals” at Perris Auto Speedway tonight, Friday and Saturday also have their sights set on next week’s big “Pacific Coast Nationals” at the Tulare (Calif.) Thunderbowl Raceway. The USAC National Sprint Car Champion will be crowned on Sunday night, November 15, following Saturday and Sunday competition at the third-mile dirt oval as USAC’s “Gold Rush Tour” continues.
Levi Jones, Dave Darland, Cole Whitt and Jerry Coons Jr. are the primary title contenders entering tonight’s action at Perris. Jones’ lead is only 27 over Darland, with Whitt 106 back and Coons 203 in arrears. A total of 212 points are available at Perris during the next three nights of racing.
The “Pacific Coast Nationals,” a salute to the Agajanian Family, is being revived after a 14-year hiatus. This year’s running is the 30th and Rip Williams of Yorba Linda, Calif. will be the only former champion in the field. He won the race in 1990 at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. Past winners of the event, which has experienced format and headlining division changes, include Jim Wood (1962), Jim Cox (1963), Marshall Sargent (1964), Dick Fries (1965), Bobby Adamson (1967), Bob Hogle (1968), Gene Brown (1972), Rick Ferkel (1973), Clark Templeman (1974), Ron Shuman (1976, 1977, 1983 and 1994), Buster Venard (1978), Dean Thompson (1979, 1980, 1982 and 1985), Sammy Swindell (1981), Bubby Jones (1984), Brad Doty (1986), Steve Kinser (1987 and 1988), Brad Noffsinger (1989), Rip Williams (1990) and Mike Kirby (1995).
Cory Kruseman won the 2007 USAC/CRA race at Tulare and is excited about the Pacific Coast Nationals. “It’s about damn time,” he says, referring to the revival of the Pacific Coast Nationals. “I can’t think of a better place to do this. It’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s a nice facility, where the promoter cares about the people and he always comes around to thank you for being there. The surface stays good and you can drive the track in the old west style – “drive it in hard and back it in.”
The winner of Sunday’s “twilight” feature will earn a paycheck of $12,500, while minimum feature-start money is $700. Saturday night’s standard USAC/CRA purse offers $4,000-to-win.
USAC has been to the Tulare Fairgrounds five times, but only once before with Sprint Cars. The “Pacific Coast Nationals” will offer points toward both the USAC National and Lucas Oil USAC/CRA Sprint championships. The USAC/CRA series concludes November 28 at Perris.
Race organizer Steve Faria is excited about the “Pacific Coast Nationals” finding a home at his track. “We are honored to host the event,” he said. “Non-wing racing has a bright future here and with Kevin Miller’s leadership and perspectives I think USAC is headed in the right direction. This event will be good for California and we were really disappointed following last year’s USAC rainout.” Thunderbowl Raceway derived its name from a track which operated in the 1940s on the south side of Tulare but was disbanded. Steve and his staff reconfigured the track in 1993, then expanded it in the late-1990s, but auto racing on the grounds actually dates back to right after the second World War.
The first USAC appearance at Tulare in 1988 saw P.J. Jones victorious in a Midget race. The following year, Robby Flock and Sleepy Tripp won USAC Midget races there and Wiley Miller won a USAC TQ Midget feature.
The scheduling of the Tulare program for Saturday and Sunday allows ample time for travel for USAC teams participating in Thursday’s (Nov. 12) “Copper World Classic” Silver Crown and Midget races at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.