PERRIS’ “BUDWEISER OVAL NATIONALS” CLOSE SPRINT CAMPAIGN; DARLAND, MARTIN SHINE IN CANYON’S “HALL OF FAME” FEATURES
AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car title hopefuls Bryan Clauson, Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough will square off this weekend for the championship in the 17th annual “Budweiser Oval Nationals” at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway.
Mike Spencer’s unprecedented fifth consecutive AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car crown is an anti-climax with his unsurmountable lead over Nic Faas going into the Friday-Saturday events at the PAS, but the three-way National point race is another issue.
Clauson’s new lead over Darland stands at just seven points, while Stanbrough is 73 in arrears, with ample points available for each. Clauson posted a second and a seventh in last weekend’s “Arizona Hall of Fame” features at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz., while Darland won Friday’s 30-lapper. Darland’s Saturday cost him the point lead as he struggled through an early-lead tangle and a late-race spin to finish 17th. Stanbrough’s two Peoria outings produced a 13th and a fifth.
Darland, of Lincoln, Ind., passed Kevin Thomas Jr. on lap 18 and led the final 13 laps of Friday’s race in his Jam-It-In Storage/Hoosier Tire Maxim/Claxton. Clauson took second ahead of Thomas, Spencer and Robert Ballou.
Yuma, Ariz.’s Mike Martin upset the series regulars Saturday, leading all 30 laps in his Ultimate Off-Road/Advanced Racing Suspension Maxim/Shaver. Ballou was second, with Damion Gardner, Hunter Schuerenberg and Stanbrough rounding out the “top-five.”
Gardner, who owns more USAC/CRA Perris victories than anybody else, is the two-time “Budweiser Oval Nationals” defending champion. He joins Darland and Cory Kruseman in the search to tie Bud Kaeding as the only “three-time event champion. Other former “Budwesier Oval Nationals” champs include Jimmy Sills, Rip Williams, Rodney Argo, Rickie Gaunt, Tony Jones, Chris Windom and the late Jesse Hockett.
Spencer, with back-to-back feature wins this weekend, would tie Gardner as the all-time USAC/CRA Perris victory leader. Gardner has 25 wins and Spencer 23.