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Sprint Car veterans shine on Central Valley tracks

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POSTED April 7, 2011 1:14 a.m.
A pair of Sprint Car veterans notched impressive victories this past weekend in the season opener events in Madera and Merced.

Lincoln’s Tony Hunt took his 52nd career United States Auto Club checkered flag by winning the 100-lap Fred Gerhardt Classic at Madera Speedway last Saturday.

Hunt grabbed the lead from Scott Pierovich on Lap 57 after the pair diced back-and-forth for several laps and remained out in front for the rest of the race.

Pierovich’s night ended in frustration with a broken throttle linkage on lap 90. In a shootout to the finish rookie Scott Ensign and Audri Sasselli battled it out for the second position with  Sasselli ultimately prevailing.

Legendary Tennessee veteran Sprint Car pilot Sammy Swindell fought off the repeated challenges from San Jose’s young Tim Kaeding over the final laps  to win the first ever World of Outlaws event at Merced Speedway.

Swindell had never raced on the Merced clay, but he said in victory lane it was similar to the hundreds of tracks he raced on previously, including Australia!

“I drew from a lot of knowledge from racing down there (Australia) tonight,” said Swindell after picking up his 269th World of Outlaws victory. “We’ve been a consistent top-five car all year long and tonight I just used my experience and put it to good use with the awesome car we had.”        

The new Stockton 99 Speedway along with Chowchilla and Merced will be back in action this weekend while Madera will go dark.

It will be NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Opening Night at the fabled quarter-mile Stockton bull ring on Saturday, featuring the Western Late Models in twin 50-lap mains, plus the Grand American Modifieds, Super Stocks, Bombers, Basically-4-Cylinders and Mini Cups.

Pit Gates Open at noon, practice begins at 2 p.m., the grand stands open at 4 and racing commences at 6.

Double points will be on the line at Chowchilla this Saturday night with a card that includes the UMP Modified Series, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, Super Stocks, 4-Bangers, Valley Sportsman

The regular season at Merced opens Sunday evening at 5 p.m., April 10 with five divisions, featuring the UMP Dirt Modifieds, for the Larry Alves Memorial event sponsored by Wix Filters.

Reigning NASCAR K&N Pros Series West Champion Eric Holmes, of Escalon, return to All American Speedway in Roseville next Saturday April 16 for the Toyota/NAPA AutoCare 150.

After finishing 14th in the season opener at Phoenix on February 24, the three-time series champion is looking forward to returning to the 0.333-mile high banked oval at the Placer County Fairgrounds. Holmes has posted three wins in the series last six visits to All American Speedway and has led over 500 laps there.

“I can’t wait to get back in the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota,” said Holmes. “The team has done a great job preparing our Camry for one of our favorite short tracks. We brought home a victory here last fall. We’re ready to run for back-to-back wins with all of our friends and family with us.”

The 12-race schedule will see the series at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the Thunder Valley Casino 150 on June 25 and returning to All American Speedway  on Oct. 15.

The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to the streets of southern California next weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15-17. Up to 30 cars are expected to be on hand to test the 1.97 mile twisting temporary road course as the series continues to recover from its protracted war the rival ChampCar series that lasted from 1995 through 2008.

Defending series champion, Scotsman Dario Franchitti of team Target/Ganassi, won the season opening St Petersburg, Fla. on March 27.

Kody Swanson, the 23-year-old USAC Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget Car racer out of Kingsburg, has been selected to run in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race held on Saturday, April 16.

“The Toyota Pro/Celebrity race is so unique for everyone, for both racecar drivers and famous personalities, and I am really excited to have the opportunity to participate in such a historic event” said Swanson. “While I look forward to such a special opportunity for me to compete as a participant, I am impressed with the commitment that Toyota has made to ‘Racing for Kids,’ and I am very happy to be included in an event with such a great cause.”

For additional info visit www.lbgp.com where you can buy a Sunday ticket to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and receive a complimentary Sunday ticket for unreserved seating to the IZOD IndyCar World Championships season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16

To contact Dale Bosowski, email dalebosowski@yahoo.com.
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