Demon Howls Under Perris Moon

The "Demon" salutes fans after "Sokola Shootout" win.

PERRIS, CA -RIS- Perris Auto Speedway had its 2014 opener the “Sokola Shootout” under the full moon in the California sky. It seemed that it was just what “The Demon” Damion Gardner needed as he took the Alexander Racing number 4 car to fast time, heat win and feature win.

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Damion Gardner is perfect so far in USAC/CRA competition this year, having won the opener at Arizona's Canyon Raceway Park. He has returned in a Alexander car but this year the Alexanders are running a single car team as Nic Faas has moved on to drive for Josh Ford Racing.

The feature finish ended in the same way that the 2013 championship did with Gardner leading Michael Spencer and Nic Faas in that order. Starting in sixth Damion moved to third by the fourth lap while Spencer had gone from fourth place to take the lead from Ronnie Gardner on the third lap. Damion Gardner passed Ronnie (no relation) Gardner for second place by eight and went around Spencer to lead on lap 11 only to have it called back for a caution.

Michael Spencer held on to the lead on the restart but Damion was not to be denied as he took the lead on lap 14 and pulled away to a comfortable lead. This was the way they ran until the lapping started and that was the most dramatic moment of the night as Damion Gardner had to work hard to get around the tail enders without being caught by Spencer. Ronnie Gardner had been running well in third for most of the race was into lapped traffic at the finish and got trapped and fell to fifth as Faas and Matt Mitchell passed him for third and fourth.

Heat winners were in addition to Damion Gardner, Nic Faas, Michael Spencer and Ronnie Gardner. Brady Roa took the B main. Damion's fast time was 16.290 and he was the fourth driver to qualify. Nic Faas was second quick at 16.414 and he was 27th of 30 qualifiers. The weather was windy early in the evening but the wind calmed soon after sunset and it was comfortable in the low 60's at race time.

The AMSOIL USAC/CRA Series is set for it's next two dates at Perris on April 12 and May third.


AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: March 15, 2014 - Perris, California - Perris Auto Speedway - "Sokola Shootout"

      QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 4, Alexander-16.290; 2. Nic Faas, 73, Ford-16.414; 3. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-16.500; 4. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-16.567; 5. Jake Swanson, 92, Sertich-16.572; 6. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-16.581; 7. Gary Taylor, 04G, Cook-16.647; 8. Ronnie Gardner, 93, Gardner-16.714; 9. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-16.807; 10. David Bezio, 37x, Bezio-16.842; 11. Josh Pelkey, 12, Allen-16.849; 12. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-16.850; 13. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-16.867; 14. Corey Ballard, 34, Ballard-16.901; 15. R.J. Johnson, 51, Martin-16.955; 16. Cody Swanson, 36, Springstead-17.018; 17. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-17.088; 18. Johnathon Henry, 17, Henry-17.143; 19. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-17.276; 20. Seth Wilson, 6w, Wilson-17.294; 21. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-17.396; 22. Verne Sweeney, 98, Sweeney-17.527; 23. J.J. Ercse, 14, Springstead-17.562; 24. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-17.588; 25. Jesse Denome, 6, Denome-17.819; 26. Tony Everhart, 55, Everhart-18.115; 27. Logan Williams, 5, Jory-18.194; 28. Kyle Smith, 39, Cal-Smith-18.404; 29. Jeremy Ellertson, 98x, Ellertson-18.423; 30. Gary Potter, 6x, Potter-18.731; 31. Kenny Perkins, 0, Perkins-NT.

      FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. D.Gardner, 2. J.Vander Weerd, 3. C.Williams, 4. J.Swanson, 5. Roa, 6. Kruseman, 7. Denome, 8. Ellertson. 2:55.14

      SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Faas, 2. Bezio, 3. Henry, 4. Ballard, 5. Sweeney, 6. Potter, 7. A.Williams, 8. Everhart. NT

      THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. R.Gardner, 2. R.Vander Weerd, 3. Mitchell, 4. C.Swanson, 5. Wilson, 6. Smith, 7. Gandsen. 2:53.97

      FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Spencer, 2. Johnson, 3. Bender, 4. Pelkey, 5. Taylor, 6. L.Williams, 7. Ercse. NT

      SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Roa, 2. Taylor, 3. Kruseman, 4. Wilson, 5. Sweeney, 6. L.Williams, 7. Gansen, 8. Smith, 9. Everhart, 10. Ellertson, 11. Potter. NT

      FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Mike Spencer, 3. Nic Faas, 4. Matt Mitchell, 5. Ronnie Gardner, 6. Richard Vander Weerd, 7. Jake Swanson, 8. Josh Pelkey, 9. R.J. Johnson, 10. Cody Williams, 11. Brody Roa, 12. Gary Taylor, 13. Cory Kruseman, 14. Jace Vander Weerd, 15. Johnathon Henry, 16. David Bezio, 17. Cody Swanson, 18. Logan Williams, 19. Corey Ballard, 20. Seth Wilson, 21. Verne Sweeney, 22. A.J. Bender. NT


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 R.Gardner, Laps 3-13 Spencer, Laps 14-30 D.Gardner.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-D.Gardner-142. 2-Faas-122, 3-Johnson-108, 4-Spencer-103, 5-Mitchell-99, 6-Taylor-92, 7-J.Swanson-91, 8-Pelkey-79, 9-C.Williams-75, 10-Roa-71.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE:April 12, 2013 - Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

Results Courtesy USAC

Ed Hollowell

Reporter for RIS since 1996. Photo since 2002.

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Volume 2014, Issue 3, Posted 4:25 PM, 03.16.2014