OCTOBER 10, 2016… After restarting at the back, Ronnie Gardner (Corona, California) charged forward and won last Saturday’s “KRC Safety Fall Shootout” at Tulare’s Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway. The $1,500 USAC Western States Midget triumph was Gardner’s fifth win of the season and eighteenth overall, tying Page Jones for fifth overall. Frankie Guerrini, rookie point leader Courtney Crone, Cory Elliott and Maria Cofer rounded out the top-five drivers.
As the green flag waved, outside front row starter and fast qualifier Alex Schutte got the jump on polesitter Courtney Crone for the top spot. Looking for his third win, Schutte set a blistering pace on the Tulare clay with Michael Faccinto, Guerrini, Elliott and Gardner giving chase. The four drivers raced hard and Faccinto broke free to challenge the leader. Action came to a halt on lap seven for a Shannon McQueen flip and Gardner went to the work area for repairs. McQueen was not hurt and both drivers restarted at the back.
Back out front, Schutte maintained control with Faccinto hot on his heels. Unfortunately, Faccinto had to retire on lap twenty-two with engine issues. Inheriting second, Guerrini took up the challenge but Schutte had an excellent restart and inched away from the field. Racing from the back, Gardner took over second and a caution flag flew for a stopped McQueen on lap twenty-eight. Under yellow, leader Schutte had mechanical issues and had to retire to the pit area. This handed the lead to Gardner, who sailed to the checkered flags and scored his first Tulare victory.
Driving the Six8 Motorsports’ #68 Baldozier Racing / Esslinger Engineering Stewart, Ronnie Gardner qualified third out of the thirteen racers, ran fourth in his heat race, and earned the night’s Keizer Aluminum Wheels / Rod End Supply “Hard Charger / Best Passing Job” honors. The three-time champion heads to Ventura with a 108-point lead with three Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, eight heat race victories, two hard charger awards, eleven top-10 finishes, and 106 feature laps led.
Frankie Guerrini (San Rafael, California) ran second in the “KRC Safety Fall Shootout.” Racing the family owned #63 F&F Racing / Davis Motorsports Spike, Guerrini was sixth quick in time trials and won the night’s 8-lap DJ Safety Heat Race #2. Last year’s BCRA Champion left Tulare ranked third in the point chase with two heat race victories, one Competition Suspension Inc. / Rod End Supply Semi-Main win, ten top-10 finishes, and 16 feature laps led on the season.
Courtney Crone (Corona, California) had a solid night with a third place run at the Tulare County Fairgrounds. Piloting Jerome Rodela’s #25 Trench Shoring / Ed Pink Racing Engines Breka, Crone qualified fourth overall and ran second to Guerrini in her heat race. The leading rookie contender sits fifth in points on the strength of two Keizer Aluminum Wheels / Rod End Supply Hard Charger Awards and six top-10 finishes.
Cory Elliott (Bakersfield, California) raced hard and scored fourth at Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway. Racing the family owned #11E FK Indy / Oilwize Spike, Elliott was seventh fast in time trials and placed third in his heat race. Last season’s Rookie of the Year is fourth in the standings with four heat race victories and nine top-10 finishes in the campaign.
Maria Cofer (Macdoel, California) had her best night of the season with a fifth place run from eighth at the “KRC Safety Fall Shootout.” Driving the family owned #57 Tule Vista Ranches / Edmunds Auto Research Spike, Cofer qualified twelfth overall and ran fourth in her heat race. To date, the second generation driver is ranked seventh in the point chase with four top-10 finishes.
Alex Schutte (Redding, California) earned his first Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award of the season. Racing the Schutte/McElwee #28 Zito Vault / Proficio Spike, Schutte ran second to Michael Faccinto in his heat race and scored seventh in the feature after suffering mechanical issues. In limited starts, the Gold Cup Race of Champions winner is twelfth in points with two feature wins, one heat race victory, four top-10 finishes, and 56 feature laps led.
Michael Faccinto (Hanford, California) won a hard fought Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. Piloting the MF Motorsports’ #35F OSV / Lucas Oil Spike, Faccinto was fifth fast in time trials and scored tenth in the main event after retiring to the pit area. The Louie Vermeil Classic Champion ranks second in the point standings with two feature wins, two Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Awards, two heat race victories, ten top-10 finishes, and 67 feature laps led to his credit.
On Saturday October 29th, the USAC Western States Midget Series will return to action at Ventura Raceway. Located on the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 10 West Harbor Blvd. in Ventura, California, the date will also showcase the California Lightning Sprints and Dwarf Cars. More event and ticket information can be found at www.venturaraceway.com or calling 805.648.RACE.
The USAC Western States Midget Series thanks Hoosier Tire, Brown and Miller Racing Solutions, Competition Suspension Incorporated, DJ Safety, Diversified Machine Incorporated, Extreme Mufflers, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Light Up The World Beverages, Rod End Supply, Stand 21 Racer Goes Safer Foundation, Ultra Shield Race Products, and Woodland Auto Display for their support. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, email PR Director Lance Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the series, visit the United States Auto Club (USAC) website at www.usacracing.com. You can also find exclusive content on the USAC Western States Midget Facebook and Twitter pages.
Loudpedal Productions has USAC Western States Midget DVDs and videos on demand available for purchase at www.loudpedal.tv and 805.407.7229.
USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET SERIES RACE RESULTS:
October 8, 2016 – Tulare, California – Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway – “KRC Safety Fall Shootout”
WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFICATIONS:
1. Alex Schutte, 28, Schutte/McElwee-15.651; 2. Cody Swanson, 71S, Swanson-15.792; 3. Ronnie Gardner, 68, Six8-15.830; 4. Courtney Crone, 25, Rodela-15.851; 5. Michael Faccinto, 35F, MF-15.886; 6. Frankie Guerrini, 63, Guerrini-15.989; 7. Cory Elliott, 11E, Elliott-16.018; 8. Randi Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-16.164; 9. Tyler Dolacki, 18, Dolacki-16.248; 10. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-16.283; 11. Robert Dalby, 4D, Dalby-16.369; 12. Maria Cofer, 57, Cofer-16.540; 13. Nate Wait, 35W, MF-16.698;
EXTREME MUFFLERS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Faccinto, 2. Schutte, 3. Elliott, 4. Gardner, 5. Dalby, 6. Dolacki, 7. Wait. NT
DJ SAFETY SECOND HEAT: (8 laps)
1. Guerrini, 2. Crone, 3. McQueen, 4. Cofer, 5. Pankratz, 6. Swanson. NT
LIGHT UP THE WORLD BEVERAGES FEATURE: (30 laps – With Starting Positions)
1. Ronnie Gardner (7th), 2. Frankie Guerrini (3rd), 3. Courtney Crone (1st), 4. Cory Elliott (5th), 5. Maria Cofer (8th), 6. Cody Swanson (12th), 7. Alex Schutte (2nd), 8. Shannon McQueen (6th), 9. Robert Dalby (9th), 10. Michael Faccinto, (4th) 11. Randi Pankratz (10th), 12. Tyler Dolacki (11th), 13. Nate Wait (13th). NT
**Swanson and Pankratz flipped during the second heat. McQueen and Dalby flipped during the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-28 Schutte, Laps 29-30 Gardner.
KEIZER ALUMINUM WHEELS / ROD END SUPPLY HARD CHARGER: Ronnie Gardner (7th to 1st)
USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET POINT STANDINGS:
1. Ronnie Gardner-842, 2. Michael Faccinto-734, 3. Frankie Guerrini-665, 4. Cory Elliott-645, 5. Courtney Crone-567, 6. Cody Swanson-494, 7. Maria Cofer-481, 8. Randi Pankratz-478, 9. Robert Dalby-476, 10. Tyler Dolacki-377, 11. Shannon McQueen-356, 12. Alex Schutte-288, 13. Sean Dodenhoff-242, 14. Dylan Ito-200, 15. Darren Hagen-195, 16. Nate Wait-193, 17. Ashley Hazelton-178, 18. Taylor Simas-177, 19. Terry Nichols-168, 20. Shane Golobic-165.
2016 USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET SCHEDULE
October 29: Ventura Raceway – Ventura, CA
November 19: Bakersfield Speedway – Bakersfield, CA
November 24: #Ventura Raceway – Ventura, CA (Turkey Night Grand Prix)
# = Co-Sanctioned Event with USAC National Midgets.
This schedule is subject to change.
Ronnie Gardner Wins the “KRC Safety Fall Shootout” at Tulare. Photo by Chuck Fry Photos.