INDIANAPOLIS – USAC’s best sprint car racers are pointing their compasses west, as the best of both the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series and CRA Sprint Car Series prepare to go head-to-head for bragging rights and the prestige of becoming a Western World champion.
The season-long national AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship race has reached its final stretch, involving the drivers who’ve run one-two in the standings for much of the season. Justin Grant clings to a 29-point advantage over Chris Windom with five western races remaining.
Grant’s Western World Championship highlight dates to the 2015 season, when he captured the victory on the opening night of the 360 portion of the program at USA Raceway in Tucson, Arizona.
Interestingly enough, Grant was driving at the time for the Baldwin Brothers team that his nearest challenger Windom now competes for.
Windom was simply dominant during the 2016 Western World, leaving with a complete sweep of both nights of the National & CRA programs, while winning and finishing third in his two 360 outings.
Though he stands a distant third in the National standings, Kevin Thomas Jr. has been gobbling up points left and right in recent months. He’s been victorious in three of the last five events, including the last two. He even got his Southwest trip started off on the right foot with a Southwest Sprint Car victory at Central Arizona Speedway last Saturday night.
Three-time Western World race winner Brady Bacon returns to the Dooling/Hayward team, which won the 2015 Western World with Bryan Clauson at the wheel. They will be joined by a few pairings of west coast teams with Midwest-based drivers, including 2005 Western World USAC Sprint victor Dave Darland and Ford Motorsports as well as drivers Thomas Meseraull and Hunter Schuerenberg with Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports.
To show how the west was won, these individuals will have to break through against a crop who intends to defend their home turf.
R.J. Johnson, a 2010 Western World 360 sprint car winner, has become a force in the 410 ranks this season while maintaining his dominance in the Southwest division, where he’s all but locked up his fifth-straight series crown.
Damion Gardner has a 101-point lead as he eyes his fifth consecutive CRA title and sixth overall. Last year, Gardner raced to back-to-back runner-up finishes behind Windom at the Western World Championships.
Jake Swanson has already locked down USAC’s West Coast Sprint Car title this season, but a first CRA title hangs in the balance as he sits second behind Gardner.
Behind Swanson is the driver he dethroned in the West Coast series, Brody Roa, who himself was a 360 winner at the Western World in 2015, while two-time West Coast champ Danny Faria Jr. takes over the reins of Midwest car owner Michael Dutcher’s No. 17GP.
The 50th annual Western World gets underway with an open practice night on Thursday night, Nov. 2 followed by complete programs each night on Nov. 3-4 for the National Sprints with CRA, as well as the season finales for the Southwest Sprint Cars.
CREDIT: USAC Media