The Demon Headlines Copper on Dirt Opening Night Winners!
Lonnie Wheatley, PEORIA, Ariz. (February 28, 2014) – Reigning USAC/CRA Sprint Car champion Damion Gardner emerged from a wild three-car battle over the final rounds of Friday night’s 30-lap main event atop the 1/3-mile Canyon Speedway Park clay oval to top the opening night of the Seventh Annual Copper on Dirt.
While “The Demon” took Sprint Car honors in front of R.J. Johnson and Gary Taylor, Johnson bested the USAC Western States Midgets, Don Shaw took West Coast Late Model honors and Ricky Thornton, Jr., added another CSP triumph in the IMCA Modified ranks.
Gardner took advantage of a late caution then outdueled race-long leader Taylor and reigning USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion Johnson over the final rounds to win the USAC/CRA Sprint Car feature.
“It took a while, I had to figure out how to maneuver with the track changing,” Gardner explained in victory lane after the triumph aboard the Alexander Racing No. 4a. “Then they were dicing for it and the door just opened up for us.”
While Gardner ultimately ended up in victory lane, he spent most of the race in chase mode as Taylor gunned into the lead from his front row outside starting position and set the pace aboard the Cook No. 4 ahead of Gardner until sixth-starter Mike Spencer battled into the second position on the 13th round.
Spencer reeled in Taylor in short order with the duo dicing for the lead until Spencer looped it in turns one and two with just a handful of laps to go.
Johnson took advantage on the restart by racing past Taylor into the lead with Gardner joining in to make it a three-car scramble in the final circuits. Gardner found the opening he needed on the white-flag lap and held on for the win with Johnson edging Taylor for runner-up honors.
Pole starter Charles Davis, Jr., crossed the stripe fourth with Josh Hodges racing from 11th to round out the top five. Nic Faas was sixth with Mike Martin, Jake Swanson, Colby Copeland and Matt Mitchell completing the top ten.
In the West Coast Late Model feature, Don Shaw jumped into the lead at the outset and held off the advances of Garrett Alberson to win the non-stop 25-lapper with Pat Door a close third much of the way. Lance Mathees was fourth with Steve Drake rounding out the top five.
After winning four of six IMCA Modified features in Winter Challenge action, Ricky Thornton, Jr., picked up right where he left off by leading all the way to take the checkered flag ahead of reigning track champion Jason Noll. The rest of the top five included Logan Drake, Mike Wedelstadt and Ryan Roath.
The Seventh Annual Copper on Dirt featuring USAC/CRA Sprint Cars along with West Coast Late Models, IMCA Modifieds and USAC Western State Midgets is set to wrap up with Saturday night’s action getting under way at 7:00 p.m.
(Photos courtesy of Terry Shaw)
Canyon Speedway Park
Copper on Dirt Friday Night Results:
USAC/CRA Sprint Cars:
Qualifying: 1. 50-Mike Spencer 13.476, 2. 73-Nic Faas 13.810, 3. 16-Mike Martin 13.814, 4. 51-R.J. Johnson 13.942, 5. 4a-Damion Gardner 13.968, 6. 4-Gary Taylor 14.027, 7. 74-Colby Copeland 14.071, 8. 50x-Charles Davis, Jr. 14.078, 9. 44-Cody Williams 14.109, 10. 92-Jake Swanson 14.137, 11. 74x-Josh Hodges 14.211, 12. 45-Dave Darland 14.268, 13. 37-Matt Mitchell 14.330, 14. 7-Cory Kruseman 14.399, 15. 12-Josh Pelkey 14.406, 16. 2-Austin Williams 14.456, 17. 14-J.J. Ercse 14.675, 18. 4g-Chris Gansen 14.783, 19. 5-Logan Williams 14.862, 20. 11c-Michael Curtis 17.488 21. 91r-Brody Roa NT.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 2-Austin Williams, 2. 50-Mike Spencer, 3. 37-Matt Mitchell, 4. 51-R.J. Johnson, 5. 74-Colby Copeland, 6. 92-Jake Swanson, 7. 5-Logan Williams.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 7-Cory Kruseman, 2. 50x-Charles Davis, Jr., 3. 4a-Damion Gardner, 4. 73-Nic Faas, 5. 14-J.J. Ercse, 6. 74x-Josh Hodges, 7. 11c-Michael Curtis.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 12-Josh Pelkey, 2. 44-Cody Williams, 3. 45-Dave Darland, 4. 4-Gary Taylor, 5. 16-Mike Martin, 6. 91r-Brody Roa, 7. 4g-Chris Gansen.
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 4a-Damion Gardner, 2. 51-R.J. Johnson, 3. 4-Gary Taylor, 4. 50x-Charles Davis, Jr., 5. 74x-Josh Hodges, 6. 73-Nic Faas, 7. 16-Mike Martin, 8. 92-Jake Swanson, 9. 74-Colby Copeland, 10. 37-Matt Mitchell, 11. 45-Dave Darland, 12. 44-Cody Williams, 13. 12-Josh Pelkey, 14. 2-Austin Williams, 15. 91r-Brody Roa, 16. 50-Mike Spencer, 17. 5-Logan Williams, 18. 11c-Michael Curtis, 19. 14-J.J. Ercse, 20. 4g-Chris Gansen, 21. 7-Cory Kruseman.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 11-Pat Door, 2. 43-Garrett Alberson, 3. 8p-Lonnie Parker, Jr., 4. 5k-Mike Kirby, 5. 81b-Bud Grossenbacher, 6. 28-John Cornell, 7. 96-Carla Laney.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 42s-Don Shaw, 2. 11x-Steve Drake, 3. 51-Joey Moriarty, 4. 7-Cody Laney, 5. 23-Brad Williams, 6. 06-Dave Smith, 7. 12-Dave Deatz.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 10-Mike Balcaen, 2. 32b-Clay Daly, 3. 90-Lance Mathees, 4. 91T-Tony Torte, 5. 5m-Anthony Madrid, 6. 17-Craig Parker, 7. 86-Matt Micheli.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 42s-Don Shaw, 2. 43-Garrett Alberson, 3. 11-Pat Door, 4. 90-Lance Mathees, 5. 11x-Steve Drake, 6. 91T-Tony Torte, 7. 51-Joey Moriarty, 8. 81b-Bud Grossenbacher, 9. 5k-Mike Kirby, 10. 7-Cody Laney, 11. 5m-Anthony Madrid, 12. 23-Brad Williams, 13. 28-John Cornell, 14. 10-Mike Balcaen, 15. 06-Dave Smith, 16. 8p-Lonnie Parker, Jr., 17. 12-Dave Deatz, 18. 96-Carla Laney, 19. 86-Matt Micheli, 20. 17-Craig Parker, 21. 32b-Clay Daly.
First Heat: 1. 5m-Ricky Thornton, Jr., 2. 44-Jason Noll, 3. $-Cody Center, 4. L8-Brian Schultz, 5. 13-Ryan Engles, 6. 8-Nate Warren, 7. 41-George Fronsman.
Second Heat: 1. 111-Logan Drake, 2. 45-Ryan Roath, 3. 87-Clifton Maggard, 4. 77-Mike Wedelstadt, 5. 78-Steve Stultz, 6. 77k-Keith Krenklis, 7. 19x-Kenny Gill.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 5m-Ricky Thornton, Jr., 2. 44-Jason Noll, 3. 111-Logan Drake, 4. 77-Mike Wedelstadt, 5. 45-Ryan Roath, 6. 41-George Fronsman, 7. 13-Ryan Engles, 8. 77k-Keith Krenklis, 9. $-Cody Center, 10. 78-Steve Stultz, 11. 87-Clifton Maggard, 12. 8-Nate Warren, 13. L8-Brian Schultz, 14. 19x-Kenny Gill.
USAC Western States Midgets:
Qualifying: 1. 73-Trey Marcham 14.250, 2. 28-Alex Schutte 14.256, 3. 5-Jake Swanson 14.367, 4. 51-R.J. Johnson 14.425, 5. 98-Jared Blondell 14.534, 6. 17-Chad Nichols 14.988, 7. 2g-Terry Goodwin 15.173, 8. 68-Ronnie Gardner NT.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 51-R.J. Johnson, 2. 5-Jake Swanson, 3. 73-Trey Marcham, 4. 28-Alex Schutte, 5. 98-Jared Blondell, 6. 17-Chad Nichols, 7. 2g-Terry Goodwin, 8. 68-Ronnie Gardner.
“A” Feature (20 Laps): 1. 51-R.J. Johnson, 2. 28-Alex Schutte, 3. 73-Trey Marcham, 4. 2g-Terry Goodwin, 5. 5-Jake Swanson, 6. 98-Jared Blondell, 7. 17-Chad Nichols, 8. 68-Ronnie Gardner (DNS).