LOS ANGELES — USAC race director Kirk Spridgeon ran the Perris Auto Speedway pit meetings during the Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway.
He explained PAS management wanted to start more cars in the A-main and added money to do so. USAC transferred eight cars from the B main instead of the usual six cars. Provisional starters Thursday and Friday received no Oval Nationals points, but they received points toward USAC National and USAC-CRA point standings.
The Oval Nationals had its own point scoring system for the entire field. Qualifying awarded 10 points to the fastest qualifier and descended to one for the tenth quickest qualifier. Heats and semi-mains awarded 16 points to winners down to two points.
Features awarded 125 points to winners with three points drop-off per position. The top six drivers after Thursday and Friday did not have to qualify for Saturday heat racing. They went directly to Saturday’s Super Six Dash. It followed three heat races. The dash finish determined the top six starting positions for the 40-lap feature.
Brady Bacon, C.J. Leary, Robert Ballou, Kevin Thomas Jr., Justin Grant and Emerson Axsom were the top point earners when the two nights were combined.
The Super Six Dash used a fully-inverted starting lineup. Grant led all six laps over polesitter Axsom and Ballou.
• The new pit reporter for the Oval Nationals live streaming telecast was third-generation driver Drake York, who raced at Red Bluff, north of Sacramento. His father, Jason York, raced the SCRA No. 25 sprint car at Perris two decades ago. His grandfather Pat York raced the No. 22 CRA sprint car at Ascot in the 1960-70 era.
• Michael Dutcher’s No. 17gp USAC sprinter had decals honoring late CRA and WRA president Walt James and his vintage race car group. The James and Dutcher families are longtime friends. Walt’s daughter, Wendy, watched all three nights at Perris from the Dutcher pit. She told me her brother Lee James, CRA 1975 rookie of the year/feature winner and a WoO sprints front-runner in early years of the 1978-founded national winged sprint group, recently had successful surgery to replace both hips.
Lee James, 68, lives in Lincoln (north of Sacramento).
• Tafoya Racing had the most unusual “mule” to push its No. 51t sprint car in the pits. It is a three-cylinder Smart car built by Mercedes and it’s street legal. It seats two (three if crowded) and has air conditioning and Montana license plates. Eddie Tafoya Sr. drives it and pushes his son around the pits. They carry their unusual “mule” on the top deck of their trailer to all races, including their treks to Indiana Sprint Week.
• The 2022 Oval Nationals had only three flips compared to six last year. The 2022 event had 23 sprinters on track during Wednesday night practice compared to 27 in 2021.
• PAS grandstand attendance increased each night from Thursday to Saturday. People are reluctant to travel on So Cal’s notoriously crowded freeways during work days.
• CRA champion and NSCHofF inductee Jimmy Oskie, 76, and longtime PAS sponsor Mike Grosswendt (All Coast Construction) were in the pits as usual.
• The highest USAC-CRA Series driver finishes in the three A mains were: Damion Gardner (11th), Cody Williams (ninth) and Brody Roa (11th).
• Indiana’s Hoosier Auto Racing Fan Club contributed cash to the Oval Nationals payout and prior to racing selected Saturday’s A-main third place driver as the recipient. The money went to Indiana driver Emerson Axsom.
• NSCHofF inducted driver Rip Williams had his three sons — Cody, Austin and Logan— start in Saturday’s B main from second, fourth and sixth positions. Cody and Austin finished fourth and seventh to advance to the A-main. Logan placed 12th.
Cody Williams’ wife, Heidi (nee Tressler), worked as a nurse and also raced 360 and 410 sprint cars against Cody in Perris and Victorville. They now have three children — two daughters and a son — Lexi, 7, Rip 3, and Skye, 14-months. Cody said young Rip soon will be ready to receive a small race car to follow in the footsteps of his dad, uncles and proud grandfather.
• Former USAC-CRA driver Dwight Cheney moved from Los Angeles County several years ago to race in Indiana. He towed his 2022 DRC No. 42 sprinter from his spacious race shop in Peru, Ind., to Perris for driver Logan Seavey.
Seavey led feature laps in the Cheney 42 and finished second in a USAC feature. Other good results followed. Cheney spent Oval Nationals evenings at his home in Glendora. He said his mother and only brother died recently within weeks, leaving him without close relatives. He still has his longtime sponsor Racing Optics on the hood.