Damion Gardner
Damion Gardner, shown in 2021, won the USAC/CRA opener at Cocopah Speedway. (Doug Allen photo)

Cocopah Doubleheader To Open USAC/CRA Sprint Car Season

The AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series will open their campaign with a special doubleheader at Cocopah Speedway near Yuma, Ariz., on Jan. 27-28.

They are the only appearances the USAC/CRA series will make at the fast three-eighths-mile oval. The action packed cards will also showcase the IMCA Hobby Stocks, IMCA Sport Compacts and IMCA Mod Lites. For those who cannot be at the races, a live stream will be broadcast by SPEEDSPORT.tv

The Friday, Jan. 27, event will be the ninth race in USAC/CRA history at “The Diamond in the Desert.”

“The Demon” Damion Gardner leads all drivers with five wins at Cocopah Speedway. Emerson Axsom and Jake Swanson were victorious at last October’s “Western World Championships” and “The Pride of Garden Grove,” while Brody Roa won the first Yuma main event on June 2, 2012.

Swanson lowered the track record to 16.127 seconds on Oct. 29.

Last season, Gardner earned his ninth consecutive championship and the 10th of his career. Driving Mark Alexander’s No. 1 entry, Gardner posted six feature wins, five fast-time awards, nine heat race victories, one hard charger award and 13 top-10 finishes. He also led 179 feature laps.

“The Demon” announced his retirement from racing at the Chili Bowl Nationals with 95 victories and 104 fast time awards during his career with USAC/CRA.

“The Big Game Hunter” Austin Williams finished second in the championship point standings. Racing the family-owned No. 2 Digalert / Full Throttle Scissor Lift Rental DRC, Williams had one fast-time award, two heat race victories, one “Lucky 13 Award,” eleven top-10 finishes and led 13 feature laps in the campaign.

The 2009 Co-Rookie of the Year ranks seventh with 11 career triumphs and will be looking for his first victory at Cocopah Speedway.

Eddie Tafoya Jr. ranked third in the USAC/CRA point standings last year. Piloting the family-owned No. 51T Specialty Fasteners / DRC Chassis entry, Tafoya recorded one fast-time award, one semi-main win, one “Lucky 13 Award,” thirteen top-10 finishes and led one feature lap on the season.

The 2019 USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest Rookie of the Year will run a limited schedule in California and Arizona as the team will concentrate on racing in the Midwest with the USAC National Series.

Matt Mitchell placed fourth in the chase for the championship last year. The owner and driver of the No. 37 Roy Miller Freight Lines / Campbell Brothers Storage Maxim posted one feature win, two fast-time awards, five heat race victories, one semi-main win, two hard charger awards, 12 top-10 finishes and led 46 feature laps on the season.

The 2014 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champion is tied with “The People’s Champion” Dave Darland, “Super” Rickie Gaunt and “Showtime” Danny Sheridan with eight career USAC/CRA triumphs. 

Tommy “Thunder” Malcolm finished fifth in the USAC/CRA point chase. Driving Dino Napier’s No. 5X Indiana Truck Salvage / B&B Powder Coating DRC, Malcolm recorded four heat race victories, one hard charger award, ten top-10 finishes and led 47 feature laps in the campaign. He will also be looking to earn the first victory of his career at Cocopah Speedway.

Among the other drivers expected to be in action are “The Pride of Garden Grove” Brody Roa, “The Cadillac” Cody Williams, “Chargin” Charles Davis Jr., Logan Williams, Matt McCarthy, Verne Sweeney, “The Gunslinger” Austin Grabowski, A.J. Bender, Kyle Edwards, “Sugah” Shane Sexton, Chris Bonneau, Logan Calderwood, “The Magic Man” Mike Martin and more.