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(Torrance, CA, March 19, 2019) Kingsburg, California’s Doug Nunes scored a convincing win when the Lucas Oil POWRi California Lightning Sprint Car Series opened its season last Saturday night at the Bakersfield Speedway. The historic race was the first ever for the CLS under the POWRi banner.

Main event winner Doug Nunes inside of Jarrett Kramer and Eric Greco last Saturday at Bakersfield. Pit Princess Photography

An impressive 27-car field showed up for the opening of the CLS 26th straight season of racing. That field and the other divisions on hand found themselves in peril early on when a local power outage forced the cancelation of qualifying. Plan B saw the CLS go to a draw for starting positions in the three eight-lap heat races. Those three heats were won by Nunes, defending series champion Jarrett Kramer of Spring Valley and Palmdale youngster Eric Greco. Camarillo’s Cody Nigh won the 10-lap B main.

Relative newcomer Bill Dodd of Ramona was on the pole for the 25-lap main event on “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval.” USAC/CRA Sprint Car regular A.J. Bender of San Diego was alongside on the front row. Five-time CLS champ Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita was on the inside of the second row with Greco starting next to him. Nunes was on the inside of the third stanza and had Kramer as his partner.

When the green flew over the Kern County oval for the start of the main, Bender launched from his outside row one starting spot into the lead. Michnowicz, coming off a year that was far below his standard, raced up the inside in the first turn and relieved Dodd of second. By the end of the first circuit Nunes, in a gorgeous Berry Brothers/Jimmy Sills tribute #7 car, had stormed into third place.

The top three remained the same over the first three laps before the only yellow of the race came out and slowed the action on lap four when Lakeside’s Dalton Sexton, Anaheim’s Dale Gamer and Robb Pelmear of Ventura tangled in turn four. What seemed to be a simple yellow flag period quickly turned bizarre. 2018 CLS Rookie of the Year, Grant Sexton of Lakeside, had a right front torsion arm break while slowly circling the track on the yellow waiting for the restart. The break caused the rising 14-year-old star to flip on the front straight. He emerged unscathed and it was probably fortunate that the break happened on the yellow. Had the race went back to green and the breakage occurred at racing speeds, the results could have been disastrous.

After getting Sexton’s car pulled off the track, things stayed on the whacky side when Ramona’s Kyle Dodd lost a left rear while idling around under yellow flag conditions waiting for the restart.

For the restart with 22-laps to go, Bender was in the lead. Michnowicz, Nunes, Kramer and Greco comprised the remainder of the top five. Nunes, who won a main event at Bakersfield in 2018, proved he meant business on the restart when he diamonded off the first bend and swept under Michnowicz for second.

Nunes kept his momentum up and was riding the wide line when he tried to snatch the lead away from Bender at the end of the fifth lap. Heading into turn one on the next tour, Bender, who also won a main event at Bakersfield last year, slid up in front of his pesky challenger. That left a huge hole on the bottom for wily veteran Michnowicz who attempted to pass both to no avail. Screaming into turn three, Bender went to the wide line. That is all Nunes needed. The 42-year-old cleverly cut to the inside and pilfered the top spot away from the race long leader. Once out front, he immediately started to pull away.

Michnowicz was only in third until the seventh lap when he had a hard time getting through one and two. That allowed Kramer to steam by for the spot.

By the end of the eighth-lap, Nunes had nearly a half straight advantage over Bender. At that point, Nunes biggest worry was the lapped traffic he was quickly approaching. Second-place Bender had some other worries. Kramer was chasing him down. At the end of lap-eight, Kramer tried the inside to relieve Bender of the spot, but Bender fended off his advance. They stayed that way for six more laps as they weaved their way through the lap traffic before Kramer finally took the second spot away.

By the time Kramer had wrestled the runner-up position away from Bender, Nunes had built an insurmountable lead. When the checkered flag ended the race, the Cal State Fresno graduate had more than a half straightaway advantage over Kramer. Bender stayed in third for the duration with Michnowicz and Greco rounding out the top five.

Sixteen-year-old Dalton Sexton was the race “Hard Charger” finishing 10th after starting 17th.

By virtue of the win, Nunes has a five-point lead over Kramer in the championship standings heading into this Saturday’s race at Ventura. Bender sits third in the standings and trails Nunes by 20-points while Greco and Michnowicz are tied for fourth, 25-markers behind the leader.

This Saturday night at the Ventura Raceway, the CLS will be joined by the co-sanctioned USAC West Coast/VRA Sprint Cars, VRA Senior Sprints and VRA Dwarf Cars. Spectator gates open at 3:00 P.M. with racing at 5:30.

Fans who would like to attend Saturday’s race in Ventura can find the track on the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 10 W. Harbor Boulevard (93001). The track website is http://venturaraceway.com/ and the office phone number is (805) 648-RACE.

After Saturday’s race in Ventura, the CLS will have one week off before heading to the Barona Speedway for the first of three races in 2019 on Saturday, April 6.

The Lucas Oil POWRi California Lightning Sprint Car Series would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make the 2019 season possible: Lucas Oil, All Coast Construction, Christian Stover Foundation, Circle Track Performance, Cold Fire West, Fast Undercar, Hoosier Tire, Keizer Wheels, Outlaw Wings, Racing Optics, Rod End Supply, Speed Partz, Super Shocks, T Shirts by Timeless and Woodland Auto Display.

If you or your company would like to become part of the series for its 26th season in 2019, please call Bobby Michnowicz at (310) 320-5569.

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at http://racecls.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/californialightningsprints/

Bakersfield Speedway March 16 Results (with starting positions)
1. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 5th
2. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 6th
3. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 2nd
4. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 3rd
5. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 4th
6. Dan Hillberg – Placentia, CA – 9th
7. Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 11th
8. Pat Kelley – Chino, CA – 12th
9. Cody Nigh – Camarillo, CA – 13th
10. Dalton Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 17th
11. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 18th
12. Dan Fraser – Sacramento, CA – 10th
13. Bill Dodd – Ramona, CA – 1st
14. Dale Gamer – Anaheim, CA – 20th
15. Jeff Dyer – Bermuda Dunes, CA – 7th
16. Gage Cheek – Valencia, CA – 14th
17. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 8th
18. Kyle Dodd – Ramona, CA – 16th
19. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 15th
20. Robb Pelmear – Ventura, CA – 19th

2019 Lucas Oil POWRi California Lightning Sprint Cars Series Point Standings

1. Doug Nunes - Kingsburg, CA – 140
2. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA - 135
3. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 125
4. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA - 120
4. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA - 120
6. Dan Hillberg - Placentia, CA – 108
7. Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 102
8. Pat Kelley - Chino, CA – 97
9. Cody Nigh – Camarillo, CA - 91
10. Dalton Sexton - Lakeside, CA – 84

2019 Lucas Oil POWRi California Lightning Sprint Car Series

March 16 Bakersfield Speedway – Doug Nunes

March 23 Ventura Raceway

April 6 Barona Speedway

April 20 Bakersfield Speedway

May 4 Ventura Raceway

May 18 Barona Speedway

June 1 Ventura Raceway

June 15 Bakersfield Speedway

July 6 Ventura Raceway

July 27 Santa Maria Raceway

August 10 Barona Speedway

August 24 Ventura Raceway

September 7 Ventura Raceway

September 21 Bakersfield Speedway

October 5 Ventura Raceway

October 26 Ventura Raceway

November 17 Bakersfield Speedway

1994 Tony Everhart, 1995 Gary Sexton, 1996 Rob Sczymczak, 1997 Jon Rahe, 1998 Chris Rahe, 1999 Brent Sexton, 2000 Greg Bragg, 2001 Greg Bragg, 2002 Greg Bragg, 2003 David Cardey, 2004 Keith Janca, 2005 Johnny Bates, 2006 Donny Gansen, 2007 Shane Rossen, 2008 Brent Sexton, 2009 Stuart Hielschier Sr., 2010 Jarrett Kramer, 2011 Tim Brown, 2012 Bobby Michnowicz, 2013 Stephen Limon, 2014 Bobby Michnowicz, 2015 Bobby Michnowicz, 2016 Bobby Michnowicz, 2017 Bobby Michnowicz, 2018 Jarrett Kramer

Special thanks to Wendy Michnowicz.

This press release was produced by Scott Daloisio Sports (909) 226-7768 mailto:sdaloisiosports@aol.com