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(Torrance, CA, August 28, 2019) Local driver Cody Nigh outdistanced the field to score his first POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car main event win of 2019 last Saturday night at the Ventura Raceway. The victory put a halt to the four-race Ventura win streak of series point leader Jarrett Kramer.

(The attached photo of Cody Nigh is courtesy of Pit Princess Photography)

Eighteen cars signed in at the pit gate for the 12th race on the 2019 CLS schedule. San Diego’s A.J. Bender timed in fastest for a series leading third time with a lap of 13.373. Many were astonished Bender was even there. The week before, the 26-year old had a violent qualifying crash in the USAC/CRA race at Perris Auto Speedway that left him with a spinal sprain and a concussion. Always fast Doug Nunes of Kingsburg was second quick at 13.382 and teenager Aiden Lange of Lakewood was third when he stopped the clocks at 13.422.

Bender continued to raise eyebrows by winning the first eight-lap heat of the night. It was his CLS leading fifth heat race win of the year. Santa Clarita’s Gage Cheek, who is contesting his second season of racing in the CLS, captured the second heat with Gardena’s Dominic Del Monte taking the last one.

The front row of the main event was made up of Ventura locals. Robb Pelmear, who lives in Ventura, was on the pole with Camarillo resident Nigh alongside. Cheek and Bermuda Dunes CHP officer Jeff “Ponch” Dyer made up row two. Teens Eric Greco of Palmdale and Lakeside’s Dalton Sexton were in the third row. Ageless Bruce Douglass of Ventura and Grant Sexton of Lakeside started in row four. The nights two fastest qualifiers, Bender and Nunes were in row five.

Pelmear, who had sat out three of the previous four races, was the first driver to turn one in the 25-lap main event. Nigh and Dyer were right behind him. As they exited turn one the first time, Nigh, whose night was not that impressive up to that point with only the 12th fastest time in qualifying and a third place in his heat, raced around Pelmear for the lead. Dyer relegated Pelmear to third at the end of the second circuit.

The top three remained the same through the first six laps with Nigh leading and Dyer snapping at his rear end like he was in a freeway pursuit. Douglass, who has won CLS victory to his credit, took third from Pelmear on the seventh go around but he was a long way behind the lead duo.

By the eighth lap, Nigh, a former Ventura winning kart racer who is in his fourth year in the CLS, and Dyer caught up to the back of the pack. They had little problem working their way through the lappers, but Dyer was having problems with the leader who refused to give in to his relentless pressure.

The first 17-laps of the race stayed green and the battle for the lead was hot. Nigh, a San Diego State graduate was repelling everything Dyer could throw at him. But, in turn one on the 18th go around, the leader caught a rut and bicycled the car. He quickly recovered, but he lost momentum and by the time they stormed into turn three, Dyer had steered his blue #4 into the point position.

With Dyer now at the point, pit siders were licking their chops wondering if the battle would rage on with Nigh trying to steal the top spot back. Amazingly, those thoughts quickly got tossed out the window when less than a lap later, Dyer slowed in turn two and coasted to a stop on the back chute due to a broken chain. That brought out the first caution of the race.

Nigh gladly accepted his lofty spot back at the head of the pack for the restart. Bender, who had started 10th, was second and on a night when nobody thought he would be racing, he had visions of sweeping the show. Douglass, Cheek and Pelmear rounded out the top five.

Things quickly came to a halt on the restart when 10th running Aiden Lange of Lakewood lost his brakes going into turn one and got into and over Dalton Sexton in “Monster Style” proportions. To complicate matters, in addition to being run over, Sexton flipped and his car suffered extensive damage. Fortunately, the young driver emerged from the bent car uninjured.

As soon as the green light came back on, Bender made his intentions known as he dove to the inside of the leader. However, Nigh, in the red #45 Cory Kruseman Sprint Car Driving School/K1 Racegear/Pinky’s Tire Service/Photos by Schnarszy/STIDA.com/Kwik Change Products/Maxwell Industries/Henchcraft Kawasaki ZX12 by Fastline Motorcycle Performance, was equal to the challenge and maintained the lead.

Like the story earlier in the race with Dyer, Nigh and Bender pulled away from their closest competitor. And, like earlier with Dyer, Bender was relentless in his pursuit of the leader. They ran nose to tail over the final seven laps and when they crossed the line for the final time, winner Nigh had less than a car length advantage over Bender. Douglass, Cheek and Pelmear finished third through fifth respectively and it was season-best finishes for all three. Point leader Kramer of Spring Valley ended up sixth.

Bender was the “Hard Charger” of the race coming from 10th to second.

“Tami, this is going to be tough,” an emotional Nigh said to infield announcer Tami Velasquez after his second lifetime CLS triumph. “I lost my grandma back in January. She was my biggest fan. Tuesday would have been her 75th birthday. This one is for her. Grandpa is watching from home. Love you! I am going to get crap because I cry after every time I win. Granted, I have only won twice, but to do this at home (Ventura Raceway) is a big deal to me. I think the stars could not be more aligned.”

With five races left in the season, Kramer leads Nunes by 125 points in the championship standings. Nigh is ranked third with Bender jumping from sixth up to fourth on Saturday. Greco is fifth.

The CLS is off on Labor Day weekend but returns to Ventura on September 7 for round #13 of the 2019 campaign.

Ventura Main Event (with starting positions)
1. Cody Nigh – Camarillo, CA – 2nd
2. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 10th
3. Bruce Douglass – Ventura, CA – 7th
4. Gage Cheek – Santa Clarita, CA – 3rd
5. Robb Pelmear – Ventura, CA – 1st
6. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 14th
7. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 8th
8. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 9th
9. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 5th
10. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 11th

11. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 17th
12. Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 13th
13. Pat Kelley – Chino, CA – 15th
14. Wink Schweitzer – Bakersfield, CA – 12th
15. Jason Arnolde – San Diego, CA – 16th
16. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 18th
17. Jeff Dyer – Bermuda Dunes, CA – 4th
18. Dalton Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 6th

POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Standings
1. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 1477
2. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 1352
3. Cody Nigh - Camarillo, CA – 1292
4. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 1229
5. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 1212
6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 1152
7. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 1143
8. Jeff Dyer – Bermuda Dunes, CA – 1141
9. Aiden Lange - Lakewood, CA – 1101
10. Gage Cheek – Santa Clarita, CA – 977

The POWRi Lucas Oil 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/

2019 POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Series
March 16 Bakersfield Speedway – Doug Nunes
March 23 Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer
April 6 Barona Speedway – Doug Nunes
April 20 Bakersfield Speedway – Bobby Michnowicz
May 4 Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer
May 18 Barona Speedway – Bobby Michnowicz
June 1 Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer
June 15 Bakersfield Speedway – Doug Nunes
July 6 Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer
July 27 Santa Maria Raceway – Jeff Dyer
August 10 Barona Speedway – Jarrett Kramer
August 24 Ventura Raceway – Cody Nigh
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

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