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BENDER STEALS LEAD ON LAST LAP FOR THRILLING LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR WIN!
(Torrance, CA, September 26, 2019) Just days before becoming a dad for the first time, veteran driver A.J. Bender stole the lead on the final lap in the POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Series and went on for the win last Saturday night at the Bakersfield Speedway. It was the first victory of the year for the San Diego based driver.



A.J. Bender won his first CLS main event of the year last Saturday at Bakersfield. Pit Princess Photo.

Eighteen cars were on hand for the fourth CLS race of the year on the Kern County 1/3 of a mile banked clay oval. When qualifying ended, Kingsburg’s Doug Nunes, who won two of the first three races at the track this year, stood on top of the speed chart with a time of 13.035. Series point leader Jarrett Kramer of Spring Valley was second quick at 13.125. Bender timed in third fastest at 13.153.

The series was back to three heat races on Saturday and they were taken by Lakewood’s Aiden Lange, Eric Greco of Palmdale and Bakersfield’s own Wink Schweitzer.

For the 25-lap main event, teen Dominic Del Monte of Gardena and CHP officer Jeff “Ponch” Dyer of Yucca Valley manned the front row. Lange and Ventura racer Robb Pelmear sat in row two. Indio teen James Turnbull and Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita made up the third row with Bender and Kramer just behind them in row four.

When the race took the green flag, Dyer, 36, led the first lap over Del Monte and Lange. The action did not get far as the first of a series of yellow flags over the first half of the race waved on the second lap.

Bender drove to second on the lap two restart and Michnowicz, who had been out for over a month with leg fractures after a crash at Barona, broke into the top three on lap four.

Even with a multitude of yellow flags slowing the action, the leaders found their way into the lapped traffic on lap five. Lapped traffic or not, Michnowicz was staying locked to the bottom and his car was hooked up. He chased down second place Bender and relegated him to third on the seventh circuit. Two laps later, the five-time CLS champ chased down race long-leader Dyer and blew by him for the lead. Once out front, Michnowicz raced away and established a huge advantage.

Things finally progressed smoothly until lap 12 when the yellow flag reared its ugly head again. Before the race could resume, a red came out due to a driver from another class, who had been injured earlier in the night, needed assistance from the track ambulance.

Racing restarted and ageless Michnowicz was at the point with Dyer, Bender, Kramer and Lange rounding out the top five. It was not long before Nunes, who won a BCRA main event the night before at Placerville, may have seen his fleeting title hopes sail away as he left the track on a hook on lap 13.

One final restart came with 12-laps to go and from that point on, it was green to checkers. Michnowicz moved away for a good-sized lead again and Bender took Dyer for second. With three laps to go, Michnowicz looked to have the main event trophy under lock and key as he was ahead by more than a half straightaway. The only things that could deprive him of the win were a crash, mechanical failure or lapped traffic. In the end, it was the latter that did him in. Heavy lapped traffic with two laps to go slowed the longtime veteran. The lappers not only were racing each other, but one also decided to race with the leader and it cost the front runner some valuable ground.

Seeing Michnowicz battling with the lapped cars, Bender closed in dramatically. As they hit turn two the final time, Bender swooped around Michnowicz, who was stuck behind one of the lappers, for the lead. From there it was a sprint to the checkered and Bender, in the Abacus/bakersfieldhomeforsale.com/Van’s Lodging/R-Tillery Powersports/Automotive Radiator Service/Watkins Construction #91, copped his first main event winner’s trophy of the year. Michnowicz ended up with a hard to swallow second-place finish. Lange came home third for his best finish of the year. Dyer placed fourth with Kramer fifth.

Bender was also the race “Hard Charger.”

The CLS returns to action at the Ventura Raceway on October 5th. Going into that race Kramer has expanded his lead in the standings to 183-points. Nunes is still second with Nigh third. Boat captain Bender has closed to within three-points of Nigh. Greco is fifth.

Bakersfield Speedway Main Event Results (with starting positions)
1. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 7th
2. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 6th
3. Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 3rd
4. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 2nd
5. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 8th
6. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 5th
7. Dominic Del Monte - Gardena, CA – 1st
8. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 10th
9. Wink Schweitzer – Bakersfield, CA – 11th
10. Cody Nigh - Camarillo, CA – 16th
11. Robb Pelmear - Ventura, CA – 4th
12. Pat Kelley - Chino, CA – 12th
13. Jason Arnolde - San Diego, CA – 14th
14. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 9th
15. Mark Henry – 17th
16. Greg Sandling – Laguna Beach, CA – 18th
17. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 13th
18. Ken Coulston – Bermuda Dunes, CA – 15th

POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Standings
1. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 1723
2. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 1539
3 Cody Nigh – Camarillo, CA - 1496
4. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 1493
5. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 1415
6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 1370
7. Aiden Lange - Lakewood, CA – 1351
8. Bobby Michnowicz - Lomita, CA – 1275
9. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 1261
10. Jon Robertson - Torrance, CA – 997

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 – Jarrett Kramer
September 21 Bakersfield Speedway – A.J. Bender
October 5 Ventura Raceway
October 26 Ventura Raceway
November 17 Bakersfield Speedway

PAST CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONS
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

Photo courtesy of Pit Princess.


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