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MICHNOWICZ WINS CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR SERIES NOVEMBER CLASSIC AT THE BAKERSFIELD SPEEDWAY
(Upland, CA, November 24, 2020)
In a year that has been ruled by unpredictably, the predictable happened when five-time California Lightning Sprint Car Series champion Bobby Michnowicz won the November Classic at the Bakersfield Speedway on November 17th. The victory was a repeat performance of the CLS only other race of 2020 when Michnowicz outdistanced the field at the “Okie Bowl” in June.

A fine field of 22-CLS cars showed up for the race at the track dubbed as “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval.” Always fast Lakewood, California teenager Aiden Lange out-qualified the talent-laden field with a lap of 12.771. Not only was that lap the only one in the 12-second bracket in the CLS field, but it was also faster than 43 of the 44 USAC National Midgets who were on hand for their portion of the show. In fact, the time of the top three CLS qualifiers would have put them in the top-seven in the USAC Field. 2020 NASCAR Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed of Alpine was the second quickest qualifier in the CLS with a time of 13.006 and Michnowicz was third when he stopped the clocks at 13.010.

Three eight-lap heat races proceeded the CLS main event. Wyatt Boczanowski of San Diego came from fourth to win the first one. It was his first-ever victory in the CLS. Friendly veteran Cody Nigh of Camarillo also came from fourth when he posted the victory in heat two. The third and final eight-lapper went to Yucca Valley’s Jeff Dyer who took the victory after starting sixth.

For the main event, Creed and USAC/CRA Series regular A.J. Bender of San Diego manned the front row. Youngster James Turnbull of Indio and Michnowicz made up row two. Fast Palmdale teen Eric Greco and Nigh sat in row three with Boczanowski and Lange in the fourth row. When the green flag flew starting the 25-lapper, Creed was the first to get to turn one, but Bender, on the outside, breezed by for the lead coming off the second corner. Michnowicz, who now resides in Oak Hills, was third at the end of the opening circuit. He stayed there until he drove around Creed for second at the end of the fourth go around.

By the time Michnowicz moved into second, Bender, in the pretty Schweitzer owned #41, had established a half straight advantage. The leader caught up to lapped traffic on lap seven and had little trouble racing past the backmarkers. He maintained a good size lead, but that all came to a screeching halt when David Gaspar of Santa Barbara got upside down in turn three. Gaspar escaped unscathed, but his pretty blue number 18 suffered heavy damage.

For the restart, Bender had Michnowicz, Creed, Nigh and Greco all ganged up on his tail. Bender got a great restart and once again left the others in his wake and pulled away to a comfortable lead. The green only stayed out for four laps before another yellow flew when Turnbull stopped against the wall in turn four.

After Turnbull’s car was pulled off the track, racing was ready to resume. The top five were the same, but that was about to change in a hurry. This time Bender did not get a good restart and Michnowicz, who just turned 57, pounced on the opportunity presented to him. The wily veteran dove to the inside going into turn one. He then slid up the track in front of Bender to steal a lead that he would not relinquish. One lap later Creed used the same maneuver to slide into second, but this time Bender cut back to the inside and reclaimed the runner-up spot. That battle for second allowed Michnowicz to establish a commanding lead.

Nigh and Creed exchanged the third-place position in the highly entertaining race on lap 14, but their efforts would soon come to an end. The same looked probable for Michnowicz when his #21 began to puff smoke. And, with each passing lap, it was pushing out more smoke. Another yellow came with 10 laps to go and it was at that point that Nigh dropped out. Once the race restarted, a nervous Michnowicz saw his car stop smoking, but he was holding his breath as he steered around one of his favorite tracks.

Creed’s night came to an end on lap 19 and that elevated Greco to third. But time was running out and Michnowicz was gone out front. The only question was, could his ailing car make it to the finish? It did and he maintained a nearly full straight lead all the way to the checkered flag for another convincing win in his T Shirts by Timeless/Super Shox/Outlaw Wings/Guhl /Pflum Wagner Engines/ Fabozzi Metal Works/DLX by Circle Track Performance Chassis/ZX10. Bender crossed the line second with Greco third. The father and son combo of 16-year-old Grant Sexton and his father Brent from Lakeside finished fourth and fifth. Brent was also the race “Hard Charger” after starting 19th.

“My car was good on the top, but it was smoking,” Michnowicz told the worldwide audience watching live on Flo Racing. “I could smell it. It has been bad all night long. These motors only cost like $2,500.00. I was going to pull off on the last yellow, but Wendy (Michnowicz wife/crew chief) signaled I had the lead. So, I just figured screw it. I will run it until it breaks, or the checker comes out.”

“I have been coming to this track since like 1982,” Michnowicz continued when Flo’s Kristy Bemmes asked why he is so good at Bakersfield. “In TQ’s and then sprint cars. I have always liked this place. The Schweitzer’s (the promoters) are great people. I always do good here luckily. Maybe it is just good luck.”

While the 2020 season is now over, the work continues. The 2021 schedule is taking shape. All the current tracks are expected to be back on board for next year and the return of another longtime stop for the CLS may be added as well.

If you or your company would like to become part of the series for the 2021 season, please call Alex Grigoreas at (909) 437-3170.

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at http://racecls.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/californialightningsprints/

Bakersfield Main Event Finish (with starting positions)
1. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 4th
2. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 2nd
3. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 5th
4. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 9th
5. Brent Sexton - Lakeside, CA – 19th
6. Jeff Dyer – Yucca, Valley, CA – 12th
7. Jeremy Queener- Mira Loma, CA, CA -17th
8. Kevin Bates – San Diego, CA – 10th
9. Trevor Ballou- Corona, CA – 14th
10. Greg Dennett - Livermore, CA – 16th
11. Robb Pelmear - Ventura, CA – 11th
12. Rudy Padilla - Norco, CA – 18th
13. James Helling – San Bernardino, CA – 13th
14. Sheldon Creed - Alpine, CA – 1st
15. Wyatt Boczanowski – San Diego, CA – 7th
16. Jon Robertson - Torrance, CA – 15th
17. Cody Nigh - Camarillo, CA – 6th
18. James Turnbull - Indio, CA – 3rd
19. Aiden Lange - Lakewood, CA – 8th
20. David Gaspar – Santa Barbara, CA – 21st
21. Chase Gaal – O’Neals, CA – 20th

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, 2019 Jarrett Kramer.

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