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ERIC GRECO LEADS WIRE TO WIRE AT SANTA MARIA FOR SECOND CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR SERIES WIN OF THE YEAR
(Upland, CA, July 9, 2021
) Recent high school graduate Eric Greco led green to checkered last Saturday on a challenging Santa Maria Raceway track surface for his second California Lightning Sprint Car Series victory of 2021.


Left to Right: 2nd place finisher James Turnbull, winner Eric Greco, third place Bobby Michnowicz. CLS Photo.

At the CLS first trip to the 1/3-mile banked clay oval in two years, Greco set the tone early on that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with by out qualifying the 15-car field with a lap of 14.134. San Diego’s A.J. Bender, who was seeking his third straight CLS win, timed in second with a lap of 14.205. Lakewood teen Aiden Lange was third fastest against the clock with a time of 14.400.

The only chink in Greco’s armor all-night long came when he placed second behind Livermore’s Greg Dennett in the first heat race of the night. Rookie Dave Gasper of Santa Barbara was third. “Rockstar” Jon Robertson of Torrance took the second heat over series point leader James Turnbull of Indio and Bender.

For the 25-lap main event, Greco and fellow teen Gasper made up row one. Bender and five-time series champion Bobby Michnowicz of Oak Hills sat in the second row with Turnbull and Robertson in row three.

When the green flag started the race, Greco, who won the CLS season opener at the Bakersfield Speedway in early March, jumped into the lead and was being chased by Gasper, Bender and Michnowicz. It became apparent immediately that it was going to be tough for anybody in the field to catch Greco in the beautiful Janssen’s Floor and Fabric Care/Sidewaze Designs/Greco Family/Competition Suspension Inc/Henchcraft/ZX10R #8G. By the end of the third circuit he was nearly a half lap ahead of the field and he started putting back markers a lap down on the sixth go around.

On lap seven Bender took advantage of lapped traffic and relegated Gasper back to third. Moments later Gasper was trying to pass one of the lappers on the outside going into turn three. Unfortunately, he drove over the lapped cars right rear. Gasper’s bright blue #18 got up in the air and it looked as though he was going to go for a big-time ride. Fortunately, the car came back down on all fours, and he tapped the crashwall. He was able to restart at the back.

Greco was at the point for the restart with Bender, Turnbull and Michnowicz second through fourth. However, the restart did not get far as Bender tangled with the turn one ruts. Like Gasper, he kept it on four wheels and only had minor contact with another car coming from behind, but it ended his hopes for a CLS hat trick.

The next restart still had Greco at the head of the pack followed by Turnbull, Michnowicz, and Greg Dennett in the top four spots. Greco again cruised away and built a comfortable lead, but he would soon face his only challenge in the race. On lap 11, he encountered lapped cars and Turnbull came calling. The point leader and his #2 car closed dramatically on the leader, but once Greco got clear of the back markers, he pulled away again and went unchallenged. At the checkers, he was a full straightaway ahead of runner up Turnbull. Michnowicz prevailed in a late race battle with Gasper, who came from the back, to finish third. Gasper was fourth with Gardena’s Dominic Del Monte ending up fifth.

Rookie Mark Henry of Rosamond was the race “Hard Charger” finishing sixth after starting 12th.

“We have had a terrible last four races,” Greco told the large crowd after climbing out of his car on the front straightaway. “The last four races our car kept breaking. Feels good to finally get that stuff to work. I really wanted to sweep the night, but we did not have a great heat race. I want to thank Aiden Lange. My Race Receiver broke, and I borrowed his.”

Turnbull will carry a 70-point lead over Michnowicz when the CLS returns to Santa Maria on July 24th. Greco moved up to the third spot and is only 22 markers out of second. Gasper is third, just 10-points behind Greco. Yucca Valley, California’s Jeff Dyer is fifth.

Gasper has a commanding 260-point advantage over Henry in the “Rookie of the Year” standings. Trevor Ballou of Corona is third.

The CLS would like to thank 2021 series sponsors Hoosier Tires, T Shirts By Timeless, TJ Forged Racing Wheels, and Walker Performance Filtration. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, 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/

Santa Maria Main Event Results (with starting positions)
1. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 1st
2. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 5th
3. Bobby Michnowicz – Oak Hills, CA – 4th
4. Dave Gasper – Santa Barbara, CA – 2nd
5. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 9th
6. Mark Henry – Rosamond, CA – 12th
7. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 6th
8. Pat Kelley – Chino, CA – 8th
9. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 3rd
10. Leland Day – Bakersfield, CA – 13th
11. Juan Kopp – Tucumcari, NM – 11th
12. Greg Dennett – Livermore, CA – 7th
13. Wyatt Boczanowski – San Diego, CA – 10th
DNS Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA

2021 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Point Standings
1. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 736
2. Bobby Michnowicz – Oak Hills, CA – 666
3. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 644
4. Dave Gasper – Santa Barbara, CA – 634
5. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 562
6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 489
7. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 484
8. Mark Henry - Rosamond, CA – 377
9. Trevor Ballou - Corona, CA – 373
10. Jon Robertson - Torrance, CA - 366

CLS/BCRA Civil War Series Point Standings
1. James Turnbull – CLS – 135
2. Bobby Michnowicz – CLS – 133
3. Dakota Albright – BCRA – 121
4. Dave Gasper – CLS – 119
5. Aiden Lange – CLS – 112
6. Seth Hespe – WASH – 107
7. Jeff Dyer – CLS – 98
8. Chase Gaal – CLS – 88
9. Eric Greco – CLS – 85
10. Brandon Leedy – BCRA 83

2021 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Schedule

March 13 Bakersfield Speedway – Eric Greco

April 10 Bakersfield Speedway – Bobby Michnowicz

April 24 Merced Speedway (Wayne Albright Memorial - Round #1 of the Civil War Series with BCRA – Wingless) – James Turnbull

May 15 Bakersfield Speedway – A.J. Bender

June 5 Ventura Raceway – A.J. Bender

June 19 Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford) – Postponed due to heat.

July 3 Santa Maria Speedway – Eric Greco

July 24 Santa Maria Speedway (Wing Madness #1)

August 7 Merced Speedway (Civil War Series #2 with BCRA – Winged)

August 14 Bakersfield Speedway

August 28 Santa Maria Speedway

September 4 Ventura Raceway

September 18 Bakersfield Speedway (Civil War #3 with BCRA – Winged)

September 19 The Dirt Track At Kern County Raceway Park

September 25 Santa Maria Speedway (Wing Madness #2)

October 2 Ventura Raceway

October 30 Ventura Raceway

November 16 Bakersfield Speedway (Civil War #4 with BCRA – Winged and Western States Lightning Sprint Car Championship)

November 18 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – (Co sanctioned with BCRA and in companion with the USAC National Midgets)

November 19 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – (Co sanctioned with BCRA and in companion with the USAC National Midgets)

November 20 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – (Co sanctioned with BCRA and in companion with the USAC National Midgets)

The schedule is subject to change due to Covid restrictions.

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