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(Upland, CA, August 11, 2021)
Shaking off the disappointment of losing a right rear wheel while running second late in the race at Santa Maria a couple weeks earlier, rookie Dave Gasper led most of the way for his first ever California Lightning Sprint Car main event win. The victory came in the “Civil War Series” at the Merced Speedway last Saturday and it matched the CLS vs the cars of the Bay Cities Racing Association. The race was part of the “Kevin Triplett Memorial” and honored Triplett, who passed away this year due to Covid.

Dave Gasper photo courtesy of Lance Jennings.

Teen Gasper, who resides in Santa Barbara, started the night off right when he turned in a lap of 12.567 in qualifying. That was the quickest time of the 17 cars on hand. Lakewood’s Aiden Lange was the second fastest with a time of 12.664. Five-time champion and CLS legend Bobby Michnowicz of Oak Hills was third quickest around the quarter-mile oval when he stopped the clocks at 12.700. However, that was Michnowicz’ first and last hurrah of the night as he broke a rod sending him home early.

Palmdale’s Eric Greco, who has two CLS wins on the year, captured the first heat race from the outside of row two. Gasper, who started sixth, finished second, and Steve Roza took third. Steve Kinney from Citrus Heights won the second heat from the pole. He was chased across the line by Gardena’s Dominic Del Monte and “Rockstar” John Robertson of Torrance.

For the 25-lap main event, Del Monte was on the pole and Kinney was slated to start next to him. However, Kinney was unable to make the call. That moved Gasper to the outside of the front row. Greco and current CLS point leader James Turnbull of Indio comprised the second row. Past Speedway Motorcycle racer Brandon Leedy from Placerville and Robertson made up row three.

The Lightning main event was the last race of the six classes to race on the night and when the green flag flew to start the race, Del Monte was the first to the turn. However, he bounced through the rough inside line right into the path of Gasper. Gasper got hard on the binders to avoid disaster. Del Monte’s “bounce-o-rama” opened up the bottom line for Turnbull and he took full advantage by darting to the low groove coming off turn two. By the time the field completed the first circuit, Turnbull was the leader.

Turnbull maintained the top spot until lap nine when Gasper, in a “Showtime” Danny Sheridan look alike blue racecar, flew by on the outside in turn three for the lead. Greco followed suit and passed Turnbull for second on lap 11.

The race stayed green until lap 15 when Turnbull slowed and stopped on the back straight. He hit the rut in the first corner one too many times and it broke the left rear radius rod heim and bird cage. That put the point leader out of the race with a frustrating 11th place finish.

Racing resumed with Gasper, in his Kittle Motorsports/Gasper Racing/Valley Precision Products #18, at the point. Greco and Del Monte were second and third. The running order remained the same until the yellow flew again on lap 19 when Josef Ferolito, who was running in fifth, stopped on the front straight.

On the restart after the Ferolito yellow, Greco swung to the outside of Gasper coming off turn four and tried to pass him for the lead. He stayed on the wide line through turns one and two and down the back chute before darting to the inside going into turn three. As they came off the fourth corner Greco raced into first. However, his time at the point was short lived and young Gasper would not be denied. Greco bounced through the ruts in turn one and lost some of his momentum. As he came off the second corner, Gasper powered by on the inside to reclaim the lead on the 21st go around.

In the waning laps, Greco initially hung close, but over the last two circuits, Gasper pulled away and took the checkered flag with nearly a half straight to spare. Greco crossed the line in second, followed by Del Monte, Leedy and Citrus Heights veteran Hunter Kinney. Kinney was the race “Hard Charger” after coming from 11th on the start.

After the race was over, officials penalized Greco one spot for not staying in line on the final restart. That moved Del Monte up to second for his best finish of 2021.

Heading into the next race, Turnbull still leads the standings and has a 70-point advantage over second-place Gasper. Greco, Michnowicz and Del Monte round out the top five.

After two of four races in the “Civil War Series,” CLS drivers hold down the first four spots. Gasper is the new leader with Turnbull, Greco, and Del Monte in positions two through four. Leedy is the top BCRA driver and is currently fifth.

On Monday morning, three upcoming scheduled CLS races were canceled. Two of the deletions came when the Santa Maria Raceway closed its doors. The third cancelation was for the race scheduled for this Saturday night at the Bakersfield Speedway. The track pulled the plug on the event because of unhealthy air conditions due to the smoke from the fires in Northern California and projected sizzling temperatures on race day. Fortunately, CLS official Dick Hindman immediately started working the phones and Ventura Raceway promoter Jim Naylor graciously added the CLS to its August 28th race program.

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/

Merced Main Event (with starting positions)
1. Dave Gasper – Santa Barbara, CA – 2nd
2. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 1st
3. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 3rd
4. Brandon Leedy – Placerville, CA – 5th
5. Hunter Kinney – Citrus Heights, CA -11th
6. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 6th
7. Danika Jo Parker – Oakdale, CA - 8th
8. Don Hart – Woodcrest, CA - 13th
9. Josef Ferolito – 9th
10. Pat Kelley – Chino, CA – 10th
11. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 4th
12. Steve Roza – 7th
13. Terry Bergstrom - 12th
DNS Scott Kinney – Citrus Heights, CA
DNS Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA
DNS Bobby Michnowicz – Oak Hills, CA

Lap Leaders: Turnbull 1-8, Gasper 9–19, Greco – 20, Gasper 21-25

2021 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Point Standings
1. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 917
2. Dave Gasper – Santa Barbara, CA – 847
3. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 836
4. Bobby Michnowicz – Oak Hills, CA – 694
5. Dominic Del Monte - Gardena, CA – 678
6. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 672
7. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 623
8. Jon Robertson - Torrance, CA – 548
9. Aiden Lange - Lakewood, CA – 486
10. Pat Kelley - Chino, CA - 471

CLS/BCRA Civil War Series Point Standings
1. Dave Gasper – CLS – 259
2. James Turnbull – CLS – 213
3. Eric Greco – CLS – 212
4. Dominic Del Monte – CLS – 204
5. Brandon Leedy - BCRA – 202
6. Hunter Kinney – BCRA – 195
7. Josef Ferolito - BCRA – 157
8. Aiden Lange – CLS – 152
9. Danika Jo Parker – BCRA – 151
10. Bobby Michnowicz – CLS - 133

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) Santa Maria – A.J. Bender

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

August 14 Bakersfield Speedway

August 28 Santa Maria Speedway

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.

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