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(Torrance, CA, May 20, 2024)
Six-time California Lightning Sprint Car Series champion Bobby Michnowicz continued his domination at the Bakersfield Speedway by winning his third main event of 2024 on the 1/3 mile-high banked clay oval. Not only did he win the main event, but he also was the fastest qualifier and finished second in his heat race.

Bobby Michnowicz has won all three CLS races at Bakersfield in 2024. CLS Photo

In addition to Michnowicz winning all three of the CLS main events at the “Okie Bowl” this year, the ageless 60-year-old has set the fastest qualifying time at each race. His lap of 12.786 on Saturday was his best of the season. San Diego’s AJ Bender, who won the last series race at Ventura, was back in Brian Fonseca’s Savage Racing #3F and he was the only other driver with a sub-13-second lap when he toured the Scott Schweitzer promoted oval in 12.815. Palmdale’s Eric Greco had the third-best lap in qualifying at 13.029. Yucca Valley’s Seth Dyer and Bakersfield’s Broedy Graham were fourth and fifth in time trials with laps of 13.061 and 13.138 respectively.

High school football player Graham, driving the Bailey Schweitzer tribute car, was the only driver to finish ahead of Michnowicz all night long when he bested him in the first eight-lap heat race. Camarillo’s Cody Nigh, Michnowicz's nephew, placed third. Bender, who did not have a ride until Fonseca called him the night before, won the second heat over “Rockstar” Jon Robertson of Torrance and two-time CLS champion Brent Sexton of Lakeside.

When the cars pulled onto “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval” for the 25-lap main, Bender was on the pole with teen Graham starting to his right. Michnowicz manned the inside of row two. Dyer was with him in that row. Sexton and Greco were in row three and were followed by Nigh and Robertson.

The original start was quickly waved off and CLS officials penalized Graham one row for jumping the start. That advanced Dyer to the outside of the front row. On the restart, Bender rolled into turn one in the lead. Michnowicz flew inside Dyer in turn two and set his sights on the leader. By the end of the second circuit, Bender and Michnowicz moved away from the Dyer vs Graham battle. Graham eventually won that war but he was far behind the lead duo.

Michnowicz, who has been racing for more than half of a century, began to apply intense heat to Bender on lap four. He tried to knife his way by on the inside but Bender, who won his first ever USAC/CRA 410 sprint car main at Perris Auto Speedway on April 27th, thwarted the effort. Michnowicz was hunting high and low and finally raced around the outside of Bender for the lead at the end of the eighth circuit. He quickly pulled away and many thought the handwriting was on the wall. As it turned out, that was not to be.

By lap 11, Michnowicz had a 10-car length advantage. He got to the lapped traffic on lap 12 and at first, there were no problems. However, things changed on lap 17 when the racing grandpa could not get past a pair of the lappers who were fighting for position. That allowed Bender to close back in and challenge for the lead. Two laps later, Bender momentarily poked his nose into the top spot. Michnowicz, driving the T Shirts By Timeless/Super Shox/Fabozzi Metal Works/Outlaw Wings/TJ Forged/Keizer Wheels/Simpson/Bondio Fabrication/Fast Time Studios/Pflum – Wagner/DLX/Kawasaki ZX10, fended off that attack and finally, after one more lap, raced around the two lappers.

A split second after Michnowicz got around the lappers, Bender attempted to do the same. Coming off turn four, one of the cars slid up the track and clobbered him. The clout sent the #3F sideways but he quickly gathered it back in, made a great save, and continued on. However, that blow decided the race as by the time he recovered, Michnowicz pulled away.

Over the final four laps, Michnowicz went unchallenged and scored the win with room to spare. Bender ended up second and Graham placed third. Dyer and fellow teen Zate Legend of Riverside were fourth and fifth. Legend was also the race Hard Charger after starting 10th.

Michnowicz has started five of the six CLS races in 2024 and has led 67 main event laps. The closest to his total is Fillmore’s Connor Speir who has been out front for 20-laps.

Michnowicz domination on the night allowed him to increase his point lead to 95 digits over his nephew Nigh heading into the June 8th race at the Ventura Raceway. Greco is currently 3rd in the championship standings. Teenagers Dyer and Legend are ranked fourth and fifth.

The CLS would like to thank the following companies for being partners in the 2024 season. Extreme Mufflers, RacingJunk.com and Hoosier Tire.

May 18 Bakersfield Results

Qualifying: 1. Bobby Michnowicz, 12.786; 2. AJ Bender, 12.815; 3. Eric Greco, 13.029; 4. Seth Dyer, 13.061; 5. Broedy Graham, 13.138; 6. Brent Sexton, 13.179; 7. Cody Nigh, 13.180; 8. Jon Robertson, 13.180; 9. Jeff Dyer, 13.183; 10. Leland Day, 13.361; 11. Zate Legend, 13.411; 12. Connor Speir, 13.476; 13. Pat Kelley, 13.685; 14. Clay Byers, 13.813

Heat 1- 8 Laps: 1. Graham, 2. Michnowicz, 3. Nigh, 4. J. Dyer, 5. Greco, 6. Legend, 7. Kelley

Heat 2 - 8 Laps): 1. Bender, 2. Robertson, 3. Sexton, 4. Day, 5. S. Dyer, 6. Speir, 7. Byers

Main Event 25 Laps (With Starting Positions and Distance Behind)
1. Bobby Michnowicz, Oak Hills, CA … (3rd)
2. AJ Bender, San Diego, CA … 1.511 (1st)
3. Broedy Graham, Bakersfield, CA … 4.291 (2nd)
4. Seth Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … 7.030 (4th)
5. Zate Legend, Riverside, CA … 12.649 (10th)
6. Brent Sexton, Lakeside, CA … 12.999 (5th)
7. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA … 1 Lap (11th)
8. Jon Robertson, Torrance, CA … 1 Lap (8th)
9. Leland Day, Bakersfield, CA … 1 Laps (9th)
10. Pat Kelley, Chino, CA … 2 Laps (12th)
11. Clay Byer, Bakersfield, CA … 10 Laps (13th)
12. Eric Greco, Palmdale, CA … 14 Laps (6th)
13. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA … 14 Laps (7th)
DNS Jeff Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA

Main Event Hard Charger: Zate Legend

Laps Led: Bender 1-7, Michnowicz 8-25

2024 Season Lap Leaders
1. Bobby Michnowicz … 67
2. Connor Speir … 20
3. Jeff Dyer … 17
4. Aiden Lange … 16
5. AJ Bender … 15
6. Cody Nigh … 4
7. Greg Dennett … 1

California Lightning Sprint Car Series Points
1. Bobby Michnowicz, Oak Hills, CA … 659
2. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA … 564
3. Eric Greco, Palmdale, CA … 511
4. Seth Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … 486
5. Zate Legend, Riverside, CA … 480
6. Jon Robertson, Torrance, CA … 472
7. Jeff Dyer, Riverside, CA … 469
8. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA … 450
9. Aiden Lange, Lakewood, CA … 382
10. Broedy Graham, Bakersfield, CA … 367

2024 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Schedule

March 1 Imperial Valley Raceway Mid-Winter Fair Aiden Lange

March 2 Imperial Valley Raceway Mid-Winter Fair Connor Speir

March 9 Bakersfield Speedway CLS Bobby Michnowicz

April 13 Merced Speedway CSL vs BCRA Civil War #1 Rained Out

April 20 Bakersfield Speedway CLS Bobby Michnowicz

May 4 Ventura Raceway CLS AJ Bender

May 18 Bakersfield Speedway CLS Bobby Michnowicz

June 8 Ventura Raceway CLS

June 15 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

July 5 Santa Maria Speedway CLS

July 6 Santa Maria Speedway CLS

July 27 Santa Maria Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #2

September 13 Bakersfield Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #3

September 14 Ventura Raceway CLS

September 28 Ventura Raceway CLS

October 5 Merced Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #4 Albright Memorial

October 26 Ventura Raceway CLS

November 15 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – No Points

November 16 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – No Points

November 26 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at http://racecls.com/ and follow on the club’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/californialightningsprints.

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, 2021 David Gasper, 2022 David Gasper, 2023 Bobby Michnowicz

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