Monday, October 30, 2017

Western World Brings The Best Of National & CRA Worlds To Arizona Nov. 3-4

Chris Windom won three of the four features held during the 2016 "Western
World Championships" at Arizona Speedway (Photo Courtesy Rich Forman)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

As the winter months draw nearer, a frost begins to blanket the fields and the chill of the air begins to settle in as much of the country heads indoors.

When the cold front hits, racers don't fret over the thought of old man winter, frigid temperatures and a frozen tundra of dirt tracks sitting idle.

Instead, racers find another place to play. They've all pointed their compasses west to bring us the best of both worlds as the USAC AMSOIL National and CRA Sprint Cars meet head-to-head for bragging rights and the prestige of becoming a "Western World" champion.

The season-long national AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship race has reached its final stretch, involving the drivers who've run one-two in the standings for much of the season. Ione, California's Justin Grant clings to a 29-point advantage over Chris Windom of Canton, Illinois with five western races remaining.

Grant's Western World marquee highlight dates to the 2015 season when he captured the victory on the opening night of the 360 portion of the program at USA Raceway in Tucson, interestingly enough, driving at the time for the Baldwin Brothers team that his nearest challenger Windom now occupies.

Windom was simply dominant during the 2016 "Western World," leaving with a complete sweep of both nights of the National & CRA programs, while winning and finishing third in his two 360 outings.

Though he stands a distant third in the National standings, Kevin Thomas, Jr. has been like Pacman lately, gobbling up points left and right in recent months. He's been victorious in three of the last five events, including the last two. He even got his Southwest trip started off on the right foot with a Southwest Sprint Car victory at Central Arizona Speedway last Saturday night.

Three-time "Western World" race winner Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma returns to the Dooling/Hayward team that won the 2015 "Western World" with Bryan Clauson at the wheel. They will be joined alongside by a few pairings of west coast teams with Midwest-based drivers including 2005

"Western World" USAC Sprint victor Dave Darland and Ford Motorsports as well as drivers Thomas Meseraull and Hunter Schuerenberg with Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports.

To show how the west was won, these individuals will have to break through against a crop who intends to defend their home turf. 360 king R.J. Johnson, a 2010 "Western World" 360 winner out of Phoenix, Arizona, has become a force in the 410 ranks this season while maintaining his dominance in the Southwest division where he's all but locked up his fifth-straight series crown.

Concord, California's Damion Gardner has a 101-point lead as he eyes his fifth consecutive CRA title and sixth overall. Last year, "The Demon" raced to back-to-back runner-up finishes behind Windom at the "Western World."

Anaheim, California's Jake Swanson has already locked down USAC's West Coast Sprint Car title this season, but a first CRA title hangs in the balance as he sits second behind Gardner. Behind Swanson is the driver he dethroned in the West Coast series, Brody Roa of Garden Grove, California who himself is a 360 winner at the "Western World" in 2015 while two-time West Coast champ Danny Faria, Jr. takes over the reins of Midwest car owner Michael Dutcher's No. 17GP.

The 50th annual "Western World" gets underway with an open practice night on Thursday night, November 2 followed by complete programs each night on November 3 & 4 for the National Sprints with CRA as well as the season finales for the Southwest Sprint Cars.

An open practice night begins the festivities from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Thursday. On Friday, pits open at 3pm, with the drivers meeting taking place at 4:30pm and cars on track at 5:25pm. On Saturday, pits open at 3pm, with an autograph session set for 4pm, a drivers meeting taking place at 5pm and cars on track at 5:25pm.

Friday adult general admission tickets are $20, kids age 7-12 are $10, kids age 6 and under are $5 and pit passes are $35. Friday reserved tickets are $25, kids age 7-12 are $15, kids age 6 and under are $10 and pit passes are $35.

Saturday adult general admission tickets are $25, kids age 7-12 are $10, kids age 6 and under are $5 and pit passes are $35. Friday reserved tickets are $30, kids age 7-12 are $15, kids age 6 and under are $10 and pit passes are $35.

A package that includes tickets for both Friday and Saturday's events are $55 for adults, $25 for kids age 7-12, $20 for kids 6 and under and $75 for pit passes.

Both nights of the "Western World" and all three nights of the "Oval Nationals" will be streamed LIVE on