CROWDER MAKES LAST LAP PASS TO WIN LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR MAIN AT HANGTOWN 100

(Upland, CA, November 22, 2021) Chris Crowder led about three seconds of the main event at night #2 of the California Lightning Sprint Car Series/Bay Cities Racing Association co-sanctioned “Hangtown 100” on Friday night at the Placerville Speedway. Those three seconds were the most important of the race as they ticked off between turn four and the checkered flag on the final lap giving Crowder a well-deserved win. The victory was his first ever in the CLS.

Like the first night on Thursday, the fastest 12 qualifiers garnered points. The heat races used an ASCS formula that distributed points by combining finishing positions and passing points. When the points were tallied up after the heats, the top sixteen drivers went straight into the main event. Drivers that did not accumulate enough points to get into the top sixteen ran a twelve lap B main. The top four finishers in the B earned the final spots for the main event.

After a delay due to a brief rainstorm, Crowder, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was the fastest of the 31 qualifiers when he recorded a lap of 12.644. Sexton Gatlin Racing teammates Grant Sexton of Lakeside and San Diego’s AJ Bender were third and fourth with times of 12.650 and 12.657, respectively.

Teenage point leader David Gasper of Santa Barbara captured the first eight lap heat race. Heat two went to El Cajon teen Braden Chiaramonte. Saving face for the older generation, Yucca Valley’s Jeff Dyer and Brent Sexton of Lakeside won the third and fourth heat races.

For the second night in a row, Modesto’s Josef Ferolito captured the 12-lap B main to earn his ticket to the 25-lap feature. Billingham, Washington’s Alex Lewis, Dakota Albright of Waterford, and Rancho Cordova’s Craig Holsted took the other three transfer spots.

Fourteen-year-old Chiaramonte was on the pole for the main event with 19-year-old Greco on the outside. Thursday winner Logan Seavey, who hails from Sutter, California, a town of about 3,000 which is 93 miles from Placerville, manned the inside of row two. Crowder was outside of Seavey. The third row featured Thursday’s second place finisher Bender and his teammate Grant Sexton. The all-time leading winner in Lightning Sprint Car mains at Placerville, Scott Kinney of Citrus Heights, and Gasper made up row four.

On a night where the fog was rolling in and out, Chiaramonte was the first to turn 1 when the green flag sent the field on its way. Greco, Crowder, and Grant Sexton were close behind. Crowder advanced up to second when Greco went wide coming off the fourth corner on the opening lap.

In a bizarre twist early on, Greco hit a rut in turn #1 that shot him up the track. Grant Sexton, with nowhere to go, caught Greco’s right rear and flipped. Seconds later as cars were coming to a stop for the red, Sexton’s older brother, Dalton, flipped on the opposite end of the 56-year-old racing facility. Both siblings were uninjured and the fact that Dalton flipped, benefited Grant. Once Grant’s car was turned back over, he was able to drive it back to the pits. In the time it took to remove Dalton’s heavily damaged car from the track, the crew was able to repair Grant’s car and he restarted at the rear of the pack.

Chiaramonte was still on the point for the restart, and he was being followed by Crowder, Greco, Seavey, and Gasper. As Chiaramonte began to inch away, it was obvious that Seavey was having some issues as both Gasper and Bender passed him for fourth and fifth on the seventh lap. Seconds later Seavey exited the track and was credited with a 16th place finish.

Bender, who has been on a tear since joining forces with SGR last month, started moving forward by first passing Gasper for fourth and then taking Greco for third on lap eight.

As the race progressed, Chiaramonte, who was far in front when he grenaded an engine with seven laps to go at Bakersfield and who flipped while running third with seven laps to go on Thursday, continued to lead over Crowder. Gasper broke into the top three for the first time on lap 10 when he got by Bender. He stayed there until Bender repaid the favor on lap 18.

Crowder came calling on Chiaramonte a couple times, but the kid was equal to his challenges. By lap 15, Chiaramonte’s white #73 had moved out to about a half second lead. Meanwhile, a lot of the crowd had shifted its attention to Grant Sexton. After restarting at the back due to his flip, he was slicing and dicing his way through the field. On lap 19 he broke back into the top five when he raced by Greco.

With five laps to go, Chiaramonte was still holding about a half second lead. Running the highline through one and two was allowing Crowder to close in on the bottom. On laps 23 and 24, Crowder took full advantage of the opportunity presented and tried to go past the race long leader when they exited turn number 2. Both times, Chiaramonte fended him off.

Midnight struck for Chiaramonte on the final lap with a momentary bobble in turn two. Crowder immediately pounced on the situation and pushed his nose ahead as they came off the corner. Chiaramonte did not give up. He pulled even with Crowder on the back chute and pulled ahead in turn three. However, a big bobble by the leader in turn four opened up the bottom of the track, and before he recovered, Crowder had raced by for the lead, and mere seconds later, he had the win. In addition, Bender also got by before Chiaramonte recovered and finished second. Chiaramonte crossed the line in third with Gasper, and Grant Sexton close behind.

Unfortunately, Chiaramonte’s bad luck did not end on the track. Soon after the race ended, his car failed the post-race inspection, and he was disqualified. That moved Gasper to third, Grant Sexton to fourth and Greco to fifth in the official finishing order.

Lewis was the race “Hard Charger” finishing eighth after starting 18th.

Heading into the last race of the season, super rookie Gasper had a 76-point advantage over Greco in the championship standings, James Turnbull of Indio, who led the standings much of the season, was third. Dyer and Bender were fourth and fifth.

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

Bakersfield Speedway 25-Lap Main Event Finish (with starting positions)

  1. Chris Crowder – Colorado Springs, CO – 4th
  2. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 5th
  3. David Gasper – San Diego, CA – 8th
  4. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 6th
  5. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 2nd
  6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 14th
  7. Levi Klatt – Langley, BC, Canada – 15th
  8. Alex Lewis – Bellingham, WA – 18th
  9. Brent Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 9th
  10. Dakota Albright – Waterford, CA – 13th
  11. Danika’Jo Parker – Oakdale, CA – 19th
  12. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 11th
  13. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 12th
  14. Josef Ferolito – Modesto, CA – 17th
  15. Scott Kinney – Citrus Heights, CA – 7th
  16. Logan Seavey – Sutter, CA – 3rd
  17. Craig Holsted – Rancho Cordova, CA – 20th

18 Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 10th

  1. Dalton Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 16th

DQ Brandon Chiaramonte – El Cajon, CA – 1st

Hard Charger: Alex Lewis Start 18th Finish 8th

Lightning Sprint Car Series Points

  1. David Gasper ® – Santa Barbara, CA – 1783
  2. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 1707
  3. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 1673
  4. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 1544
  5. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 1357
  6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 1264
  7. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 1046
  8. Pat Kelley – Chino, CA – 871
  9. Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 815
  10. Bobby Michnowicz – Oak Hills, CA – 807

CLS/BCRA Civil War Series Point Standings

  1. Dave Gasper – CLS – 461
  2. James Turnbull – CLS – 410
  3. Eric Greco – CLS – 391
  4. Brandon Leedy – BCRA – 372
  5. Jeff Dyer – CLS – 337
  6. Terry Bergstrom – BCRA – 331
  7. Dominic Del Monte – CLS – 312
  8. Dakota Albright – BCRA – 306
  9. Bobby Michnowicz – CLS – 276
  10. Aiden Lange – CLS – 235

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 28 Ventura Raceway – Eric Greco

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

September 19 The Dirt Track at Kern County Raceway Park – David Gasper

October 2 Ventura Raceway – Eric Greco

October 30 Ventura Raceway – Jeff Dyer

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

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

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

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

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



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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