Silver Dollar Speedway
Gardner and Schutte Win Gold on Thursday Night
CHICO, CA (9-8-16) -Â Over 55 traditional non wing sprints and midgets lined the pit area at Silver Dollar Speedway during the Thursday night edition of the twin billing featuring the USAC/CRA Sprints and USAC/BCRA Midgets. The Thursday night tradition took place during the 63rd Gold Cup Race of Champions. Once the checkered flag waived it was Concord, CA driver Damion Gardner securing the sprint car win. For Gardner it was his 68th career USAC/CRA Sprint car win. "The Demon" is known as a non-wing specialist, but his roots are tied to Dwarf Cars and winged sprint cars in Northern California. Redding, CA driver Alex Schutte won the 30-lap midget main event. This was a big win for Schutte who said, "Growing up so close to Chico you always heard about the Gold Cup. Now to finally get a win at Gold Cup is something I will cherish forever."
AMSOIL USAC/CAR Sprint Car series point leader Damion Gardner led the first seven laps during the 30 lap main event. Broken Arrow, OK driver Brady Bacon passed Gardner on lap eight and took over the lead. Bacon looked comfortable up front and negotiated the lapped cars with style. Yet, it was a late race restart that would change the outcome. Bacon slipped up and over the ledge in turn two on lap 23 and this gave Gardner the opening he needed. Gardner led the final seven laps to win Thursday night's "Gold Cup Race of Champions" feature at Silver Dollar Speedway.
Trailing Gardner's Mark Alexander Scott Sales Company/Weld Racing Spike/J & D at the checkered flag was AMSOIL USAC National Sprint leader Bacon. Former California racer Thomas Meseraull continued his hot All Coast Construction California Sprint Week by finishing third. Hollister, CA and defending sprint week champion Ryan Bernal finished fourth. Danny Faria Jr. rounded out the top five. Jake Morgan earned the hard charger award. Morgan started 22nd and finished 14th.
Anaheim's Jake Swanson started the night off by breaking the all-time non wing sprint car track record during qualifying. Swanson's lap was a blistering 13.353. Jac Haudenschild and Meseraull were also under the previous record held by Damion Gardner.
Heat race winners included Austin Liggett, Richard Vander Weerd, Meseraull and Gardner. The Brown & Miller Racing Solutions semi main event winner was Geoff Ensign. Following Ensign into the feature event were Max Adams, Jace Vander Weerd, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brody Roa and Morgan.
Frankie Guerrini took early control of the 30 lap midget main event. In fact, Guerrini led the first 17 circuits. On the 18th lap Alex Schutte, driving the Zito Vault Aero/Aircraft Electrical Components Spike/Esslinger, grabbed the lead. Schutte then began to pull away from Guerrini. When the checkered flag waived Schutte had secured the win. Guerrini held on to finish second. Finishing third was Cory Elliott of Bakersfield. Galt's Matt Streeter came home in fourth. The top finishing rookie was Courtney Crone in fifth.
While the main event did not go her way, kudos to Shannon McQueen who lent her back up car to point leader Ronnie Gardner allowing him to race in the main event. Earlier in the night, Gardner had a mechanical failure that would have ended his night if not for McQueen. Not only did Gardner start, but he was the hard charger coming from 13th to finish seventh. Robert Dalby was the Woodland Auto Display fastest qualifier at a 14.217. McQueen, Schutte and Taylor each earned heat race wins.
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