Madera Ready for USAC Sprints and Ford Focus Midgets - By Bobby Gerould - 04/21/04 - Madera, CA. …The Valvoline Untied States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Sprint Car series will open its 2004 racing season Saturday night April 24th at Madera Speedway. A strong list of pre entrants has thrown their helmets into the ring for the paved sprint car event with a purse approaching $16,000. No less than six states will be represented Saturday night at the fast one-third mile Central California speed plant.
Among the top stars expected to compete for the winner's share of $2,500 are defending series champ, Michael Lewis of Noblesville, Indiana, Tony Hunt of Fair Oaks, CA., and lady racers, Shauna Hogg, Amy Barnes, and Destiney Hays. Add former series champion drivers Rick Hendrix (Palmdale, CA), and Fresno's Jeff Gardner, and it is easy to see why excitement is building for the weekend showdown.
Driving for the potent Western Speed Racing Team, Lewis posted six wins and 14 "top tens" in 15 starts last season. His teammate this Saturday will be Tony Hunt, the 2001 USAC Western Sprint Car Champion. The teaming with Western Speed Racing is new for Hunt. "We intended for this deal to happen last year", said Hunt. "They have courted me as driver, and their team speaks for itself. It should be good for both of us. The equipment and personnel they have is top notch, and it will be a reunion for me and tuner Larry Triguero." In 1998 Hunt, with Triguero spinning wrenches, was a multiple feature winner.
Shauna Hogg became only the seventh female USAC feature race winner in history with her sensational victory at Madera last year. That victory came on a night when she defeated a field which included 2002 NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart! Barnes, from Minden, NV shared the Most Improved Driver Award in the series previously with Hogg. Hays, meanwhile, is a rookie when it comes to pavement racing but she is an accomplished dirt sprint car racer that is wildly popular with the race fans.
Also entered is a pair of 21 year-olds. Greg Taylor of Ventura who earned the 2003 "Rookie of the Year" award after finishing seventh in the series standings, and road racer Tim Barber of San Francisco. Barber was the 2002 Russell Racing series-driving champion. Oregon hotshoe, Rick Brown will make the tow to Madera as well as Washington pilots Randy Dubois, and Michael Newman. Mike Murgoitio will represent Idaho. Local entries ready to run include Fresno's Anthony Simone, and Clovis' Chad Ede.
Racing starts at 7:00 pm Saturday. A 40-lap feature will cap the night for the totally custom 750 horsepower wingless sprinters. Also on the card are The USAC Ford Focus Midgets, and Madera Asphalt Modifieds. For more information please call Madera Speedway at (559) 266-7223. Madera Speedway is located at 1850 W. Cleveland Ave in Madera. The track sits on a California Fairgrounds facility North of Fresno, CA. just off of Highway 99.