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United States Auto Club Western States Sprint Cars Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, CA. .

Lewis gobbles Irwindale sprints, Hunt crowned champion - By Bobby Gerould - Irwindale, CA. November 25, 2004. …Michael Lewis, of Noblesville, Indiana ran away with the Thanksgiving night Casey Diemert Classic at Irwindale Speedway Thursday. The season ending event on the half-mile paved track also settled the season championship for the Valvoline United States Auto Club Western States Sprint Cars.

Tony Hunt of Fair Oaks, CA. was crowned as the 2004 champion. The title was the second Western Sprint Car championship for the winningest driver in the history of the series. The fastest 14 from time-trials were automatically locked into the 40-lap feature event. Six cars were inverted by their qualifying times. The rest of the field was comprised of the top eight finishers in the Qualifying Race.

Kody Swanson and Josh Wise shared the front row, flanked by Tony Stewart and Bobby East. Western Speed teammates and top-two qualifiers Tony Hunt and Michael Lewis lined up in row three. Wise led the field into turn one but Bobby East shot the gap between Wise, and Swanson to take the lead as they raced off turn two. On lap seven, Lewis moved low in turn four to steal second from Swanson.

On lap 13, the first caution of the race appeared as Destiney Hays backed into the wall after a nudge from A.J. Fike. The restart produced a battle for the lead as Lewis challenged East, pulling even with him on the back chute. Lewis was scored as the leader of lap 14 with a slight advantage over East. At the same time Hunt passed Swanson for third.

On laps 17 through 19 Stewart and Wise ran side by side all the way around the track in a battle for fifth. However, their spirited duel was short-lived when they contacted each other and Stewart spun to bring out caution number two. Stewart, the former NASCAR Cup champion retired from the race.

Racing for just the second time this season on pavement without a wing, Chris Schemelze of Canada raced into the top three on lap 27 with a low groove pass of Hunt. By lap 30, Lewis had a half straightaway lead over East. He stretched that advantage to a full straightaway when he entered traffic on lap 35. At the checkered flag, it was Lewis by four seconds over East.

"I just wasn't happy with this thing last weekend but tonight was great", said Lewis. "Congratulations to Tony on a great year. I gave it all I had."

Of his championship, Hunt said, "We love coming here to Irwindale. Seeing the extended racing family on Thanksgiving is the way it should be. We were running third and got tight and I made some adjustments but overall it was a solid run. I want to thank Western Speed Racing and all of our sponsors. We did what we needed to do to win this championship."

Schemelzle wound up third, with Aaron Pierce thundering from 15th to finish fourth. Rick Hendrix completed the top-five. Hunt, Swanson, Fike, Bobby Santos III, and Tracy Hines rounded out the top ten. Hines was the Weld Racing Hard Charger of the Race, coming from the 21st starting spot. Tim Barber was running eighth when he dropped from the action on lap 33.

…Lewis, the Irwindale track holder, scored quick-time turning the half-mile in 16.487 seconds. Pierce ran away with the 12-lap qualifying race.

USAC WESTERN SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: November 25, 2004 - Irwindale, California - Irwindale Speedway - "Casey Diemert Classic"

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Michael Lewis, 40, Western Speed-16.487; 2. Tony Hunt, 60, Western Speed-16.748; 3. Bobby East, 5x, Klatt-16.802; 4. Tony Stewart, 20, Stewart-16.824; 5. Josh Wise, 3F, Finkenbinder-16.864; 6. Kody Swanson, 75, Williams-16.916; 7. A.J. Fike, 32, RFMS-16.980; 8. Bobby Santos III, 67, Zarounian-16.984; 9. Destiney Hays, 28, Hays-17.027; 10. Mike Murgoitio, 19, Murgoitio-17.073; 11. Chris Schmelzle, 37, LaMonte-17.094; 12. Rick Hendrix, 97, Hendrix-17.096; 13. Greg Taylor, 47, Taylor-17.115; 14. Nick Rescino, Jr., 11x, Rescino-17.133; 15. Anthony Simone, 10, Simone-17.187; 16. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-17.245; 17. Tim Barber, 14, Pierson-17.245; 18. Darren Hagen, 09, McMinn-17.253; 19. Brian McClish, 80, Western Speed-17.271; 20. Brad Bumgarner, 88, Bumgarner-17.277; 21. Greg Anderson, 2, Anderson-17.313; 22. Randy DuBois, 79, DuBois-17.348; 23. A.J. Russell, 71, Russell-17.374; 24. Jim Waters, 24, Waters-17.445; 25. Tracy Hines, 7, Priestley-17.469; 26. Rory Price, 3R, Finkenbinder-17.482; 27. Matt DeMartini, 6, Carr-17.491; 28. Amy Barnes, 12, Barnes-17.509; 29. Robert Beck, 03, Beck-17.526; 30. Michael Trimble, 15, Trimble-17.544; 31. Eric Silsby, 42, Barnes-17.556; 32. Shauna Hogg, 5, Hogg-17.629; 33. Jeff Gardner, 51, Revcon-17.634; 34. Brian Geisler, 44T, Geisler-17.790; 35. Allen Goetz, 50, Goetz-17.853; 36. Jason McCord, 04, McClish-18.285; 37. Alan Kaiser, 94, Kaiser-18.797; 38. Chris Petersen, 18, Petersen-NT.

QUALIFYING RACE: (12 laps) 1. Pierce, 2. Barber, 3. Bumgarner, 4. Simone, 5. Waters, 6. McClish, 7. Hines, 8. Trimble, 9. Beck, 10. McCord, 11. DuBois, 12. Anderson, 13. Barnes, 14. Hagen, 15. Hogg, 16. Russell, 17. DeMartini, 18. Kaiser, 19. Goetz, 20. Geiszler, 21. Price, 22. Silsby, 23. Petersen. NT

FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Michael Lewis, 2. Bobby East, 3. Chris Schmelzle, 4. Aaron Pierce, 5. Rick Hendrix, 6. Tony Hunt, 7. Kody Swanson, 8. A.J. Fike, 9. Bobby Santos, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Jim Waters, 12. Mike Muroitio, 13. Brad Bumgarner, 14. Shauna Hogg, 15. Anthony Simone, 16. Michael Trimble, 17. Tim Barber, 18. Nick Rescino, Jr., 19. Tony Stewart, 20. Josh Wise, 21. Brian McClish, 22. Destiney Hays, 23. Greg Taylor. NT ------------------------------------------

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-13 East, Laps 14-40 Lewis.

FINAL WESTERN SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Hunt-895; 2-Lewis-867; 3-Bumgarner-780; 4-McClish-732; 5-Trimble-627; 6-Murgoitio-615; 7-Hogg-607; 8-Beck-601; 9-Barber-558; 10-Anderson-544.

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