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MICHNOWICZ KICKS OFF LIGHTNING SEASON WITH A WIN AT VENTURA – BAKERSFIELD THIS WEEK!
(Torrance, CA, April 17, 2018) The weather finally cooperated and the California Lightning Sprint Car Series kicked off its historic 25th anniversary season in style with a big field of cars at the Ventura Raceway last Saturday night. Big field or not, the results were much the same as they have been the past few years with five-time series champion Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita prevailing over the field to win the season opener. The CLS has little time off as it is at the Bakersfield Speedway this Saturday.

Local Bruce Douglass of Ventura, who won the last CLS main at the ocean side oval last October, started the night off in style when he out qualified the 24-car field with a lap of 12.363. Third-year CLS driver Cody Nigh of Camarillo timed in second quick when he stopped the clocks with a time of 12.668. Lakewood’s Aiden Lange, who won the BCRA main event the week before at Placerville, was third fast with a lap of 12.671.

Heat race wins on the night went to Chino’s Pat Kelley, veteran Alex Grigoreas of Upland and Michnowicz. In the Semi, which was the last race before the A-Main, Lange came across the line ahead of Bakersfield’s Wink Schweitzer and fellow Lakewood racer Wyatt Downing.

The competition had to get a sinking feeling before the 30-lap main when they noticed that Michnowicz, who won three of the six races at Ventura in 2017, was starting on the pole. Outside of him was Palmdale’s Eric Greco. The second row was made up of Sacramento’s Dan Foster and Grigoreas. Kelley and Dominic Del Monte of Gardena sat in row four with past champions Brent Sexton of Lakeside and Spring Valley’s Jarrett Kramer in row four.

With waves roaring as they broke on the beach just a few hundred feet away, the green flag flew and predictably Michnowicz streaked into the lead chased by Greco and Grigoreas. Heading into turn three the first time Grigoreas relegated Greco to third and set his sights on the #21k of the leader.

The first yellow flag of the night slowed the proceedings down when Nigh stopped near the wall coming off turn four on lap three after losing a chain. For the restart, Michnowicz was in front with Grigoreas, Greco, Kelley and Kramer rounding out the top five. Kramer, who won the CLS championship in 2010, made an impressive inside move on lap four when he passed both Kelley and Greco to move from fifth to third.

Another yellow was triggered on lap seven due to a bizarre incident coming off turn four. Two-time CLS champ Sexton and another car bumped. Sexton’s car toppled onto its left side and bounced back onto its wheels. The yellow came out and Sexton took off like nothing happened. However, being deemed as the cause of the caution, he had to go to the back.

When racing began again Kramer put his #14 into second when he used the inside line to get by Grigoreas. Grigoreas, who was driving like a man possessed, took the spot back one lap later, but soon thereafter parked big time in turn four. The veteran driver saved it and did not stop, but by the time he recovered, Kramer had taken advantage of the opportunity presented and reclaimed the show spot.

The green light stayed glowing until the 14th lap when Kelley, who had been in the top five all race, slowed and came to a halt in turn three.

Things got exciting as soon as racing resumed with 16-laps to go. Grigoreas drove around the outside of Kramer for second in turn one on the 17th lap. The next lap, in a daring move, he dove to the inside of Michnowicz in turn one. The race long leader flinched and Grigoreas raced into the top spot.

The advantage Grigoreas built up quickly went away when Foster, Robb Pelmear of Ventura and Bakersfield’s Wink Schweitzer tangled in turn one forcing the starter to display the yellow again. The biggest beneficiary of that move was Michnowicz as the race lineup reverted to the last completed lap and veteran Michnowicz, in the T Shirts by Timeless/Pflum Wagner Racing/Fuel Safe/Cold Fire West/Fabozzi Metal Works/Outlaw Wings/Kaiser Wheels/Circle Track Performance/Super Shox/DLX/2001 Kawasaki ZX10, was placed at the front for the restart.

By this time, Grigoreas was the show for the fans. His win or wear it performance had them on the edge of their seats. Grigoreas began bird dogging Michnowicz again when racing resumed. He was all over the leader trying to find a way past, but in turn two on the 20th lap, Grigoreas spun backward and came to a stop. His misfortune caused Kramer, who had nowhere to go, to do the same. That brought out the yellow again and both contenders had to go to the back for the restart.

While things may have looked easy for Michnowicz at that point, it was not as simple as it appeared to be. Douglass was on the leader’s tail for the start with Gun Barrel City, Texas driver J.D. Bentley in third. When the green came on, Douglass, who is a very young 66, badgered the leader for four laps before Michnowicz was finally able to pull away. Six laps later, Michnowicz had opened his advantage to a half straightaway as he flashed under the checkered flag. Douglass, Bentley and Greco finished second through fourth. After restarting at the back due to his lap seven escapade, Sexton came all the way back to fifth at the checkered.

“That was by far the hardest race that I have ever driven,” a happy, but somewhat irritated Michnowicz told infield announcer Tami Velasquez. “Alex Grigoreas was screaming around like a pissed off teenager or something. No regard for himself or nobody. Man, that guy drives hard. He made me earn it. This series has really grown and the competition is stiff.”

Teenage rookie Grant Sexton of Lakeside was the main event “Hard Charger” coming from his 17th starting position to finished seventh at his first ever race at Ventura.

This Saturday the CLS will make its way to the Bakersfield Speedway for the first time in 2018. Gates will open at 4:00 P.M. with racing at 6:00. Bakersfield Speedway is located at 5001 North Chester Ext, in Bakersfield (93308). The track phone number is (661) 393-7085 and the website is available at the following link http://www.bakersfieldspeedway.com/.

Ventura Raceway April 14 Results With Starting Positions
1. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 1st
2. Bruce Douglass – Ventura, CA – 10th
3. J.D. Bentley – Gun Barrell City, TX – 11th
4. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 2nd
5. Brent Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 7th
6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 6th
7. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 17th
8. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 8th
9. Alex Grigoreas – Upland, CA – 4th
10. Wyatt Downing – Lakeside, CA – 15th
11. Robb Pelmear – Ventura, CA – 20th
12. Dale Gamer – Anaheim, CA – 16th
13. Dan Foster – Sacramento, CA – 3rd
14. Wink Schweitzer – Bakersfield, CA – 14th
15. Pat Kelley – Chino, CA – 5th
16. Michael Tobiason – La Jolla, CA – 12th
17. Gage Cheek – Santa Clarita, CA – 19th
18. Cody Nigh – Camarillo, CA – 9th
19. John Nelson – Norco, CA – 18th
DQ – Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 13th

2018 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Point Standings
1. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 140
2. Bruce Douglass – Ventura, CA – 136
3. J.D. Bentley – Gun Barrel City, TX – 125
4. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 118
5. Brent Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 112
6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 107
7. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 102
8. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 101
9. Alex Grigoreas – Upland, CA – 100
10. Wyatt Downing – Lakewood, CA - 85

March 17 – Bakersfield Speedway – USAC National – Rained Out

March 24 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National – Rained Out

April 14 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National – Bobby Michnowicz

April 21 – Bakersfield Speedway – USAC National

May 5 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National

May 19th – Barona Speedway – Jim Squire Memorial

May 26 – Perris Auto Speedway – USAC National – Salute to Indy

June 16 – Bakersfield Speedway – Civil War vs BCRA

July 7 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National

July 21 – Santa Maria Raceway – Civil War vs BCRA

August 1 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National – Ventura County Fair

August 18 – Perris Auto Speedway – USAC National – California Racer’s Hall of Fame Night

September 8 – Bakersfield Speedway – USAC National

September 21 – Placerville Speedway – Civil War vs BCRA

September 22 – Placerville Speedway – Civil War vs BCRA

October 6 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National

October 27 – Ventura Raceway – USAC National

November 17- Bakersfield Speedway USAC National with USAC National and Western Midgets

The California Lightning Sprint Car Series would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make the 2017 season possible: Christian Stover Foundation, Circle Track Performance, Cold Fire West, DK Fabrication, Extreme Muffler, Fast Undercar, Hoosier Tire, Keizer Wheels, Outlaw Wings, Racing Optics, Rod End Supply, Saldana Race Products, Sander Engineering, Speedmart, Speed Partz, Super Shocks, T Shirts by Timeless, Woodland Auto Display.

If you or your company would like to become part of the series for its historic 25th season in 2018, please call Bobby Michnowicz at: (310) 320-5569.

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at: http://racecls.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/californialightningsprints/

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.

This press release was produced by Scott Daloisio Sports (909) 226-7768