6 WESTERN USAC CHAMPIONS HIGHLIGHT SANTA MARIA FETE
Damion Gardner, Danny Faria Jr., Ryan Bernal, Ronnie Gardner, Chad Nichols and Cory Elliott celebrated 2013 USAC Western driving championships at Saturday night’s Western “Night of Champions” banquet at the Santa Maria (Calif.) Museum of Flight.
Damion Gardner, of Concord, Calif., won last year’s AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint title, while Faria, of Tipton, Calif., won the West Coast Sprint crown. Bernal, of Hollister, Calif., was the Western Classic Sprint king, while Honda Western Midget titles went to Ronnie Gardner, of Norco, Calif. (dirt) and Nichols, of Colma, Calif. (pavement). Cory Elliott of Bakersfield, Calif. was also crowned USAC’s HPD Western Ignite Midget champion.
Car owner champions also feted Saturday included Mark Alexander (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints), Faria Motorsports (West Coast), Josh Ford Motorsports (Western Classic Sprints) and Six-8 Motorsports, Burbank, Calif. (Honda Western Midgets).
Rookies of the Year were also honored and included Markus Niemela of Finland (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints), Landon Hurst of Riverdale, Calif. (West Coast Sprints), D.J. Johnson of Stockton, Calif. (Western Classic Sprints) and Trey Marcham (Honda Western Midgets).
Earning Crew Chief of the Year” honors were Steve Alexander (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints), Vinny Lattner (West Coast Sprints), Jimmy May (Western Classic Sprints) and Mitchell Johnson (Honda Western Midgets).
Richard Vander Weerd of Visalia, Calif., who posted a pair of “podium” finishes during the season, earned the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car “Most Improved Driver” award.
Two traditional “special” awards, the Walt Johnson Award and the Joe Lynch Award, were presented to principals of Six-8 Motorsports, which included Walt and Mitchell Johnson and Ronnie Gardner.
USAC Western Racing Series coordinator Chris Kearns served as the emcee for the affair which was held at the museum located at the former Allan Hancock Air Field.