Photo Gallery: 24th Budweiser Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway

 

C.J. Leary.

Going into the 24th Budweiser Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway, nobody really knew what to expect. The USAC Sprint Car leaders routinely do well at the event and make the local drivers look like club racers. However, this year had a different feel.

To begin with, the Budweiser Oval Nationals is not the final race of the USAC National Sprint Car season. Two final races at Arizona Speedway in San Tan Valley, Arizona, would decide the USAC Champion. Going into the Oval Nationals, C.J. Leary led the USAC point standings.

Trends Going Into The Race

Leary is driving for the Southwest-based team of Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports and has a decidedly Western appeal to the fans. The team has captured the National points lead by being very consistent with podium finishes but only one on the USAC Schedule.

In addition, Leary’s previous attempts in the Oval Nationals at Perris resulted in finishes no better than 13th place on the final night. If you were tracking trends, this did not bode well for the Reinbold-Underwood team.

"The Macho Man" Brady Bacon had not won on the Riverside County oval prior to the 2019 Oval Nationals.

Trends also showed popular and successful USAC Sprint Car driver, Brady Bacon, had 0-for-27 starts in 13 years at Perris Auto Speedway. Vegas oddsmakers would have set Bacon as a longshot, despite having three wins and routinely visiting the podium this season.

Tyler Courtney looked like a favorite to win.

Most fans were looking for another Kevin Thomas Jr. vs. Tyler Courtney showdown at the half-mile oval. To support that thinking, Thomas was quick on Wednesday’s practice night prior to the event. A betting man would have put money on Thomas to repeat last year’s performance.

View The Full Photo Gallery Here:

Photo gallery

VIEW FULL GALLERY >

What Happened:

On Thursday’s opening night, Tyler Courtney flipped in qualifying laps, sending his team into a mad scramble to repair the car for the main event. California-driver Justin Grant won his heat, along with USAC/CRA drivers Damion Gardner and Charles Davis Jr., putting some limelight on the Southwest (USAC/CRA) drivers.

Tyler Courtney’s crew repaired the damaged Sprinter enough to drive to a win in the second heat with Chris Windom taking the fifth and final heat race.

Max Adams returned to familiar clay and showed some added skills from his Midwest experience.

In a stacked B-Main, Max Adams was dominant in a win over popular drivers Jace Vander Weerd, Austin Williams, and Jake Swanson. Last year, Adams was a hard-charging up-and-comer in the USAC/CRA division. In the off-season, Adams moved to Indiana and joined the national tour.

This set the stage for the Southwest driver’s success in the annual event.   

As luck would have it, Brady Bacon was placed on the pole for the main event, in track conditions that favored the Oklahoma native. In a very predictable win, Bacon led every lap en route to the victory over Chris Windom and USAC/CRA drivers Richard Vander Weerd and Damion Gardner.

Brady Bacon put his name in the record books.

Results From Night One:

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Hunter Schuerenberg, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Austin Williams, 6. Chris Gansen, 7. Dennis Gile, 8. Matt McCarthy.

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. R.J. Johnson, 3. Thomas Meseraull, 4. Tommy Malcolm, 5. Jace Vander Weerd, 6. Josh Hodges, 7. Steve Hix, 8. Tye Mihocko.

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Brody Roa, 3. Logan Seavey, 4. Austin Liggett, 5. Max Adams, 6. Donnie Gansen, 7. Eddie Tafoya, Jr.

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Charles Davis, Jr., 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Richard Vander Weerd, 5. Jake Swanson, 6. Bill Rose, 7. Jeremy Ellertson, 8. Joel Rayborne.

“Charging” Charles Davis Jr.

FIFTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Cody Williams, 3. Bud Kaeding, 4. Stevie Sussex, 5. Chris Bonneau, 6. Jason McDougal, 7. Sterling Cling, 8. Chase Johnson.

SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Max Adams, 2. Jace Vander Weerd, 3. Austin Williams, 4. Jake Swanson, 5. Chris Gansen, 6. Josh Hodges, 7. Chris Bonneau, 8. Donnie Gansen, 9. Dennis Gile, 10. Jeremy Ellertson, 11. Steve Hix, 12. Eddie Tafoya, Jr., 13. Bill Rose, 14. Matt McCarthy, 15. Tye Mihocko, 16. Joel Rayborne, 17. Frank Rodgers, 18. Verne Sweeney.

USAC/CRA veteran driver Verne Sweeney.

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (1), 2. Chris Windom (2), 3. Richard Vander Weerd (3), 4. Damion Gardner (4), 5. C.J. Leary (6), 6. Justin Grant (11), 7. Jace Vander Weerd (7), 8. Tyler Courtney (5), 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (9), 10. Austin Williams (16), 11. Chase Stockon (14), 12. Hunter Schuerenberg (23), 13. Brody Roa (21), 14. Tommy Malcolm (17), 15. Jake Swanson (18), 16. Thomas Meseraull (12), 17. Bud Kaeding (10), 18. Cody Williams (15), 19. Charles Davis, Jr. (22), 20. Max Adams (13), 21. Logan Seavey (8), 22. Austin Liggett (24), 23. Stevie Sussex (19), 24. R.J. Johnson (20), 25. Josh Hodges (25), 26. Eddie Tafoya, Jr. (28), 27. Chris Gansen (26), 28. Dennis Gile (27).

**Chase Johnson flipped during practice. Tyler Courtney flipped during qualifying. Jason McDougal and Sterling Cling flipped at the start of the fifth heat.

Feature Lap Leaders: Laps 1-30 Brady Bacon

Night Two

Southern California’s seasonal “Santa Ana winds” blowing dry air from inland took its toll on the clay oval. The track crew struggled to keep up with the sun and wind, which acted like a blow dryer on the track’s racing surface.

A dry-slick track in modern open-wheel racing usually means lots of slide-jobs for passing. The track crew fought to keep up with the changing conditions, making for an odd racing surface, but not helping with dust control at all.

Damion “The Demon” Gardner.

Despite the dry conditions, there was little passing, and the brave who attempted a pass seemed to be rewarded with a spin or brush with the wall. Such was the case with pole-sitter Damion Gardner. After a couple of failed attempts at a clean start, the main event was finally underway. Gardner got into the wall on lap one, putting Brady Bacon back in front for the restart. Once again, Bacon proved you can’t put him in front with a fast car and expect anyone to pass him.

After night two was over, it was a double order of Bacon for the event, and he was eyeing a three-day sweep.

The Demon got a jump on the first start attempt at the feature.

Results From Night Two:

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Richard Vander Weerd, 2. R.J. Johnson, 3. Jake Swanson, 4. Stevie Sussex, 5. Eddie Tafoya, Jr., 6. Chris Bonneau, 7. Tye Mihocko, 8. Frank Rodgers III, 9. Chris Windom.

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Bill Rose, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Austin Williams, 4. Jace Vander Weerd, 5. Tommy Malcolm, 6. Sterling Cling, 7. Verne Sweeney.

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Austin Liggett, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Josh Hodges, 6. Max Adams, 7. Steve Hix, 8. Jeremy Ellertson.

Brady Bacon prepping the #69 Mean Green Machine for the evening.

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. Charles Davis, Jr., 3. Logan Seavey, 4. Brody Roa, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Donnie Gansen, 7. Matt McCarthy, 8. Cody Williams.

FIFTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Bud Kaeding, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. Hunter Schuerenberg, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Chris Gansen, 6. Joel Rayborne, 7. Will Perkins, 8. Dennis Gile.

SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. Max Adams, 4. Tommy Malcolm, 5. Josh Hodges, 6. Cody Williams, 7. Eddie Tafoya, Jr., 8. Dennis Gile, 9. Chris Gansen, 10. Steve Hix, 11. Tye Mihocko, 12. Chris Bonneau, 13. Sterling Cling, 14. Matt McCarthy, 15. Verne Sweeney, 16. Joel Rayborne, 17. Frank Rodgers III, 18. Will Perkins.

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (3), 2. Justin Grant (4), 3. Tyler Courtney (2), 4. Chase Stockon (5), 5. Austin Williams (6), 6. Logan Seavey (13), 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (8), 8. Richard Vander Weerd (19), 9. Bud Kaeding (14), 10. C.J. Leary (12), 11. Max Adams (9), 12. Brody Roa (17), 13. Thomas Meseraull (20), 14. Stevie Sussex (22), 15. Austin Liggett (24), 16. Jace Vander Weerd (11), 17. Jake Swanson (10), 18. Hunter Schuerenberg (18), 19. Eddie Tafoya, Jr. (26), 20. Damion Gardner (1), 21. Bill Rose (23), 22. Josh Hodges (25), 23. Charles Davis, Jr. (21), 24. Tommy Malcolm (16), 25. Chris Windom (7), 26. Steve Hix (27), 27. R.J. Johnson (15).

**Chase Johnson flipped during qualifying.

Feature Lap Leaders: Laps 1-30, Brady Bacon.

The desert winds and sunny day made for a difficult track surface on night two.

Night Three

The track crew managed to get the upper hand on the track conditions, providing a decent racing surface for the drivers. The heat races raised some eyebrows, with several racers flexing their racing muscles. Max Adams set a blistering pace in winning heat two after Austin Liggett beat a stacked field that included Damion Gardner, Bud Kaeding, and Kevin Thomas Jr.

Thomas Meseraull won his heat against a field of fierce competitors. Facing Chris Windom, R.J. Johnson, Austin Williams, and Brody Roa, T-Mez drove to the front in the Gene Gile Motorsports entry. Jace Vander Weerd claimed the fourth and final heat race.

T-Mez showed off his serious Quad skills.

Two Semi-Mains advanced the final ten racers into the main event field, with Austin Williams winning the first Semi, and Kevin Thomas Jr. taking the second.

The Super Six Dash determined the starting position for the first three rows of the main event, won by C.J. Leary, putting him in the pole position for the start. Chase Stockon, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney, and Richard Vander Weerd rounded out the finishing order qualifier.

Past winners Levi Jones and Mike Spencer catch up.

Feature

Chase Stockon grabbed the early lead from C.J. Leary and held off the pole-sitter for 17 laps. Leary began to open up a lead as Tyler Courtney and Brady Bacon were challenging Stockon. The opportunistic Chris Windom quickly joined the trio. Courtney took the low line and advanced past Stockon, setting his sights on Leary in the lead.

Just as Courtney got to the leader, his car slid over the cushion and dropped a couple of positions. Two laps later, Max Adams’ sprinter spun and stopped in corner Two, causing an accordion effect with the field. As a result, Brady Bacon drove over Stockon’s right rear, causing some damage that required a trip to the work area. Bacon’s quest for a three-day sweep was over, as he was sent to the tail on the restart.

Tom and Laurie Sertich honored as Grand Marshalls of the event.

C.J. Leary withstood a couple of yellow flag restarts to maintain his top spot and claim his ninth career USAC National Sprint Car victory. The win gained 12 more points over Second place Tyler Courtney in the points standings, for a total lead of 44 points with only two races remaining.

Results From Night Three:

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Austin Liggett, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. Bud Kaeding, 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 5. Sterling Cling, 6. Steve Hix, 7. Verne Sweeney, 8. Joel Rayborne.

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Max Adams, 2. Jake Swanson, 3. Stevie Sussex, 4. Tommy Malcolm, 5. Hunter Schuerenberg, 6. Chris Gansen, 7. Bill Rose, 8. Will Perkins.

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Chris Windom, 3. R.J. Johnson, 4. Austin Williams, 5. Brody Roa, 6. Chris Bonneau, 7. Eddie Tafoya, Jr.

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Jace Vander Weerd, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Josh Hodges, 4. Charles Davis, Jr., 5. Cody Williams, 6. Dennis Gile.

Logan Seavey.

SUPER SIX DASH: (6 laps, finishing order sets first three rows of the feature) 1. C.J. Leary (#19AZ Reinbold/Underwood), 2. Chase Stockon (#32 32 TBI), 3. Justin Grant (#4 TOPP), 4. Brady Bacon (#69 Dynamics), 5. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson/Marshall/Newman), 6. Richard Vander Weerd (#10 Vander Weerd).

FIRST SEMI: (12 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Austin Williams, 2. Charles Davis, Jr., 3. Bud Kaeding, 4. Hunter Schuerenberg, 5. R.J. Johnson, 6. Bill Rose, 7. Dennis Gile, 8. Eddie Tafoya, Jr., 9. Verne Sweeney, 10. Steve Hix, 11. Will Perkins.

SECOND SEMI: (12 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 2. Brody Roa, 3. Stevie Sussex, 4. Cody Williams, 5. Tommy Malcolm, 6. Chris Bonneau, 7. Chris Gansen, 8. Sterling Cling, 9. Joel Rayborne, 10. Josh Hodges.

Car owner Andy Reinbold, crew chief Davey Jones, and driver C.J. Leary celebrate in the winner’s circle.

FEATURE: (40 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. C.J. Leary (1), 2. Chris Windom (8), 3. Damion Gardner (7), 4. Chase Stockon (2), 5. Tyler Courtney (5), 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (16), 7. Jake Swanson (13), 8. Austin Williams (15), 9. Richard Vander Weerd (6), 10. Bud Kaeding (17), 11. Jace Vander Weerd (9), 12. Brady Bacon (4), 13. Thomas Meseraull (11), 14. R.J. Johnson (21), 15. Tommy Malcolm (22), 16. Charles Davis, Jr. (19), 17. Max Adams (12), 18. Logan Seavey (10), 19. Justin Grant (3), 20. Stevie Sussex (20), 21. Josh Hodges (23), 22. Cody Williams (24), 23. Chris Gansen (25), 24. Eddie Tafoya, Jr. (26), 25. Austin Liggett (14), 26. Brody Roa (18), 27. Chris Bonneau (28), 28. Hunter Schuerenberg (27).

**Austin Liggett flipped on lap 35 of the feature.

Feature Lap Leaders: Laps 1-16, Chase Stockon; Laps 17-40, C.J. Leary.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

Dirt Track Racing delivered to your Inbox Weekly!

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from OneDirt, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
ONEDIRT NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

OneDirt - Dirt Track Racing Magazine

We'll send you the most interesting Street Rod articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

OneDirt - Dirt Track Racing Magazine

ONEDIRT NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

OneDirt - Dirt Track Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Diesel Army

Engine Tech

OneDirt - Dirt Track Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Diesel Army
  • Engine Tech

OneDirt - Dirt Track Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

OneDirt - Dirt Track Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading