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2018 Western World Recap

“Sunshine” Tyler Courtney strapped-in and ready to go 30 laps in the Clauson-Marshall machine on Saturday night!

Friday, November 2nd

Eighty degrees and not a cloud in the sky in Queen Creek, Arizona on Friday, November 2nd.  Perfect weather for night 1 of the Western World!  After talking with race promoter, Jonah Trussel, I discovered they had a huge turnout for practice night on Thursday, resulting in a little drier track conditions than were initially anticipated, on Friday.

Arizona Speedway track crew wet the surface heavily on Friday, for night 1 of the Western World

Friday Qualifying

The track surface was damp and tacky during hot laps.  However, the surface begin to widen and dry by the start of qualifying.  The surface began to take rubber near the mid-point of qualifying, making the bottom quicker.  8 of the top-10 qualifiers hit the track in the latter-half of the 30 cars who made the call on Friday, with “T-MEZ” Thomas Meseraull ripping a 15.204 second lap around the 3/8th’s mile high-banked Arizona Speedway surface, to claim Quick Time honors!
T-MEZ sailed around the 3/8th’s mile surface in 15.204 seconds on Friday, grabbing Quick Time!

Friday Qualifying Results

1. Thomas Meseraull – 15.204
2. Logan Seavey –        15.257
3. Kevin Thomas Jr –   15.279
4. Jason McDougal –    15.305
5. Tyler Courtney –     15.309
6. Austin Williams –    15.358
7. CJ Leary –              15.362
8. Justin Grant –        15.377
9. Damion Gardner –  15.390
10. Chris Windom –    15.422

Friday Heat Races

USAC National/CRA 410 Sprint Cars prepare to battle during Heat Racing action on Friday night!

The Arizona Speedway track crew completed extensive work on the surface following Qualifying, ensuring there were multiple grooves and plenty of side-by-side racing action on Friday.  Heat Races were completed without major incident, with Ryan Bernal, Colton Maroney, Jake Swanson and RJ Johnson all claiming victories in USAC Southwest 360 competition!

Brody Roa, Chris Windom, RJ Johnson & Dave Darland also earned Heat Race victories on Friday night, in USAC National/CRA 410 competition!  The track crew continued to focus on servicing the Arizona Speedway surface, spending upwards of 2 total hours to ensure fans saw the best racing possible.  This attention-to-detail carried-over into the feature events, producing exciting racing and lead changes!


Friday 360 Feature

The stars of the USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Cars give fans the 4-wide salute on Friday night!
The USAC Southwest 360 feature was nothing short of spectacular on Friday, with two distinct racing grooves at Arizona Speedway allowing for plenty of passing!  The first 18 laps were completed without incident, as 6th place-starting Jake Swanson charged on the outside line to grab the lead early, only to be chased-down and passed by 10th place-starting Brady Bacon.  Bacon grabbed the lead from Swanson just past the halfway mark of the 30 lap race, only to lose it back to Swanson in lapped traffic, just before the caution on lap 18.  The last 12 laps were a little sloppy, as a couple more incidents slowed the race, most notably one ending Ryan Bernal’s night with 5 laps to go.  Swanson proved unbeatable running the cushion on Friday, as he rimmed the outside perfectly to claim the USAC Southwest 360 feature on night 1 of the Western World!  This was Jake’s 2nd victory at Arizona Speedway in 2018, as he won a USAC/CRA race just a little over a month ago.  Bacon held-on to finish 2nd, while RJ Johnson charged to finish 3rd, just ahead of Stevie Sussex.  19th place-starting Kevin Thomas Jr, 17th-place starting Chris Windom and 18th place-starting CJ Leary put on a hell of a show charging to finish 5th, 7th and 8th, respectively!


Jake Swanson wins the USAC Southwest 360 feature on Friday, his 2nd win at Arizona Speedway in 2018!
Jake Swanson is interviewed by local announcer, Jason Carter, in victory lane on Friday!
As was the case with all winners during the 2018 Western World, Swanson was joined by livestock in victory lane
10th place-starting Brady Bacon settled for 2nd place in 360 competition on Friday night
Arizona’s RJ Johnson charged to finish 3rd in his USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Car on Friday night!
Another Arizona native, Stevie Sussex, is interviewed by Jason Carter after finishing 4th on Friday night!

Friday 360 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)
1. Jake Swanson (6)  2. Brady Bacon (10)  3. RJ Johnson (9)  4. Stevie Sussex (3)  5. Kevin Thomas Jr (19)  6. Charles Davis Jr (5)  7. Chris Windom (17)  8. CJ Leary (18)  9. Dave Darland (12)  10. Tye Mihocko (7)  11. Shon Deskins (1)  12. Chase Stockon (13)  13. Austin Kuehl (2)  14. Matt Lundy (22)  15. Colton Hardy (15)  16. Sterling Cling (20)  17. Asa Kesterson (16)  18. Randy Nelson (14)  19. Ryan Bernal (8)  20. Caleb Saiz (11)  21. Nick Aiuto (21)  22. Colton Maroney (4)


Friday 410 Feature

The USAC AMS Oil National Sprint Cars give the fans the 4-wide salute on Friday night!


Justin Grant started on the pole position Friday and used the outside line to fire-off to a commanding lead.  The first 16 laps went green and it was all Grant up-front.  “Sunshine” Tyler Courtney was a distant 2nd followed by “The Demon” Damion Gardner, Kevin Thomas Jr, CJ Leary and Chris Windom were your top-6 when Jason McDougal spun off of turn 2 to bring out the first caution of the race.  Courtney rimmed the cushion perfectly on the ensuing restart and slipped by Grant to take the lead.  Sunshine led up until lap 25, when Grant utilized the high line to sneak back by him while Courtney got held-up by lapped traffic.  Grant ran the outside perfectly the last 5 laps, as Courtney remained in hot pursuit of the lead.  Sunshine threw a last-stab slider at the entry of turn 1, on the last lap, but Grant kept his foot in the gas on the outside and he was able to hold on for the win!  Courtney settled for 2nd place, while Gardner, Windom and Thomas Jr rounded-out the top-5.
Justin Grant holds-off the former TOPP Motorsports driver, Tyler Courtney, to claim night 1 of the Western World!
Justin Grant is interviewed by Jason Carter in victory lane on Friday, after claiming night 1 of the Western World!
“Sunshine” Tyler Courtney gave Grant all he had in the closing laps on Friday, but bad timing relegated Courtney to 2nd
“The Demon” Damion Gardner continues to flex his muscle amongst USAC/CRA competitors, he finished 3rd on Friday!
“Big Daddy” Chris Windom looks-on after finishing 4th on night 1 of the Western World, on Friday
Justin Grant is joined by the rest of the podium finishers on Friday; Tyler Courtney and Damion Gardner
The Arizona Speedway track surface was wide and slick on Friday night, offering drivers with multiple grooves!

Friday 410 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)
1. Justin Grant (1)  2. Tyler Courtney (7)  3. Damion Gardner (9)  4. Chris Windom (10)  5. Kevin Thomas Jr (4)  6. CJ Leary (2)  7. Brody Roa (15)  8. Brady Bacon (13)  9. Dave Darland (12)  10. Logan Seavey (5)  11. RJ Johnson (17)  12. Chase Stockon (11)  13. Thomas Meseraull (6)  14. Isaac Chapple (18)  15. Matt Rossi (19)  16. Austin Williams (8)  17. Josh Hodges (20)  18. Cody Williams (23)  19. Danny Faria Jr (14)  20. Tye Mihocko (22)  21. Ryan Bernal (16)  22. Joel Rayborne (24)  23. Logan Williams (21)  24. Jason McDougal (3)


Saturday, November 3rd

Another perfect day in the mid-80’s in Queen Creek, Arizona on Saturday, November 3rd
Not only did Saturday mark the last night of the 2018 Western World, it also marked the last chance for drivers to pick-up a win or reduce the points lead of their competitors, before heading to Perris, California next week for the Budweiser Oval Nationals.  This also marked just 4 races left on the 2018 USAC National Tour, along with the USAC/CRA Tour.  Weather was very similar on Saturday, than it was on Friday, with consistent sunshine in the mid-80’s and a faint breeze.  Unfortunately, two straight nights of 40+ cars began to take its toll on Arizona Speedway, as the track crew seemed challenged with keeping moisture within the surface.
A beautiful Arizona sunset graced the sky as hot laps drew to a close on Saturday night!


Saturday Qualifying

For the second consecutive night, speeds and lap times were blistering in hot laps.  However, the track surface quickly began to cave after having 60+ cars on it, as the surface began to dry during qualifying.  It seemed that having a fast car could overcome the track conditions during qualifying, but having a fast car during the perfect track conditions guaranteed a fast lap.  Wheeling Robert Ballou’s machine, “The People’s Champ” Dave Darland, sped-around Arizona Speedway in 15.235 seconds on Saturday, earning Quick Time on the evening!
“The People’s Champ” Dave Darland earned Quick Time Saturday, speeding around Arizona Speedway in 15.235 seconds!

Saturday Qualifying Results

1. Dave Darland –       15.235
2. Tyler Courtney –     15.277
3. Logan Seavey –       15.298
4. CJ Leary –               15.375
5. Thomas Meseraull – 15.434
6. Justin Grant –         15.473
7. Chris Windom –       15.503
8. Damion Gardner –   15.534
9. Jake Swanson –       15.551
10. Danny Sheridan –  15.575

Saturday Heat Races

Saturday’s Heat Races reflected the confines that a dry surface provides.  The Arizona Speedway track crew opted to not spend nearly as much time working the racing surface on Saturday, knowing there were pre-race events to be held later in the evening and with the hopes that racing would end before 11:00pm.  This made passing very challenging, as most races were ran on a one-groove surface.  While there were a few minor incidents on Saturday, Dave Darland, Colton Hardy, Kevin Thomas Jr and Ryan Bernal all claimed USAC Southwest 360 Heat Race victories!  Unfortunately for Darland, he forgot to go to the scales after his heat win, causing him to start in the 23rd and final position in Saturday’s feature, after being opted-in as a promoter’s choice.
Isaac Chapple, Tyler Courtney, Kevin Thomas Jr and Chase Stockon all claimed Heat Race triumphs in USAC National/CRA competition on Saturday!  “T-MEZ” Thomas Meseraull made easy work of the B-main feature that was held later in the evening, transferring to Saturday night’s main event along with Josh Hodges, Logan Seavey, Austin Williams, Stevie Sussex and Logan Williams.  The stage was now set for the 51st annual Western World!

Saturday 360 Feature

Another perfect 4-wide salute to the fans executed by the stars of the USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Cars on Saturday!
As we mentioned earlier, track conditions were a bit more challenging on Saturday, than they were on Friday.  The narrow groove made passing more challenging and made it treacherous to run the cushion.  Unfortunately, last night’s big winner, Jake Swanson, discovered just how treacherous it was to run the outside, as he hooked the cushion wrong on lap 7, sending him on a soft tumble.  Thankfully, Jake was okay, but it ended his night in 360 competition.  The red flag also erased Ryan Bernal’s big lead, as he had led from the pole position.  5th place-starting Brady Bacon smelled blood in the water and it didn’t take him long to work by Bernal on the bottom, on the ensuing restart!  A few more cautions slowed the pace in the second-half of the race, but no one had anything for Brady Bacon, as he cruised to win the USAC Southwest 360 feature, claiming 2018 Western World Championship honors in that division! Bernal barely held-off a charging RJ Johnson, who recovered from an early spin, as the two finished 2nd and 3rd on Saturday with Kevin Thomas Jr and 16th place-starting Stevie Sussex rounding-out the top-5 finishers!
Brady Bacon cruises to win the USAC Southwest 360 feature Saturday, claiming the 2018 Western World Championship!
Ryan Bernal gave the Josh Ford Motorsports machine a strong run on Saturday, finishing 2nd after leading early
Arizona’s RJ Johnson overcame an early spin on Saturday, charging back to finish 3rd!
It was another solid run for Kevin Thomas Jr, as he brought JT Imperial’s Sprint Car home in 4th place on Saturday!
Here’s your podium in USAC Southwest 360 competition on Saturday. 1) Brady Bacon  2) Ryan Bernal  3) RJ Johnson
Charles Davis Jr finished 13th on Saturday, clinching the 2018 USAC Southwest 360 Championship!

Saturday 360 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)
1. Brady Bacon (5)  2. Ryan Bernal (1)  3. RJ Johnson (10)  4. Kevin Thomas Jr (4)  5. Stevie Sussex (16)  6. Colton Hardy (7)  7. Tye Mihocko (12)  8. CJ Leary (6)  9. Dave Darland (23)  10. Mike Martin (18)  11. Shon Deskins (19)  12. Matt Lundy (2)  13. Charles Davis Jr (3)  14. Michael Fanelli (21)  15. Nick Aiuto (9)  16. Spencer Hill (22)  17. Travis Oldfield (20)  18. Asa Kesterson (15)  19. Sterling Cling (14)  20. JR Bonesteel (11)  21. Chase Stockon (13)  22. Bruce St. James (17)  23. Jake Swanson (8)

Saturday 410 Feature

“Big Daddy” Chris Windom started alongside “The Demon” Damion Gardner on the front row, Saturday night!
“Big Daddy” Chris Windom shared the front row with “The Demon” Damion Gardner on Saturday, as both had aspirations of claiming the 2018 Western World Championship!  Windom fired-off to the early lead and led by nearly a straightaway by lap 4, but his lead was erased by a caution that flew for Matt Rossi’s spin.  Dave Darland and Tyler Courtney had already worked their way up to 2nd and 3rd place respectively, from their 6th and 5th place starting positions, by lap 4.  Windom had a terrible restart, surrendering 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to Darland, Courtney and CJ Leary in turns 1 and 2.  Only 1 lap was completed before the field was slowed by another caution for a spin, but it was enough to mire Windom back in 4th place.
Darland led from lap 5 to lap 17, as the track begin to take rubber in the high line, making it a one-groove surface.  “Sunshine” Tyler Courtney slipped past Darland on lap 17, as “The People’s Champ” got held-up in lapped traffic.  Caution was thrown on lap 18, as Austin Williams got extremely sideways in turns 1 and 2, drawing the yellow flag.  Darland remained in hot pursuit of Courtney on the ensuring restart, with CJ Leary, Chris Windom and Damion Gardner rounding-out the top-5.  Matt Rossi’s right rear tire expired, due to the rubber-down conditions, just as the leaders took the white flag.  USAC officials were forced to throw the caution on lap 29, as Rossi stopped just below the flagstand, with the leaders getting ready to come flying off of turn 4.
The green-white-checkered finish was no challenge for Courtney, as he cruised to win for the first time in his career in Arizona, crowning himself the 2018 Western World Champion!  Darland gave Robert Ballou’s machine a hell of a run on Saturday night, finishing 2nd to Courtney after leading early and claiming Quick Time earlier.  CJ Leary finished a quietly-impressive 3rd place on Saturday, followed by Windom and Logan Seavey rounding-out the top-5 finishers!
“Sunshine” Tyler Courtney wins on Saturday, claiming the 2018 Western World Championship!
Tyler Courtney gets interviewed by Jason Carter in victory lane on Saturday!
“The People’s Champ” Dave Darland gave Robert Ballou’s car a great run on Saturday, finishing 2nd after leading early!
CJ Leary enjoyed a quietly-impressive 3rd place finish on Saturday, night 2 of the Western World!
For the second consecutive night, the cushion was right along the wall at Arizona Speedway!


Saturday 410 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)
1. Tyler Courtney (5)  2. Dave Darland (6)  3. CJ Leary (4)  4. Chris Windom (2)  5. Logan Seavey (7)  6. Justin Grant (3)  7. Damion Gardner (1)  8. Kevin Thomas Jr (13)  9. Chase Stockon (14)  10. Thomas Meseraull (8)  11. Ryan Bernal (16)  12. Jake Swanson (9)  13. Brody Roa (17)  14. Isaac Chapple (11)  15. Brady Bacon (20)  16. Josh Hodges (18)  17. RJ Johnson (15)  18. Danny Sheridan (10)  19. Matt Rossi (19)  20. Austin Williams (12)  21. Stevie Sussex (21)  22. Logan Williams (22) 23. Joel Rayborne (24)  24. Cody Williams (23)

Updated Point Standings


USAC National

1. Kevin Thomas Jr – 2,521
2. Tyler Courtney –   2,519
3. Chris Windom –    2,471
4. Dave Darland –     2,195
5. CJ Leary –            2,178
6. Brady Bacon –      2,175
7. Chase Stockon –   2,138
8. Justin Grant –      2,084
9. Robert Ballou –    1,771
10. Isaac Chapple –  1,467


1. Damion Gardner – 1,470
2. Brody Roa –          1,465
3. Austin Williams –  1,235
4. Cody Williams –    1,115
5. Jake Swanson –    1,068
6. RJ Johnson –        1,030
7. Max Adams –          943
8. Danny Faria Jr –     900
9. Logan Williams –    882
10. Chris Gansen –     803



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