BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series rolls into Bakersfield Speedway on Saturday night for the first of three appearances this season at the third-mile clay oval.
Ryan Bernal of Hollister has the early points lead as he is coming off back-to-back wins last weekend at Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway.
Bernal finished third in last year's only race at Bakersfield, which was won by Bud Kaeding of Campbell. Kaeding went on to win the series championship. Kaeding finished third both nights in Tulare.
Bakersfield drivers Ricky Kirkbride, Rusty Carlile and Matt Day are among those expected to compete. Kirkbride had the best overall showing in Tulare, finishing seventh and 10th.
Other drivers expected include Markus Niemela, Danny Faria and Richard and Jace Vander Weerd.
Also competing will be Hobby Stocks and American Stocks. Steven Johnson won the first Hobby Stock race of the season and Don Mead raced to victory in the American Stock opener.
Racing starts at 6.
SCCA at Buttonwillow
Buttonwillow Raceway Park will see plenty of action over the next four days.
A drivers school for those seeking their Sport Car Club of America competition license gets under way today and double regional events take place on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, those with regular street cars can make time trial runs on both Saturday and Sunday.
The drivers school concludes on Saturday afternoon and new license holders will be able to compete in Sunday's races.
Practice and qualifying runs for a wide variety of cars takes place on both Saturday and Sunday morning with feature races on both afternoons.
The track is located just south of Lerdo Highway and west of Interstate 5.
Thorn starts SRL season with win
Defending series champion Derek Thorn of Bakersfield raced to victory in the season-opening Spears SRl southwest Tour race last Saturday night at Madera Speedway.
Thorn took the lead from M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park on lap 45 and led the remaining 106 laps, finishing six-tenths of a second ahead of Jim Pettit II.
""This car is phenomenal and it's great to start off the season like this," Thorn, who won six races last year, said after the race in the winner's circle.
Jason Gilbert finished third with Kanke fourth. The series returns to action on April 6 at Stockton 99 Speedway.
Action at Famoso Raceway
West Coast Hot Rod Racing Association and Summit ET Series competition will take place Saturday and Sunday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Action starts at 9 a.m. both days with competition throughout the day.