Mother Nature and Bud Kaeding Win USAC West Coast 360 Season Openers

by Stephanie Odom on March 24, 2011

Top three finishers from Saturday's West Coast 360 Sprint Car action at Tulare's Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl. (L-R) Ryan Bernal (2nd), Bud Kaeding (1st), Greg Alexander (3rd). (Photo by Paul Trevino Racing Photos)

The USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car series kicked off their third season this past weekend with a double header at Hanford’s Giant Chevrolet Speedway and Tulare’s Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl. However, with threatening weather conditions both shows were rushed along to run a full race program.

Friday night’s action got underway with Campbell’s Bud Kaeding picking up the first heat race victory aboard his Buster and Ziggy Enterprises/Kaeding Performance No. 29. The veteran driver started the eight lap heat race in eighth slicing and dicing his way into the lead with a slide job past T.J. Smith and “Hollywood” Dan Faria in turns three and four.

In the second heat race Richard Vanderweerd of Visalia drove his Vanderweerd Construction/Battery Worx Maxim No. 10 to the front from a fifth place starting position. Behind him was Bakersfield’s Rusty Carlile and and Jonathon Logan.

The third heat of the night would see Avon, Indiana’s Jon Stanbrough. The Indiana Sprint Week Champion powered his way to the front from a pole position to score his first win at Giant Chevrolet Speedway. Trailling him was Davey Pombo and Marcus Niemla.

The fourth heat was the final race for the USAC West Coast 360′s with Mother Nature forcing the USAC West Coast 360 and Giant Chevrolet Speedway Officials to cancel the remainder of the event. Gardena’s Greg Alexander captured the final win from a pole position with veteran driver Andy Forsberg applying heavy pressure as well as former series champion Craig Stidham. Alexander came out on top of the tight battle with Stidham and Forsberg rounding out the top three.

The remainder of the race program (semi and feature event) will be completed at Giant Chevrolet Speedway on March 31st.

Horrible weather was still in the air on Saturday at Tulare’s Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl. Race officials worked at a fast pace to assure the nights events would be completed. The hard work payed off with the brunt of the storm moving past the Thunderbowl leaving only a few light sprinkles before wheel packing.

Bud Kaeding started the thirty lap feature event alongside seventeen year old Ryan Bernal of Hollister. Kaeding leaped to the front when the green flag dropped with Bernal within striking distance of the three-time USAC Silver Crown Champion. Sixth place started Greg Alexander moved his way forward challenging Bernal for the second place position. Alexander was able to make the pass however by then Kaeding checked out from the field.

Bernal was able to regain second place with Andy Forsberg and Danny Faria marching forward from deep in the field. Kaeding remained in control until the first caution flag flew on lap twelve for Jonathon Logan. Logan’s front end collapsed ending his night with a 19th place finish.

On the restart Dennis Howell flipped his machine in turn four bringing the field to a stop again. Howell walked away from the crash uninjured. Kaeding, Bernal, Alexander, Pombo and Stidham were running in the the top five.

When racing resumed Bernal and Alexander fought Kaeding for the top spot with Kaeding holding them off as the laps wound down. Local favorite “Hollywood” Danny Faria continued his move to the front making a move past Alexander for third place. Faria clipped the turn four wall sending him up and over as he was running the high line. The accident ended Faria’s strong run and walked away uninjured.

Racing resumed for the final time with Kaeding in control. Bernal continued to challenge for the top spot while Davey Pombo battled with third place Alexander who suffered a flat left front tire.

When the checkered flag flew for the first time in the USAC West Coast 360 season Bud Kaeding sprinted across the line first with Ryan Bernal second. Alexander and Forsberg crossed the line in a photo finish with Davey Pombo rounding out the top five.

Picking up heat race wins was Bud Kaeding and Wes Guttierez.

For more information and full race results visit

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Tagged with Bud Kaeding, USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series, Hanford Giant Chevrolet Speedway, Tulare Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl