2023 USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SEASON OPENS WITH DOUBLEHEADER AT COCOPAH
By Lance Jennings
JANUARY 21, 2023… The AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series will open their 2023 campaign with a special doubleheader at Cocopah Speedway near Yuma, Arizona. Promoted by Brad Whitfield, the Friday, January 27th and Saturday January 28th events are the only appearances on the USAC/CRA schedule at the fast 3/8-mile oval. The action packed cards will also showcase the IMCA Hobby Stocks, IMCA Sport Compacts, and IMCA Mod Lites. The pit gates will open at 2:00pm, the spectator gates open at 4:00pm, hotlaps at 5:30pm, followed by time trials and racing. For more information, visit the track’s website at racecocopahspeedway.com or call 602.292.7607.
For those that cannot be at the races, a live stream will be broadcast by speedsport.tv.
NOTICE TO RACERS:
– APPROVED/LEGAL MUFFLERS: Mufflers ARE NOT REQUIRED at Cocopah Speedway.
– ENTRY FEE: There is an entry fee due at registration / pill pick.
– TRANSPONDERS: Transponders ARE MANDATORY and will be available to rent.
– ONE WAY RADIOS / RACECEIVERS: One way radios ARE MANDATORY.
– FRONT AXLE TETHER SYSTEMS: Front axle tether systems (2-Chassis, 1-King Pin to King Pin) ARE MANDATORY.
– FULL CONTAINMENT SEATS: Full containment seats ARE MANDATORY.
– COCKPIT ADJUSTABLE SHOCKS: Cockpit adjustable shocks ARE ALLOWED.
The Friday, January 27th event will be the ninth race in USAC/CRA history at “The Diamond in the Desert.” “The Demon” Damion Gardner leads all drivers with five wins at Cocopah Speedway, including three in a row in January 2022. Emerson Axsom and Jake Swanson were victorious at last October’s “Western World Championships” and “The Pride of Garden Grove” Brody Roa won the first Yuma main event on June 2, 2012. Swanson lowered the track record to 16.127 seconds on October 29th.
Last season, “The Demon” Damion Gardner (Concord, California) earned his ninth consecutive championship and the tenth of his career. Driving Mark Alexander’s #1 PerformanceOnline.com / Carman Trucking Spike, Gardner posted six feature wins, five fast time awards, nine heat race victories, one hard charger award, thirteen top-10 finishes, and 179 feature laps led to his credit. “The Demon” announced his retirement from racing at the Chili Bowl Nationals with 95 victories and 104 fast time awards during his career with USAC/CRA. The Alexander Team has also retired from racing and are currently selling their equipment. Mark and crew chief Steve Alexander won ten USAC/CRA championships (nine consecutive) and have recorded 90 series wins.
“The Big Game Hunter” Austin Williams (Yorba Linda, California) finished second in the championship point standings. Racing the family owned #2 Digalert / Full Throttle Scissor Lift Rental DRC, Williams had one fast time award, two heat race victories, one “Lucky 13 Award,” eleven top-10 finishes, and 13 feature laps led in the campaign. The 2009 Co-Rookie of the Year ranks seventh with eleven career triumphs and will be looking for his first victory at Cocopah Speedway.
Eddie Tafoya Jr. (Chino Hills, California) ranked third in the USAC/CRA point standings. Piloting the family owned #51T Specialty Fasteners / DRC Chassis entry, Tafoya recorded one fast time award, one semi-main win, one “Lucky 13 Award,” thirteen top-10 finishes, and one feature lap led on the season. The 2019 USAC/CRA and USAC SouthWest Rookie of the Year will run a limited schedule in California and Arizona as the team will concentrate on racing in the Midwest with the USAC National Series.
Matt Mitchell (Yorba Linda, California) placed fourth in the chase for the championship. The owner / driver of the #37 Roy Miller Freight Lines / Campbell Brothers Storage Maxim posted one feature win, two fast time awards, five heat race victories, one semi-main win, two hard charger awards, twelve top-10 finishes, and 46 feature laps led on the season. The 2014 USAC West Coast Sprint Car Champion is tied with “The People’s Champion” Dave Darland, “Super” Rickie Gaunt, and “Showtime” Danny Sheridan with eight career USAC/CRA triumphs.
Tommy “Thunder” Malcolm (Corona, California) finished fifth in the USAC/CRA point chase. Driving Dino Napier’s #5X Indiana Truck Salvage / B&B Powder Coating DRC, Malcolm recorded four heat race victories, one hard charger award, ten top-10 finishes, and 47 feature laps led in the campaign. Tommy will be looking to earn the first victory of his career at Cocopah Speedway.
Nate Schank (Santa Rosa, California) earned Rookie of the Year honors and ranked eleventh in the championship standings. The pilot of the family owned #1$ Joe Hunt Magnetos / Sonoma Paint Center posted one heat race victory, two “Lucky 13 Awards,” two hard charger awards, and three top-10 finishes on the season.
Among the other drivers expected to be in action are “The Pride of Garden Grove” Brody Roa, “The Cadillac” Cody Williams, “Chargin” Charles Davis Jr., Logan Williams, Matt McCarthy, Verne Sweeney, “The Gunslinger” Austin Grabowski, A.J. Bender, Kyle Edwards, “Sugah” Shane Sexton, Chris Bonneau, Logan Calderwood, “The Magic Man” Mike Martin, and more.
Cocopah Speedway is located at 3450 West County 15th Street in Somerton, Arizona at the intersection of US Highway 95 and County 15th Street. Advance tickets are available. Adult tickets are $25, Military and Senior (65 and over) Tickets are $15, Youth (11-17 with paid adult) Tickets are $10, and Kids (10 and under with paid adult) Tickets are FREE. Pit Passes are $45 and camping is available. For more information, visit racecocopahspeedway.com or call 602.292.7607.
If you or your company would like to become part of the series, contact Tony Jones at
or PR Director Lance Jennings at
For more information on the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, visit the United States Auto Club (USAC) website at usacracing.com and the social media for USAC Racing. You can also find exclusive content on the USAC/CRA Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONS: 2004-Rip Williams, 2005-Damion Gardner, 2006-Cory Kruseman, 2007-Tony Jones, 2008-Mike Spencer, 2009-Mike Spencer, 2010-Mike Spencer, 2011-Mike Spencer, 2012-Mike Spencer, 2013-Damion Gardner, 2014-Damion Gardner, 2015-Damion Gardner, 2016-Damion Gardner, 2017-Damion Gardner, 2018-Damion Gardner, 2019-Damion Gardner, 2020-NO AWARD, 2021-Damion Gardner, 2022-Damion Gardner.
2022 AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR WINS: 6-Damion Gardner, 3-Brody Roa, 2-Brady Bacon, 2-Cody Williams, 1-Emerson Axsom, 1-Robert Ballou, 1-Ryan Bernal, 1-Tanner Boul, 1-Charles Davis Jr., 1-Austin Liggett, 1-Matt Mitchell, 1-Jake Swanson.
YUMA AMSOIL USAC/CRA 1-LAP QUALIFYING RECORD: Jake Swanson – 16.127 (10/29/22)
YUMA AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR WINS: 5-Damion Gardner, 1-Emerson Axsom, 1-Brody Roa, 1-Jake Swanson.
2023 AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES SCHEDULE
January 27: Cocopah Speedway – Yuma, AZ
January 28: Cocopah Speedway – Yuma, AZ
February 18: Longshadow Ranch Vineyard & Winery – Temecula, CA (2022 Banquet)
March 3: Central Arizona Raceway – Casa Grande, AZ
March 4: Central Arizona Raceway – Casa Grande, AZ
March 18: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA (Sokola Shootout)
March 24: Keller Auto Speedway – Hanford, CA
March 25: Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA
April 1: Mohave Valley Raceway – Mohave Valley, AZ
April 15: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
April 22: Keller Auto Speedway – Hanford, CA (Spanky Mathews Memorial)
April 29: The Dirt Track at Kern County Raceway Park – Bakersfield, CA (With USAC Western States Midgets)
May 6: Mohave Valley Raceway – Mohave Valley, AZ
May 20: Thunderbowl Raceway – Tulare, CA (Chris & Brian Faria Memorial)
May 27: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA (Salute to Indy)
June 10: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA (Bubby Jones & Ray Sheetz Memorial / 40 Laps)
June 24: Bakersfield Speedway – Bakersfield, CA (Richie McGowan Memorial)
July 1: Santa Maria Raceway – Santa Maria, CA
July 15: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
August 12: Santa Maria Raceway – Santa Maria, CA
August 19: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
August 26: TBA
September 9: Santa Maria Raceway – Santa Maria, CA
September 23: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA (Glenn Howard Classic)
October 14: Mohave Valley Raceway – Mohave Valley, AZ
November 3: Central Arizona Raceway – Casa Grande, AZ (Western World Championships)
November 4: Central Arizona Raceway – Casa Grande, AZ (Western World Championships)
November 11: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA (40 Laps)
TBA = To Be Announced.
This schedule is subject to change.