PERRIS, Calif., Mar. 12, 2011– Mike Spencer, the 2008-09-10 USAC-CRA 410 sprint car champion, opened the AMS/OIL USAC-CRA sprint car and Perris Auto Speedway seasons Saturday night by scoring a thrilling last lap, final corner outside pass to lead his only lap of the 30-lap “Sokola Shootout” feature. He edged lap 7-29 leader Damion Gardner, the 2011 USAC National Sprint Series point leader, It was the first of 11 scheduled USAC-CRA races at The PAS this season. USAC-CRA has scheduled 22 races this season from March 12 through November 12 at seven quarter to half-mile dirt tracks throughout California.
Spencer, 29, started seventh in a 22-car field on the half-mile and drove Ron Chaffin's 2010 Maxim to a convincing 10-yard victory over Gardner, who drove Dwight Chaney's DRC/Chevy. Matt Mitchell placed a close third, with pole starter Blake Miller fourth and Nic Faas fifth. David Cardey, Danny Sheridan, Austin Williams, Greg Bragg and Cody Williams completed the top ten with 13 cars running at the conclusion. An opening lap three-car crash between the third and fourth turns caused C. Williams car to roll. He restarted and finished. Rip Williams, father of the Williams brothers, did not compete because he had the flu.
Miller led the first six laps. Gardner made an inside pass at the starting line to lead lap 7 through lap 19. Spencer took second from Miller on lap 12 and made a perfect slide job pass of Gardner for the lead on lap 20 in the first two corners. A caution flag on lap 20 returned Gardner to the lead and forced Spencer to repeat his impressive charge to first position. He did so in the final corner with the checkered flag waving as the two leaders approached a slowing fuel-starved car. David Bezio moved to the inside and Gardner ran the middle of the track, allowing just enough room on the outside for daring Spencer to power by him for the victory.
Greg Alexander, the fastest qualifier in a 27-car field, won the B-main. Rookie Johnny McCall rolled in the first turn while in a main event transfer position. Richard Vanderweerd, Faas, Spencer, and Ford-powered Rodney Argo won the 10-lap heat races. The winning Chaffin sprinter, wrenched by 2011 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Bromme, Jr., has won 12 series championships since Bromme joined forces with Madera, Calif.-based Chaffin. Champion drivers of the red No. 50 have been Richard Griffin, Damion Gardner and Spencer. Spencer is now tied with 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones in total feature victories for the 410 sprint car series known originally as CRA, then SCRA and now USAC-CRA.