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(Lakeside, CA, March 14, 2023) Sexton Gatlin Racing ran roughshod over the competition and swept both nights of the "CLS/SWLS Best of the West" Lightning Sprint Car Series at the Imperial Valley Raceway last weekend. At the Friday night opener, San Diegan AJ Bender captured the crash-filled main event. Twenty-four hours later, teenage ace Braden Chiaramonte steered the SGR #3 to victory circle.

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Night 2 at Imperial winner Braden Chiaramonte with teammate, car owner, and second-place finisher
Brent Sexton to his left, and third-place finisher Bobby Michnowcz to his right. CLS photo.

In addition to the two winners, defending POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Series champion Brent Sexton, his son Dalton, and El Cajon's Robby Brockman wheeled SGR cars at the two-night show.

Bender, who is a regular in the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, had his work cut out for him in Friday's main event. He started 12th in the 25-lapper and had heavy hitters in front of him. Included were Brent, who was starting fourth, and Dalton, who was coming from fifth. Newcomer Brockman, who was in his first-ever lightning race, was coming from 17th.

When the green flag started the race, Brent made a faux paw heading into turn one and slid to the outside. However, he saved it and only lost one spot. He then stayed in the top five for the remainder of the race.

Looming right behind Brent on lap four was Bender who had already passed eight cars. Bender continued to slice his way forward and sped into the lead on a lap seven restart. From that point on, he led every inch of the way and posted the win by a full straightaway. Brent ended up crossing the line in fourth. Dalton had issues and ended up 14th. Brockman got caught up in one of the race's many tangles and ended up 13th.

Earlier on the opening night, Brent ended up posting the eighth-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 13.195. Bender was 12th quickest at 13.540, and Brockman was 16th after circling the track at 14.699. Dalton had car issues and did not take a qualifying lap.

Brent kicked off his season in fine style by starting on the pole in the first heat and winning by a half racetrack. Brockman started seventh and finish eighth. Bender had mechanical issues and pulled off before the green.

Dalton was the only SGR car in heat race two. He started fourth and to say he had an eventful race was an understatement. On lap three while he was running second, he slipped off the back straight and brought out a yellow flag. He restarted at the rear and drove all the way back to finish third with a crowd-pleasing drive.

The following night, El Cajon 16-year-old Chiaramonte jumped into the SGR #3, set fast qualifying time, and won the 25-lap main event. He narrowly missed sweeping the show when he placed second in his heat race.

Brent had the best starting spot of the SGR drivers in the main event coming from third in the 25-lapper. Chiaramonte was directly behind him on the inside of row three and he had the previous night's winner Bender to his right. Brockman was on the inside of row five. Chiaramonte began to slice and dice his way forward from the outset. On lap three, he dramatically went to the outside and blasted by the fifth and fourth-place cars in one fell swoop. One lap later he chased down and passed teammate Bender for third.

For a lap nine restart, Chiaramonte was in third. However, he was not there for long. Within two laps He commandeered the lead and would not relinquish it the rest of the way. Despite another couple of yellow flags, the teen would not be thwarted. He pulled away from the pack each time and when the checkered flag closed the 25 lapper, he had more than a half straightaway advantage over the 2nd-place car. Brent drove a strong race to finish second. Impressive newcomer Brockman, in only his second night of racing lightning sprints, brought it home in fifth. Bender, who had to restart at the rear after getting pinched off on the back chute with five laps to go, came all the way back to seventh.

In preliminary action, Bender held off hard-charging Chiaramonte to win the thrilling first heat race. The second heat had SGR teammates Brent and Brockman in the lineup. Brent started 4th and finished third while Brockman, who started in the 7th position, advanced two spots forward to finish fifth.

SGR drivers took four of the six fastest spots in qualifying. Young Chiaramonte paced the 20-car field with a lap of 11.819. Brockman was fourth at 12.324. Brent was fifth when he stopped the clocks at 12.537 and the previous night's winner Bender was sixth at 12.496.

Brent left the opening weekend in the SWLS point lead. Bender is fifth. Brockman is sixth and is the current leader in the "Rookie of the Year" chase. Dalton is 21st.

Weather permitting, Grant will be back in action with the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars in the 20th Annual Sokola Shootout" this Saturday, March 18th, at Perris Auto Speedway. Spectator gates open at 5 PM and the first race will be at 7:00. The track is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds at 18700 Lake Perris Drive in the city of Perris (92571). Advance tickets are available 24 hours a day at https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/pas/7. The track website is www.perrisautospeedway.com and the office phone number is (951) 940-0134.

SGR has been busy all winter getting ready for another successful year in 2023. If you or your company is interested in becoming a partner with this front-running team, please call (619) 454-6945 or E-mail mailto:sextonfire@cox.net or mailto:sextonfire@gmail.com.

Sexton Gatlin Racing would like to thank the following companies for making the 2022 season possible. Keys Brothers, East County Electric Works, Maxima Oil, Automated Interiors, Sexton Fire Protection, BK Wings, Troy Dirt, Victory Graphix, and Swift Powdercoat.

Sexton Gatlin Racing 2023 Results

Brent Sexton

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 4th A Main

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 2nd A Main

Dalton Sexton

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 14th A Main

Grant Sexton

1-27-23 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars 16th A Main

1-28-23 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars DNS

AJ Bender

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 1st A Main

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 7th A Main

Robby Brockman

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 13th A Main

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 5th A Main

Braden Chiaramonte

3-10-23 Imperial Valley Raceway POWRi Southwest Lightning 1st A Main

This release was produced by Scott Daloisio. Contact (909) 226-7768 mailto:sdaloisiosports@gmail.com