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(Torrance, CA, May 16, 2022) San Diego's A.J. Bender made it two wins in three races in the California Lightning Sprint Car Series at the Bakersfield Speedway last Saturday night. On Monday, after reading that Lemoore Jet Bowl Raceway's favorite flag man Micah Smith was recently diagnosed with cancer, the classy team donated its entire purse to help his family with expenses.

A.J. Bender's winning steed after the CLS main event last Saturday at the Bakersfield Speedway.

When Bender and team owner Mike Schweitzer pull into the pits for a CLS race, the competitors must take a big gulp and sigh. This year, they have won two of the first three CLS races at Bakersfield. Last season, despite running a limited schedule due to having a regular ride in the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, Bender tied for the series lead in victories with four.

Conspicuous by his absence on Saturday was point leader Eric Greco of Palmdale. The young driver was feeling under the weather and was unable to make the show.

While Greco was absent, a pleasant surprise to see in the pit area was two-time series champion Jarrett Kramer of Spring Valley. Driving a car owned by fellow champion Bobby Michnowicz, Kramer was making his first CLS start since his second series title in 2019.

Yucca Valley's Jeff Dyer, who has gotten off to a great start in 2022 with two second-place finishes, a third, and a fourth in his first four races, picked up the West Evans Motorsports Fast Time Award with a lap of 12.805. Camarillo's Cody Nigh was second fastest at 12.946 and Bender was third at 13.029.

In a battle of the champions, 2021 titlist David Gasper of Santa Barbara beat Kramer in the Extreme Mufflers Heat Race #1. Dyer placed third. In CSI Shocks Heat Race #2, Michnowicz, who calls Oak Hills home, crossed the line first with Nigh and series leading rookie Will Browne of Glendora third. Ironically, the two heat race winners each broke before the main events at the first two races at Bakersfield this year.

For the 25-lap main event, Browne was on the pole and Michnowicz was slated to start alongside. However, the 5-time champ's water pump gave up the ghost and he was unable to start. That moved Nigh to the outside of row one. Bender manned the inside of the second row and was joined by Kramer. Row three featured Dyer and rookie Connor Speir of Fillmore.

Browne raced into the lead at the drop of the green flag at "The West's Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval" and he proceeded to lead the first two circuits. Running on the bottom, Bender, in the Mike Schweitzer owned Abacas/BillMell.com Real Estate Services/Van's Logging/Watkins Construction/M&P Environmental/Oil Well Service/Elite Signs/Yoshimura #41B, stalked the newcomer from the outset. Running the outside, Brown left the bottom wide open and Bender breezed by for the lead coming off the second corner on lap three.

Browne stayed in the second-place spot until the eighth circuit when he got trapped behind a lapped car. That allowed Dyer, who came into the night with two straight second-place finishes, to pass for the runner-up position.

In what became a recurring theme in the main event, Dyer chased down Bender for the lead. He tried to sneak by on the inside in turn 1 on the 10th lap. The leader was equal to the challenge and thwarted that effort. Moments later, Kramer dropped out of the race.

By lap 13, Bender had constructed a decent size lead, but he could not rest on his laurels as Dyer was not about to give up. In fact, when Bender was briefly held up by lapped traffic on lap 14, Dyer came calling again. He tried the inside, but one more time, Bender fought off the challenge.

Bender pulled away and by the 19th go around, he had established a half straightaway lead. It looked like he was going to sail the remainder of the way unchallenged. However, someone forgot to tell Dyer that. The retired United States Army Demolitions Expert refused to give up and mounted one last, serious challenge. He reeled the leader in for the third time and was about to make another attempt on lap 23. However, coming off turn four, a lap car impeded his progress and ended his victory hopes.

Bender and Dyer, both of whom were also racing on the USAC/CRA portion of the program, took the checkers in first and second. Nigh, who was closing on Dyer over the last five laps, took third. Browne placed fourth and Gasper was fifth.

Dyer went from fifth to second in the 25-lapper and received the Speed Mart and Advanced Racing Suspensions "Hard Charger" awards.

"I was a little nervous to go to the top because Dyer showed me his nose on the bottom," the affable winner told the crowd after the race. "I was planning on running the top, but this thing was so great on the bottom. I cannot thank the Schweitzer family enough. They make it easy for me (to jump back and forth between cars)."

The CLS is headed back to the Ventura Raceway for the third time in 2022 this Saturday, May 21st. Nigh, who has been around the picturesque track since he was a toddler, comes home as the new point leader. He holds a 79-point lead over Dyer in the season-long point standings. Defending champion Gasper is up to third with Greco and Brown comprising the remainder of the top five

For fans who would like to attend Saturday's show at Ventura, adult tickets are $22.00. Seniors 60 and over, military with id and students with id get in for $18.00. Kids 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Spectator gates will open at 3:00 p.m. and the first race will be at 5:30. The track is located on the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 10 W. Harbor Boulevard (93001). The website is http://venturaraceway.com/ and the office phone number is (805) 648-RACE.

Bakersfield Speedway, May 14 Results

West Evans Motorsports Qualifying 1. Jeff Dyer, 12.805; 2. Cody Nigh, 12.946; 3. A.J. Bender, 13.029; 4. Will Browne, 13.040; 5. Jarrett Kramer, 13.082; 6. Bobby Michnowicz, 13.084, 7. David Gasper, 13.208; 8. Connor Speir, 13.407; 9. Trevor Ballou, 13.670; 10. Gage Cheek, 13.765; 11. Jon Robertson, 13.831; 12. Pat Kelley, 14.164; 13. Mark Henry, No Time

Extreme Muffler Heat Race #1: 1. David Gasper; 2. Jarrett Kramer; 3. Jeff Dyer; 4. A.J. Bender; 5. Trevor Ballou; 6. Mark Henry

CSI Shocks Heat Race #2: 1. Bobby Michnowicz; 2. Cody Nigh; 3. Will Browne; 4. Gage Cheek; 5. Connor Speir; 6. Pat Kelley; 7. Leland Day

Bakersfield 25 Lap Main Event (with starting positions)

1. A.J. Bender, San Diego, CA - 3rd

2. Jeff Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA - 5th

3. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA - 2nd

4. Will Browne, Glendora, CA - 1st

5. Dave Gasper, Santa Barbara, CA - 7th

6. Gage Cheek, Ojai, CA - 8th

7. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA - 6th

8. Pat Kelley, Chino, CA - 11th

9. Jarrett Kramer, Spring Valley, CA - 4th

10. Leland Day, Bakersfield, CA - 10th

11. Trevor Ballou, Corona, CA - 9th

CLS Contingency Awards

Heat Race #1 - Extreme Muffler $50.00 Product Certificate - David Gasper

Heat Race #2 - CSI Shocks - $50.00 Product Certificate - Bobby Michnowicz

Heat Race #3 - Saldana Race Products - $50.00 Product Certificate -

1st Place Main Event - Eibach Springs $100.00 Product Certificate - A.J. Bender

2nd Place Main Event - Vahlco Wheels $50.00 Product Certificate - Jeff Dyer

3rd Place Main Event - Jake Swanson Shock Technology $50 Product Certificate - Cody Nigh

4th Place Main Event - Hyper Chassis - $50 Product Certificate - Will Browne

5th Place Main Event - Smith Titanium Product Certificate - David Gasper

10th Place Main Event - King Racing Products $25.00 Product Certificate - Leland Day

Fast Qualifier - West Evans Motorsports $25.00 Product Certificate - Jeff Dyer

Hard Charger - Speed Mart $25.00 Product Certificate - Jeff Dyer

Hard Charger - Advanced Racing Suspension Product Certificate - Jeff Dyer

Hard Luck Award - Speed Mart $25.00 Product Certificate - Trevor Ballou

1st Car Not On The Lead Lap - Rebel Gears 30% Off Coupon - Connor Speir

California Lightning Sprint Car Series Point Standings

1. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA ... 712

2. Jeff Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA ... 633

3. David Gasper, Santa Barbara, CA ... 625

4. Eric Greco, Palmdale, CA ... 608

5. Will Browne ®, Glendora, CA ... 569

6. Bobby Michnowicz, Oak Hills, CA ... 425

7. Pat Kelley, Chino, CA ... 422

8. A.J. Bender, San Diego, CA, CA ... 366

9. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA ... 360

10. Dominic De Monte, Gardena, CA ... 320

CLS vs BCRA "Civil War Series" Points

1. David Gasper - CLS - 142

2. Dakota Albright - BCRA - 126

3. Eric Greco - CLS - 126

4. Will Browne - CLA 116

5. Harlee Aguilera - BCRA - 109

6. Cody Nigh - CLS - 104

7. Greg Dennett - BCRA - 100

8. Hunter Kinney - BCRA - 92

9. Matt Land - BCRA - 89

10. Tim Kinser - 83

The following companies have become marketing partners with the CLS in 2022. They have offered up more than $13,000.00 in contingencies that will be awarded on top of the regular racing purses and they will be paid out throughout the year. Yoshimura R&D, Hoosier Tires West, T-Shirts By Timeless, Extreme Mufflers, Saldana Racing Products, Rod End Supply, Speed Mart, Cold Fire West, West Evens Motorsports, RC Fuel Injection, Jake Swanson Shock Technology, Advanced Racing Suspensions, CSI Shocks, Eibach Springs, Triple X Race Components, King Racing Products, Hyper Racing Products, Rebel Gears, Vahlco Wheels, Wilwood Disk Brakes, Fuel Safe Systems, MPI, Circle Track Performance, E-Z UP, Hepfner Racing, Smith Titanium, and Hoosier Speed.

If you or your company would like to become a partner of the longtime racing organization, contact Jon Robertson via email at mailto:jon.robertson@sbcglobal.net or by calling (310) 367-9050.

2022 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Schedule

March 25 Bakersfield Speedway Winged - Grant Sexton

April 2 Merced Speedway Non-Wing -- Civil War #1 - David Gasper

April 16 Bakersfield Speedway Winged - A.J. Bender

April 30 Ventura Raceway Winged (Make Up Main) David Gasper

April 30 Ventura Raceway Winged - Bobby Michnowicz

May 14 Bakersfield Speedway Winged - A.J. Bender

May 21 Ventura Raceway Winged -

June 11 Bakersfield Speedway Winged

June 25 Ventura Raceway Winged

July 9 Ventura Raceway Winged

July 23 Ventura Raceway Winged

August 26 Silver Dollar Speedway Winged - Civil War #2

August 27 Placerville Speedway Winged - Civil War #3

September 10 Lemoore Raceway Winged

September 24 Bakersfield Speedway Winged - Civil War #4

October 8 Mohave Valley Raceway Winged - With SWLS

October 29 Ventura Raceway Winged

November 15 Bakersfield Speedway Winged - With USAC Midgets - Civil War #5

November 17 Placerville Speedway Non-Wing - With USAC Midgets - No Points

November 18 Placerville Speedway Non-Wing - With USAC Midgets - No Points

November 19 Placerville Speedway Non-Wing - With USAC Midgets - No Points

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at http://racecls.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/californialightningsprints


1994 Tony Everhart

1995 Gary Sexton

1996 Rob Sczymczak

1997 Jon Rahe

1998 Chris Rahe

1999 Brent Sexton

2000 Greg Bragg

2001 Greg Bragg

2002 Greg Bragg

2003 David Cardey

2004 Keith Janca

2005 Johnny Bates

2006 Donny Gansen

2007 Shane Rossen

2008 Brent Sexton

2009 Stuart Hielschier Sr.

2010 Jarrett Kramer

2011 Tim Brown

2012 Bobby Michnowicz

2013 Stephen Limon

2014 Bobby Michnowicz

2015 Bobby Michnowicz

2016 Bobby Michnowicz

2017 Bobby Michnowicz

2018 Jarrett Kramer

2019 Jarrett Kramer

2021 David Gasper

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