CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CARS
22126 South Vermont, Unit A
Torrance, CA 90502
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bobby Michnowicz (310) 320-5569
For Immediate Release
ALEX GRIGOREAS WINS CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT SEASON OPENER!
(Torrance, CA, March 8, 2016) Upland, California’s Alex Grigoreas finally gained revenge on a track that owed him one, the Imperial Valley Raceway, when he won the California Lightning Sprint Car Series 2016 season opener during the annual California Mid-Winter Fair in El Centro last Saturday night. The win was the second ever in the series for the veteran racer.
Seventeen cars showed up to kick off the CLS season and a quick, eye opening surprise opened the show. Teenage driver Aiden Lange, in only his fourth ever CLS race, out qualified the field with a lap of 12:081.
Grigoreas and three-time series champ Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita won the two eight lap heat races and ended up sharing the third row for the start of the 25-lap main event.
Before the main, there was one more race to contest. The four fast qualifiers raced in the Don Templeton Memorial Dash for Cash with $400.00 going to the winner of the four-lapper. Unfortunately, the dash would spell the end of the night for Lange as he grenaded his engine and was forced to load his car up.
The victory in the dash went to Darren Hillberg who led green to checkered to take the $400.00 over Grigoreas and Michnowicz.
Coming off an impressive sophomore season, James Heling sat on the pole for the main with veteran Anaheim driver Dale Gamer to his right. Fort Irwin’s Jeff Dyer, who is retiring from the United States Army this week, and Hillberg comprised row two and Grigoreas and Michnowicz were in the third row.
When the green flag flew to start the main, Grigoreas headed for the top and it paid immediate dividends as he was in the lead before the end of the first circuit with Michnowicz lurking just behind. It hardly took the two leaders any time to encounter lapped traffic. In fact, they were there before the end of the second go around.
The pair put on a dazzling show as they sliced and diced their way through traffic until Dan Hillberg’s engine exploded bringing the proceedings to a halt so the track crew could clean up the spilled oil.
Once the festivities got going again, Grigoreas continued to set a blistering pace in the Woodland Auto Display/Baldozier Racing/Cataba Farms/Home of the Zier Vineyards/Phased Power/Superior Machine Works/Nunes Performance/Circle Track Performance/Rosson Racing/Joe Godoy/Factory Jones Racing/Yamaha R1/Henchcraft. Right behind him, Michnowicz was flying and looking for a way to grab the lead, but he met with the same fate as Lange and Dan Hillberg when his engine blew bringing out a yellow.
Grigoreas stayed at the point and was on the hammer not knowing that the last yellow had come out for Michnowicz and he was still thinking that the three-time champ was right behind. With two laps to go, the yellow flew for another fast rookie, Cody Nigh, who’s car spun and was stuck in gear. At that point, Grigoreas car began to sputter. It was running out of fuel! Two years ago he was leading late in the main at the El Centro season opener when he tangled with a lapped car and was knocked out with a broken chain. Last year he finished second to Michnowicz.
With the late race fate staring him in the face once again, things could not end fast enough for Grigoreas. On the yellow, he put the car into 5th-gear to idle around and fortunately for him, the final two laps went unstopped to the checkered flag. Heling ended up in the second place spot and was the only other car on the lead lap at the finish. Dash winner Hillberg finished in third. 2015 Rookie of the Year Pat Kelley took fourth with Gamer fifth.
Kelley, who purchased the car of the late Damon Arnett who passed away late last year and who is running Arnett’s #7 to honor him, was the main event “Hard Charger” moving from his 11th place starting spot to fourth at the finish.
Heading into the next race at the Bakersfield Speedway on March 19th, Grigoreas has an 18-point lead over Hillberg in the championship standings. Heling is in third and is only 20-points behind the leader.
El Centro Main Event (with starting positions)
1. Alex Grigoreas (5th), 2. James Heling (1st), 3. Darren Hillberg (4th), 4. Pat Kelley (11th), 5. Dale Gamer (2nd), 6. Mike Kotlinski (10th), 7. Jon Robertson (9th), 8. Cody Nigh (13th), 9. Jon Squire (7th), 10. Bobby Michnowicz (6th), 11. James Squire (8th), 12. Wyatt Downing (14th), 13. Jeff Dyer (3rd), 14. Dan Hillberg (12th)
California Lightning Sprint Car Series Points
1. Alex Grigoreas – Upland – 150
2. Darren Hillberg – Corona – 132
3. James Heling – San Bernardino – 130
4. Dale Gamer – Anaheim – 115
5. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita – 105
5. Pat Kelley – Chino – 105
5. Mike Kotlinski – Romoland – 105
8. Jon Robertson – Torrance – 100
9. Cody Nigh – Camarillo – 98
10. Jon Squire – El Cajon - 91
The California Lightning Sprint Car Series would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make the 2016 season possible: Christian Stover Foundation, Circle Track Performance, Cold Fire West, DK Fabrication, Extreme Muffler, Fast Undercar, Hoosier Tire, Keizer Wheels, Lucas Oil, Racing Optics, Rod End Supply, Rosson Racing, Saldana Race Products, Sander Engineering, Speedmart, Speed Partz, Surf N’ Sprint, Super Shocks, T Shirts by Timeless, Woodland Auto Display
If you or your company would like to become part of the series for the 2016 season, please call Bobby Michnowicz at: (310) 320-5569.
To keep up with the CLS on line, please visit the web site at: http://www.calightningsprints.com/index.html
2016 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Schedule
March 5: Imperial Valley Raceway - El Centro, CA – Alex Grigoreas
March 19: Bakersfield Speedway - Bakersfield, CA
April 2: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA
April 16: Santa Maria Raceway - Santa Maria, CA
April 30: Bakersfield Raceway - Bakersfield, CA
May 14: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA
May 28: Perris Auto Speedway - Perris, CA (Salute To Indy)
June 11: Bakersfield Raceway - Bakersfield, CA (BoD & General Membership Meeting)
July 2: Perris Auto Speedway - Perris, CA (Firecracker)
July 9: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA
August 3: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA (Ventura County Fair)
August 20: Santa Maria Raceway - Santa Maria, CA
September 3: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA (BoD & General Membership Meeting)
September 17: Bakersfield Raceway - Bakersfield, CA
October 1: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA
October 15: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA
October 29: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA
November 13: **General Membership Meeting / 2017 Rules Meeting
November 19: **Imperial Valley Raceway - El Centro, CA
This schedule is subject to change.
Civil War Dates TBD
PAST CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONS
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
This press release was produced by Scott Daloisio Sports (909) 226-7768