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Topic: BENDER STEALS LEAD ON LAST LAP FOR THRILLING LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR WIN! Email this topic to a friend | Subscribe to this TopicReport this Topic to Moderator
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September 26, 2019 at 04:14:08 PM
Joined: 11/14/2006
Posts: 3098


22126 South Vermont, Unit A

Torrance, CA 90502

(310) 320-5569

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bobby Michnowicz (310) 320-5569

For Immediate Release


(Torrance, CA, September 26, 2019) Just days before becoming a dad for the first time, veteran driver A.J. Bender stole the lead on the final lap in the POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Series and went on for the win last Saturday night at the Bakersfield Speedway.  It was the first victory of the year for the San Diego based driver.  

Eighteen cars were on hand for the fourth CLS race of the year on the Kern County 1/3 of a mile banked clay oval.  When qualifying ended, Kingsburg’s Doug Nunes, who won two of the first three races at the track this year, stood on top of the speed chart with a time of 13.035.  Series point leader Jarrett Kramer of Spring Valley was second quick at 13.125.  Bender timed in third fastest at 13.153.

The series was back to three heat races on Saturday and they were taken by Lakewood’s Aiden Lange, Eric Greco of Palmdale and Bakersfield’s own Wink Schweitzer.

For the 25-lap main event, teen Dominic Del Monte of Gardena and CHP officer Jeff “Ponch” Dyer of Yucca Valley manned the front row.  Lange and Ventura racer Robb Pelmear sat in row two.  Indio teen James Turnbull and Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita made up the third row with Bender and Kramer just behind them in row four.  

When the race took the green flag, Dyer, 36, led the first lap over Del Monte and Lange.  The action did not get far as the first of a series of yellow flags over the first half of the race waved on the second lap.  

Bender drove to second on the lap two restart and Michnowicz, who had been out for over a month with leg fractures after a crash at Barona, broke into the top three on lap four.  

Even with a multitude of yellow flags slowing the action, the leaders found their way into the lapped traffic on lap five.  Lapped traffic or not, Michnowicz was staying locked to the bottom and his car was hooked up.  He chased down second place Bender and relegated him to third on the seventh circuit.  Two laps later, the five-time CLS champ chased down race long-leader Dyer and blew by him for the lead.  Once out front, Michnowicz raced away and established a huge advantage.

Things finally progressed smoothly until lap 12 when the yellow flag reared its ugly head again.  Before the race could resume, a red came out due to a driver from another class, who had been injured earlier in the night, needed assistance from the track ambulance.

Racing restarted and ageless Michnowicz was at the point with Dyer, Bender, Kramer and Lange rounding out the top five.  It was not long before Nunes, who won a BCRA main event the night before at Placerville, may have seen his fleeting title hopes sail away as he left the track on a hook on lap 13.  

One final restart came with 12-laps to go and from that point on, it was green to checkers.  Michnowicz moved away for a good-sized lead again and Bender took Dyer for second.  With three laps to go, Michnowicz looked to have the main event trophy under lock and key as he was ahead by more than a half straightaway.  The only things that could deprive him of the win were a crash, mechanical failure or lapped traffic.  In the end, it was the latter that did him in.  Heavy lapped traffic with two laps to go slowed the longtime veteran.  The lappers not only were racing each other, but one also decided to race with the leader and it cost the front runner some valuable ground.  

Seeing Michnowicz battling with the lapped cars, Bender closed in dramatically.  As they hit turn two the final time, Bender swooped around Michnowicz, who was stuck behind one of the lappers, for the lead.  From there it was a sprint to the checkered and Bender, in the Abacus/’s Lodging/R-Tillery Powersports/Automotive Radiator Service/Watkins Construction #91, copped his first main event winner’s trophy of the year.  Michnowicz ended up with a hard to swallow second-place finish.  Lange came home third for his best finish of the year.  Dyer placed fourth with Kramer fifth.  

Bender was also the race “Hard Charger.”

The CLS returns to action at the Ventura Raceway on October 5th.  Going into that race Kramer has expanded his lead in the standings to 183-points.  Nunes is still second with Nigh third.  Boat captain Bender has closed to within three-points of Nigh.  Greco is fifth.   

Bakersfield Speedway Main Event Results (with starting positions)

1. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 7th

2. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 6th

3. Aiden Lange – Lakewood, CA – 3rd 

4. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 2nd

5. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 8th

6. James Turnbull – Indio, CA – 5th

7. Dominic Del Monte - Gardena, CA – 1st

8. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 10th

9. Wink Schweitzer – Bakersfield, CA – 11th

10. Cody Nigh - Camarillo, CA – 16th

11. Robb Pelmear - Ventura, CA – 4th

12. Pat Kelley - Chino, CA – 12th

13. Jason Arnolde - San Diego, CA – 14th

14. Jon Robertson – Torrance, CA – 9th

15. Mark Henry – 17th

16. Greg Sandling – Laguna Beach, CA – 18th

17. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 13th

18. Ken Coulston – Bermuda Dunes, CA – 15th



POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Standings

1. Jarrett Kramer – Spring Valley, CA – 1723

2. Doug Nunes – Kingsburg, CA – 1539

3 Cody Nigh – Camarillo, CA - 1496

4. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 1493

5. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 1415

6. Dominic Del Monte – Gardena, CA – 1370

7. Aiden Lange - Lakewood, CA – 1351

8. Bobby Michnowicz - Lomita, CA – 1275

9. Jeff Dyer – Yucca Valley, CA – 1261

10. Jon Robertson - Torrance, CA – 997


The POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Series would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make the 2019 season possible: Lucas Oil, All Coast Construction, Christian Stover Foundation, Circle Track Performance, Cold Fire West, Fast Undercar, Hoosier Tire, Keizer Wheels, Outlaw Wings, Racing Optics, Rod End Supply, Speed Partz, Super Shocks, T Shirts by Timeless and Woodland Auto Display.

If you or your company would like to become part of the series for its 26th season in 2019, please call Bobby Michnowicz at (310) 320-5569.

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at



2019 POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Car Series


March 16                Bakersfield Speedway – Doug Nunes


March 23                Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer


April 6                     Barona Speedway – Doug Nunes


April 20                   Bakersfield Speedway – Bobby Michnowicz


May 4                     Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer


May 18                   Barona Speedway – Bobby Michnowicz


June 1                    Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer


June 15                  Bakersfield Speedway – Doug Nunes


July 6                     Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer


July 27                    Santa Maria Raceway – Jeff Dyer


August 10               Barona Speedway – Jarrett Kramer


August 24               Ventura Raceway – Cody Nigh


September 7           Ventura Raceway – Jarrett Kramer


September 21         Bakersfield Speedway – A.J. Bender


October 5               Ventura Raceway


October 26              Ventura Raceway


November 17          Bakersfield Speedway



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

Photo courtesy of Pit Princess.

This press release was produced by Scott Daloisio Sports (909) 226-7768 mailto:[email protected]





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