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(Torrance, CA, April 23, 2024)
When it comes to racing, nothing can be worse for the competition than seeing the G.O.A.T. on the pole for the main event. That is exactly what happened in the California Lightning Sprint Car Series when it visited the Bakersfield Speedway for round #4 of the 2024 season last Saturday night. Six-time series champion Bobby Michnowicz started on the pole, led all 25 laps, and jumped into the series point lead.

Fifteen cars showed up for the second race for the CLS on its home track in 2024. Michnowicz got things started off right when he set the fastest qualifying time with a speedy lap of 13.031. The second quickest on “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval,” was California Highway Patrol Officer Jeff Dyer who sped to a 13.285. Palmdale’s Eric Greco was third best when he recorded a 13.289.

Six-time CLS Champion Bobby Michnowicz after setting fast time at Bakersfield. CLS Photo.

The only blemish on Michnowicz's record on the night came when two-time series champion David Gasper of Santa Barbara and BCRA regular Hunter Kinney of Whitney beat him to the checkered flag in the first eight-lap heat race. Yucca Valley’s Dyer captured the second heat ahead of Camarillo’s Cody Nigh and BCRA star Greg Dennett of Livermore. However, the victory was a costly one for Dyer as when he exited the final corner, the #4 rod vacated the engine ending his night.

When the CLS rolled onto the track for its main event, six-time series champion Michnowicz was on the pole with his nephew Nigh alongside. Row two featured Greco and Dennett. Kinney and Gasper sat in row three with young Zate Legend of Riverside and two-time CLS champion Brent Sexton of Lakeside in row four.

When Randy Schweitzer waved the green flag, Michnowicz, in his T Shirts By Timeless/Super Shox/Fabozzi Metal Works/Outlaw Wings/TJ Forged/Keizer Wheels/Simpson/Bondio Fabrication/Fast Time Studios/Pflum – Wagner/DLX/Kawasaki ZX10 #21K, flew into the lead with his nephew, Greco, Dennet and Gasper in tow.

Nigh, looking for his first win of 2024, nearly snatched the lead away with an inside move at the end of the opening circuit. The six-time series champion from Oak Hills fended off the challenge and by the end of lap four, had a four-length advantage. The best battle early on was between Dennett and Gasper for fourth. That raged on as the leaders approached the lappers on the 10th go around.

Kinney, competing against the CLS regulars for the first time since 2022, raced up to fourth on lap 11. At the halfway point, Michnowicz had advanced his lead and some fans were picking up their seat cushions and heading toward the exit thinking the race was over. It looked that way, but two lappers held Michnowicz back as the race hit its late stages. That allowed Nigh to dramatically close the gap and pull to the leader’s rear on lap 20. The San Diego State graduate looked to the outside but could not find enough grip to steal the lead.

The race went without a yellow flag, but the same could not be said for a red. Going into turn three on lap 22, Gasper, who was racing a car honoring Bakersfield promoter Scott Schweitzer’s late daughter Bailey, had the right front spindle break launching the wheel and tire high into the night air. Gasper turned the car to the right. The left rear, which came off the bead, dug into the track slowing the car. It tipped over and only sustained minimal damage.

Once Gasper’s #41 was towed back to the pits, the race resumed with four laps to go. Like he had been all race, Michnowicz was on the point. Likewise, Nigh was in second where he had been for the duration. Greco, who had been third, had an issue and left the track. That moved Kinney to third, Dennett to fourth, and Legend to fifth. Nigh again went to the top and nearly pilfered the lead at the end of the 22nd circuit. The 60-year-old leader was up to the challenge. He maintained his lofty position at the head of the pack and three laps later crossed the line with a 1/3 of a straightaway advantage. Nigh podiumed for the third time in three races this year and finished second. The BCRA contingent of Kinney and Dennett were third and fourth. Legend, in his second season with the CLS, drove the ex-Will Browne #8 to his career-best CLS fifth-place finish. He was also the race “Hard Charger” going from ninth to fifth.

The victory shot Michnowicz from fifth in the championship standings to the lead. Lakewood’s Aiden Lange came into the race as the point leader, but he was absent. That dropped him into second in the standings, 10 points behind the new leader. Nigh is third, only three points behind Lange and 12 behind Michnowicz. Greco and Fillmore’s Connor Speir round out the top five.

Up next for the CLS will be a May 4th date at the Ventura Raceway.

The CLS would like to thank the following companies for being partners in the 2024 season. Extreme Mufflers, RacingJunk.com and Hoosier Tire.

Bakersfield Speedway April 20th Results

Qualifying: 1. Bobby Michnowicz, 13.031; 2. Jeff Dyer, 13.285; 3. Eric Greco, 13.289; 4. Greg Dennett, 13.377; 5. Hunter Kinney, 13.477; 6. Cody Nigh, 13.506; 7. David Gasper, 13.521; 8. Leland Day, 13.656; 9. Jon Robertson, 13.711; 10. Seth Dyer, 13.733; 11. Brent Sexton, 13.847; 12. Zate Legend, 13.921; 13. Clay Byers, 14.172; 14. Pat Kelley, 14.610, 15. Connor Speir, No Time

Heat #1 - 8 Laps: 1. Gasper, 2. Kinney, 3. Greco, 4. Michnowicz, 5. Sexton, 6. Robertson, 7. Speir, 8. Byers

Heat #2 - 8 Laps: 1. Jeff Dyer, 2. Nigh, 3. Dennett, 4. Seth Dyer, 5. Legend, 6. Kelly, 7. Day

Main Event – 25 Laps (with starting positions)
1. Bobby Michnowicz, Oak Hills, CA … (1st)
2. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA … (2nd)
3. Hunter Kinney, Whitney, CA … (5th)
4. Greg Dennett, Livermore, CA … (4th)
5. Zate Legend, Riverside, CA … (9th)
6. Brent Sexton, Lakeside, CA … (8th)
7. Seth Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … (7th)
8. Jon Robertson, Torrance, CA … (11th)
9. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA … (12th)
10. Leland Day, Bakersfield, CA … (10th)
11. Clay Byers, Castaic, CA … (14th)
12. Pat Kelley, Chino, CA … (13th)
13. Eric Greco, Palmdale, CA … (3rd)
14. David Gasper, Santa Barbara, CA … (6th)
DNS Jeff Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA

Main Event Hard Charger: Legend 9th to 5th

California Lightning Sprint Car Series Points
1. Bobby Michnowicz, Oak Hills, CA … 392
2. Aiden Lange, Lakewood, CA … 382
3. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA … 379
4. Eric Greco, Palmdale, CA … 322
5. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA … 294
6. Jon Robertson, Torrance, CA … 279
7. Zate Legend, Riverside, CA … 276
8. Seth Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … 272
9. Seth Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … 266
10. Leland Day, Bakersfield, CA … 181

Lap Leaders After Three Races
1. Bobby Michnowicz … 49
2. Conner Speir … 20
3. Aiden Lange … 16
4. Cody Nigh … 4
5. Greg Dennett … 1

2024 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Schedule

March 1 Imperial Valley Raceway Mid-Winter Fair Aiden Lange

March 2 Imperial Valley Raceway Mid-Winter Fair Connor Speir

March 9 Bakersfield Speedway CLS Bobby Michnowicz

April 13 Merced Speedway CSL vs BCRA Civil War #1 Rained Out

April 20 Bakersfield Speedway CLS Bobby Michnowicz

May 4 Ventura Raceway CLS

May 18 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

June 8 Ventura Raceway CLS

June 15 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

July 5 Santa Maria Speedway CLS

July 6 Santa Maria Speedway CLS

July 27 Santa Maria Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #2

September 13 Bakersfield Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #3

September 14 Ventura Raceway CLS

September 28 Ventura Raceway CLS

October 5 Merced Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #4 Albright Memorial

October 26 Ventura Raceway CLS

November 15 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – No Points

November 16 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – No Points

November 26 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at http://racecls.com/  and follow on the club’s Facebook page 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, 2022 David Gasper, 2023 Bobby Michnowicz

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