Inland Rigging Team Opens Usac/Cra Title Defense Saturday at Perris

The Tom and Christy Dunkel Inland Rigging Sprint Car team will open defense of its Avanti Windows and Doors USAC/CRA Series championship this Saturday night, February 24th, at Perris Auto Speedway. However, the season opener will have a much different feel for the crew and its driver. When the green flag opens the 28th season of racing on the Riverside County half-mile clay oval and the start of the 20th season for USAC/CRA, Austin Williams will be the driver spearheading the team’s title defense.

image_50441729.JPGAustin Williams Inland Rigging #17W is ready for Saturday’s USAC/CRA season opener.

Last year the team dominated the USAC/CRA Series by leading the championship point standings the entire season. It also won eight of the 18 main events with veteran Brody Roa behind the wheel. Then in January came the shocking news that Roa was relinquishing his ride with the Menifee team to spend more time with his family. The Dunkel’s quickly recruited 11-time CRA main event winner Austin Williams to chauffeur the #17W and try to bring home the second straight title for the Inland Rigging squad. He immediately became one of the favorites to capture the season-long championship trophy.

One thing that is for sure with the Dunkel’s is they do not skimp or cut corners. They are always in it to win it. That is how they did it in 2023 and that is how they will try to win again in 2024. Winning a title takes a lot of prep and tons of hours in the shop. The team has already been burning the midnight oil to be prepared for Saturday’s season-opening green flag. As of Wednesday, the cars were ready and just a few details for the opener remained.

“The car is ready to go,” Tom Dunkel said from his home on Wednesday night. “We did get ourselves a new hauler over the winter so we are putting the finishing touches on that. We are getting our tools and spares loaded into the trailer. We are going to do the tires tomorrow and we are ready to get after it. Saturday’s car is 100% and two other cars are about 80%. We are super close for the year.”

“He definitely knows what he likes,” Dunkel said about his new driver. “I have been kind of talking to Austin here and there. Even as last season was winding down. Not necessarily about working together, but as friends and competitors at the racetrack. He has a lot of experience and comes with a lot of background. Especially with his dad. Those guys know what they like but they have been very responsive to what we like to do and what our program has to offer. They have been super respectful. And they are not here to change a lot of stuff. They are here to bring what they have to the table and see what we like to do between Zac and I. It has been a pretty good mixture of the bulls so far.”

Knowing he needed a field general to lead the championship charge, Dunkel brought in Zac Bozanich. When it comes to young minds in the pits, few are more respected than the award-winning crew chief. He is one of Roa’s best friends and was a long time crew leader on the famous #91R. Spending what Dunkel refers to as some “long days” in the shop, Bozanich has gelled well with Williams, his Hall of Fame father Rip Williams and Eddie Tafoya Jr. Tafoya will join Dunkel in the new USCS series beginning a week from Saturday in Ventura.

“We are going to have five cars total and six engines,” Dunkel enthused. “We are going to have four non-wing cars and we are building a winged car as well. We are going to run a couple up north (wing races) and a couple of High Limit races at the end of the year. I am going to play at a couple races at Antioch and Watsonville with myself driving. For the bigger shows, we have a couple of guys (wing drivers) we have reached out to but we have not firmed anything up yet.”

Seeing Dunkel or any So Cal drivers in a 410-winged car is quite a rare sight. The last one to do so was Roa in his family-owned #91R a couple of years ago. Dunkel has never driven a winged or wingless 360, but as a teen, he did race a winged lightning sprint car. He is the first one to tell you that there is no comparison between driving a winged lightning sprint and a fire-breathing 410 cubic inch winged sprint car.

Before it is time for wing racing, USAC/CRA and USCS are on tap. For fans who want to see Williams start his drive towards his first potential championship and the team’s second, spectator gates will open at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday with racing at 7:00. Adult tickets are $30.00. Seniors 65 and over get in for $25.00. For kids 6-12 it is only $5.00 and children 5 and under are free. Advance tickets are available 24 hours a day online at https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/pas/7 or by calling 1-800-595-4849. For those who do not want to purchase advance tickets, there will be plenty of tickets for everyone at the ticket window on Saturday. The fairgrounds charge $10.00 for parking.

Perris Auto Speedway is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds at 18700 Lake Perris Drive in the City of Perris. The track website is http://www.perrisautospeedway.com/ and the office phone number is (951) 940-0134.

Dunkel would like to thank the following 2024 season sprint car sponsors. Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, Specialty Fasteners, BR Motorsports, King Racing Products, Osborne Speed & Machine, Maverick Transport, and HBC. If you would like to join this championship team for another title run this year, please contact Dunkel using the information at the top of this release.

Inland Rigging Racing PR