Brody Roa Sweeps Usac/Cra Opening Weekend at the Cocopah Speedway

Three weeks ago, veteran sprint car racer Brody Roa did not know if he would be racing at this past weekend’s USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series 24th season-opening weekend at the Cocopah Speedway.  In a career-changing move one week later, Roa joined forces with Inland Rigging’s Tommy and Christy Dunkel.  That move paid immediate dividends as he not only made the opener, but also scored wins in both main events on the Arizona oval.  The victories were his 14th and 15th in USAC/CRA competition which places him fifth on the series all-time win list. 

To say the effort to get ready for the races was a thrash is an understatement. The team finished the car on Thursday night and it was so fresh it did not have all the decals in place. Nonetheless, it was fast from the opening lap of hot laps on Friday all the way through the final checkered flag on Saturday.  It was faster than anyone expected as it was the first time Roa ever turned laps using a DRC chassis. 

When people think of Arizona they think of extreme heat.  However, the winters in the “Copper State” can be cold.  With a breeze blowing at the track that is located 10 minutes north of the USA/Mexican border, and a temperature dipping into the low 40s each night, fans were more than a little chilly.  But Roa and the other cars kept them warmed up with exciting racing each night.

Roa, who turned 32 years old two days prior to the opening race, made his first qualifying effort in his new steed a good one when he timed in third quickest at 16.575 on Friday night.  That placed him in the first 10-lap heat race of the season where he started fifth and finished fourth in his initial outing in the white #17R.

For the main event, the Garden Grove, California star began on the outside of row two in fourth. In front of the Speed Sport TV cameras, he picked off the third and second-place drivers and patiently stalked the leader.  Perseverance paid off and he snatched the lead away on lap 19.  The talented driver methodically pulled away for a comfortable victory in his first time driving for the Dunkel’s.

“First win for the new team,” the happy victor told the crowd after the race. “It is pretty awesome to come out of the gate swinging like that.  We just got this new DRC chassis and just finished it up last night.  I think that is a good start to it. About six days ago, I thought I was only racing this weekend for sure.  I have to thank Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, and Tom and Christy Dunkel.  They stepped up huge and I just have to give a huge thank you to them.”

“I was calling Joe Devin (the owner of DRC) all night with ideas about what we were doing,” the excited driver continued.  “I sent him a text before the feature telling him what I was doing and he said that was all good stuff.  When I was behind Tommy (Tommy Malcolm who held Roa at bay until the 19th circuit), he was good.  He screwed up once down here before the caution and I thought I had a shot, but he gathered it all back in.  He did a great job leading.  Good job to that guy and all of those guys over there (Malcolm and his team).  They were a contender last year and we will probably see them a lot this year, too.” 

“Man I am kind of bummed,” Roa said with a laugh.  “This is the first race I have won with my two-year-old daughter Addison here (at the races) and she was sleeping.”

Saturday night did not start off as well as Friday.  While his qualifying time of 16.943 was less than a half second slower than his Friday attempt on the clocks, it was only good for the ninth fastest time.  However, he outdistanced the field in his preliminary to record his first heat race triumph of 2023. 

If there was one thing to be said about the slower qualifying time, it put Roa on the front row for the main event and he took full advantage and flew into the lead at the drop of the green.  The friendly driver hung onto the lead until he was passed on the 22nd lap by his sometimes teammate at Jayson May Motorsports, Chase Johnson.  It looked as though Roa would have to settle for second, but coming off turn four and heading for the white flag, Johnson, whose right rear tire was shot, threw a slider on a lapped car, jumped the cushion, and tapped the wall.  Roa alertly pounced on the opportunity presented and flew into the lead. Eighteen seconds later he drove his bright white car under the checkered flag first for his second win in 24 hours. 

“I thought it was over,” Roa told the appreciative crowd.  “Once he (Johnson) got out front until that lapper he was clean. He was able to get off the corners a little bit better than I was. Yeah, a heartbreaker for Chase.  He ran a good race.  I guess we will take them how we can get them.”

“This is an exciting start to the year for sure,” Roa said about taking home both winner’s trophies on the year.  “All of our phones were blowing up last night. I talked to Tom (Dunkel) last night and he was pretty stoked.  Hopefully, we can continue and win a whole bunch of these this year.”

“We are over the top really,” happy car owner Dunkel said on Sunday. “We were hoping for a decent run with a brand new car, new team, and a whole new package.  To go out there and sweep the weekend was a little unexpected.  We are just over the top about it.”

Winning the races was very important and satisfying.  However, perhaps the most important thing of the two nights for Roa came while he was holding his daughter Addison in the victory circle. 

“This is super cool,” Roa gushed while smiling at the happy two-year-old in his arms.  “I have won a handful of races since she was born but she hasn’t been there or she has been sleeping for all of them. I hope you are excited, Addie.”

Roa is now off until he begins a busy month on March 3rd and 4th when USAC/CRA heads to the Central Arizona Speedway. One week later he will contest the open comp. show at the Imperial Valley Raceway.  On March 18th he will return to action with USAC/CRA at Perris Auto Speedway and will wrap up the month in Central California at the Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford and Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway.

As always, Roa would be more than happy to jump in a race car on his weekends off from the #17R. His entire schedule is printed below.  If anybody wishes to contact him about open dates, they can do so at 714-932-7994 or mailto:[email protected]     

The team wants to thank the following sponsors for making the 2023 season possible. Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, United Asset Sales, Osborne Speed & Machine, Sander Engineering, “Biker” Bruce Fischer, ALR Virtual Services, Burris Racing, Caltrol, Competition Suspension, K-1 Race Gear, Molecule, Rod End Supply, Driven Racing Oil, Baldwin Filters, and NGK Spark Plugs.