Lightning Sprints at Bakersfield Last Week – Full Sprints at Perris for Sexton Gatlin Racing This Saturday
After a lightning sprint car race last Saturday night at the Bakersfield Speedway, the extremely busy racing season for Sexton Gatlin Racing will continue this Saturday night, June 10th, with full-size sprint cars at Perris Auto Speedway. Grant Sexton, the leading rookie in the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, will be driving his 410 sprint car in the 2nd Annual 40-Lap Bubby Jones/Ray Scheetz Memorial. His father Brent will be making his delayed debut in The PAS Senior Sprint class.
Last week at Scott Schweitzer’s Bakersfield Speedway, SGR had two cars on hand for round number one of the annual “Civil War Series” which pits the California Lightning Sprint Cars against Northern California’s Bay Cities Racing Association. Brent, Who won the CLS championship in 1999 and 2008, was in his familiar #44 lightning sprint. Joining him for the night was rising 16-year-old star Braden Chiaramonte of El Cajon in the SGR #3.
A total of 18 cars converged on “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval” for the race. Making his first appearance at the track in 2023, Chiaramonte turned in a sizzling lap of 13.300 in qualifying. That was the second fastest in the star-studded field. Sexton was just a little over a half-second slower at 13.845. However, in a tightly packed qualifying session, that was only good for the 15th best time of the night.
In their respective eight-lap heat races, Chiaramonte ended up finishing in the third spot. His teammate Brent was in the last of the three heats and steered his number 44 car to a fifth-place finish. That just left the 25-lap main event for the two team drivers.
When the field rolled onto the track for the main, Chiaramonte was starting fourth and was one of the pre-race favorites. Brent, with that qualifying time hanging around his neck like an albatross, was starting 15th. When the race began, Chiaramonte was running fourth, not far behind the top three for the first three laps. Suddenly, the hopes of his fans evaporated when he came off the second corner on lap four. He slowed on the track and coasted around to turn four when he pulled to the infield out of the race with an engine problem.
With Chiaramonte out, SGR fans switched their attention to Brent, the 2022 POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Car Series champion, and he did not disappoint. Working the top like a master chef, the 51-year-old driver sliced and diced his way forward. By the time the race ended, he had advanced all the way to sixth. It was his best passing job thus far in the 2023 season.
After the initial disappointment two weeks ago when Grant had problems with the oil pump in his gorgeous #22 410 sprint car at Perris, he is looking forward to getting back on the track this Saturday. Grant’s problem saw Brent turn his 360 car over to his son who ended up earning the “Jim and Chet Gardner Hard Charger Award” for passing the most cars in the race. He enters Saturday’s race at Perris eighth in USAC/CRA points. He has a bulging 172-point lead in the Rookie of the Year standings.
For 51-year-old Brent, he will once again attempt to launch his full-size sprint car career in The PAS Senior Sprints. Two weeks ago he looked decent in hot laps, but he gladly turned his car over to Grant when the need arose.
For fans who want to see the father and son team in action this Saturday night, spectator gates will open at 5 PM and the first race will begin at 7. Adult tickets are $30. For seniors 65 and over, it is $25. Kids 6 to 12 get in for $5 and children five and under are admitted free. The fairgrounds charges $10 for parking. Perris Auto Speedway is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds at 18700 Lake Perris Drive in the city of Perris. The track phone number is (951) 940-0134 and the website is http://www.perrisautospeedway.com/
Sexton Gatlin Racing would like to thank the following companies for making the 2022 season possible. Keys Brothers, East County Electric Works, Maxima Oil, Automated Interiors, Sexton Fire Protection, BK Wings, Troy Dirt, Victory Graphix, and Swift Powdercoat.
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