Inland Rigging Drivers Roa and Dunkel Headed for Bakersfield Usac/Cra Race

The USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series returns to action this Saturday, June 24th, at “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval,” the Bakersfield Speedway.  Amongst the field will be Inland Rigging drivers Brody Roa of Garden Grove, California, and Tommy Dunkel of Menifee.  Roa comes into the race leading the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series point standings.  Dunkel will be making his third-ever series start and his first at Bakersfield.

Last Saturday night Dunkel made the trek to the Ventura Raceway for the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series Wagsdash.  The race came on the same track that he dominated on to win his first-ever sprint car race on April 8th.  His initial USAC West Coast Series race at the track came on May 13th when he finished 11th after getting clobbered in the waning laps.

Driving his spotless Inland Rigging #17A last Saturday, Dunkel turned in a lap of 13.284 in qualifying.  That was good enough for 23rd in the 31-car field.

With a good size crowd looking on, Dunkel started on the inside of the back row in ninth for his 10-lap heat.  He steered forward two spots before the checkered flag ended the race.  However, that was three spots out of a transfer position.  Thus he had to go to the B main for one last crack at qualifying for the A.

“I got off to a little bit of a slow start,” Dunkel stated.  “Kind of the driver and crew getting used to each other.  You know, mesh and kind of see what each other likes.  I started in the ninth spot and got up to seventh in the heat race.  Ventura is always kind of tricky to pass on.  So, I had my work cut out for me to get up to the fourth position.  Seventh is where I kind of got stuck in at.”

In the 12-lap B main, the top 10 cars would earn their tickets into the A-main.  Dunkel was starting 11th.  That meant he only had to pass one car but he did much more than that.  He ended up passing five and finished sixth.”

The deck was stacked against Dunkel in the 30-lap A main as he started on the inside of the back row.  That meant there was only one way to go.  That was forward and that is just what he did. 

“I started 21st, so inside the last row,”  Dunkel said about the main.  “I don’t know what lap it was.  Maybe lap 12 or somewhere in there.  I had worked my way all the way up to 11.  The thing was just a rail and it was just on the move.  I thought, you know I’m just going to go as far forward as I can.”

Dunkel had his eye on capturing the race’s “Hard Charger” award.  He had the numbers to do it at that time as he had passed the most cars in the field.  Unfortunately, that goal was torn away after a tangle in turn one. 

“I was working on 10th and the caution came out,” he lamented.  “I was going into one and had the car set to rip the top.  My momentum was there.  When the caution came out, the car in front of me was able to get on the binders a whole lot faster than me.  I jumped the right rear, kind of did a pirouette and backed into the fence.  I went to the work area and Zac (Bozanich), Brett (Roa), and the guys went to town and thrashed on it.  They got me back to  where I could at least push back off.”

While it was fortunate that the crew got the car back on the track, it was not 100% as they had a limited amount of time to get things done.  Dunkel restarted at the back and ended up moving forward to 19th before the checkered flag ended the race.

“The night went pretty good,” Dunkel said afterward.  “It was the first night having the Roa crew dedicated to just working with me versus sharing with Brody on the nights we have raced together.  They hold back no punches.  That is really what I like.  It was, ‘The car is dialed. You need to get up on the wheel and drive this thing.’  I learned a lot.  Both driving-wise and setup-wise.  So much useful information all night long.   I take it as a win.  18th or 19th, whatever it was, that kind of sucks.  Besides that, it was a good night all night long.”

Brody Roa, aka “The Pride of Garden Grove,” returns to action for the first time since winning his sixth main in 11 USAC/CRA starts this year two weeks ago at Perris.  He enters this week’s race with a 100-point lead over the second-place driver in the championship standings.  In addition, he has 19 lifetime USAC/CRA wins.  A victory on Saturday would tie him for fourth on the overall list.

Dating back to 2017, Roa has only contested four 410 races at Bakersfield.  In 2017, he finished second in the 30-lap main event.  In 2019, he got “monster trucked” in the feature and placed 19th.  Two years later in 2021, he ended up third in the USAC/CRA 30-lap main.  In March of 2022, he made his first-ever appearance with the World of Outlaws and placed eighth in the B main at Bakersfield, narrowly missing a transfer to the A main.

The Bakersfield Speedway is located at 5001 North Chester Ext. Ave., Bakersfield (93308).   Spectator gates will open at 4:00 p.m. with racing at 6:00 on Saturday.  Adult tickets are $30.00.  Seniors 65 and over and military with a proper id get in for $25.00.   Kids 6-12 are $15.00 and children 5 and under are free.  Parking is free.  The track website is http://www.bakersfieldspeedway.com/ and the office phone number is (661) 393-3373.

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]     who is responsible for this team.

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. 

BRP PR