Things cannot get much better for Inland Rigging Sprint Car team drivers Brody Roa and Tommy Dunkel. At the last USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series race at Perris Auto Speedway, Roa won his eighth series main event in the first 13 races of the year. Dunkel started 20th in his first series race at the track he grew up at and finished an impressive eighth. Four days later, Roa and his wife Tailor welcomed their second daughter, Ryley Ann, into the world.
With a lot on his mind, Roa was not even sure he was going to be able to make the race due to the upcoming arrival. However, as he told the crowd after the win, “She must be a race fan as she waited to arrive so I could come and race tonight.” Just like her sister Addison Leanne, she will be a fan and proud of what her daddy can do on the racetrack, just like he did in picking up his eighth win of the year.
Starting fifth in the main, Roa, who lives in Garden Grove, California, bided his time and methodically worked his way toward the front of the pack. On the 17th go around, he snatched the lead and established a good size advantage. However, yellow flags late in the race saw his sizable lead disappear. Each time Roa faced stiff challenges but he managed to fend them off for his third win in a row, his eighth victory of the year, and his 21st all-time series triumph. That moved him into the fourth-place slot in USAC/CRA history.
Dunkel, who had family, including his sister who flew in from Nebraska, and clients in the crowd, was over the moon with his performance. Racing on the track and in the series where so many of his boyhood memories were etched into his mind was a lifelong dream. Perhaps, the outcome was an even bigger dream realized. He started the 25-car main event in the 20th position. Driving a 360 cubic inch engine versus a field of 410s, he stayed out of trouble, advanced forward, and finished eighth.
“Oh man, I am over the top,” Dunkel related a couple of days after the race. “I went into that deal just wanting to get some good laps, get some seat time and experience. To not finish at the tail was kind of a goal. But to actually work my way up, pass cars and run with the 410 guys, and finish in the top 10, that just exceeded our expectations by miles.”
Coming from near the back, Dunkel not only passed cars, but he avoided crashes that were quite frequent in the 30-lapper.
“Looking ahead and driving the cars in front of you just like you are driving your own car, that really helped in steering clear of that stuff,” Dunkel said. “Earning some positions too, while trying to fight the carnage and the dust, just made it that much more satisfying.”
“We were pretty good right out of the gate,” Dunkel said about how his #17A Inland Rigging Car performed all night. “We did play with some fuel settings just because the air was so bad with the heat and smoke from the nearby fires. We tuned on that before the main event but nothing more than standard adjustments.”
While Dunkel, who also owns the team, was excited about his performance, he was just as happy with Roa’s. The veteran driver has jelled perfectly in his new ride and the boss is happy to have him on board.
“We are ecstatic with what Brody is doing,” Dunkel said about himself and his wife Christy. “We couldn’t be happier for him on a personal level to achieve what he has this year. We are really happy for him, his dad and Zac (crew chief Zac Bozanich), and the whole crew. Those guys have been in it for a lot of years. I feel really fortunate to be a part of the success this year with those guys.”
Before the main event rolled around, Roa was second fastest in qualifying with a lap of 16.562. Dunkel steered his immaculate car to a 17.844 on his first-ever qualifying lap on the famous west coast oval. They were matched up in the same 10-lap heat race with Roa taking third after starting sixth. Dunkel began and finished eighth.
The team has some weekends off right now which will come in handy at the Roa household with the arrival of their new bundle of joy. Roa will be racing again at Perris on August 19th. The series has a race scheduled at the Santa Maria Raceway a week prior, but the track has been shuttered all year long. As this piece went to press that race is still on the schedule. If it takes place, the team will be there.
Dunkel can start one more USAC/CRA main event this year and still be eligible to compete for Rookie of the Year in 2024. In addition to taking advantage of that one race, he will also be contesting other races this season in the USAC West Coast Series and the Ventura Racing Association.
Fans can pick up a 2023 Inland Riggings Racing Team shirt from the crew after the races or online at The brand new Roa/Dunkel Inland Rigging team merchandise, including shirts, is now available. You can see the shirt design in the photo below. The shirts will be available in the pits or online at the following link https://bit.ly/3IDLNEZ.
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]
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