Brody Roa finished off his spectacular 2023 USAC/CRA Championship season with a second-place finish in the series finale at Perris Auto Speedway. The result gave him 14 top-five finishes in the 18 races on the schedule. Included among those top five were eight wins. The victories brought his lifetime total to 21 and propelled him to fourth all-time in the 24-season history of USAC/CRA.
Roa, 32, entered the 2023 finale with the championship already wrapped up, but it did not hold back his effort. Competing against a stout 29-car field, he pushed the pristine white Inland Rigging #17R to the seventh-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 16.632. That placed him in the fifth starting spot in the third 10-lap heat race. The Garden Grove, California driver steered his way to an impressive second-place finish in the heat.
Roa started on the pole for the final 30-lapper of the year at the legendary 27-year-old half-mile clay oval. From there he led the first 17 laps in the Tommy and Christy Dunkel-owned car before slipping back to second. He stayed there through the final USAC/CRA checkered flag of the 2023 season.
Roa’s eight wins in 18 USAC/CRA races and 14 top-five finishes are extremely impressive. Just as remarkable is the fact that he finished on the lead lap in 16 of the 18 races. In one of the races he did not, he was on his way to a certain victory when he was knocked out by a lapped car.
“I never thought about it,” Roa responded when he was asked about finishing on the lead lap all but two times. “Just getting lapped is something I am not really proud of. I guess thinking about it, that is pretty cool. I have never thought about it before.”
Throughout the season, Roa and the entire team were cool, calm, and relaxed. The season was stress free and that contributed a lot to the success. There was little worry throughout the year.
“Not, not really,” he answered if there was any time he was worried about the way things had gone. “The points deal, I was comfortable with it all year. The way we were running and the decisions (on the car) we were making were really good. There was no point in the year when we were really struggling that I thought we were not good enough to stay out there (in the point lead). I never got worried about it until the end when I was worried about finishing it. Honestly, I paid more attention to the heat race points than the year-end points.”
Another deal for Roa this year was the fact that for the first time, he was driving for someone else. Inland Rigging’s Tom and Christy Dunkel provided him with everything he needed to win a championship. In addition to cars, they also added support away from the track and a great friendship.
“It was smooth,” he said about driving for the Dunkel’s. “The 410 stuff really kind of operated the same. Tommy and I worked together really good on what we needed throughout the year. Having the 410 car at my house was nice. I could do what it needed maintenance-wise and make sure it was good to go. Tom was always there for support with what we needed. It was a really smooth transition. It almost seemed the same. Just with a different car and a different look.”
“Tom, Christy, and Inland Rigging have supported me for a few years now. It was not like somebody brand new came in and we had to learn to work together and learn to communicate. I think that really helped with the immediate success. We already had a relationship coming into the deal. This year it was just at a much higher level.”
With the busy season almost done, Roa will have some extra time on his hands.
“I don’t know,” the friendly driver laughed when asked what he was going to do with the time off after Saturday’s Turkey Night Grand Prix. “Christmas is a pretty serious thing around this household. We will do that. The week before Turkey Night we are going to go out to the river and do Thanksgiving out there. We will pretty much go straight from there to Ventura on Friday. Through the off season we will just spend some time with the family and find some cool stuff to do. Hang around home and make some plans for next year, too.”
One of the cool things he will do is go to the USAC Champions banquet in Indiana. It will be his second time there. The first came after he won the USAC West Coast Series Championship in 2016. Then there is this little indoor race in Tulsa in January. He has raced in the Chili Bowl before, but as of right now, he does not have a ride.
“No plans for the Chili Bowl right now,” Roa said. “I would love to. If anything I would love to go to the Chili Bowl. No plans to drive right now.”
“Yeah, oh yeah,” he responded when asked if he would drive if someone called and offered him a Chili Bowl ride. “Definitely.”
Roa was not the only one flying the Inland Rigging banner at the Perris finale. Tommy Dunkel made his 410 debut in the USAC/CRA Series. While he has raced in the series with a 360 engine before, it was his first time racing a 410 and he gave a good account of himself. In his first voyage in a 410 sprint car, which is about as equal as riding a Brahma Bull in the PBR, he qualified 23rd of the 29 cars on hand. He placed seventh in his heat and eighth in the B main. That B main finish only left him two spots shy of making the 30-lap finale.
In addition to Roa and Dunkel, the team brought a third car for Eddie Tafoya Jr. to race in The PAS Senior Sprint Cars. Racing for the first time in over half a decade, the past Pittsburgh Pirates draft choice won the Senior main event.
The team wants to thank the following sponsors for making the 2023 season possible. Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, United Asset Sales, Osborne Speed & Machine, “Biker” Bruce Fischer, ALR Virtual Services, Burris Racing, Caltrol, Jambo Barbeque Pits, Competition Suspension, K-1 Race Gear, Molecule, Rod End Supply, Driven Racing Oil, Baldwin Filters, and NGK Spark Plugs.
Brody Roa Racing PR
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