Cori Andrews, a 15-year old high school student from Murrieta, California, became the first rookie to win a California Lightning Sprint main event in 2014 when she won the “Salute to Indy” by nearly a half lap at Perris Auto Speedway last Saturday night.
Eleven CLS cars lined up for the main event in front of a large Memorial Day weekend crowd at the popular west coast speed plant. It was the CLS third PAS appearance of 2014 and the first time they raced on the famous half-mile track since last November. The prior two races were run on the hybrid track which utilizes turns one and two of the inner quarter-mile oval and turns three and four of the half mile.
Cori Andrews won her first ever California Lightning Sprint Car Series main event Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway. Media, please feel free to publish this photo and please give photo credit to Doug Allen.
Jeremy Queener, third in rookie points behind Corona’s Corey Hoover and Andrews, started on the pole for the 20-lap main with veteran James Squire III of Lakeside next to him. When PAS starter Kevin Winters threw the green flag to start the main event it was Squire first to turn one with Queener, Fort Irwin’s Dyer and Andrews in hot pursuit. Queener, who did not get a good jump on the start, quickly recovered and flew around Squire for the lead in turn four on the opening lap. One circuit later, Dyer and Andrews also got by Squire for second and third.
Dyer, a 31-year-old sergeant in the United States Army, chased down Queener and confiscated the lead with an inside pass on the middle of the back straight on the third go around. Once out front, Dyer built a comfortable lead. He had the top three rookies chasing him, but in turn four on lap eight, Queener parked it. Andrews caught a piece of the Torrance driver’s rear end Queener stopped bringing out the yellow flag. That put Andrews and Hoover directly on Dyer’s rear bumper for the restart.
Dyer, who was racing with the names of five fallen buddies from the Army emblazoned on the top wing of his fast #4 car, saw his night end soon after the restart when his battery died. That put Andrews into the top spot for the restart with Hoover second and San Diego’s Damon Arnett third. When the green came back out, Andrews quickly jumped away and started to build a comfortable lead. That comfortable lead turned into a huge lead and then a massive lead in just a matter of moments. Despite having to deal with lapped traffic, Andrews was a full straightaway in front of the second place car when she took the checkered flag. Hoover and Arnett stayed in second and third. 2007 CLS champ Shane Rossen of Ramona was fourth with PAS all-time leading Dwarf Car winner Angel Figueroa of El Segundo fifth in his maiden voyage with the CLS.
After she climbed out of the black and florescent green Grombom/K&N Filters/Sparco/AP Designs/Wilwood Brakes #22 car, Andrews was surprised she had such a huge lead. When infield announcer Chris Holt advised her of that, she laughed and said, “I did not realize that. When I got to the lapped traffic I thought they were right behind me. I love racing on this half-mile.”
Andrews victory was the second ever by a female at the track in CLS competition since it first opened in 1996. The other CLS female winner was Denise Szymczak.
Hoover was the main event “Hard Charger” coming from seventh on the start to finish second.
For the second race in a row, third year CLS driver Arnett was the fast qualifier. Queener and Dyer won the two six lap heat races.
Dyer took over the point lead from defending CLS champion Stephen Limon of Corona who has sold his car. Arnett leap frogged all the way from fourth to second in the standings and trails Dyer by 36-points. Limon is third with Hoover moving up to fourth and Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita, who blew a head gasket and did not start the main, fifth.
Hoover maintains his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings with a 43-point advantage over Andrews. Queener is third, 18-points in back of Saturday’s main event winner.
The CLS race originally scheduled for this Saturday at Santa Maria has been canceled. The series will next race at Perris on the hybrid track on June 14th.
Perris Salute to Indy results (with starting positions): 1. Cori Andrews (4th), 2. Corey Hoover (7th), 3. Damon Arnett (8tth), 4. Shane Rossen (5th), 5. Angel Figueroa (9th), 6. Jeremy Queener (1st), 7. Zach Zauss (6th), 8. James Squire III (2nd), 9. Jon Squire (10th), 10. Dale Gamer (11th), 11. Jeff Dyer (3rd)