Kyle Hirst & Craig Stidham look to parlay 2012 wins at Antioch Speedway into even more success at King of the West Series opener on April 20
By Gary Thomas
Antioch, CA – April 15, 2013…Two drivers that are certainly looking forward to opening the King of the West Sprint Car Series season at the Antioch Speedway on April 20 have to be Sacramento’s Kyle Hirst and Fresno native Craig Stidham, who both scored big victories with the tour at the one-third mile clay oval last year.
The Antioch Speedway has gained a reputation of always providing excitement and drama when the powerful King of the West 410 Sprint Cars are on hand at the sticky and hooked up speed plant located on the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds. Last season saw three different winners in the three KWS events at the track, with the final two being captured by Kyle Hirst and Craig Stidham.
The victory for Hirst came on June 23 and happened to be during his first ever night driving the Dennis & Teresa Roth owned, Roth Enterprises No. 83jr machine. The 25-year-old charger also began that evening by setting a brand new KWS track record at the Antioch Speedway by touring the one-third mile oval in 11.705 seconds. That night and many other impressive runs have earned Hirst a full time ride with Roth Motorsports this season.
“It was awesome to come out and win with the King of the West Series in Antioch last year during my first night driving for Roth Motorsports,” Hirst commented. “I couldn’t have asked for a better debut to set a new track record and win the main event. We had a lot of success together over the last half of the season and definitely want to continue where we left off and bring home that KWS title this year.”
Hirst showed solid consistency driving for Roth Motorsports last season, including top-five finishes in all of his five starts with the King of the West Series aboard the 83jr mount. During the year overall the talented second generation driver claimed nine wins while competing for a number of different car owners. One of his biggest came during the final night of the Trophy Cup, where he carved his way from 17th to first in the 50-lap feature.
“It was a great feeling to win that main event at the Trophy Cup after starting so far back in the field,” said Hirst, who ended the prestigious event with a third place result in the points, finishing behind only two-time World of Outlaws champ Jason Meyers & multiple-time ASCS National titlist Shane Stewart. “I can’t say enough about Dennis & Teresa Roth for giving me this opportunity to drive for such a great team. It’s been a blast and we’re looking forward to having some fun this season.”
Craig Stidham has been an accomplished racer for a number of years, having claimed championships with the Rebel Cup Winged 360 Sprint Car Series and USAC West Coast 360 Wingless Sprints, along with a victory at the prestigious Trophy Cup in 2001. Last July however, the Fresno veteran knocked another item off his bucket list, when he claimed his first career 410 Sprint Car win with the King of the West Series at the Antioch Speedway.
“It’s hard to put into words what that victory in Antioch last season meant to me and the whole team,” Stidham stated. “I’ve been trying for so long to win a 410 Sprint Car race and to finally do so was just a feeling like no other. I definitely can’t thank Dan Simpson enough for putting on the King of the West Series. It’s like one big family out here and that’s how racing should be.”
Stidham not only captured victory at the Antioch Speedway on July 21, but he also scored a runner up finish to Hirst at the track on June 23 during the second KWS visit to the one-third mile oval. Last season marked his first campaign running full time in a Winged 410 Sprint Car since 2003 and he capped it by finishing ninth in the King of the West standings. With last year under his belt Stidham will look to move his way up the ladder and that all begins in Antioch on April 20.
Another driver that experienced success at the Antioch Speedway last season was former NARC Speedweek champion Bobby McMahan, who finished among the top-five in all three of the KWS events at the track. At season’s end the Elk Grove veteran solidified the fifth spot in the King of the West Sprint Car Series standings and will be another driver gunning to slice his way even further forward in 2013.
“They’ve done a lot of work at Antioch over the last few years and it has become a really racy track once again,” commented McMahan, who has finished in the top-five on four consecutive occasions at Antioch with KWS dating back to 2011. “Both ends of the speedway are different and it kind of throws a challenge at you, but it’s had a top and bottom groove lately so that’s all you can ask for as a driver. We’ll hope to continue our success there on April 20 and can’t wait to get the season started.”
Other drivers set to tackle the Antioch clay include three-time & defending KWS champion Jonathan Allard, 13-time time titlist Brent Kaeding, 2004 champ Jason Statler, along with Evan Suggs, Peter Murphy, Willie Croft, Rico Abreu, Justin Sanders, Shane Golobic, Chad Compton, Cory Eliason, Kenny Allen, Brad Bumgarner, Sean McMahan, Richard Brace Jr., Eli Deshaies, Doug Gandy, Danielle Simpson, Pat Harvey, Geoffrey Strole, Todd Wanless and more.
The pre-race King of the West autograph session at 5pm when the gates open will include Antioch Speedway winners last season, Hirst & Stidham, along with recent World of Outlaws winner Shane Golobic. Be sure and get there early to meet the trio and get an autograph.
On Saturday April 20 the front grandstand gate of the Antioch Speedway will open at 5pm. Hot laps are scheduled for 6pm, with qualifying at 6:30pm and racing anticipated to start around 7pm. Tickets will be available the day of the race with adults being $20, children 6-12 $10, seniors 65 & older $10 and children 5 & under free. A family pack with two adults & two children will also be available for $50.
The Antioch Speedway is located at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds on the corner of 10th & L Streets in Antioch, California. Take SR-4 East (Highway 4) to the Somersville Road North Exit. Follow Somersville Road to 10thStreet. Turn Right on 10th Street. The address for the track is 1201 W. 10th Street Antioch, CA 94509.
More information on the traveling King of the West Sprint Car Series can be found online at http://www.kwssprints.com and by tuning in to “KWS Tonight” every Thursday evening throughout the season on the homepage of the website.
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