Bay Cities Racing Association Lightning Sprints
CLS DRIVER AJ BENDER MAKES IT TWO WINS IN A ROW AT PLACERVILLE’S HANGTOWN 100
(Torrance, CA, November 22, 2022) In November 2021, San Diego’s AJ Bender came to the “Hangtown 100” and finished second all three nights. Not wanting to face that frustration again this year, Bender scored a convincing win in night #2 of the prestigious lightning sprint car race at the Placerville Speedway last Friday. It was his second victory at the track in 24 hours, and his third on the banked red clay quarter mile in 2022. Overall, it was his fifth lightning sprint car win of the year.
Just like in 2021 when Bender was added to the Sexton Gatlin Racing roster for the end of the season, the team brought him back again to close out 2022. The 29-year-old’s record with SGR in that time has been phenomenal. He has nine starts with the team. Of the nine, he has won four times. He has also finished runner-up three times, third once, and fifth one time. With him starting on the outside of the second row on Friday, anybody who doubted that he could possibly win had to be foolish.
When the 19-car field took to the track for the 25-lapper, Ken Coulsten Jr of Bermuda Dunes was on the pole. Starting next to him was Colorado’s Johnny Boos, who gave a very good account of himself finishing fourth the night before. Warner Springs teenager “Shugah” Shane Sexton, who competes against Bender in the USAC/CRA 410 Sprint Car Series, was on the inside of the second row with Bender just to his right. 2021 POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Car Series champion Grant Sexton, “Shugah” Shane’s cousin, and Freemont’s Greg Dennett were in row three.
At the drop of the green flag Coulston, who was only making his fourth start of the year, drove his brilliant blue #32 into the lead. Boos was second and Bender was third. Bender, who won the 2021 Sprint car portion of the Turkey Night Grand Prix at the Ventura Raceway, wasted little time in getting to the front. In fact, he jetted by Coulston for the top spot with an inside pass coming off turn two on the second circuit. Not long after that, Coulston slowed dramatically and slid back in the pack. Lap two also saw the demise of Sutter’s Logan Seavey. The winner of two of the three lightning sprint mains at the 2021 “Hangtown 100,” went up in smoke and pulled his car to the infield.
By the end of the fifth lap, Bender had established a comfortable lead. Boos was second, and Shane Sexton was third. 2021 BCRA champ Dakota Albright of Waterford had impressively raced all the way up to fourth after starting 11th. Things stayed the same until the ninth lap when Sexton advanced his position to second when he got by Boos. However, he had little time to relish his tenure in the runner-up spot as Albright blew by both of them in the next turn.
By the time Albright took up residence in second place, Bender, in the Boczanowski/Sexton Fire Protection/BK Wings/Johnny Motorhead/Troy Dirt/Victory Graphix/Swift Powdercoat/Maxima Oil/Automated Interior/Scotty and Jimmy Keys/#22, had already built a 2 ½ second lead. Bender hit the lapped traffic on lap 10 but it failed to slow him down. Five laps later, he had advanced his advantage to 3.2 seconds. Late in the race, Bender met up with a gaggle of lappers and it did allow Albright to slightly close the gap. However, when the checkered flag came down it was Bender by a half straightaway. Albright wrapped up his impressive performance by placing second with Shane Sexton third, Dennett fourth, and Brent Sexton fifth. Albright’s sterling display made him the race “Hard Charger.”
“Once I got in lapped traffic, I could hear cars everywhere so I was not sure where they (his closest pursuers) were at,” he told Drake York and the crowd after the race. “I was really thinking it was going to be on the top, but it just kept working on the bottom. I just kind of stuck to my guns there. It’s not the funnest going around the bottom for 25 laps, but it is fun talking to you at the end of the night. I will take it. Again like last night, I have to thank Phil and Wyatt (Boczanowski). This car is a rocket ship. They are trying to sell it so I am trying to make it look good. I have to thank Seth (crew chief Seth Kramer), Nita (Nita Gatlin from SGR), Brent (Brent Sexton from SGR), and all the SGR people for putting up with me. Seth is a one-man team overlooking four cars. So, he is earning his money. Thank you to my wife and daughter at home and to my family.”
“Anything was better than last night,” happy second-place finisher Albright said after the race. “We went 11th to second tonight. Hugged it around the bottom and this baby was hooked up. It was great. The track was a lot better tonight, Scott did an awesome job.”
“I did not think it was going to be this dry,” third-place finisher Shane Sexton said afterward. “We probably could have went a little bit tighter. Hats off to my guys, Brian Fonseca, and my dad. They work their tails off throughout the night. We have had some success all around the country. We normally do not do the local stuff for Brian, but he called and asked if I wanted to drive it and I could not say no. Third place on the podium is not too bad.”
Other CLS and Southern California drivers in the main were Grant Sexton (6th), Cal Smith (9th), Dalton Sexton (10th), Coulston (14th), Mark Henry (15th) and Jeff Dyer (17th).
Earlier in the night, Bender recorded the fastest lap in qualifying at 13.341. Dennett was second fastest at 13.428 and Rosamond’s Henry was third quick at 13.479. Seavey captured the first heat race over the son and father combo of Grant and Brent Sexton. Coulston claimed the victory in heat two ahead of Dennett and Harlee Aguilera of Orangevale. Albright got to the checkers first in the final heat when he bested Boos and Dyer.
The 2022 CLS banquet will take place at Frantone’s Pizza & Spaghetti Villa in Cerritos on February 4th. Tickets for the banquet are $40.00. To order or for more information call (310) 367-9050 or email email@example.com ?firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 18 Hangtown 100 Results
Qualifying: 1. AJ Bender, 13.341; 2. Greg Dennett, 13.428; 3. Mark Henry, 13.479; 4. Grant Sexton, 13.510; 5. Shane Sexton, 13.644; 6. Alex Lewis, 13.687; 7. Matt Land, 13.709; 8. Harlee Aguilera, 13.757; 9. Johnny Boos, 13.775; 10. Chris Crowder, 13.791; 11. Ken Coulston Jr., 13.862; 12. Cal Smith, 13.879; 13. Steve Becker, 13.880; 14. Dalton Sexton, 13.884; 15. Dakota Albright, 13.896; 16 Logan Seavey, 13.997; 17 Josef Ferolito, 14.214; 18. Jeff Dyer, 14.297; 19. Brent Sexton, 14.321; 20. Hunter Kinney, 14.921; 21. Shane Hopkins, 14.924; 22. Jason Schapansky, 15.010; 23. Danielle Clauson-Servo, 16.783
Heat Race #1 (9 Laps): 1. Seavey; 2. G. Sexton; 3. B. Sexton; 4. Bender; 5. Crowder; 6. Schapansky; 7. Becker; 8. Land
Heat Race #2 (9 Laps): 1. Coulston Jr; 2. Dennett; 3. Aguilera; 4. S. Sexton; 5. D. Sexton; 6. Ferolito; 7. Clauson- Servo; 8. Kinney
Heat Race #3 (9 Laps): 1. Albright; 2. Boos; 3. Dyer; 4. Smith; 5. Lewis; 6. Hopkins; 7. Henry
Hangtown 100 Night #2 25-Lap Main Event (with starting spots and distances back):
- AJ Bender, San Diego, CA, (4th)
- Dakota Albright, Waterford, CA, (11th) … 2.592
- Shane Sexton, El Cajon, CA, (3rd) … 4.755
- Greg Dennett, Fremont, CA, (6th) … 5.822
- Brent Sexton, Lakeside, CA, (10th) … 7.408
- Grant Sexton, Lakeside, CA, (5th) … 8.429
- Chris Crowder, Colorado, CO, (13th) … 11.354
- Johnny Boos, Lakewood, CA, (2nd) … 12.704
- Cal Smith, Phelan, CA, … (15th) 1 Lap
- Dalton Sexton, Lakeside, CA, (16th) …1 Lap
- Harlee Aguilera, Orangevale, CA, (7th) … 1 Lap
- Steve Becker. Lakewood, CO, (18th) … 1 Lap
- Shane Hopkins, Placerville, CA, (17th) … 1 Lap
- Ken Coulston, Bermuda Dunes, CA, (1st) … Lap
- Mark Henry, Rosamond, CA, … (9th) 1 Lap
- Jason Schapansky, Kamloops, BC, Canada (19th) … 2 Laps
- Jeff Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA, (14th) … 4 Laps
- Alex Lewis, Bellingham, WA (8th) … 21 Laps
- Logan Seavey, Sutter, CA, … (12th) 23 Laps
DNS Matt Land, Elk Grove, CA
DNS Josef Ferolito. Modesto, CA
DNS Hunter Kinney, Citrus Heights, CA
DNS Danielle Clauson-Sevo, Placerville, CA
Article Credit: Scott Daloisio
Submitted By: Dakota Albright