Veteran Southern California sprint car racer Brody Roa steered the Inland Rigging #17R to a second-place finish in last Saturday night’s 20th annual “Sokola Shootout” at Perris Auto Speedway. The result allowed him to increase his lead to 22 points in the series standings and gives him two wins and a second-place finish in the first three races of the 2023 season.
Twenty-five top-notch cars showed up for the race on the West Coast’s premiere dirt track. Driving a DRC Chassis for the third time, Roa qualified fourth fastest with a lap of 16.449. That put the Garden Grove, California racer in a good position for the remainder of the night as all he had to do was place in the top four of his heat race to be assured of starting in the first three rows of the main event. The skilled driver did just that when he started fifth and placed third in the first 10-lapper of the night. That finish by Roa secured a spot on the inside of the second row for the 30-lapper.
Roa quickly advanced his way to second and began to chase leader Justin Grant, the 2022 USAC National Sprint Car champion, who started on the outside of the front row. After chasing the pace setter for 16 laps, Roa flew into the lead on the 17th circuit. The 2019 USAC Southwest Sprint Car Series champion maintained the top spot until lap 21 when he lost the lead on a restart. He continued to chase Grant till the end but had to settle for a second-place finish.
“I knew we had a chance,” Roa responded when asked if he thought he could beat Grant after starting behind him. “Obviously I knew he wasn’t going to be easy to beat. This new car (DRC) has brought a lot of confidence back into us. It does not take a whole lot of changes to make it fast throughout the night. Just little bits and it keeps the car on the ground making grip, but still turning. That is a pretty odd feeling for me but it is a really comfortable car. We probably could have gotten a little more aggressive with it, but it is still a bit of a learning curve. It was the first time at Perris with it. We did not want to get ourselves too far out of the box. If we were a little bit better, we probably could have had a slider fest as we did three or four years ago”
Roa’s second-place finish marked the first time he had not won in the three USAC/CRA races this year. After the race, his finishing average for the year is an outstanding 1.33.
“It was a pretty smooth night,” Roa said. “We had one little leak in the heat race. We got that cleaned up. Other than that, no issues, concerns, or worries.”
While Roa has two USAC/CRA wins in 2023, there is a bigger winner. That is the rain. Three weeks ago, the two-night show at the Central Arizona Speedway was canceled due to wet conditions. This week’s races at Kings Speedway and the Tulare Thunderbowl also fell victim to the weather. That leaves this season’s score at Mother Nature 4, USAC/CRA 3.
“I am a little bummed that we are rained out again,” Roa mused. “I was especially looking forward to going to Hanford. We haven’t been there in like four years when the non-wing cars (USAC/CRA) have been there. 2018 maybe. It has been a long time. I have always liked Hanford. It is a fun, fast racetrack.”
“I might go down and keep cleaning out the old shop. Moving and storing stuff into my garage. It is not an easy task with all the stuff we have collected over the last 12 years. There is a lot of work to be done and there is a ton of stuff still down there. A lot of stuff we held onto just in case we needed it and a lot of it is for sale. My dad has been taking and posting a lot of pictures during his lunch break or after work. The old shop is around the corner from his office.”
Weather permitting, and so far the forecast looks good, the Inland Rigging Racing Team will return to action at Arizona’s Mohave Valley Raceway on April 1st. It will be the first of three races for USAC/CRA at the track that is located just 20 minutes away from Laughlin, Nevada. On October 8th of last year, Roa made his lone appearance at the track and turned it into a memorable night. Starting 11th in the 30-lap main, he sliced and diced his way through the field until taking the lead and subsequently winning the race by over a half straightaway. Despite not running the full series schedule last year, it was his third victory.
In addition to Roa being in action at Mohave Valley, teammate Tom Dunkel will make his first-ever start in USAC/CRA. It will not be the Murrieta, California racer’s first USAC start as he placed 13th in the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series at last November’s Turkey Night Grand Prix in Ventura. Two weeks ago he was running ninth with three laps to go in the So Cal Non-Wing Open Comp. show at the Imperial Valley Raceway. Unfortunately, his steering gear let go knocking him out of the race with a 16th-place finish.
The team wants to thank the following sponsors for making the 2023 season possible. Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, United Asset Sales, Osborne Speed & Machine, Sander Engineering, “Biker” Bruce Fischer, ALR Virtual Services, Burris Racing, Caltrol, Competition Suspension, K-1 Race Gear, Molecule, Rod End Supply, Driven Racing Oil, Baldwin Filters, and NGK Spark Plugs.