Tony Hunt won his 10th United States Auto Club title last weekend, claiming the overall Western Classic Series points and the dirt half of the championship.
It may be the Lincoln resident's last season in USAC. If so, that would leave him three USAC titles short of legendary driver A.J. Foyt, who won 13.
The Western Classic was set up to crown the best overall sprint car driver by splitting the series into asphalt and dirt portions. The driver with the most points overall would be the champion. Hunt won just once in 16 events 11 on dirt and five on asphalt this season. But his consistent high finishes were enough to claim the overall title. Hunt was the overall champion in 2011, too, but won the asphalt portion of the title. Dirt is still relatively new to the veteran driver.
"It's hard to believe that this is my 10th title," Hunt said. "We raced twice as much on dirt this season as on asphalt and I started to get some momentum. Every race just got better and better."
Hunt said the bulk of the best sprint car drivers in the Western states drive exclusively on dirt. It was hard to attract enough Western Classic drivers willing to make the crossover, which meant more costs and more time setting up the cars for the two vastly different surfaces. Car counts were down this season as evidenced by the points lead he and Citrus Heights driver Shauna Hogg had over the rest of the Western Classic field. Hunt finished with 821 points and Hogg was just behind with 802. The next closest finisher, Gordon Rodgers of Winton, had 511 points.
"When you don't get the car counts it's hard to justify large purses," Hunt said. "I get that. The combination part of the Classic may go away."
The entire Western Classic Series may be going away, too. Hunt said there's a possibility he'll join the new United States Speed Association series next year that races exclusively in the Midwest and East. It's a non-wing, pavement only series just the way Hunt likes it.
In the meantime, Hunt has a busy winter filled with stunt driving for car commercials. He just finished a shoot for Audi in Illinois and will soon go on a month-long tour with former IndyCar driver Roberto Guerrero as they take the new Lexus LS to dealers around the country and train sales staffs on the luxury vehicle's finer points.
NASCAR back in June The raceway in Sonoma will celebrate the 25th running of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing next June 21-23 with the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The 2013 schedule was released by NASCAR on Tuesday.
It remains NASCAR's only visit to Northern California for the 2013 race season.
Clint Bowyer won this year's race for his first NASCAR Cup win in Sonoma. He was the eighth different winner in eight years on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn circuit, which has seen its fair share of flaring tempers as the tight course makes passing difficult and not for the faint of heart or slow of accelerator foot.