PETERSEN MEDIA- 2014 was a big year for Ryan Bernal and his Phulps Motorsports team, and the team closed it out in a big way over the last two weekends as Bernal scored two out of the three wins during the Western World Championships before mounting a charge to third from 14th during the inaugural Thanksgiving Bash in New Mexico.
“It was a fun couple of weeks to close out our season, and we are really looking forward to what 2015 has to offer,” Bernal said.
Heading to the Canyon Speedway Park the weekend prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Bernal and company took on fellow USAC West Coast 360 competitors as well as the USAC Southwest Series for three nights of action in the prestigious Western World Championships.
Kicking things off on that Thursday night, Bernal took a liking to the high, scary side of the speedway as he chased after early leader, Gary Taylor. Though it shows Bernal leading nearly every lap, it was not that simple as he and Taylor battled hard during the opening stages of the race.
Once he was out in front, and clear of Taylor, Bernal continued to work the cushion to perfection, though he soon felt pressure in the name of Casey Shuman. Making a minor mistake on the cushion, Shuman was able to get by and lead the 22nd lap, but Bernal was back in the lead in the next set of corners, as he briefly had some breathing room before a hard charging, Bryan Clauson looked for the top spot.
Trying to take Clauson’s line away, Bernal nearly surrendered the top spot on a pair of occasions but was too good on this night, as he picked up the opening night win.
Back in action on night two of the Western World Championships, Bernal lined up on the front row of the 30-lap feature event alongside Jon Stanbrough, and as the race went green, it was Stanbrough jumping out to the early lead.
Just like he did during the opener, Bernal took a liking to the CSP cushion, and took command of the race on the third lap, and began opening a very sizeable lead as he continued to ride the rim.
Though a caution flew with 11 laps to go, Bernal did not let that phase him, as he was the class of the field on this night, as he cruised to his second consecutive win with one more night of Western World Championship action to go.
After an opening lap tangle saw the front row starters get knocked out of competition, the Holister, CA driver found himself in the second row as he race tried to get underway again.
Moving into the second spot, Bernal stalked RJ Johnson who led the early laps, before making a big move out of turn four on lap-9 to grab the lead. As Bernal took the lead, Matt Rossi had other ideas as he was able to get by both Bernal and Johnson to take the lead, putting Bernal back in the second spot.
As Bernal chased after Rossi, he slowly began fading, as he fought his racecar, as a stuck bleeder, caused a tire to slowly go down, making his car a handful.
Doing everything he could, Bernal would nurse his machine home to an eighth place finish.
“Overall we had a really good Western World’s,” he said. “I can’t thank everyone enough for all of there hard work, and to win two of the three nights is pretty cool.”
Heading to New Mexico this last weekend to take on the USAC Southwest Sprints in the inaugural Thanksgiving Bash, Bernal continued to show speed.
A third place finish in heat race action saw him line up in the seventh row of the feature event. After showing what he could do from the front during the previous weekend, Bernal would show he was just as good from the tail, as he put on a very strong charge toward the front.
In what was a non-stop feature event, Bernal was able to carve his way forward as he raced his way to a fourth place finish.
Closing his season out on Saturday night, Bernal lined up in the second row of the 30-lap feature event, but early contact with another competitor knocked him out of the race.
“It was a bummer to end our season with a DNF, but it really was a great season,” he noted. “I just really need to thank all of the guys who work on this car, as well as all of our partners who make this possible.”
When it was all said and done, Bernal was in action 19 times with the 360ci engine under the hood, earning 12 wins.
Bernal and the Phulps Motorsports team would like to thank Keizer Wheels, DMI, S&S Automotive, King Racing Products, Metal Works, Hoosier Racing Tires, Core Power, ART Chassis, Tri-L Mandarin Ranch, Tel-Tac, Willwood, Joe Hunt Magnetos, Permatex, Alan Kaiser Construction, Outlaw Graphics, BR Motorsports, FK Rod Ends, STIDA, and Dean Dealy Motorsports for their support during the 2014 season.
ON TAP: The 2014 season has come to a close.
STAY CONNECTED: For more information on the event be sure to follow Ryan Bernal on Twitter @Bernal_Ryan.
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PHOTO- Lonnie Wheatley