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By Tim Kennedy 

PERRIS, Calif., Mar. 12 Kevin Michnowicz, 16, started fifth and drove his dad's Henchcraft/1200-cc Kawasaki ZX-12 winged California Lightning Sprint car to his first 20-lap feature victory Saturday on the half-mile clay Perris Auto Speedway. The son of former CRA 410 sprint car feature winner Bobby Michnowicz, of Torrance, made his sixth CLS appearance and topped to his prior finishes of second, third and three fifth place finishes during his brief 2010 CLS Series career. The team became the series 2011 point leader after the first of 18 scheduled races.

Dan Hillberg, 2011 CLS president, started second and paced the first five laps in a 17-car field. Fourth starter Tim Brown led lap 6 in a three-car dog-fight with Michnowics and Hillberg. On lap 7 Michnowicz shot from third to first with an inside pass in the third turn. He opened a straightaway lead by lap 15 and won by half a straightaway over Brown. Brent Sexton raced from 16th starting spot to finish third with 12 cars racing at the finish. Rookie Sheldon Creed, 13, came from 12th to finish fourth. Pole starter/2010 CLS champion Jarrett Kramer was fifth. Dan Hillberg, 15-year old Jacob Will, Guy Maresch, Darren Hillbetrg and 18-year old rookie Gabriella Robles completed the top ten. 

Rookie Steven Limon, 24, was in sixth place on lap 5 when his left rear suspension broke. The car dug in and rolled to the wall exiting turn four. He complained about a sore neck but declined medical transport and remained in the pits. Limon, Brown and Will won the 6-lap heat races. Michnowicz, the 13th qualifier in a 20-car field, set the fastest qualifying time of 18.231. The CLS season opener was a preliminary attraction for the USAC-CRA Sprints featured division. Both series will return to Perris on Saturday, April 2.