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March 31, 2012

By Ken Wagner

It’s been a busy 10 days what with a Thursday night race and Mrs Wags rotator cuff surgery that was a major rebuild of her left shoulder. Throw in some fun with the leftover racer friends and I am just getting around to doing a little writing.

Eureka, I got em', So Click here to view! For Doug Allen's great pic's Click here to view.

It was a night of good racing and a couple of hard crashes, but altogether very entertaining. Mike Spencer came oh so close to wiping out the track record, he was just a tick off it, and that alone shut up the naysayers who doubted the recent rains would ever allow the track to come in. Then when Mike marched from the back to win his heat and did the quick run from 8th to the lead in the main in 7 laps, it looked like our night was done as far as a winner went. Not so my friends, the little red sucker had to run for his life near the end as Nic Faas moved swiftly right up behind him during the latter part of the 30 lapper, as he ran him down to make it one of the closest finishes in recent history. With fans on their feet and wildly cheering them on, the last lap was all lap cars with gaps between them and cagey moves by the silver and red cars, leaving the two wingless warriors just a few feet apart across the finish line with Spencer getting his 25th lifetime CRA victory! Oh so close, who says this racing isn’t fun to watch and worth every penny! Come on back!

Unfortunately for me it was not all peaches and cream this race as I had a camera malfunction and when I got home I had not one frame of color and excitement out of my 4 hours of carefully shooting race cars and pit people throughout the afternoon. It all started with a balky, but well charged battery, which I replaced early as I set out to capture the day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, and even though each shot showed up on the little screen as I fired away, the link to the card where my work is all stored, did not complete and wasn’t there at all. ??????????????? I guess my Canon guy will be visited this week to see what’s wrong with said camera. Sorry to all as I had a lot to share, I thought. An added report. After referring with my resident cameraman Doug Allen, he helped me find a way to import those photos I took. It is a slow process and will take an hour or two, but I may have them. If I do, I will post the pics! The camera is still broken!

On a day that looked like June gloom weather-wise and later turned into a race to beat the rain, everything looked like gold except the sun never showed. With 33 sprint cars plus 11 Senior cars plus the 20 or so Lightning Sprints, it was bedlam in the pits getting parked early in the day. Unfortunately, some misaligned rigs angered our friendly officials enough for them to issue a new rule: first in ….. first parked …. and in their designated order! For all those who for years cherished their favored spots, it will be just another bitching point in future events. So they didn’t exactly park perfect, they all got in and settled, so Mr. Official, please reconsider and let them have another shot. After all, they have been doing this since the track opened some 15 years plus without too much consternation.

Watching the battle between the # 4 Silver Bullet and the # 50 little red sucker during the last ten laps was classic. Mike Spencer flying fast and running thru traffic and the young challenger Nic Faas rolling up the lead each lap, it was electric. No matter who you were cheering on, you had to take a break and watch this! Faas passed Mike at least once and pulled even with him several more times thru this battle, but too many lap cars and too much little red sucker to overcome kept Faas back. This shows us what is to come in this year’s race for the title. Mike is the defending champion and as long as Bruce Bromme Jr sets up his car he is the one to catch. Nic is coming on fast and the Alexander’s know what they are doing, so it should be a blast getting to watch. Oh, and don’t forget a number of other talented and capable guys wanting to grab the brass ring; it should be a great year! Viva la sprint car racing!

Matt Mitchell showed his speed and flair again this week as he qualified 4th, won his heat and ran hard to finish third in the big main. He showed off his MM slider a few times and continues to improve, so watch out for him as he is third in the points this early and looks to knock of the champion if he can.

Young 18 year old Ryan Bernal made his debut in the # 18 little blue bugger Kittle machine this week and ran a strong 4th getting used to it as it gets used to him. He qualified 5th and was third in his heat to start in the second row of the main in amongst CRA’s finest shoes and held his own! He’s not bashful, so keep an eye on him as he runs the 410’s with us, the 360’s with the West Coast 360’s and does a midget experience when he is free. He is like amazing the way he handles his car and still has to hit the books to graduate this year. His roar is like a lions, he will be heard! How's Ryan the Lion sound?

The hard charger of the night had to be Awesome Austin Williams as he qualified 19th, won his heat and started in the 9th row to get up to 5th in the end. A great run by the young man as he is fast and furious at times on the track. His Brother Cody got over on his head in the main as he caught the cushion on the first lap and did a pretty good flipping ride against and on top of the turn four wall. He was fine!

R J Johnson made the long tow over from Phoenix to lead the first 7 laps handily until the little red sucker slipped by. R J was 7th quick in qualifying and was third in his heat and finished in 6th place this week. Always good to see him and his dad with us as he has already surprised the boys once and I wouldn’t bet against him doing it again!

Ronnie Gardner gave Dwight Cheney’s # 42 a great ride until he got an assist into the wall in the main. You should have seen him gas it up on the opening lap down the backstretch as he took the lead with a launch that took your breath away and then a red stopped the action before he could get a lap led in the books. He was 8th quick early in the day and transferred to the pole position in the main event. This talented driver just needs a break once in a while and he will show you his skills.

David Cardey still struggles with sponsorship money and figures they have about one race left for this year unless, the usual, money magically appears. Regardless, he was 3rd quick and won his heat in the red # 59 and was going well in the main when he pulled in due to a throttle sticking, and was done for the night, the second car out. After Cody Williams flier red, he climbed out of his car and was seen running to the men’s room?? Probably couldn’t wait, but it happens.

This past week David Cardey had a check out ride in practice with the Moose crew’s # 92 and they discovered he was too tall for the #car. Putting a halo on the car is out, so the possibility of them getting together to make one team is remote at this time with this car, anyway. Tom and Laurie Sertich have given their all for their race cars over the last 20 years and have hit the same wall many teams have as they are out of resources and need help to return. I hope there is a sugar daddy out there that wants to go racing soon or else that is two more cars on the sidelines in our troubled economy. Can you imagine that???

Fans got to go down on the track and mill around after qualifying and before the racing started. They were able to check out the cars and drivers up close and personal. The 15 minutes or so attracted a lot of people down there and perhaps that will get some kids excited about bringing their parents back again and again. Perris is doing the helmet walk thru the stands by the drivers for Cancer for the 7th year, a worthy cause.

There were several bad crashes this week, but the Brian Williams crash in a borrowed Senior sprint car was the worst looking to me. He just went into a quick snap roll and crashed hard into the turn one wall and probably destroyed that car! An early crash by A J Bender in hot laps wasn’t totally overcome as they rebuilt the car and started the semi, but pulled in right away ready for next time. No body hurt, but after the races, the paramedics were still checking Brian out by his trailer.

Outlaw and mr nice guy Bill Rose proved he was a racer as he drove down from Merced after the WOO show was rained out at Calistoga, and worked hard all afternoon getting his wing car ready for the wingless game. He said he had a non-wing car in the trailer, but it wasn’t all built yet, so worked on his wing one to compete. He added he had been having some problem with the car, and since that didn’t change wingless, he has a week to figure it out before he runs Saturday night at a local Indiana track on the Easter Eve. Good to see the friendly guy and he ran 13th in the # 6 car.

It was the one year anniversary of local car owner Chris Fischer’s passing and his family came out to remember him. One time co-owner and brother Biker Bruce was on hand as a former Fischer car now driven by Billy Blinn hit the track. The car missed the main, but the family enjoyed the outing. We remember Chris with fond memories and miss the entire Fischer experience on the track as well. We still got Biker Bruce!

Rip Williams was running strong in the main when he spun and kept going without stopping, but the yellow came out anyway? The rule is “if you cause a yellow, you go to the back! I heard it in the driver’s meeting again this week, but when they tried to put him behind David Bezio on the restart, because that is where he reentered the race after the spin, he balked and was not scored from there on because he never went where they tried to place him. Forget that the drivers have a radio in their ear as Rip’s never seems to work anyway, but I think he thought they meant 37 Matt Mitchell not 37X David Bezio, and that was the old ball game, so he was scored 17th. He still ran strong in the top 10 like a ghost.

The Perris Horse track in 2013 is a great idea, maybe I can race, too! What happened to the boat race and Tony Jones doesn’t know the first thing about horses.

Still hearing rumors about Irwindale and a supposed drag strip reopening next week and more? Whatever!

After my mule set outside for the last 4 months, I finally got it covered up for a change Saturday night. Hope that works OK as the rain was coming fast when I left the track. It started raining a few miles down the road and was really soupy with low visibility up the hill to Victorville, and you might have figured I was flying low, but no. Nevertheless, it cleared off by Barstow for a dry and windy run the rest of the way home to Vegas. I got in bed at 3 am with memories of good racing, again! And once again the long drive is worth it for “our” CRA racing!

WAG$CA$H is coming along slowly as I collected nearly $100 this past week. Hope you get involved and remember, giving me money now makes it easier on both of us. Next race is April 28 at the PAS, so come see me and give me a few bucks. Bring your change, too for the Lafond Jar of Change hard charger award! Thanks again to Frank Uhl as his bank sends me a check for $ 25 every month and it all adds up! You too can do that.

Oh, as it turns out I did get one photo on Saturday! Since the camera was broke, I took a picture of the shiny tire award winner with my phone! Tony Jones gets this week’s Shiny Tire Award for his work on Jake Swanson’s # 41 car. Good job and now Tony has won all the awards possible in his racing world.

Happy Easter to all you egg loving bunnies, let’s do something fun. I was thinking about Hanford myself, but I might be late for the egg hiding event.

3/31/12 CRA FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Nic Faas, 3. Matt Mitchell, 4. Ryan Bernal, 5. Austin Williams, 6. R.J. Johnson, 7. Greg Alexander, 8. Brody Roa, 9. David Bezio, 10. Josh Ford, 11. Seth Wilson, 12. Jace VanderWeerd, 13. Bill Rose, 14. Verne Sweeney, 15. Tony Everhart, 16. Jake Swanson, 17. Rip Williams, 18. Richard VanderWeerd, 19. Ronnie Gardner, 20. David Cardey, 21. Josh Pelkey, 22. Cody Williams. NT

**Bender flipped during practice. C.Williams flipped on lap 1 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-7 Johnson, Laps 8-30 Spencer.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Faas-141, 2-Spencer-134, 3-Mitchell-131, 4-Bernal-121, 5-Roa-93, 6-A.Williams-82, 7-Cardey-77, 8-Alexander-69, 9-Bezio-69, 10-Ford-68.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: April 28 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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