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June 15, 2013

By Ken Wagner

It’s hard to relate all that went down over this Father’s Day weekend, but needless to say the CRA hit two tracks far from home and a surprising amount of CRA racecars made the trip for great racing with 14 and 15 of the 29 and 18 total car counts. Ocean Speedway was the best show of the two when passing was the norm and action was wheel to wheel with few cashes. Santa Maria was more difficult with a tough racy two groove track for everyone on a cool night. All that and Damion Gardner completed a sweep of fast times and victories with his signature all-out Demon type attack. In all that, Damion passed 5 time CRA champion Jimmy Oskie for 11th on the all-time So Cal win list with 55 total victories.

For my pics from Ocean click here to view. For my pics from Santa Maria click here to view. For Steve Lafonds foto's from Ocean click here to view. For Korie Lafonds foto's from Ocean click here to view. For Steve Lafonds foto's from Santa Maria click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.

Friday at the Watsonville near beach track saw 29 cars qualify and some great racing happened. Unfortunately the National invert 6 happened again making the run from 6th place a little easier than 8th, but it is what it is and Damion did it both nights. It wasn’t easy for the Demon as Nic Faas took the lead on the green Friday and looked gold for a win. He led 21 laps and had his minor issues with the turn four cushion a couple of times until a very fast Bud Kaeding, stalking him from the start, took the low road under him and then pulled away for 8 laps. Bud looked in control until a lap 27 flag stoppage and then it got real exciting. Bud still had the groove on the restart and Damion took a shot under him on the 28th lap, but no go. It took a lap for the Demon to get close again and under the white flag you could see the obvious was coming, a last gasp shot by the green stripped # 4A. When they came to the first turn corner the last time, Damion shot low under Bud and slid up in front of him with no room to spare. Bud checked up and that backed him off too far to make the pass back he needed as Damion took the green flag and opening shot on the road.

I had figured Damion would be on kill this weekend because he ran second at the last CRA race at The PAS and the most recent URA event at Macro Air Orange Show Stadium, and he doesn’t like second. His move was soooo close and yet it worked, so that’s racing. Some might say it wasn’t right or a fair shot, but to them Damion says SCOREBOARD, that’s all that counts. Bud said he left the door open as both wanted to win in honor of their friend Jason Leffler who passed away last week after they had both made an honoring lap for the redhead before the race.

It was a dramatic ending and is just one more race that makes this year way better than 2012 as the new blood running regularly with CRA has made it come back to amazing racing creating heroes, and that’s exactly what we have needed. This shot in the arm with Bud Kaeding and Damion Gardner running every race makes the bar higher for the regulars and especially for Champion Mike Spencer who has experienced more “bad luck” this season than the 5 years previous combined, me thinks! There is likely that a new champion will be crowned this season, but only half the season is done and the little red sucker ain’t out of it yet. I might mention the 181 point deficit won’t be easy to overcome, if at all, but we shall see what the little red sucker can do. This week they had a motor lock up at Ocean Speedway and the replacement motor lost the linkage on a restart and he was done in 20th. Then on Saturday at Santa Maria a flat front tire put them in the back to come up to 7th at the end.

Nic Faas was fast and furious for his 21 laps leading, but flirted with the turn four cushion a few times that slowed him a bit. He lost the lead on a restart and ended up on the podium in third for a good strong effort. Matt “Poster Boy” Mitchell had a great weekend with 4th and 5th as he looks fully recovered from his crash in Indiana last year. He is running traffic with the best of them and will win again soon if his efforts continue like he has. If you wonder about the poster boy comment, check any victory circle picture of him, his winning smile is just that and he represents the 410 boys very well!

Ryan Bernal had an interesting weekend. He drove two different cars with mixed results as he started on the pole both nights. Friday he had a restricted 410 so he could run for the “restricted” race point’s battle up north and according to crew chief Jimmy May, the motor loses over 100 horsepower with the restrictor plate in. He was 5th on the opening night and ran a regular 410 Saturday to an 11th place finish. Cory Kruseman was back from his busted shoulder from a race early in the year and shook it out with a 6th and 10th. The crew was glad to be back as the brothers Jason and Randy had a long layoff, too!

Richard Vander Weerd had a good weekend with 7th and 3rd for his great showing. He was really strong at Santa Maria and his brother Jace was 9th and 15th. Rip Williams beat his boys when Cody crashed hard on Friday and Austin had his problems following his brother out. Cody drove Rip’s car on Saturday to 6th and Austin got 8th.

I had a great time as Trophy Dave went to Ocean with me after a day in his shop to visit. The 45 minute ride took 2 hours, so we were late when we got there at 3:30. Trophy Dave got a chance to meet some of the CRA boys as we walked around and tried to drum up interest in the 360 non-wing version of the Trophy Cup night on Oct 17 at Tulare. The $33,000 purse is very tempting, but a lot of our boys don’t have a 360, so renting, borrowing or somehow getting one will be hard for some. Trophy Dave spends many weekends in his Placerville ”weekend” home and rarely goes to the races out there because of the “other” cars that run for the promoters pocket. Can’t blame them when only 20 or so sprint cars show up, you have to keep the fans happy with something. Trophy Dave is a lot like me in that it’s sprint car all the time for us.

It was lonely going on my own on this trip, but I spent time visiting with friends, so it wasn’t bad. Thanks Pat & LeeAnn for hosting me and Muriel and Dave as well. The trip from my Salinas motel down to Santa Maria was fast and Jocko’s, one of my favorite eating places, was packed. So I got a Jocko burger to go and ate it in the parking lot. I got checked in the pit booth and waltzed in with my mini-mule (a little carryall with wheels) following along behind me. After a short trip around the pits with fewer cars tonight, I walked up the steep hill and settled on my favorite perch there, a picnic table where I can sit and watch and shoot some pics over the fence, and that makes me happy! I visited with many who came by to see the guy in the red polka dot hat, and once again had fun at what has been one of my favorite tracks since the first time I came here. The new promoter Reuben and I visited a bit as he was plenty busy with his chores. It was a pleasant evening with some good racing and a lot of stockers! The tri-tip was new and great tasting!

Damion Gardner again swept fast time and the victory, but he was the only one who had a handle on the track. Danny Faria Jr grabbed 2nd as passing was a premium with the fast guys up front. We had a few different drivers show up and a bunch that didn’t travel south. Cotton Farmer is an alias for someone we all know, but is keeping a low profile on the track for now. A clue to his identity is his beautiful wife use to ride motocross. He had a tough night with a broken rear end and something else gone wrong in the main, but he had fun!

I was plum tuckered out after passing thru the pits to my car and so instead of going back in to visit, I headed on home where I arrived around 4:30 am. Call me well done as it was fun and we get to do it again in August on this same path. Next race on my calendar is at the Macro Air Orange Show Stadium for URA Sprint Car racing on June 29. Then it’s on to the 4th of July race at the PAS. After that a quiet month of July, so hit these two and take a rest.

Santa Maria June 15 Feature: (30 laps) Winner Damion Gardner, 2. Danny Faria Jr., 3. Richard Vander Weerd, 4. Nic Faas, 5. Matt Mitchell, 6. Cody Williams, 7. Mike Spencer, 8. Austin Williams, 9. Jace Vander Weerd, 10. Cory Kruseman, 11. Ryan Bernal, 12. D.J. Johnson, 13. Cody Swanson, 14. A.J. Bender, 15. Markus Niemela, 16. Brody Roa, 17. Cotton Farmer, 18. Bud Kaeding. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Faria, Lap 5 Bernal, Laps 6-16 Faria, Laps 17-30 Gardner.

Ocean Speedway June 14 Feature: (30 laps) Winner Damion Gardner, 2. Bud Kaeding, 3. Nic Faas, 4. Matt Mitchell, 5. Ryan Bernal, 6. Cory Kruseman, 7. Richard Vander Weerd, 8. Markus Niemela, 9. Austin Liggett, 10. Geoff Ensign, 11. Colby Copeland, 12. Brody Roa, 13. Danny Faria, 14. D.J. Johnson, 15. Jace Vander Weerd, 16. Rip Williams, 17. Tony Hunt, 18. Austin Williams, 19. Cody Williams, 20. Mike Spencer, 21. Shane Golobic, 22. Shauna Hogg, 23. Colton Slack. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Faas, Laps 22-29 Kaeding, Lap 30 Gardner.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Gardner-739, 2-Faas-688, 3-Kaeding-564, 4-Spencer-558, 5-Mitchell-467, 6-C.Williams-423, 7-A.Williams-415, 8-Roa-384, 9-Bernal-359, 10-R.Vander Weerd-309.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: July 4, 2013 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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