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July 3, 2010

By Ken Wagner

It was a site for sore eyes for this long time Wag, being part of a packed house, watching a thrilling 30 lap USAC/CRA non-stop feature, with four official and dramatic lead changes, plus many more tantalizing moves than you could watch throughout the field. On this holiday race it was one night where we saw the real 410 sprint car racing at it’s best that was showcased for the demonstrative crowd! Not only did the main event feature some close quarter action on a well prepared track, but the moves that winner David Cardey put on the “teacher” Cory Kruseman makes you wonder where this guy would be if he had more sponsorship! He was the fuse lighting the fireworks tonight!

For my PAS pics Click here. For Doug Allen's work Click here.

Not only did Crafty Cardey make the pass of the year for his first lead early in the race, when he was sideways throwing a slide job thru several lap cars, and still slung on by a fast Kruser, but he kept it up as the feature played out. This makes him leading every race at the PAS this season with only equipment problems keeping him from a clean sweep at his home track for the year. He says he owes it all to “Camp Snoopy”? Not really, as announcer Chris Holt blindsided him with stories about his son Drake. Yet what is he doing right to keep this heady stream of driving going? Great job in the Circle Track sponsored, red # 59 Viper chassied car as he won his 8th lifetime 410 sprint race and is looking for more.

Perhaps the biggest positive side of the night for young Nic Faas was that he finished a race, finally, and grabbed 2nd place from the Kruser late in the event besides. After breaking a rear-end early in the night, it was another of a long line of equipment failure problems that has bothered this low buck team all year. Never fear as his # 17 steed was rock solid in the feature and he battled with the front running heroes until he snatched his highest podium finish since he won his only feature with CRA in August of 2008. When his car is on, he can run with the best of them. Nic later said “it felt like a win to me!”

Starting on the front row with the eventual winner, Cory Kruseman had the best shot to be a repeat Firecracker winner, and standing on the podium in third was quite an accomplishment when the race ended. It was a non-stop, 30 laps of scintillating action, and Cory was in there fighting until the end. Driving his “new” car he looked like the Kruser of his SCRA championship year of 2001. He never gave up in his black # 21 Agromin, Lucas Oil sponsored car, moving in and out of traffic trying to retake the lead.

Point leader Mike Spencer had the best seat in the house for watching a great race as he followed the podium threesome most of the race, getting a close up view from right behind them as they all danced thru the field. Mike had come from his 4th row starting spot to get up there to push those three, but never was able to get into the act as he fought lapped traffic along the way just to be in position to move up if, an opening happened and it never did. He was 3rd quick on the night and won his heat before finishing in 4th in the little red sucker and still leads the points over Danny Sheridan by 51.

The pageantry presented by The PAS added something special to the night as not only were all former and current military people in the crowd invited down to stand on the front stretch while they play several patriotic songs, punctuated rightfully by our National Anthem. That special song was sung by Bobby Burke who does her own moving rendition here often, and with great pride and excellence. The crowd standing with the American flags flying and her voice was another of those moments in our traditional and sometimes forgotten memory of love for our country. The fly over wasn’t the usual supersonic smoker or even a massive military airplane roaring overhead. In fact, I don’t know what “air ship” it was that buzzed the crowd, but it flew low over the grandstands just the same, creating a wave of applause from the crowd. Add the annual fireworks presentation sponsored by Budweiser and the city of Perris to the evening, and it was one of the most memorable nights in Perris racing history. If I heard Scott Daloisio correctly, it was the fastest 30 lap event in history at the track!

It was also a day for the kids to touch and feel their favorite drivers and their cars. The spectator gates opened at 3 PM and the weather wasn’t the normal desert hot, it was almost cool! The cars were all lined up on the front stretch of the racetrack in front of the grandstands as the fans were allowed down on the dirt to inspect the splendid machinery and get autographs and enjoy some friendly competitions. The kids got to share drivers and officials in a three legged race that had a few endo’s, including one by the Cowboy who couldn’t stop laughing, and his partner. Plus they had some fun in tossing balloons in what turned out to be a wet T-shirt contest. Add to that the hot dog and watermelon eating contests and you had a full afternoon of giggles and fun for everyone who participated! I wondered why PAS games organizer Tanner Watson was sticking close to me after the events were over, until she said “they wouldn’t throw water balloons around you with your camera, would they? It was chaotic as what was left of the balloons were grabbed up and sent flying all around as everyone was in attack mode.

Chris Holt interviewed, and I use that term loosely, four former PAS Firecracker night winners during the downtime wait for the timely fireworks at 9 PM. Super Rickie, The Cowboy, Showtime and the Kruser grabbed all the airtime as they battered and threatened each other with humor and frivolity like we have come to know from this frantic foursome of hilarious hecklers! As they hammered each other a little, a serious lunch bet came out of it all as Danny and Tony declared Rickie, who started in front of the two in the main event, would never be ahead of them at the end. Danny at least was right as Tony’s motor gave up on him as he was flying up front early in the race! If the lunch ever happens, it would be a lunch we all would like to attend. There is nothing more fun than watching some of the best drivers on the planet egg each other on.

Danny Sheridan ran 6th on the night as he was one of the fastest cars on the track during the last half of the race and had to reel in the five ahead of him from his 5th row starting spot, and without any yellows to bunch up the field. He did a monster job getting to the rear bumper of the double MMatt Mitchell at the end of the race. The little blue sucker was working hard as Showtime was on the gas and praying for a yellow to get back in the thing. More importantly for the team, since they didn’t become a repeat Firecracker winner this night, was that Danny announced a new agreement had been reached with Pace Lighting for some much needed sponsorship to help them finish out the year. It couldn’t have come at a better time as the Kittle Motorsports # 18 was about out of gas literally and figuratively. Danny and his crew have been consistent this year and it has put them 2nd in points. Now they have a chance to compete to the end of the season and battle for a much wanted Championship.

The night was not without problems for some. Young Heidi Tresler was doing just fine in a transfer spot in the Semi when along came trouble. She got upside down with some scattered action of three cars and the report on her was fine, but the car might need serious work or replacement. Randy Waitman was the first to pull off in the main, but I didn’t see anything bad on his car. Tony Jones was running strong heading to the front when his motor let him down. Cal Smith and Ludwig Solberg IV got into each other in their heat with Cal ending upside down, but Ludwig repaired and ran 16th in the main. Cal was done for the night. Jonny Bates was part of that clash and was also out for the night.

Some of the good stuff was Matt Mitchell setting fast time and running a strong 5th in the main. Greg Bragg had 7th in the Moosemobile with no problems. Visitor Rusty Carlile ran 14th in the main after taking his helmet into the turn 4 grandstands and making new friends with his likeable personality while collecting money for the Cancer drive like most of the drivers did. Cody Williams ran 9th, two spots ahead of his brother, Austin, with Super Rickie in between them looking forward to a lunch date with Danny! You can expect he’ll treat Showtime with a tube steak and some aqua for a chaser.Maybe they will invite the Cowboy along for a few laughs.

Gentleman John Redican had nice guy Gale Forester in tow this week. John of course was a notable driver with CRA with 22 lifetime victories, the last of which was at Ascot Raceway in 1990. He comes racing pretty often, but Gale has had some tiring physical problems that leaves him quietly at home when he wants to go racing. He said he decided it was time to see a race this week. He was a man with a good wrench working on many Billy Wilkerson sprinters in his racing days and is very well liked and respected in the racing world, so it’s good to see him again. I hope he can get a kitchen pass to come again.

If what we saw of the second generation driver Kevin Michnowicz in his Lightning Sprinter, he could be a good one when he gets strapped into a sprint car very soon. The young 16 year old, started at the back of his heat and won going away, then came back to run 3rd in the main event from the rear. His father Bobby and mom Wendy have nothing but smiles on their face when Kevin is racing.

I collected $80 towards the Wagsdash this week and am looking for more. Only 7 race weekends left before the 2010 Wagsdash, so I guess I better get moving. Keep the auction and other fund raisers in mind as the countdown shortens up a bit. Look for me at Victorville, probably, this coming weekend as rumor that David Cardey will try to put another notch on his racing belt in the Don Blair car. It was a great weekend and luckily none of the dozens of Chippies that were out this weekend noticed me cruising down the 15 highway as I kept the pedal up around 70!

7/03/10 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. David Cardey, 2. Nic Faas, 3. Cory Kruseman, 4. Mike Spencer, 5. Matt Mitchell, 6. Danny Sheridan, 7. Greg Bragg, 8. Blake Miller, 9. Cody Williams, 10. Rickie Gaunt, 11. Austin Williams, 12. Jimmy Crawford, 13. Greg Alexander, 14. Rusty Carlile, 15. Mathew Shedarowich, 16. Ludvig Solberg IV, 17. Ronnie Gardner, 18. Royal Adderson, 19. Tony Jones, 20. Jerry Welton, 21. Tony Everhart, 22. Randy Waitman. 8:58.32

**Smith, Tressler & Bates flipped during the semi.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-13 Kruseman, Laps 14-15 Cardey, Laps 16-20 Kruseman, Laps 21-30 Cardey.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Spencer-606; 2-Sheridan-555; 3-Kruseman-461; 4-Miller-437; 5-Mitchell-428; 6-Bragg-370; 7-Crawford-326; 8-Cardey-308; 9-C.Williams-293; 10-Jones-286.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: July 31 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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