WagsWorld globe image WagsWorld text images



August 11, 2012

By Ken Wagner

Wow, what a weekend! You start at Ocean Speedway with 360’s running up front on a Friday night that Mike Spencer wins his 31st CRA race in history, Ryan Bernal stops while leading on a yellow and several found the crashing not to their liking before the night was over. On Saturday at Santa Maria Danny Sheridan comes back from a 4 year winless streak and beats Mike Spencer at the line by the narrowest of margins, Seth Wilson wins the $1000 wheelie contest, and a red and white polka dot check goes to the winner. I love this racing!

For my pics of Ocean click here to view. For my pics of Santa Maria click here to view. For Steve Lafond Ocean Speedway click here to view. For Steve's Santa Maria click here to view. For Korie Lafond at Ocean click here to view. or Korie's Santa Maria click here to view. For Doug Allen's great pic's Click here to view those.

Ocean Speedway was 25 cars putting on a show in front of an appreciative crowd and two local drivers didn’t let their lack of cubic inches hold them back. With 4 time CRA champion Mike Spencer only qualifying 4th this race, but it was not a problem. When Austin Williams broke the track record and it held up until near the end of qualifying, it might have surprised a few when brother Cody Williams went on a wild toad ride, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time, and broke that new track record with one of his own. If he had been able to stay in the groove on that one, it could have been much quicker! The Williams brothers were quite a show!

So Spencer only finished third in his heat and started in the third row right behind highly touted Ryan Bernal, and the race was on! Ryan jumped to the lead on lap 4 and was looking pretty fast with Spencer behind him back a little bit. When a yellow flew on lap 15, young Bernal stopped under the flagstand while the rest of the field slowly idled around the track? There was a lot of discussion and later we found out that Ryan said he saw a red flag and stopped. The CRA officials called yellow, the light went yellow, and he was put to the back. Rumor has it the flagman might have pulled the red up before displaying the yellow, but like in baseball, when the ump calls you out, you are gone! Ryan restarted in the back and finished 11th as Spencer inherited his first lead this year and pulled away from local 360 driver Terry Shank Jr for his 7th win this season to tie Colby Scroggins on the all-time CRA list.

Terry Shank Jr qualified 13th, was 4th in his heat and started on the front row of the main event. His stout 360 was fast as he showed some staying power all 30 laps. On the original start he got all crossed up and almost booted Brody Roa, but he calmed down enough that a recovered Brody could never take his spot. Brody hung in there for his podium spot of third place with a nice smooth drive from there.

I don’t know what to say about “wild” Billy Aton, and that’s what they call him, too! The boy qualified 15th, was 7th in his heat and 7th in the semi. He started 15th in the main and managed to hit a few competitors along his path to the front. A couple of those were done after encounters with him, but….. he was on the gas and running the high groove towards the front from the get go. He went into the corners on several occasions with the car bouncing up and down around the curve, thus slowing him down, and away he would go. He finished a surprising 4th place and I can only say GOLLY MOLLY, he could use a little seat time, or some counseling!

Among those needing a drink after this one was Cory Kruseman in the beautiful Yellow Yonker # 7 car when an extra vociferous 360 crashed on his front end and he was done. The team had a lot of rebuilding before the car could run the next night. Local driver Shauna Hogg also met with the same fate from the same car, but who is counting? Cody Williams flipped in the feature so finished 18th in this one.

A fairly short trip down to Santa Maria after the race was next as we prepared to see another night of the little bull ring action with the hopes for good racing. I have seen a lot of races at this track over the years, going as far back as 1979, and I can’t remember a better sprint car main in all that time, even though it can be real racy at times. After this one I heard a lot of accolades like: the best race I have ever seen, never a better finish, it couldn’t have been any better the way it ended and just plain WOW!

After eating my Jocko’s burger delivered by the Lafond duo of Steve and Korie (thanks it was delicious) it just got better. The infield announcer Doug Bushy spewed the Wagtimes Wagsbucks story to the crowd all night and we collected $251.50 to go along with a large bottle of Crown Royal that went to the hard luck driver of the night, more on that later. Thanks Doug, it helped. I had the bottle on display with me on the picnic bench near the pit entrance and it got a lot of comments.

The first car out on the dry looking track was Mike Spencer and he got fast time with a slower than usual 14.592. There were 22 cars to start the night and with three heats there was some good action. Danny Faria took a hard tumble in one of them, but came back to get a few practice laps (?) before starting the main all back together. He ran ninth in the just recently rebuilt car.

So the feature started and this one is an exciting story to be penned here. Danny “Showtime” Sheridan has a lot on his plate these days what with a change of jobs last week, a pregnant wife and a limited schedule in his driving. He wants to stay closer to home for his son and his wife and has missed some good times in the little blue bugger that he won 6 CRA 410 races in. He started his day qualifying 4th late in the list on a slowing track. He was second in his heat just catching the winner late in the 10 lapper. In the feature he would start 8th with Spencer right behind him!

On the start Showtime was all of that and more as he quickly found where “they” weren’t running and surged to the front, actually passing three cars on one high flying effort around the fast top where he was hooked up! He took the lead on lap 9 from early leader Jace Vander Weerd and was looking like he was long gone! After a couple of restarts, he felt confident, but that was shattered when the little red sucker appeared right behind him. When Spencer reached 2nd, he quickly dove under Danny coming around turn 4 for the lead on lap 23 and now “IT” really started!

You can always tell when someone is PO’d? Danny’s attitude on the track behind Mike was just that as he was coming hard chasing the leader! You could tell Danny was coming after him with everything he had. With a couple of laps to go, as they battled between and around more lap cars, Danny had a golden opportunity when Mike went low trying to get under several lap cars, but so did Danny and before he could react, Mike slipped back up in front of him and took off again. Later Danny told me he was not going to be denied and if he had to crash to win, he was prepared to do it on this night!

They were so close coming around the small bullring, yet as Danny rode the high ground all the way around, Mike would come down in three and four, and as hard as he tried, the little blue bugger just couldn’t get back by the CRA Champion? When they had about a lap and a half to go, Danny hooked it up down the back stretch coming into turn three, and after quickly burping the motor, he never let off until they went under the white flag, he took the lead and barely made the slide into turn one without hitting the wall. He had barely slid past the little red sucker before he could move up in front of him, again!! Wow, they were both flying.

Danny had a short lead coming out of turn two going down the back stretch. When they entered three for the last time, with Danny up on the cushion and Mike down on the bottom, it was anybody’s race. Mike took the lead by a smidge as he cut across turn four to the front stretch and surged toward the checkered flag and another possible win. Meanwhile, Danny stuttered slightly at the top of turn four and then gassed it hard with all he had. As they were almost to the checkered, Mike had the lead and then his rear end wiggled just a bit giving Danny his opportunity. And then Danny roared by him by inches at the checkered flag for the win! And the home crowd went berserk, even louder than the last 6 laps!!! Mike’s fans weren’t quiet either and it was pandemonium in the packed grandstands to the end and beyond. It was a home run for everyone as the track lit up like there were fireworks going on down there. Danny had broken his 410 dry spell from July 4th 2008, and the celebration was on! The cars all stopped on the straightaway in front of the crowd and the gates were opened for them to come visit their heroes! Give me my nitro mama, I think I need it.

That was for me the most exciting race I have ever seen there, and I have seen a bunch of winners over the years. It ranks right up there in my top 5 of all time anywhere as well. It was a little more special to me as I have been tagging along like a fifth wheel in the Kittle Hauler on occasions so I don’t have to drive some of the longer trips alone. It made me feel a little like “WE” won and I had some part of it. NOT! Alas, I am proud of what the crew did knowing they have really hung in there with only his 360 victories for the last 4 years. You could tell it felt really good to each and every one of them after some long stretches of “if anything bad could happen, it would”. Danny told me that he really is in a good place now as he feels the best he has in a long time and points to his baby coming for him and his wife Kacie, his new job and his life in general being great! It was most notably the best he has ever driven with me in the stands! Danny dedicated his victory to long time sponsor Pat Kehoe of Pace Electronics.

You know Mike Spencer has really come a long way since the days in Hal Engstrom’s yellow # 44 car. But now he is on top of his game like never before. Winning 5 in a row at Perris, 7 on the year and 31 lifetime, it’s going really well for him. He drove hard and smart and but for a blink of an eye, it could have easily been his 8th of the year. Only Danny’s unrelenting driving stopped him this time. He knows he is the one to beat in CRA and I told him he should realize they will be shooting for him the rest of the year with more intensity. I hope it energizes all the drivers as they realize even the best can be beat and the fans can benefit from this excitement in our racing. Mike was fast time for the 7th time this year and missed the transfer to the main event from the heats for the first time since the last time Kinser and Swindell missed the Knoxville main event? He started 10th in this feature and rolled em’ up like always, going to the front smoothly, taking the lead and having to settle for runner-up this time. Danny won’t be at Perris Saturday, but you can bet Mike will be out for his 8th win of the year and 6th in a row there. Can anybody stop him? Come and see and follow us from Perris to Victorville for a Sunday show.

Rip Williams was third on the podium as he beat both his boys for a change. In their heat, and all three were in it, he was 4th as they bookended him. Jace Vander Weerd was 4th, probably his best finish with CRA (?) and ran strong all night after out qualifying his twin Richard.

Rickie Gaunt was last in the main and I don’t remember him starting the feature? Shane Golobic had his 2nd DNF of the weekend in a Josh Ford car with no luck. He somehow got shuffled on the original start and ended up on the hook. At Ocean Speedway the night before, Shane also went out right away there, too, after an incident. Neither of which was his fault, from what I could see. I like him and hope he gets another chance in the fast Ford car. Brandon Thomson brought his enthusiasm to the track in a Bill Jones owned 360 car and ran 19th with his best effort with a few problems. Brody Roa was running strong up front when he met an immovable force and ended up backing it into the wall. It must have weakened something in the motor because when it fired, it went south immediately. He ended up with the hard luck award and his dad Brett got the Crown Royal, Hah!

A lot is riding on the Sunday Victorville show as Scott Burns is working hard to make that happen. The track will open an hour earlier than usual in an attempt to get everybody out and home early. Take a trip up the hill and see this new Route 66 Motorplex happening! Tickets are $ 15 with no parking fee and a covered grandstand to keep the afternoon sun off you. See you there! Let’s go racing on Sunday and represent!

AMSOIL USAC/CRA & WESTERN CLASSIC SPRINT RACE RESULTS: August 10, 2012 – Watsonville, California – Ocean Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-12.701 (New Track Record); 2. Austin Williams, 44, Jory-12.722; 3. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-12.779; 4. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-12.794; 5. Tommy Laliberte, 20X, Laliberte-12.815; 6. Shane Golobic, 73X, Ford-12.846; 7. Ronnie Gardner, 18, Kittle-12.893; 8. Ryan Bernal, 73, Ford-12.900; 9. Justin Sanders, 1H, Smith-12.989; 10. Scott Pierovich, 14, Vertullo/Pierson-13.019; 11. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-13.071; 12. Shauna Hogg, 5, Hogg-13.117; 13. Terry Schank Jr., 1X, Gleason-13.195; 14. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-13.212; 15. Billy Aton, 26, Aton-13.239; 16. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-13.249; 17. Tom Baker, 3T, Baker-13.282; 18. Tony Hunt, 56, Phulps-13.326; 19. Austin Liggett, 83, Liggett-13.392; 20. Seth Wilson, 1, Wilson-13.397; 21. Daniel Hood, 33, Hood-13.657; 22. Gordon Rodgers, 94, Dusin-13.836; 23. John Gerber, 14S, Gerber-13.998; 24. Nick Foster Jr., 4Q, Shanoian-14.273; 25. James Bondurant, 77, Keener-14.495.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kruseman, 2. Liggett, 3. Spencer, 4. Schank, 5. C. Williams, 6. Garnder, 7. Rodgers, 8. Bondurant. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Roa, 2. Bernal, 3. Baker, 4. A. Williams, 5. Laliberte, 6. R. Williams, 7. Gerber, 8. Wilson. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hunt, 2. Sanders, 3. Faas, 4. Golobic, 5. Hogg, 6. Hood, 7. Aton. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. C. Williams, 2. Gardner, 3. Laliberte, 4. Pierovich, 5. R. Williams, 6. Hogg, 7. Aton, 8. Wilson, 9. Rodgers, 10. Hood. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Terry Schank Jr., 3. Brody Roa, 4. Billy Aton, 5. Austin Williams, 6. Rip Williams, 7. Ronnie Gardner, 8. Nic Faas, 9. Tony Hunt, 10. Scott Pierovich, 11. Ryan Bernal, 12. Tommy Laliberte, 13. Austin Liggett, 14. Seth Wilson, 15. Tom Baker, 16. Gordon Rodgers, 17. Justin Sanders, 18. Cody Williams, 19. Shauna Hogg, 20. Shane Golobic, 21. Cory Kruseman NT

**C. Williams flipped during the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Schank, Laps 2-3 Roa, Laps 4-14 Bernal, Laps 15-30 Spencer. < AMSOIL USAC/CRA - WESTERN CLASSIC SPRINT RACE RESULTS: August 11, 2012 – Santa Maria, California – Santa Maria Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-14.592; 2. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-14.618; 3. Rickie Gaunt, 66, Miller-14.691; 4. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle-14.719; 5. Danny Faria Jr., 17v, Faria-14.753; 6. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-14.783; 7. A.J. Bender, 11, Bender-14.812; 8. Seth Wilson, 1X, Wilson-14.878; 9. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-14.883; 10. Shane Golobic, 73x, Ford-14.894; 11. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-14.899; 12. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-14.912; 13. Tony Hunt, 56, Phulps-14.960; 14. Ryan Bernal, 73, Ford-14.982; 15. Rusty Carlile, 51, Carlile-15.056; 16. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-15.129; 17. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-15.141; 18. Scott Pierovich, 14, Vertullo/Pierson-15.212; 19. Johnathon Henry, 17, Kruseman-15.283; 20. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-15.352; 21. Brandon Thomson, 16, Jones-15.515; 22. Tom Baker, 3T, Baker-16.077.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. .J.Vander Weerd, 2. Sheridan, 3. Golobic, 4. Henry, 5. Spencer, 6. Bender, 7. Hunt, 8. Baker. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kruseman, 2. Faas, 3. Roa, 4. R.Vander Weerd, 5. Wilson, 6. Bernal, 7. Faria. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Pierovich, 2. C.Williams, 3. Carlile, 4. R.Williams, 5. A.Williams, 6. Thomson, 7. Gaunt. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Danny Sheridan, 2. Mike Spencer, 3. Rip Williams, 4. Jace Vander Weerd, 5. Nic Faas, 6. Ryan Bernal, 7. Richard Vander Weerd, 8. Danny Faria Jr., 9. Rusty Carlile, 10. Cory Kruseman, 11. Austin Williams, 12. Scott Pierovich, 13. Seth Wilson, 14. Tony Hunt, 15. Tom Baker, 16. A.J. Bender, 17. Cody Williams, 18. Brody Roa, 19. Brandon Thomson, 20. Johnathon Henry, 21. Shane Golobic, 22. Rickie Gaunt. NT

**Faria flipped during the second heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-8 J.Vander Weerd, Laps 7-22 Sheridan, Laps 23-29 Spencer, Lap 30 Sheridan.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT STANDINGS: 1-Spencer-819, 2-Faas-699, 3-A.Williams-594, 4-Roa-561, 5-R.Williams-544, 6-Bernal-544, 7-Kruseman-479, 8-Matt Mitchell-461, 9-C.Williams-406, 10-Wilson-370.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: August 18 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

Wagsworld Back Issues: