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September 15, 2012

By Ken Wagner

The dog days of the CRA season is upon us as we prepare to anoint the little red suckers driver for his 5th CRA championship in a row. Mike Spencer won his 8th of 17 races this season and continues to be the one they are all shooting at now. The temps at the PAS were in the hot 107 area, but 33 sprint cars, 11 Senior sprints and a gagle of Lightning Sprints showed up to put on a show for the crowd. It was the debut of my new camera lens and think I was ready. Mike was second quick in qualifying and won his heat before starting seventh on the 30 lap main event grid. On the start Mayhem Mike (because now he causes mayhem every time he hits the track these days) got a great start and was in third before the first lap ended and passed early leader Ripper after lap 5. Once the little red sucker gets in the lead, it’s generally all over but the shouting! Another great job by Bruce Bromme Jr and his crew, oh wait, was Bruce still home on doctor’s orders, I didn’t see him? Whatever, they obviously have this racing thing wired. The only thing that keeps Mike from winning his 5th championship in a row now is if he takes off for Alaska to go fishing or some other impossible happening. Get over it, it will happen! With his 326 point lead in the point’s race, and only 5 race dates left this year, it looks like one more event and he will have clinched it.

For my pics of the PAS click here to view. For Doug Allen's great pic's Click here to view those.

Richard Vander Weerd was on a strong run this week as he moved up into second place after his brother Jace, who was ahead of him at the time, hit the “wrecker walk” after his unfortunate incident with a slide job gone awry. Richard was 3rd quick and started 6th in the main and drove especially hard until the very end. It was his best finish with the big club after winning the West Coast 360 championship last year.

How long will it take Rip Williams to get his next win to tie Dean Thompson on the all time unofficial win list with 105 victories? Think about that, it takes more than time to win that many races and I can tell you he has a few more wins that were never “CRA” wins, thus not on “the” list. The way he has kicked his driving up a notch, it shouldn’t be too long. Maybe it’s his boys chasing him, or just the desire to get on the top of the leader board, you can tell he is downright determined to win again. You can see it in his eyes and you can see it in the black # 3’s lines on the track. He was on the podium again this week in third place for his 4th podium this season. Look for it!

Nic Faas and his silver bullet ride missed Calistoga due to the aforementioned motor problems, but he was back this week and in spite of the problems with the backup car and that “Rookie” driver who was done before he started, his car ran fine. Nic started his day with his 3rd fast time of the year and was on his way to the main event utilizing what I now call the “Spencer starting spot”, that’s 8th place when the green flag drops. There was a lot of great action on the track as spots were hard fought for and it took him longer than normal to get up to 4th at the end, but he was all out for 30 laps as the silver bullet streaked around the half mile track.

There were some better than usual great action moves in the heats, but none better than the fight for 3rd in the first heat. Forget that David Bezio opened some eyes with his pass of Bud Kaeding for the win of the heat, as he drove as hard as he could to hold off the strong veteran from No Cal. When Nic Faas, Rip Williams and David Cardey staged a battle for the last two transfers to the main, it was awesome as they swapped spots and the odd man out was not final until the last turn of the 10th lap. We don’t usually see that in the heats, but Cardey was left out and if it went another lap………………………… who knows, it was fun!

J J Ercse won his heat and finished the main in 14th this week as he drove the little 360 hard on the gas all night. Chad Boespflug is still in California after spending most of the year in Indiana and got some time in the Josh Ford entry this week. He was 14th quick in the strong car and won the last heat to transfer to the main. Starting back in the 7th row, he moved up to 10th at the end. He is a good driver not seen in these parts very often.

It was great to see Chargin’ Charles Davis at Perris for a change as he came to town to test the track before an expected Oval nationals visit. He was 3rd in his heat and 9th in the final finish as he did well on this visit. Look for him to be good at the Ovals. There were a number of drivers who drove hard but didn’t get much for their trouble this week. They were all part of a great feature that seemed to give the fans action all over the track and giving everyone something to cheer about. It was a fun night and the temps went down as the action heated up.

Bobby Michnowicz won the lightning Sprints main as he pretty much ran away with it after taking the lead early and surviving many restarts. I think I heard he might have taken over the points lead and 4 drivers were within 35 points when the night started. Bruce Douglas won another Senior Sprint main.

What is worse: flipping in qualifying and missing the show, breaking the motor in hot laps and missing the show (two cars did that) or making the show and running up front and then getting taken out by an errant slide job? All three are mind blowing, but the answer is none of the above, they are all equally bad!

Matt Mitchell is back and looking like a movie star, but he is not ready to get back on the track yet. His car was on the track with Rickie Gaunt in the seat and the new added bright orange accent color really does two things. It makes the car more photogenic and allows you to find him easier on the track!

The list of problems among the CRA hopefuls is long this week. It’s pretty much like normal, and sometime you just wonder how that black cloud maneuvers around the pits to whack some unsuspecting racer each and every race, and usually more than one or two. The list includes, but was not limited to, Bobby Bender, Seth Wilson, Tony Jones, Austin Williams, Jace Vander Weerd, Cody Williams, Cory Kruseman, and Jake Swanson who were the most obvious getting visited by the evil black cloud of “what the?” and “why me” damn problems!

Bobby Bender took a high flier ride early in the main and finished 22nd. He was pretty high up there in a ugly an ugly quick flipping display that put him cage down in the mud coming into turn four. The front end was torn off the car and the # 11 looked bad, but he walked off and was later seen in the grandstands “gimping” around on a sore leg. The Bender Boys don’t need this as they try to have fun and learn about this sprint car racing while sharing one 410 motor and one 360 motor. They take turns with the motors and still keep smiling. Here’s hoping that their luck improves as they are good people and could use some help!

Seth Wilson’s day didn’t get off to a very good start as he pulled into the pits late and then on his first qualifying lap the transponder wasn’t working. So, after a pause to get one that works, he returned back on the track to take another shot at getting a time. When he pushed off and headed down the front stretch, he gassed it hard into turn one and, “Oh No” it happened. He biked it up high and didn’t recover, so the nasty rollover put him on the trailer and sent him home out the back gate before the feature started. I actually caught up to them passed their rig just as we both saw the lights of Las Vegas about 3 AM, so I guess I made up some time on them in my more sleek red Vette streaker.

The long expected, and waited for with baited breath by this Wag, finally happened this week when Tony Jones climbed in the spare Silver Bullet car of the Alexander’s saying he would go hot lap the car and if that didn’t scare him, he would keep on going. Unfortunately, hot laps proved to be the end of that motor’s life for the night and he was done before he could get started. The Alexander crew has had a slew of motor ails recently that cost them a trip to Calistoga and some down time waiting for repairs to their bullets. It might have been fun watching the “Cowboy” put a sprinter thru its paces this week, but maybe another time. Tony went back to his civvies and turned the wrenches on young Jake Swanson’s # 41. Jake had a good car going for him when the drive train went south spitting out some much needed parts on the track and sending him to the grandstands to watch the rest of the night.

Austin Williams missed this race when his motor made strange sounds on his second lap of qualifying after putting the black # 2 car in 10th qualifying spot. He was not seen again on the track. His brother Cody was hooked up good in the feature when he pulled over next to the second turn wall to a stop and had to be wreckered back to the pits. Maybe it was a rear-end, don’t know, but his night was done leaving his dad to fight the battle for the Williams family.

Cory Kruseman’s night never got going very well after suffering problems early and not getting in a qualifying pass. He started at the back of the first heat and got “involved” in someone else’s problem putting him last there. In the short car Semi, due to many of the 33 cars not ready to go for their last chance opportunity, he managed to get 2nd to transfer to the main event. Starting in the back he was probably the hard charger of the night getting up to 7th without getting whacked too much.

Now lets talk about one of the Vander Weerd twins Jace. He was running the best he ever has with us and was in 3rd place and doing quite well when up jumped the devil, heh heh (not a funny laugh, but more like the evil laugh of the villain in the movie The Great Race). Another slide job gone bad, and that put him in the wall and out of the race killing his best effort at Perris. It looked like he and brother Richard were lookin’ good for hitting the podium together for the first time, but alas, not to be this time. Richard did get 2nd for his best run with CRA.

The annual Oval Nationals will bring to an end the Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award now planned for the last CRA race after the Wags event was cancelled in August due to lack of OPM. During the Oval Nationals there will be cash payouts for Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award and the hard luck team for both nights. There will be a Wagtimes table set-up for Wagtimes fans who wish to add to the nearly $2000 already collected, so drop by. Saturday nights W/L Hard Charger will receive $ 100 per car passed, up to $1000 total, for the driver who passes the most cars from his official starting spot in the main event line-up. So bring your change to go into the Jar of Change or the greenbacks work just as well. Depending on how much money is collected, some cash will be awarded for the shiniest tires in the house and maybe some other special Wags type payouts. All monies collected for this year ending award will go to our local CRA racers, only! Let’s see how much we can gather up for our great racers. Thanks to Don Kazarian for the opportunity. After the payout I will publish who got what and thank you to all of you for your support in the on-line Wagsweb.

FYI for the October 6th race at the PAS, the annual fair night race, entry to the fair gives you free entrance to the races that night. As usual the format has the heats planned for 1 PM, then a little pause for the fair experience and back in the grandstands for the feature at 7 PM. Oh, but if I just like fairs anymore? Maybe the food will entice me?

Steve Howard is still in the hospital at the MAGNOLIA REHABILITATION & NURSING CENTER, 8133 MAGNOLIA AVE., RIVERSIDE, CA. 92504. He could use some prayers as well. He can have visitors anytime you can get there. Remember what he has done for the So Cal sprint car scene. It was sad he missed the memorial for his dad that went very well. His brother Glen and family were there to enjoy the festivities.

As I pass around the pits and grandstands something new has been coming to me in feedback from many who I visit with. I enjoy all of your visits as you have supported me for many years and I truly cherish the visits. What I have noticed is many of you have commented about how long it has been since my last update of the Wagsweb online. With racing cutting back the past few years, I don’t have enough “stuff” to write a full column every week, or maybe I am just a little lazy. Anyway I think I will come up with a new page under the “Wags Blog” button on the front page that can be kind of described as a blog of sorts. I will post news from my sources, and many of you could be my sources so hit me with anything I can post, or even new sources that might be other web sites that I find. I will put in the date updated and the items that are new in a sequential list that will be ongoing. I’ll try to give you what I think is real and sometimes maybe even rumors, which if I share them, I will mark as rumor, but nothing ridiculous. I’ll try to check out any rumors before posting. Anyway, I can keep those who wait for the next update aware at the moment when there is no race that week. We shall see if this is worthy and go from there. You can check it out click here to see!

Had a great time in the desert heat and finally the missing Wagtimer’s came back from the Dakota trail, so that was fun seeing them after their summer event. Not sure what my plans are for the next three weeks as a 360 race in Phoenix is up next with a Santa Maria 360 deal following that. I have been looking into air fares for St Louis for a race there on the Perris fair night, but so far they are too high, so I may be stuck with home cookin’.

I hope you have noticed the overhaul of the front page of the Wagsweb. I tried to make it a little more reader friendly with my main buttons on the front page linking to more Wags buttons and then to the racing links from there. It should be real easy to navigate, so take a spin and look around as there is a lot of info out there. I am trying to keep adding and updating where I can. See ya at the races!

AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE RESULTS: September 15, 2012 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway - "Glenn Howard Memorial"

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-16.370; 2. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-16.479; 3. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-16.796; 4. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-16.830; 5. David Cardey, 92, Sertich-16.867; 6. Rickie Gaunt, 37, Mitchell-16.879; 7. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-16.942; 8. Seth Wilson, 1X, Wilson-17.048; 9. Jake Swanson, 41, Henry/Jones-17.080; 10. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-17.209; 11. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-17.223; 12. Bobby Bender, 11, Bender-17.226; 13. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-17.244; 14. Chad Boespflug, 73, Ford-17.262; 15. David Bezio, 37X, Bezio-17.333; 16. Charles Davis, 4G, Cook-17.341; 17. Billy Blinn, 26, Blinn-17.349; 18. Corey Ballard, 20, Ballard-17.368; 19. Kenny Perkins, 0K, Perkins-17.451; 20. Greg Alexander, 72, Tyler-17.531; 21. J.J. Ercse, 36, Springstead-17.584; 22. A.J. Bender, 12, Bender-17.648; 23. Bud Kaeding, 29, Bowman-17.811; 24. Cal Smith, 39, CalSun-18.017; 25. Ed Schwarz, 47, Perkins-18.273; 26. Mike Collins, 04, Perkins-18.368; 27. John Aden, 12X, Blair-18.489; 28. Jerry Welton, 62, Welton-19.137; 29. Jon Kairot, 0, Perkins-19.412; 30. Kyle LeDuc, 23, Bellegante-19.556; 31. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-NT; 32. Trevor Cooper, 21K, Kruseman-NT; 33. Tony Jones, 4x, Alexander-NT.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bezio, 2. Kaeding, 3. Faas, 4. R.Williams, 5. Cardey, 6. Aden, 7. Perkins, 8. Kruseman. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Spencer, 2. Alexander, 3. Davis, 4. Gaunt, 5. Welton, 6. Cooper, 7. Smith, 8. B.Bender. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ercse, 2. J.Vander Weerd, 3. R.Vander Weerd, 4. Roa, 5. Blinn, 6. Schwarz, 7. Kairot. NT

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Ballard, 3. C.Williams, 4. A.J. Bender, 5. Collins, 6. LeDuc, 7. Swanson. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Cardey, 2. Kruseman, 3. Perkins, 4. Blinn, 5. Cooper, 6. Smith, 7. LeDuc, 8. Collins, 9. Aden, 10. Kairot, 11. Welton. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Richard Vander Weerd, 3. Rip Williams, 4. Nic Faas, 5. David Cardey, 6. Brody Roa, 7. Cory Kruseman, 8. Rickie Gaunt, 9. Charles Davis, 10. Chad Boespflug, 11. Bud Kaeding, 12. Greg Alexander, 13. David Bezio, 14. J.J. Ercse, 15. Cal Smith, 16. Trevor Copper, 17. Billy Blinn, 18. Cody Williams, 19. Kenny Perkins, 20. Jace Vander Weerd, 21. A.J. Bender, 22. Corey Ballard. NT

Richard Vander Weerd **Wilson flipped during qualifications. B.Bender flipped during the second heat. J.Vander Weerd flipped on lap 6 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 R.Williams, Laps 6-30 Spencer.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Spencer-1,163, 2-Roa-837, 3-Faas-832, 4-Ryan Bernal-776, 5-R.Williams-755, 6-Austin Williams-706, 7-Kruseman-658 , 8-C.Williams-545, 9-Matt Mitchell-461, 10-Seth Wilson-431.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: October 6 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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