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September 18, 2010

By Ken Wagner

On a night when the cushion reappeared for the first time in a while at the famous Perris 1/2 mile clay oval, the racing was hotly contested, especially the heats, and exciting as Mike Spencer made quick work of the short field in the 30 lap main. All he did was set fast time, come from the back of his heat to win that and added the feature win with a dominating performance from the 8th starting spot in the little red sucker. He won the Jack Kindoll Classic for the second time in as many years and didn’t break a sweat except for when the Cowboy “Tony Jones” took a shot by him late in the race only to have a yellow come out.

For my pics Click here. For last weeks Ventura pics Click here. For Doug Allen's work Click here.

Mike methodically just flat went forward every time he hit the track. Only the Cowboy and young Matt Mitchell had anything for him as they battled with him for some frantic action. Mike was in a zone and didn’t seem to be bothered by anything as he just took another ride on the Kindoll Classic field and was pretty happy when he jumped out of his car having earned the Dean Thompson award to his trophy cache.

Tony Jones got a new car recently and it has paid big dividends for his driving style. He ran the top like the Cowboy he is this week. He was 2nd quick in qualifying, 2nd in the Walt James Trophy dash, 3rd in his heat and a strong 2nd in the main. He came from the 4th row starting next to Spencer. Tony made a couple of master moves splitting two cars coming around and out of turn two that should be memorable in the fans mind, as he seems to be liking this new Chassis just fine. There were more Cowboy moves in motion along the way, but his best shot at the win was called back by a yellow after he had run under the leader on a restart coming down the front stretch where he dove under Mike coming around turns one and two, and clearly was ahead when it was called back. Tony was happy about his performance, but I suspect he wants to win the next one.

With all that said, ”Marque” Matt Mitchell made the best move of the night when he did a monster front chute blast and dived under one car, then slid up on the track and somehow rolled thru two cars coming around turns one and two and still managed to hang onto his fast mount and blow past the early leader Greg Bragg, but alas, a yellow took that one back from him as it made the crowd sit up and take notice. “Marque Matt”, who is a good looking young man who could be a model for romance novels or other dreamboat roles for the ladies, was on the gas and making himself a rocket out there. He keeps improving and is now another “hero” the rest have to battle back in the racing. He won the Walt James Trophy Dash and picked up an additional $600 on the night.

David Cardey’s string of 4 straight wins at the PAS was stopped, but he took his Circle Track sponsored bucking bronco forward to 4th with some savvy moves thru traffic. He was 11th quick and didn’t transfer from his heat to the main and started back a ways on the grid. Blake Miller Qualified 4th, missed the transfer, but started 9th and moved forward to 5th at the end. He is making the brilliant yellow zonker # 7 car move to the front with ease these days as the team is working great together after a slow start this year. His two wins this season makes him a threat each time the green flag drops.

We had two visitors this week, one familiar almost regular and one from northern California. R J Johnson was on his game as he made the long tow from Phoenix. He qualified 15th and started in the 8th row, but stormed forward on his best finish with CRA this year in 6th. The other traveler raced with us on the Watsonville/Petaluma weekend and the Calistoga affair two weeks ago. He made that long tow to finish 14th in his main effort. Marty Hawkins is a battler and prefers the non-wing stuff.

Greg Bragg brought his Moosemobile back from a restart at the back after what appeared to be a wheel pack adventure to get 7th. And this came after leading the main for the first 15 laps, quite a recovery for the driver. Rapid Ronnie Gardner missed his transfer to the main and started near the back. He rallied the blue # 93 car up to 8th on some good moves. Rookie Dennis Howell Jr was fast in his heat, but missed the transfer and started back past midpack. He ran it up to 8th before getting worn out, he said, and came in 11th for a good night in the freshly painted San Pedro Auto Body # 62.

John Aden returned to Perris for a visit, this time in a new high dollar rig he said he got for a song and a dance? He runs the mini dirt track at Victorville where he rents out the little baby sprinters he built, for lack of a better name for these small little race cars, and lot of other “mini” sized cars and bikes. He would like to sell this operation so he can continue racing and add his sons to the mix now that they are old enough to maybe step up to the bigger cars. John ran 13th in the main event. He is one of those drivers who builds most of his own cars and car parts.

Now for the bad news bears! What does a lodged rock, A brand new rear end shattering and now a packed right rear bring to mind? Miserable luck for one team, some would say, but the last malady put Danny “Showtime” Sheridan in the pits early for the 3rd time of the last 4 races, and at a time when he was running up front in all three. “Don’t we ever get any luck” was heard in the little blue sucker pits this week as the hard working team with the rapidly improving driver was left out in the cold again this week as the feature continued on without them. This Ah $@*% problem was a wheel cover coming off and the right rear packed so hard with mud, they couldn’t get to the locking nut to remove it during the yellow flag stop. So they pushed off prematurely hoping it would go away. Unfortunately the fans watched the right rear bounce to it’s own music as the # 18 Pace machine skipped along. Danny tried to stay out for a lap or two, but needed a red to resolve the problem. It didn’t happen and now the team has about stretched it’s budget and patience to the limit. In addition to working on the car for the next race, perhaps the most important item is to find new sponsor money. Danny has driven with such patience the last month and has little to show for it.

Cory Kruseman dumped his brand new Eagle chassis this week in the feature after running 5th quick, finishing second in his heat and running up front in the main event. Another car jumped the cushion in front of him and unfortunately he followed suit, but couldn’t keep it from charging the wall and his # 21 lost that battle. He walked away from that endo, but was done for the night.

More bad news asRip Williams fired up for the main, made two passes thru the pits to resolve a problem and did not start the main event. Royal Adderson had similar results as he fired for the main and his car sounded like a sick 4 cylinder machine as he idled around to get starting money. icing Shiney tires were better than usual this week. Are they practicing for the Wagsdash where the shiniest will get some cash? Bragg, Howell, Sheridan, Mitchell and several more were looking good! Perhaps people don’t care, but the fans can see with their own eyes how strikingly better those black shiny tires are.

I think Wally Pankratz has been kidding us all along. The retired driver from a few years back (?) has been sneaking into one of those Ford Focus things and he did it again this week. I think he is tutoring Logan Williams, but it appears he teaching method is “follow me kid” ? Wally will never retire!

It is finally the week of the 20th annual Wagsdash and I have plenty to cover. The 20th annual Wagdash is now upon us. A reminder that there will be a bake sale for those with culinary attributes, bring your favorite cookie, fudge or whatever and we will turn it into money for the race. Here is some of the hot items to keep in mind. Mike Truex and Loud Pedal Productions will stream the whole night of racing, including the Wagsdash, for those who can’t make the race. Pre race activities: 1) Golf tournament at Buenaventura Golf Club at 10 AM on Friday. A miniature golf fun thing at 3 PM 2) Banquet dinner with golfers and Wagtimer’s (everyone is welcome, but please sign up for the $25 deal right away) at 6 PM. There will be some great door prizes and raffle items during the evening. 3) Chili feed in Ventura midway starting at 11:30 AM with chili hoisted by La Villa restaurant’s John and Maria Gardner. Everyone is welcome to come, eat, shop and have fun the whole Wagsdash day. 4) The Pit Stop Contest for fun with the racers and a sexy driver event always entertains the afternoon crowd. 5) A raffle with great items, silent Auction with more stuff, our Bake sale, or get the annual non-wing calendar, or some new Wagtimes poker chips, the 2010 event T-shirt and other fund raisers going during the day help boost the purse for the evenings last event. 6) The continued collection of change for the Lafond Jar of Change is the Wagsdash Hard Charger award. Bring you’re change to add to it. We have nearly $1000 already as others have brought me their change jar from home. 7) We are still collecting money, no matter how small the donation is, it all adds up and we need it! 8) Make plans to come early and enjoy what is a very warm and fun event for racers and fans alike. 9) A few of the items for the raffle and auction are: A J J Yeley pin on button, A new in the box Grant King Sprint car, A new Richard Griffin # 50 die-cast car, A small # 7 Richard Griffin die-cast car, An antique racing bell, a Bobby Davis jr plastic model kit, some Jeff Gordon items, GO, the Bettenhous story book, an XL Roush racing jacket, A unique wall mounting sprint car, A Jesse Hockett puzzle picture in the box, a Wolfgang die-cast from Knoxville hall of Fame, plus Steve Lafond, Doug Allen and other photographers work and many other racing items. I have magazines, programs, old t-shirts, things passed to me from many fans. Come on and shop and chow down on the chili and then see a great night of racing. And don’t forget Richard “the Gasman” Griffin will be there to meet and greet and autograph his new poster for you.

This year’s Wagsdash will be an invitational event. Right now Wagsdash invitee’s include: Ronnie Gardner, Lynn Anderson, Cody Williams, Austin Williams, Dennis Howell Jr, Jerry Welton, Ludwig Solberg IV, Greg Bragg, Dennis Rodriguez, Brody Roa and Cal Smith. Greg Taylor and Steve Conrad will be automatically in from the past weeks VRA event, so that makes 12 in so far. On Wagsdash day, any driver attending and wishing to be added to the Wagsdash race, please see me during the chili feed. Who else from the VRA might make the race? Will Kenny Perkins or Don Gansen make it? How about the gregarious UFC man Kevin Kierce? Imagine the Camarillo Brothers taking on the Williams Brothers? Or will this be the year a 360 wins the event? Whatever, it’s always been a special and entertaining race, no matter who wins. And as always, I will line-up everybody to the best of my ability to give everyone a chance to win.

My thanks ahead of time to all who have worked hard to help this year’s race be sucessful. First of all don’t forget the racers who ultimately put on the best race for us all, without them it would not happen. Tom Touts and Jimmy Crawford of the Committee to save Ventura Raceway add to our purse, Jim Naylor and the Ventura raceway staff work to make us able to do this thing, the CRA officials who officiate the race, and my mighty band of Wagtimers who seem to think this can go on forever! Maybe they are right or maybe this will be the last Wagsdash. Which is correct? Come on out and see for yourself!! There is no race like this, and you can make a difference.

09/18/10 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Tony Jones, 3. Matt Mitchell, 4. David Cardey, 5. Blake Miller, 6. R.J. Johnson, 7. Greg Bragg, 8. Ronnie Gardner, 9. Austin Williams, 10. Rickie Gaunt, 11. Dennis Howell, 12. Jimmy Crawford, 13. John Aden, 14. Marty Hawkins, 15. Randy Waitman, 16. Cody Williams, 17. Cory Kruseman, 18. Greg Alexander, 19. Danny Sheridan, 20. Jerry Welton, 21. Royal Adderson, 22. Rip Williams..

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-15 Bragg, Laps 16-30 Spencer.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Spencer-1,011; 2-Sheridan-795; 3-Miller-763; 4-Kruseman-737; 5-Mitchell-650; 6-Cardey-529; 7-Bragg-500; 8-Jones-489; 9-A.Williams-477; 10-Crawford-455.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: September 25 – Ventura (CA) Raceway

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