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October 12, 2010

By Ken Wagner

It was like two separate shows this past week at the PAS as the “free” fair race unfolded with a bright sunny daytime beginning. Early attendees got in for a mere $ 2, what a bargain! The daytime racing brought us some wild rooster tail action reminiscent of the old time fair day races from the 50’s (like I would know except for old films). It started with qualifying and then three heats to whet the crowd’s appetite. After a 3 hour break that sent crews into the fair, or offsite for food, racing resumed with a semi and main with four less teams and some very interesting action. All that and it came down to Marque Matt Michell holding off a determined Super Rickie Gaunt to garner his 2nd ever CRA main event win was the payoff.

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

Matt overcame almost spinning out in an early incident in the main, one that sent young Ronnie Gardner to the showers early. He was in 4th when leader Danny Sheridan’s car slowed suddenly on lap 18. That loud sound was when a u-joint busted on the # 18 Kittle Kar, leaving him powerless and the two right on his tail behind him (Cory Kruseman and Mike Spencer) restarting in the back. They had stopped on the track after contact with his car. Matt avoided the trio and had the point on the restart. He gladly ran the last 12 laps in front for the win. The young driver was in position to win after another Kittle equipment failure, and he took full advantage the way you are supposed to!

Rickie Gaunt had his best finish of the year in the David Miller car as he weaved his way onto the podium. He was heard to say later he was hoping Mitchell would run out of gas as “Super Rickie” wasn’t able to catch him. He ran 2nd in his heat after qualifying 4th in the 29 car field and started in the 2nd row.

Greg Bragg had fun in the Moosemobile this week as he got caught up in the Gardner incident, but returned from a flat tire to come from the back and get on the podium. It was his best finish since he won at Perris in April. He missed the direct transfer to the main, but won the semi and started in the fifth row.

The afternoon session was a nightmare for several as first David Cardey ventilated his motor in qualifying and loaded up the # 59 car. The sad faces in his pit area told the tail as it was their best motor that had just returned from their motor man after a refresh this week. Arrrgggg! In the first heat the first turn wall captured Ludwig Solberg IV as he hammered it, and what remained was hooked back to the pits. The car was seriously wounded and I would be surprised if it doesn’t go immediately to the dumpster, it looked that bad. Ludwig was fine as he walked back to the pits. The third trailer to get reloaded came in the 2nd heat after The Cowboy Tony Jones rode over a wheel in that same turn one corner, and his car was a carbon copy of Ludwig’s after a hard crash. From what I saw, as it dangled on the hook heading back to the pits, it was a goner, too. I heard the key word describing the silver # 4 car later was “throw-a-way”, but Tony only had a sore leg from the impact. He was very unhappy as he stormed out of the pits on his way home. The third heat claimed one more car, but they didn’t load up immediately. Bruce Douglas nailed the wall and his car looked a little low on the track when he pulled into the work area. The car had a broken rear end and he had no spare, nor the desire to rebuild in the heated afternoon sun even if they borrowed one, so they stayed to watch the action.

One more incident that almost sent another car home resulted when Blake Miller got whacked in the face by a rock in his heat and his Dad took him to the local hospital for a check up when his face puffed up. When he returned later, his swollen cheek was red and his eye is going to have a shiner for a while. He was a little drugged up, but visited with everyone after the race. Since he wasn’t available to drive, and the car was qualified for the main, young Nic Fass jumped in the yellow oops, white # 7 this week and started in the rear. He rode it up to 6th place on a nice ride in an unfamiliar car to him for a great job and the best passing job, I imagine. His own team is out of money and he hopes to get a ride for the upcoming Ovals. That performance should help!

After the break, and less four cars of the original 29, the nine car Semi didn’t turn many eyebrows, but the feature sure did. Cory Kruseman started next to Greg Alexander and pulled away from the pack quickly. Danny Sheridan jumped right up behind him and the chase was on. They ran that way while Spencer and Mitchell were working their way towards the front. Cory would stretch it out coming down the front stretch, but Danny would close the gap out of turn two. Cory led the first 15 laps while behind him Danny had Spencer on his tail. Suddenly, the door opened and Showtime Sheridan slipped under the leader. He brought Spencer with him, but the little red sucker wasn’t able to catch the Kittle Kar until on lap 18 when Danny suddenly slowed after a U-joint exploded and Spencer and Kruseman got squeezed to a stop off his fuel cell. The rest is history as Matt Mitchell reaped the rewards and the little blue sucker added another ‘new’ malady to their low lights of the year.

Feature this race fans, the # 18 has been running super strong for 6 races in a row, but on 4 of them they had equipment failure of a different kind each time, kinda like in the twilight zone. It started at Perris with a rock lodged under the gas pedal while running in 3rd, then a brand new rear end broke while running 2nd at Calistoga with a few laps to go, followed up by a mud packed wheel that couldn’t be replaced in time on a yellow while in the top 3 and now a u-joint shattering while leading this week, where does it end for the hard working crew? The crew has been flawless, their results heartbreaking with different failures and their budget gone flat like a bald right rear tire. There is no place to go but up from here.

There was a serious silver lining this week for the Kittle Krew after the explosive U-joint came apart. Recently Crew chief Randy Shiosaki learned from his wife Julie about a bad accident with a similar busted U-joint back east sending an outlaw driver to the hospital with serious leg injuries. He then ordered and installed a Kelvar protector that contained this nasty explosion and kept Danny from serious injury. After seeing this I would hope everyone adds the Kelvar on their cars. Don’t be surprised if the little blue sucker wins soon, as these things can go positive just like they went the other way. They must be doing something right as they are still 2nd in points, with all their bad luck, but with only a slim chance of catching Spencer and his over 200 point lead and only 6 race days left.

Brandon Thomson just wants to race and that's why he brought his 360 powered # 92 to Perris this week. He was 10th quick with the big boys at the big track. He ran 5th in his heat to transfer to the main event and was doing fine there until his little motor went boom! Great job, but now he has to piece together a motor to run the All COast race in two weeks at Ventura. If he had a high dollar motor, imagine what he could do!

Cody Williams had his bet CRA finish ever with a 4th place this week as he survived a spin to keep going and finished well. He was 2nd in his heat in the long day. Greg Alexander had a real good night until the end as he ran up front for a long time before fading to 11th. Danny Ebberts made his 2nd appearance of the year a good one as he was 5th on the night.

I spent the day/night in the pits, never coming out of there for the first time in a while. I got better pictures up close, but saw a lot less action from my ground level view. I did get up on the concession stand for a brief look, but it didn’t last long enough to get anything good in my camera. I can’t imagine being down in the pits much during racing, but it was different for a change. At my ladder challenged age, I don’t even attempt to climb on top of a hauler, so will be back in the grandstands for the Ovals to watch the action.

A tip o' da polka dot hat goes out this week to Doug Allen who loaned his truck to Skip to push with when the push truck hero's own mount quit with an alternator problem. Juat another nice thing by the nice guy who takes pictures every week, too!

Maybe I’ll go to Bakersfield for the nostalgia drags this weekend, but who knows? Then it’s on to the Legends of Ascot event at the PAS on October 23 spearheaded by Don Weaver and Belita Michnowicz. Each year a lot of work goes into celebrating history and honoring race people from the Ascot days. There are a few seats left for the dinner and festivities. For info call 310-549-3562 or go to legendsofascot.com for entry blank. Rain or shine, this afternoon show will go on. See ya and thanks for the help at the Wagsdash!

10/09/10 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Matt Mitchell, 2. Rickie Gaunt, 3. Greg Bragg, 4. Cody Williams, 5. Danny Ebberts, 6. Nic Faas, 7. Mike Spencer, 8. Cody Kershaw, 9. Cory Kruseman, 10. Rusty Carlile, 11. Greg Alexander, 12. Marty Hawkins, 13. Austin Williams, 14. Jonny Bates, 15. Kyle Smith, 16. Danny Sheridan, 17. Rip Williams, 18. Cliff Warren, 19. Ronnie Gardner, 20. Brandon Thomson, 21. Randy Waitman, 22. Tony Everhart. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-15 Kruseman, Laps 16-18 Sheridan, Laps 19-30 Mitchell

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Spencer-1,130; 2-Sheridan-877; 3-Kruseman-845; 4-Miller-815; 5-Mitchell-745; 6-Bragg-590; 7-Jones-557; 8-Daid Cardey-529; 9-C.Williams-518; 10-A.Williams-509.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: October 23 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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