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October 25, 2010

By Ken Wagner

On a night dominated by good racing, add a new match race format between 4 of the best drivers CRA has to offer, throw in a very entertaining feature, yet in the end carnage almost took the wind out of the sails in the night. When it was all over, Mike Spencer and David Cardey stood tall in front of an energetic crowd. With dark clouds ominously hanging overhead all day and evening, surprisingly not a sprinkle was heard and the night ended with Spencer’s 5th victory in 2010 and 18th overall in his CRA history.

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

Sharing the spotlight, and really taking most of the night’s interest, was a new 444 match race with a winner take all format. That’s 4 cars, 4 heats for 4 laps with finishing points of 6, 5, 4 and 3. The race was named after two revered members from the racing fraternity as Dave Ward and Bob Michnowicz were honored as the $5600 collected was up for grabs. Rip Williams, Danny Sheridan, David Cardey and Tony Jones were the 4 warriors picked to resurrect an idea from the Ascot days back in the late 80’s when 4 drivers ran for one bundle of cash urged on by the famous J W Hunt. That night Brad Noffinger beat Brent Kaeding literally at the finish line. The idea from the legends of Ascot crew was to recreate the excitement with 4 popular drivers going heads up from each starting position and the one with the most points wins it all. Cardey beat the Cowboy, the Ripper and Showtime by a nose. In fact the key to David’s big win was putting a slider on Showtime for 2nd in the first heat, otherwise it would have been a 4 way tie, as all 4 won a heat and it was very close each lap! Tony looked like a sure winner when they lined up for the last one with a 2 point lead over the rest, but an errant slider put him in the wall and on his head. He still restarted, but couldn’t get his injured racer to the front. David ran hard and tough and ended up with what he said was money very important to his racing career this year. He had to rent a motor to run this one because they ventilated their good one the last race. It was an exciting event with close racing and, best of all, anyone could have won. Perhaps it will be a Legends of Ascot tradition in the future.

For the main event, it was a good one with Showtime Sheridan taking the lead right away on the green flag start and moving out to a good spread as the battles behind him were exceptional. With the Demon Damon Gardner in the house and Mike Spencer on a roll, plus Shane Cottle in Bob Ream’s beautiful orange crate # 8 from Phoenix, plus The Cowboy Tony Jones fresh from a storming heat race win where he passed the two leaders on a restart blast, Darren Hagen (the sub for Blake Miller after his broken jaw incident last race), David Cardey with cash in his pocket Looking to win, and several others ready to go, it was fun to watch. Damion and Spencer put on a show scooting thru traffic to pass one another several times until Damion went to the work area to change a flat tire he suffered, and restarted at the back to finish 6th. Showtime was cruising until it was obvious he wasn’t getting off the corners very well and the field closed in as he battled a tire going down. Spencer made his move and took the lead on lap 13 and at the next yellow flag, Sheridan was pushed to the work area with a flat tire. He restarted to get 11th.

Now Spencer was stretching it out and Matt Mitchell was using his monster slide jobs to move up to challenge the Cowboy. He put a big one on Jones and Tony returned the favor, before IT happened. Coming out of turn 4, and you can just imagine each driver saying “oh no you don’t” as they were wheel to wheel up and down the track up until now. Suddenly Jones was sideways and into the front stretch wall on his head. If that wasn’t bad enough, he got clipped by the Moosemobile and it looked really bad for both drivers as they came to an abrupt stop. The stunned crowd was silenced and it was excruciating waiting for some sign of movement. The wait took too long to see if both drivers were going to get out, as the rescue fireman and ambulance went to the scene running over parts. Finally everyone breathed a sigh of relief as they did begin moving around. The carnage was horrific and seemed in slow motion to me as it unfolded, but both were climbing out. Now, with only a lap or two to go, I was stunned and out of the grandstands to get to the pits.

The restart still had some action left for the breathless crowd as Matt put another MSJ (monster slide job) on the leader to take the lead, but the little red sucker was having none of that and returned the favor. Spencer then just sped off for his 7th win of the year. Mike looked very much like the champion he is in putting away every one for this win in the red # 50 car. It looks like he’ll be drinking the celebration drink when the fat lady sings soon.

Matt Mitchell has improved dramatically the last two years and now is scary fast as he makes his way to the front each week. His one/two finishes the last two weeks are a sign he is one to watch and see what’s next from young Marque Matt. He shows no fear as he goes to the bottom and slings his # 37 up in front of his prey and continues on. Keep an eye on him as he is working on more wins in his future.

Young Darren Hagen will be replacing Blake Miller in the Priestley yellow # 7 the rest of the year. Darren has driven the car before and will do fine. He started out slow by missing the transfer from his heat, but won the semi and started the main back a ways. By the end he was on the podium with a good run and look for him to put the little yellow yahoo on the podium some more in the near future.

We have a new rookie who made his first race in a former Tooth Doc owned car and did a very good job. John Bluntach is right out of the Lightning Sprints and is looking to have some fun with the added horsepower. He looked smooth as he ran 15th in the main event.

The Ovals are next up at the PAS and everyone should consider coming for all three days. It is pretty lonely on the first two nights and sometimes the best racing can be on a fresh track. I like staying at the track o I don’t have to leave for the motel each night and we all have fun when the racing is not going on. Try it, you’ll like it.

I might try out the NHRA this week, since it is nearby, and get some smoke and fuel in my hair.

LEGENDS OF ASCOT MATCH RACE RESULTS: 1. Cardey (19 pts), 2. Jones & R.Williams (18 pts), 4. Sheridan (17 pts).

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Matt Mitchell, 3. Darren Hagen, 4. Rickie Gaunt, 5. Casey Shuman, 6. Damion Gardner, 7. Ronnie Gardner, 8. Cody Williams, 9. Austin Williams, 10. Richard VanderWeerd, 11. Danny Sheridan, 12. Jace VanderWeerd, 13. Wes Gutierrez, 14. Marty Hawkins, 15. John Bluntach, 16. Tony Jones, 17. David Cardey, 18. Greg Bragg, 19. Shane Cottle, 20. Dakota Kershaw, 21. Cody Kershaw, 22. Rip Williams. NT

**Jones flipped during Legends of Ascot Match Race. R.Williams, Jones & Bragg flipped during the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-12 Sheridan, Laps 13-26 Spencer, lap 27 Mitchell, Laps 28-30 Spencer.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Spencer-1,202; 2-Sheridan-916; 3-Cory Kruseman-845; 4-Mitchell-807; 5-Blake Miller-770; 6-Bragg-608; 7-Jones-590; 8-C.Williams-560; 9-Cardey-555; 10-A.Williams-551.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: November 4-5-6 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway – “Budweiser Oval Nationals”

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