The SCRA continues to inch closer to the end of the season as elsewhere other clubs around the country are about to or have already wrapped it up. J J Yeley's hope for a 2nd USAC sprint car championship didn't happen like his West Coast fans wanted, but he won the last race ahead of the champion. J J was only a few points short! Remarakable what he has done against the odds back there. Maybe that IRL ride will happen now! This weekend at Perris was to be a two day SCRA/USAC show, but Friday was cancelled, and the cool night turned out just fine. After Rip Williams set fast time, with the only 16 second qualifying lap, his night went south and then Mike Kirby took advantage of Bobby Graham in traffic and grabbed his 43rd SCRA race for his team.
Mrs Wags pics beat me this week because I was off to Bakersfield for the nostalgia drags at Fomosa. Her pics are here.
Mike, driving the Statewide Towing, Geurin Mobile Home Service, # 5 Stinger came out looking for help this week. The team's racing bank account has taken several big hits this season for motor repairs and is very much in the red even with the wins, so you can see this is not a sport to make money in. His attitude is always positive that things will work out and on this night it worked out very well. Several early crashes took out the fast timer, the point leader, and put several others in the back making his job easier. When the race finally got going, Josh Wise took the early lead, but that was quickly negated by Bobby Graham. Bobby led from lap 3 as Kirby was running every groove on the track trying to find a way around him. Graham was fast and made the right moves until lap 22 when he went down to pass a lap car and Mike took advantage running around him on the top. Mike then pulled away to a straightaway lead before the checkers fell for his 6th win of the year. Next week, when the SCRA is off, Mike will be running his stock car at Bakersfield in one of those big money deals, he told me, and hopes his fans can get to see him up perform in that wild race.
Bobby Graham has been on leave (?) since the tour. The Glen Crossno, Yucipa Auto & Trailer, H K Construction, Pace Hallmark, TCR, # 38 has two flavors, a white car and a red car. Lately, no matter whether it has been Levi Jones or Bobby in either color cars, they have been doing quite well. In the last 10 races the # 38 has been in the top 5 as Glenn's cars are performing very well. Bobby had a real good look at the first win for his car owner and himself, but the wily veteran Kirby snatched it away from him. Still, Bobby is driving very impressively as he did a great job, especially after Cory Kruseman took his spot away and Bobby responded to pass him back late in the race.
Cory Kruseman made only his 2nd podium appearance since the NWWC tour with a 3rd place finish this week. Cory has been off running the 4 Crown at Eldora, getting 3rd, and the IRL experience in Texas, where the darn car broke after he gave a good showing for his fans. Cory, driving the WorldGate Networks, Camland, TCR # 1 sprinter, is home to finish the season in the Harlan Willis owned car. He worked hard for this third as action seemed to be everywhere, and he was in the middle of some of it. Don't count him out for the big races coming up, he is the defending champion and you will have to beat him to get the big money.
The good news/bad news flag could be flown by several this week, including Rip Williams and Brian Venard. Rip had fast time at 16.940, but things went really bad after that. Brian Venard was 7th quick, finished fourth in his heat and then won the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash! He and Rip got together going into turn three on the first green flag start of the race, and both cars were done for the night. Brian had a busted axle, bird cage and more, while Rip's front end was folded down. During this skirmish to avoid the slowing Ripper, Troy Rutherford, Mike Spencer, John Scott and Casey Shuman all got involved, but only the flipping Rutherford was done for the night at this point.
On the next restart more calamity and Rip, now in team car # 6 driven by Mike English, got caught in another deal ending his night. This one has a long story to it, but basically Steve Ostling made a huge slide job pass of the Gasman in turn two with no brakes as his excuse. When Steve slowed down with his problem on the backstretch, it caused a chain reaction with the Gasman on the brakes and being plowed by rookie Bobby Cody. Now Griffin and Williams were done. Ostling's brake problem was resolved with a quick release adjustment by the crew, giving him rear brakes only, and he went to the back for the restart. He eventually finished 6th after wading back up thru the pack.
Josh wise and Bobby Graham were on the front row on the first lap that counted, and Josh took the lead in the Argo Ford for two laps, then Bobby took command form the rookie. It was amazing how the check-up move was very prominent early in this race, and caused such consternation beyond normal. Josh ended up 5th as he continues to really impress! This normal USAC midget jockey seems to be at home in this rocket Ford, and it will be interesting to see what happens when Rodney comes back. Rodney says he will be released from the doctor by the next race, so we will probably see two cars for a while.
The hard charger this week, and nothing new about that, is Tony "Cowboy" Jones. Only this time he outdid himself. He started 21st in the main after winning his heat. As the main event had a real tough time getting started, and before a lap was in, Tony was sitting in 7th place as a result of extracurricular activity on the track. Before the race was done, Tony was 4th and credited with passing 17 cars! The SCRA is off for two weeks so you can go see the 360's at Ventura this week or venture up to watch Kirby in his wild stock car, or one of many other venues. Don't forget the Wagsdash on October 26th and the chili feed starting at noon. Remember to plan ahead to get to the track early. Some even use the highway 126 just beyond Magic Mountain because it is easier. Traffic on that road is almost always much quicker than the Ventura freeway. It's 4 lane all the way with only a few lights to slow you down briefly.
The "Help save Ventura Raceway" campaign has started! The official petition's are ready to be circulated and signed by everyone. Galen Fitzgerald came to Perris this week to begin the process. He got many signatures, but they need more. Come see me and I'll get you copies to circulate at your work or wherever to hang out. Ron Barrett is the leader of this effort with many included in the organization that will be doing their best to show Gray Davis we want to keep the racetrack! Thanks also to all the volunteers who stepped up to help Galen do his job!
I must be getting old because my quick trip to the nostalgia drags really awakened my forgotten senses. The smell of nitro, the ground shaking cackle of the old style fuel motors, and the front motor passes that showcased a best of 5.92 ET and 250 MPH, on 12 inch tires no less, were awesome!!!! The newly rebuilt hot cars of very familiar, to me, fuelers, altereds and gassers made me step back to my youth as I experienced the hottest cars of that period and they more than still impress me. We gotta find a way to see all three days next year. Should I mention that to our SCRA scheduler? Maybe we could run Bakersfield that weekend? Does anybody know these names; The Winged Express, Pure Heaven, Beebe & Mulligan, Jade Grenade, Frantic Four, Magicar, Speed Sport Roadster, Mr Flathead, and many more famous and priceless beauties that were on display and performed on the dragstrip. Just hearing some of the fuelers fire off for the crowd behind the grandstands was priceless! I certainly remember! As if that wasn't enough, a busy weekend is ahead, so expect me anywhere!
SCRA points as of 10/5/02
1. Richard Griffin 2136, 2. Damion Gardner 1752, 3. Tony Jones 1732, 4. Cory Kruseman 1675, 5. Rip Williams 1666, 6. Mike Kirby 1564, 7. Rickie Gaunt 1539, 8. Steve Ostling 1521, 9. John Scott 1502, 10. Mike English 1452, 11. Bobby Graham 1103, 12. Troy Rutherford 1064, 13. Jeremy Sherman 1032, 14. Charles Davis, Jr 913, 15. Mike Spencer 773, 16. Levi Jones 758, 17. Rodney Argo 687, 18. Adam Mitchell 678, 19. Gary W. Howard 655, 20. Bobby Cody 628.