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Perris, Ca, February 5 - I hate day races! I always have, and for good reason. Cold and windy days turn me off and make dirt tracks typically hard with smoking tires the order of the DAY. Not so at Perris Auto Speedway this time around, no foolin’. If promoter Don Kazarian can order up weather like this next year, I am all for it as the totally windless and overcast day, made for some great racing when the 47 cars began to attack the surface for the first USAC/CRA visit to the PAS this year.

Mrs Wags pics Click here to view.

Damion “the Demon” Gardner was “all that” at Perris this week after missing the main at the opener last week at Manzanita. Damion, driving the Temecula Pipe and Supply/Arizona Race Mart/Eagle Chassis/Shaver Engines # 50, was on kill when he needed it. He started 5th in the Main Event and quickly blew into position to harass early leader Bill Rose. Using his preferred high groove, he took over the lead on lap 11 and gave us some excitement along the way to his ninth CRA victory before the end.

You could tell the Demon was ready to rock n’ roll after out qualifying the 47 car field with a low 16.087. That should be a clue that this was no ordinary day race! Snap-on Tools has come on board to sponsor the return of the 3 lap trophy dash of the “good old days”. The shorter and more exciting joust of the top four qualifiers, will go back to the days of proving who’s the fastest each race, and won’t affect the main event line-up. It’s for the fans and will spice up the weekly events.

The first Snap-on Tool TD was not without some ECA (extra curricular action) as Danny Sheridan was trying to win the first ever under the new format. Unfortunately for him, Gardner was going right to the front from his tail starting spot and overtook “Showtime” before the end. Damion did a gigantic wheelie, and the two did clash wheels along the way, but the Demon prevailed. Danny will probably put that in his data bank as he has a strong ride and will get plenty of chances to challenge the Demon in the future. In Damion’s heat, he again started last and moved up to third before it ended to transfer.

Rip Williams, like Gardner, had a tough Manzy opener and was determined to do better this outing. He qualified 18th on an early pass and ran third in his heat. Ripper, driving the John Jory Corporation – Weld Wheels/Stinger Chassis/Shaver Engines # 3, started 15th in the Main, but he began flying early and swept into second behind the Demon with half the race left, he was really focused! He put on a hard charge trying to get around Damion, several times puling even, but couldn’t make the pass and had to settle for second, one spot away from his 100th win.

Mike Kirby’s switch from a TCR style car he drove on the Glenn Crossno team, to a Stinger, and it’s like old times, he is coming along fine. Mike was eighth in qualifying, third in his heat, started fourth on the grid in the Main and finished third. Pretty consistent, yet he reports the difference is there and he remembers how well he liked the Stingers he once drove, so look for him to be in the winners circle soon. Mike received the 2004 Wagtimes Most Popular Driver Award this week, and award from the Wagtimer’s who donated to the Wagsbuck’s last year. A little late, but you know how it is when everyone is busy.

The day was an early start for all with the pits opening at 9 am, and I was late! Probably 20 haulers were in the pits by the time we got in there about 9:20. The overcast skies looked good to me because I knew the rain was a day away. I met a lot of new drivers and needed more time because soon it was time to do my new job. By noon I was up in the tower trying to find the “ropes”. In time I will do fine, but it was a little hectic for me being the answer man for the first time in a long time. Freddie Sachs was up there and saved my bacon. Freddie is the long time and very knowledgeable scorer whose word is LAW. Unfortunately for me, he will only be working a limited schedule, so I better learn fast.

Rick Williams, normally a wing driver, had some brilliant starts with us last year running wingless. At the opener last week he was fourth on a strong drive. This race he ran up front until he hit the cushion hard and dropped back 10 spots and ended up 16th. He has the car and potential to run up front so look for more from him. He said he is determined to win with CRA.

I remember meeting Jim Richardson at Calistoga in the late 70’s when NARC was still running sans wings. Jim lives in Northern California and plans on running more non wings with CRA because, as he said “I forgot how much fun it is to drive non-wing”. He ran 13th in the Semi for his first start with CRA this year. The friendly veteran was tickled to be racing again.

Steve Ostling is looking for a ride since the Fischer Motorsports Team closed the doors after many years of putting top equipment on the track. Steve drove the Buzz Shoemaker Motorsports number 0 car to a strong 9th in the feature. He would like a permanent ride, but there aren’t many out there. Jimmy Thornell returned this week after a long layoff from sprints. Seen earlier this year at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa driving a midget, Jimmy bought a former John Scott car owned by Bill Goforth and will try and get up to speed in it.

Jordan Hermansader has been off helping Bobby Ferro get his cars ready. Bobby still wants to drive on occasion, but he put Jordan in his # 91 car and missed the main as he gets use to the Stealth car that is different from the Stinger chassis he drove last season for the Alexander Trucking Team.

The last time Eric Severson was seen in a sprinter was two years ago in David Miller’s # 66 car. He recently bought a TCR from Cory Kruseman and put this new car together. He has help from his dad, Rick, who has crewed for the Alexander’s for years. Only 25, Eric has high hopes to do well with the limited schedule that his small budget will allow. He ran the Consi on his opening night and looks forward to doing better next time.

Joshua Williams is related to Rip Williams, unlike Rick Williams, and has set his sights on driving a sprint car. The nephew of the Ripper comes from the Lightning Sprints where he ran several years. This week would be his very first laps in a sprint car and he looked pretty smooth in qualifying, and ran 6th in the Consi for his first battle ribbon.

Six National USAC drivers made it out from the Mid-west to compete, with three making the Main Event. Dave Darland was the first car out when he slowed and pulled in. Tracy Hines got his front end knocked off by another car and his night ended early. Bill Rose started on the pole and led the first 10 laps before the winner flew by. Bill finished fourth while being the only USAC driver with his own car racing this weekend which will make his racing out here much better when he has time to come play in between the All Star competition and USAC. Jon Stanbrough, Josh Ford and Jessie Hockett all failed to transfer from the Semi.

When Tracy Hines inadvertently lost his steering, imagine that, so without a front end you can’t guide one of these beats, Rickie Gaunt had no place to go. Super Rickie began a series of flips after contact with Tracy, and then landed on Danny Sheridan before he was done. It killed Danny’s car, and hurt his little finger, and sent all three cars to the trailer. Mike Spencer took a nasty end over end ride that only the turn one wall stopped. He sort of gathered in Cary Faas, Cory Kruseman and Charles Davis Jr, but he was the only one not restarting. Mike later took a trip to the hospital for a check-up, but left saying he felt fine. He confirmed that on Sunday and will be back in two weeks. Kruseman and Davis came back to finish 6th and 7th for great drives by each coming back up thru the pack.

Tony “The Cowboy” Jones has made a few changes in his team over the winter, including changing the car number to 87. He and car owner Narcie Ferreira have moved the racing shop from Bakersfield next to where Tony works, making it much easier to work on the car. They got a new truck and trailer, plus received a new Eagle Chassis that will come out as soon as it is built. Since Tony crashed on the last lap of the Main Event, it might be sooner than later. He was disappointed by fine because he was running fifth at the time.

When Matt Stewart went to the races back when his dad Dennis drove in the 80’s, he was a small youngster with bright and cheerful eyes. He sat in the grandstands with eyes only for the track. He loved going racing and watching dad was always fun. Now 17 years old, he and the family bought Lance Gremett’s whole racing cache, except the driver’s seat, and are ready to hit the dirt with him a rookie driver this season with CRA. Unfortunately for the youngster, this week was not to be. When they went to sign in, they learned Matt will have to be emancipated before he can drive, or wait until next year because he is too young. What a shock for Dennis, his wife Colette and Matt as they left to take the rig home early in the day only to return to watch that afternoon. The Stewart Racing # 85 will be back as soon as that paperwork is taken care of and we will see another rookie join the club this season.

Seth Wilson had his highest finish with CRA in fifth place and was the hard charger of the night passing his number, a total of 17 cars. He also won his heat and had a really good night. David Cardey looked good winning his heat, but got wreckered off in the Main when he encountered another car, finishing 17th.

One more note about something brand new that was announced at the race. There will be a new award called the Dean Thompson Award that will be presented to the driver that wins the dash, his heat and the Main Event at any race with CRA. Infield announcer, Chris Holt, explained the award, that Damion just missed this week, will not be monetary. This award is to remember Dean and show respect for his outstanding career.

It was an outstanding race track all day, without any wind, and the good crowd enjoyed the opening day race that provided two groove racing and no black groove or blue smoke. I apologize for thinking it wouldn’t be good racing. What was I thinking! Well, that’s one perfect day race, and now can we get on with the racing under lights part of the season? With a week off, the next CRA event is on the 19th of February. With this brief downtime, Mrs Wags and I will be off to Frisco to celebrate our 30th anniversary on heart day. Ta Ta!

Perris Auto Speedway, Perris California, February 5, 2005

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin-16.087; 2. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley-16.210; 3. Tracy Hines, 7, Priestley-16.385; 4. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle-16.422; 5. Charles Davis, Jr., 8A, Smiley-16.448; 6. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom-16.592; 7. Cary Faas, 2V, Woodward-16.614; 8. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander-16.705; 9. Rick Williams, 6, Williams-16.690; 10. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard-16.693; 11. Jason York, 26N, York-16.701; 12. Tony Jones, 87, Vermeer/Ferreira-16.724; 13. Troy Rutherford, 5, Keller-16.800; 14. Josh Ford, 73, Ford-16.812; 15. Dave Darland, 42, Cheney-16.830; 16. Bill Rose, 6R, Rose-16.845; 17. Jim Richardson, 8, Richardson-16.845; 18. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-16.863; 19. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno-16.890; 20. Dan Hillberg, 82, Hillberg-16.914; 21. Jon Stanbrough, 11, Wilkerson-16.926; 22. J Hicks, 66, Miller-16.975; 23. Rick Ziehl, 14, Lancaster-16.983; 24. Steve Ostling, 0, Shoemaker-17.004; 25. David Cardey, 59, Giardina-17.026; 26. Jimmy Crawford, 17C, Crawford-17.100; 27. Randy Waitman, 69Y, Waitman-17.235; 28. R J Johnson, 15, Martin-17.255; 29. A J Reyer, 31, Reyer-17.269; 30. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics-17.275; 31. Jessie Hockett, 2J, Massey-17.285; 32. Rob Kershaw, 26C, Camland-17.390; 33. Ronnie Case, 33, Blair-17.432; 34. Danny Ebberts, 77, Acosta-17.451; 35. Steve Chuhaloff, 5C, Camland-17.638; 36. Jordan Hermansader, 91, Ferro-17.674; 37. Dwayne Marcum, 12, Pratt-17.740; 38. Rusty Carlisle, 36x, Carlisle-17.778; 39. Mark Heidenreich, 22, Heidenreich-17.870; 40. Joshua Williams, 34, Williams-17.973; 41. David Sinsley, 69, Sinsley-17.978; 42 Eric Severson, 36, Severson-18.117; 43 Nadine Keller, 16, Keller-18.145; 44. Bill Camarillo, 40C, Camland-18.295; 45. Tony Everhart, 55, Everhart-18.724; 46. Jimmy Thornell, 56, Hellrich-19.765; 47. Nate Ziegler, 8N, Ziegler-19.897.

Snap-on Tools Trophy dash (3 Laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Danny Sheridan, 3. Ricky Gaunt, 4. Tracy Hines. Time 52:04

Consi (8 Laps) 1. Ronnie Case, 2. Danny Ebberts, 3. Jordan Hermansader, 4. Randy Carlisle, 5. Dwayne Marcum, 6. Josh Williams, 7. Bill Camarillo, 8. Steve Chualoff, 9. Mark Heidenreich, 10. Nate Ziegler, 11. Jimmy Thornell, 12. Eric Severson, 13. Tony Everhart, 14. David Sinsley, 15. Nadine Keller.

Heat 1: (10 Laps) 1. David Cadey, 2. Bill Rose, 3. Damion Gardner, 4. Rick Williams, 5. Charles Davis Jr, 6. Troy Rutherford, 7. Jon Stanbrough, 8,A J Reyer, 9. Ronnie Case. Time 2:51:34

Heat 2: (10 laps) 1. Seth Wilson, 2. Jimmy Crawford, 3. Rip Williams, 4. J Hicks, 5. Mike Spencer, 6. Alan Ballard, 7. Rickie Gaunt, 8. Josh Ford, 9. Danny Ebberts. Time 2:52:53

Heat 3: (10 laps) 1. Cory Kruseman, 2. Tracy Hines, 3. Randy Waitman, 4. Cary Faas, 5. Rick Ziehl, 6. Dave Darland, 7. Jason York, 8. Jordan Hermansader, 9. Jesse Hockett. Time 2:57:16

Heat 4: 1.Steve Ostling, 2. Tony Jones, 3. Mike Kirby, 4. Danny Sheridan, 5. RJ Johnson, 6. Dan Hillberg, 7. Rob Kershaw, 8. Jim Richardson, 9. Eric Severson. Time 2:54:88

Semi (12 Laps) 1. Rickie Gaunt, 2. Charles Davis Jr, 3. Mike Spencer, 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Alan Ballard, 6. Dave Darland, 7. Jason York, 8. Josh Ford, 9. Dan Hillberg, 10. Jon Stanbrough, 11. Danny Ebberts, 12. Rick Ziehl, 13. Jim Richardson. 14. Jordan Hermansader, 15. R.J. Johnson, 16 Rob Kershaw, 17. A.J.Reyer, 18. Randy Carlisle, 19. Ronnie Case, 20. Jesse Hockett.

Main Event (30 Laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Rip Williams, 3. Mike Kirby, 4. Bill Rose, 5. Seth Wilson, 6. Cory Kruseman, 7. Charles Davis Jr, 8. Steve Ostling, 9. Alan Ballard, 10. J Hicks, 11. Rick Ziehl, 12. Tony Jones, 13. Troy Rutherford, 14. Cary Faas, 15. Randy Waitman, 16. Rick Williams, 17. David Cardey, 18. Jimmy Crawford, 19. Mike Spencer, 20. Tracy Hines, 21. Rickie Gaunt, 22. Danny Sheridan, 23. Dave Darland.

Lap leaders: Bill Rose 1 – 10, Damion Gardner 11-30.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Kirby-109; 2-Davis-109; 3-Rip Williams-94; 4-Kruseman-93; 5-Wilson-83; 6-Rick Williams-82; 7-Spencer-80; 8-Gardner-73; 9-Ziehl-64; 10-Crawford-60.

NEXT USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: February 19 – Perris, CA – Perris Auto Speedway.

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