MOTOR MALADIES HIT TOO MANY TEAMS
Mrs Wags pics are in two clicks. For the first one click here! and the second one click here.
You could tell Jeremy wanted it bad, because he really mounted serious charges both nights that nobody could stop. He passed some pretty hot heroes along the way. It was a lot like his racing with the local 360's and midgets, he usually does very well on this track. While getting his 6th and 7th all time SCRA victories, he moved up to 5th in points for his highest position yet in that battle. Nothing like being at home to win, as he made all his fans happy this week. Here's a special get well to his grandma, Doris Clark, who couldn't see this latest success after having heart surgery recently and being stuck at home.
There were a lot of different heroes this weekend, even after Jeremy swept the board. Mike Kirby, driving the Geurin Mobile Home Service, Statewide Towing, Western Steam Systems, # 5 Stinger, was awesome battling with Jeremy on Friday and seemed to be a sure winner before a bad thing happened. It was the best race for a win this year, and maybe for a longer time, as they swapped the lead for about 12 laps almost at each corner! After the lead changed officially five times, Mike took his last one with 3 laps to go, and then KAPOW, the motor let go a lap later. Arrrrgggg, it was a borrowed motor and Mike didn't need that. It was the second motor killed by Mike's car in two weeks. Even though another team wanted to loan Mike a motor for Saturday, he declined and headed home to plan how to get his many motor problems fixed.
Tony Jones, driving the Ferreira Dairies, Avenger Race Cars of El Paso, VGI Graphics, # 87, had a great weekend finishing 2nd and 3rd on the podium both nights. It looked like Friday's goal was to finish in the top four to transfer to the finale, and he did that. Saturday night the Cowboy came to rumble and defend his championship in this, the 2nd annual Gary Sokola Classic. He took over the lead from Cory Kruseman, but a bent wheel cover caused the right rear to pack with mud and he settled for one more podium finish. The Cowboy was disappointed in not repeating here, but it was a pretty good trip over the desert for the team as they left with a 15 point lead in the points chase over Richard Griffin.
Steve Ostling came to Manzy with a frown on his face and a furrow in his brow. Here in the past he has had little success with serious crashes and non finishes being the norm. The crew was anxious to change this script, and were ready to the man to tackle the big track. Steve had fast time on Friday and went on to finish 8th in the prelim 20 lapper. He wasn't happy with this at all. Saturday he was forced to start 14th in the main and began a ride that ended in 2nd place getting the hard charger award on the night. When he arrived in 2nd place, Jeremy was long gone, but Steve O was the fastest car on the track at the time and cut the big 5 second margin down to less than a second before lap traffic sealed off his path to victory. Driving the Watt Ent., Pacific Coast Sportswear, Stress Relief Eng., # 29 with a new Shaver motor, Steve was on fire and it looks like he and his Fischer Motorsports team will be a force to reckon with in SCRA in the weeks to come. Look out, he is ready to win!
SCRA Champ Cory Kruseman had an OK weekend, as he led both features from the front row after winning both dash's, and finished 3rd and 5th after some good battles. His 2001 closest rival, Richard Griffin, finished 4th and 6th on the weekend, showcasing his high flying style. J J Yeley joined in for the Classic, but blew the motor in the lone Phoenix based ABC Sand & Rock # 76 car during hot laps on Friday. He jumped into Tony Smiley's # 2 Extreme Chassis car to grab 5th after moving from the 6th row. Saturday, the car wasn't working as well when he finished 14th in what he said was a suffering car. He is now on the way back to Indianapolis where he works out of the teams race shop there in his USAC schedule for 2002.
Troy Rutherford made the best pass/slide job of the event on Friday when he made three monster slide jobs in a row going into Tornado Corner # 3. The first two slide jobs were wild enough, but with the white flag flying, and him in 5th, he made a classic run that thrilled the crowd. This time he was farther behind the target car going down the backstretch and started his move sooner and faster making the banzai move that looked impossible to hang on to around the famous corner. Somehow the # 96 Gardner Motorsports entry didn't wiggle and he made the fast fly by to get into the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash and the main on that one move. In the feature on Friday, he was knocked in the head by a boulder (that's what Ronnie Gardner told me?) and had to stop on the track to restart. His helmet was mangled pretty badly by something, anyway. He finished 12th after the stop. On Saturday he set fast time and passed his neighbor, the Kruser, for 4th near the end.
Damion Gardner was running great on Friday up high in the fast groove like he had been here before. He hadn't, so it bit him when he hit the cushion and then the wall hard and turned it over, badly mangling his # 20 car. This sent his chassis to live in a graveyard like the one beyond the wall he had just hit. He returned on Saturday with a brand new chassis, with the same old what's left parts, and drove the wheels off it getting 7th against the strong field. Kevin Urton, one time top 360 driver from up in Northern California, is crewing with him now, so he has some good help.
Other visitors from out of SCRALAND were in the house. Jay Drake made his first start since his accident at Terre Haute last summer and was doing OK until he crashed in the semi on Friday. He didn't feel perfect on Saturday, and since he had a Silver Crown ride at PIR to handle, Tracy Hines jumped in the car and made the main. Tracy was the first car out of the 40 lapper for a reason unknown to me at this time. Tony Elliott was 11th and 10th in the Gardner 2nd car as he will begin his USAC deal next week at Eldora like Yeley and a few others. Bud Kaeding drove the Cory Witherill # 61 to a ninth on Saturday after missing the show opening night on a great drive from the back. Derek Davidson was 15th and 17th after setting 2nd quick time on Friday. The team had no luck, but got the runner-up shiny tire award on Saturday. Kevin Doty made a trip out to try and recreate the win here at the opener several years ago. He ran the # 21 Ellis car just like then, but didn't get a chance to repeat his win. He missed the main on Friday and was 19th on Saturday. His son Kevin Jr was still cheering him on as usual! Levi Jones, from Olney, Ill, was also back in Glenn Crossno's car and ran 16th on Friday after something broke in the front end during qualifying, putting him in the C Main. He did well to get to the feature, after some hard driving. Saturday, he was 11th as his boss was enjoying driving the 2nd car. Unfortunately, a wheel came off in the Semi and Glenn was done to watch his driver in the main. He just wanted to have some fun, he said with a smile.
Two cars making the long tow across the desert for nothing, that is getting little or no seat time in their cars, and thus made very expensive wasted drives. Both Danny Sheridan and Rodney Argo were pit watchers working on their cars Friday. Danny broke a motor (i.e. motor maladies) and Rodney never found their problem. Saturday, only Argo remained, but his story didn't change, as he again didn't run in any track events.
Cal Smith got another ride in a Phoenix car with two guys who used to crew for him. Last year he won a heat in the white # 65 Walsh Office Products sponsored car, but didn't fare well in the main. At the last Manzy race, he was scheduled to drive the car again, and they were all unloaded in the pits, when one of the crew got his arm mangled by a tire exploding. Coming to this race, they remarked, didn't cost anything because every thing that they bought for that injury night was still ready for use. Cal again won his heat and ran 20th in the main. Cal is struggling to get his own car back on the track, mostly due to lack of money.
I got a tour of the new John Jory Corp "Super" hauler this week. What a piece of workmanship, the all black rig is. Not just any old racing trailer, this 18-wheeler now is the biggest and baddest one in the SCRA. Jack Jory took me thru the used masterpiece that was specially built for a wing sprint car team that used it on the WOO tour last year. He was like a kid with a new toy as he gave me the grand tour of elegance'. Before he took me thru "Big Bad John", he admitted that way back when he had an open trailer, he was very proud of the nice toolbox built on it. He liked that original one and was very happy with it back then. He feels the same way about this new majestic monster. Every thing inside is behind closed doors that have locking mechanisms to keep things inside and still give easy access. All parts are organized in these "closets" designed for each item. Wheels, tires, rear ends, front ends, shocks, etc etc, all in its own place. Workbenches and special "gizmos" like shock testers, tire mounters and a flow bench were in the down stairs area. Above, a 2nd story can carry a spare car, a 4 wheeler or whatever.
Loading the trailer is taking some practice and drawing a crowd as the two car team members roll Rip's car right in the lower lane of the trailer and then lift Mike English's # 6 into the rafters for travel. This nice rig is pretty spacious and well organized, making it quite a showpiece. There is a small room for relaxing up front in the trailer that has couches, TV, microwave, bathroom and it looks super comfy. A sturdy ladder goes up on top of the trailer for storage or race viewing. A sleeper on the truck has a table and seating area for having meetings or lunch, or whatever, so this big bad boy is ready for the road. Jack said he is really happy with Rip's team and the addition of English, and looked for some great finishes from his boys this year. He is taking his time getting the race graphics applied and assured me the checker pattern on the old hauler will fit the new one just fine. He wants to highlight the sponsors and make every one feel like they are important to his team.
Rip's weekend featured a 6th place finish on Friday, as he ran very fast and strong, but Saturday the car was all bound up after finishing 4th in the dash and he couldn't get it to stay up front, finishing 16th. It was a mystery to the team how it happened, but the offending piece will be replaced. Mike was 7th on Friday, but broke the new motor he got to be able to continue racing, you know the one that isn't paid for yet, and was very pensive after the races Saturday night as they loaded up. Mike works very hard to get to race and he needs a little more help out their sponsors.
News that Jordan Hermansader has vacated the seat of the # 12 Pratt/Blair car was bantered about in the pits this week. Jordan hasn't had much to smile about in this ride and is taking a little time off to figure what his next move is. The talented young man can't catch a break as it seems like every time he is in position to score well, something, or someone, bad happens. His frustration will go away as he takes a break for a while. Robby Flock will step in the car when he doesn't have USAC commitments, and another driver to be named later will be on board "other" nights.
Wagsbucks went to Rick Zeihl, $100, after he crashed his # 35 car hard on Friday and The Alexander Racing team, $125, after Kirby spilled their motor on the track. Shiny tires picked by local Wagtimer, Bethany Thrasher, were Damion Gardner winning and Bob Ream Jr runner-up Friday, with Rickie Gaunt blazing on Saturday and Derek Davidson runner-up. Rickie and his crew removed the motor from the car he drove on Friday and planted it in a different car and ran better the next night. The team hasn't been happy with this new car at all.
George Rimmer, my friend from merry old England, will be at the PAS this coming Saturday, so find him and say hi. He is a big fan and known for his Long Tow Award sponsorship for the annual Wagsdash at Ventura Raceway! George is bringing his family for a look at the breakaway colony and is slipping in Perris as a quick stop. Also, for you Wagsbucks donators, listen up! Loren Hill has acquired a $20 Speedzone pass for you racer nuts that go to that 60 Freeway located Speedzone in Hacienda Heights, for us to pass on. For every one that donates at least $10, you will be in a drawing for the money saver to go play. Thanks to Loren and his Speedzone friend, as the Wagsbucks needs a shot in the arm with recent donations barely breaking $100 a race. This money goes directly to the racers each race, and is much appreciated by them. If you don't understand what Wagsbucks is, sign on wagtimes.com and check out the 13-year history where we have put over $300,000 in the racers hands.
Hats off to young 16 year old Braden Wasson. Many of his drawings have found their way onto a lot of walls of race fans. His art work is also featured on t-shirts and he is serious about his work and plans to make it his life work chioce. He created a great picture of the George Gervais car and raffled it off at Manzanita this past week as the SCRA visited. The money raised will go to the Gervais family. He also gave me another one that the family might use to raffle at Perris later on. If you like his work, call him at 602-588-0320 for t-shirt graphics and more.
It was a great weekend for us with my mad hatter Bruins coming thru, so I can hold my head up until Thursday. It was hard to not be watching the March Madness opening weekend. Dubya's first trip to the races was a success, except when I took him in to see the main event on Saturday. After watching the cars go by with interest, he had a problem with the louder speaker, AKA Windy McDonald's booming voice, and we missed the race while I calmed him down back outside. As soon as I can find a cheap motorhome for him, (????) he can go with us every time. He is going to be a race dog or else! Come see George and me. The weather will be perfect at The PAS this week.
SCRA Points after 3/17/02: (1) Tony Jones 296, (2) Richard Griffin 281, (3) Troy Rutherford 276, (4) Cory Kruseman 268, (5) Jeremy Sherman 250, (6) Rip Williams 231, (7) Steve Ostling 230, (8) Tony Elliott 190, (9) Levi Jones 175, (10)John Scott 164, (11) Mike English 150, (12) Mike Kirby 148, (13) J J Yeley 143, (14) Charles Davis Jr 139, (15) Damion Gardner 126, (16) Rickie Gaunt 116, (17) Bobby Graham 116, (18) Bud Kaeding 85, (19) Michael Hinrichsen 77, (20) Bob Ream Jr 70.