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Mike Kirby, of Torrance, Ca, made the trip to Manzanita Speedway for the 5th annual Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply Sokola Classic a good one. Driving the Alexander Trucking, La Villa Restaurant, Stinger, # 4, Mike took the lead on lap 33 after chasing down the leader, Rickie Gaunt who had won the 20 lap opener on Friday, and blew by him on the top to pull away to a big victory. The Valvoline USAC/CRA series was not effected by the rain showers that were in the area for the weekend as the raceway dodged the wet bullets and completed the two day event without interruption with thirty five cars racing for the fans.

Mrs Wags photos are up. For Friday click here, for Saturday clcik here.

It was Kirby’s 9th CRA win with the club as he overcame a large lead by the early leader. In the winner’s circle said “ my car began working great on the top for me and I got by Jeremy and then Gaunt. Sometimes traffic works for you and sometimes it doesn’t.” Kirby battled with local favorite Jeremy Sherman for half the race before he kicked it in another gear. He was ninth on Friday night.

Rickie Gaunt was a runaway winner in Friday night’s 20 lap prelim race and looked to double up on Saturday. On Saturday he was consistently pulling away from the pack on the bottom of the track until Kirby found the top to his liking. It was Gaunt’s first win at the track as he professed his delight in his crew and the way they set the car up for him. Driving the Smiley Crane Service, Extreme Chassis Co, Chargin, Extreme number 2A, Rickie originally chased down early leader and team mate Charles Davis Jr as he flew around the track on the fast low groove.

Rip Williams had a great weekend getting two podiums, a second and then third in the finale, for one of his best weekends at the big half mile oval. Driving the black John Jory Corporation, Weld Wheels, Stinger, Shaver # 3, Rip won his heat and fought hard trying to win that elusive 100 victory. He is ready for that, so watch him at Perris this week.

Damion Gardner had a rough weekend. It seemed like everywhere he went, trouble found him. He was fast timer on Friday with the only 18 second pass of the weekend, 18.890. The demon stormed from last to second in his heat and started ninth in the feature. On a sudden yellow flag, he couldn’t get stopped quick enough and ended up banging the wall and retiring for the night. On Saturday he was the next to last car to qualify after the first car set fast time and was just a hair short of his fifth fast time in a row. He polished off his heat with a win and then started seventh in the main. He was moving forward when suddenly on a yellow flag interruption, he went to the pits to replace a shock. He barely, and I mean at the last minute, got back on the track in last place and in 13 laps, moved up to an eighth place finish with no more maladies to report.

Seth Wilson was that first car out with fast time on Saturday, and that after being 4th quick on Friday. He was 17th and 13th with “things happening that kept him form better. I saw the huge rock the size of a flattened softball that they found on the front end of the car when they inspected it Saturday AM. That explained to him why the car wouldn’t track well late in the race after realigning his front end. With more seat time he will continue to improve as he is getting faster and faster.

Tony Jones ran a strong 11th on Friday and then loaded up and went home the next day. Charles Davis Jr had flashes of brilliance over the weekend with third and fifth in the two mains. He led the big one before falling back, but for a few laps early the Smiley blue team was running one-two and pulling away. Josh Wise drove the wheels off the Priestley # 7 car this weekend, but a 7th on Friday and 14th Saturday didn’t tell the whole story. He was unlucky to not have been in the front on Friday, but will be getting back to his Indiana ride next.

Cory Kruseman suffered from a popping motor on Friday, but still finished 10th. After hot laps on Saturday, they brought in the backup car and parked the other one. He got 7th this time as the car ran fine after getting the last qualifying spot, due to entering the 2nd car.

Dave Darland was like a rocket in the newly Mopar powered Dwight Cheney car he has been driving. Friday he qualified 20th and that put him near the back of the A main, but he moved up to eighth in 20 laps. Saturday he was 6th quick and missed the direct transfer, but was running away in the Semi when “it” happened. The motor lost something suddenly and he came back to the pack. A restart didn’t help him and he finished one spot out of a transfer as the car just lost most of it’s power. I doubt they would have fixed it in time anyway, but the new motor is fast!

Local favorite, Jeremy Sherman had some problems Friday when some lightweight bolts in the front end broke on Friday in the main putting him as the first car out. On Saturday he was ready as he started 10th in the event and cruised up to challenge the leader midway thru the race. He ran out of tires and finished fourth behind the Ripper. The orange 2J owned by Jim Massey and driven again by Jesse Hockett looked a lot like a former driver that always pulled the left wheel a lot around this track. Was that Jack Yeley working on the car? Hmmmm.

Got to hand it to Sammy Bahr, Bobby Cody’s crew chief, as he collected a lot of extra money for the Sokola Classic event and was around passing out little handfuls of cash to people like Jeremy, first out on Friday, and others having good and bad luck. The race paid $5000 to win and $500 to start, so it was a good payday for those who made it.

Saturday’s line-ups had a few changes after Friday’s madness as musical chairs is always in the air. Rick Ziehl switched to drive the Shon Deskins owned number 23A after parting ways with Ben Lancaster after over a year together. Jordan Hermansader took the opportunity to take the # 14 for a spin and pulled off in the semi when he looked like he might make the transfer. Rumor has it a familiar face will be in the # 14 car Saturday night at Perris. Troy Rutherford parted ways with the Keller # 5 team car and then Bill Rose jumped in it for the night after losing a motor in his own car the night before.

Well, the weather. AKA mother natures tears, threatened to stop the presses this week in Phoenix, and looking back, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been there, NO RAIN? It looked like rain from the time we left LA Friday morning up until we were halfway home on Sunday, yes! Some really sporadic sprinkles were felt, but two fast paced racy programs were put on by the powers to be at Manzanita and the crowds went home early with a smile on their faces.

Long weekend, and my B-ball pool took a beating after getting all 16 correct on Thursday, so I only have 9 teams left. I guess I better find other work. Get ready for $5 mania at the PAS March 26! Be there!!!!!


QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics 19.485, 2. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin 19.552, 3. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley 19.599, 4. Rip Williams, 3, Jory 19.729, 5. Josh Wise, 7, Priestley 19.837, 6. Dave Darland, 42, Cheney 19.872, 7. Nathan High, 6A, Pritchett 19.958, 8. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander 20.025, 9. Bobby Cody, 41, Cody 20.050, 10. Josh Ford, 73, Ford 20.056, 11. Charles Davis Jr, 8A, Smiley 20.121, 12. Rick Ziehl, 23A, Fleming 20.127, 13. Chuck Buckman, 4M, Buckman 20.142, 14. Jeremy Sherman, 77B, Bryan 20.168, 15. Bill Rose, 5, Keller 20.170, 16. Robert Hall, 16AZ, Hall 20.203, 17. Bob Ream Jr, 8, B.R.A.T. 20.238, 18. Brandon Lane, 97H, Lane 20.244, 19. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom 20.269, 20. Jimmy Crawford, 17C, Crawford 20.278, 21. Jesse Hockett, 2J, Massey 20.286, 22. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno 20.305, 23. Dwayne Marcum, 12, Pratt 20.340, 24. Jordan Hermansader, 14, Lancaster 20.348, 25. R.J.Johnson, 15AZ, Martin 20.487, 26. Mike Leslie, 76AZ, Montgomery 20.505, 27. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard 20.549, 28. Bobby Boone, 61, Ratz Racing 20.661, 29. Ronnie Clark, 33X, Clark 20.694, 30. Ronnie Case, 91AZ, Carston 21.269, 31. Matt Stewart, 85, Stewart 21.652, 32. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller 21.700

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Chuck Buckman, 2. R.J. Johnson, 3. Ronnie Clark, 4. Seth Wilson, 5. Bob Ream jr, 6. Jesse Hockett, 7. Bobby Cody, 8. Josh Wise. Time 3:33:31

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Cory Kruseman, 3. Josh Ford, 4. Mike Leslie, 5. Brandon Lane, 6. Dave Darland, 7. Jeremy Sherman, 8. Ronnie Case. Time 3:25:73

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1.Charles Davis Jr, 2. Rickie Gaunt, 3. Dwayne Marcum, 4. Bill Rose, 5. Nathan High. 6. Mike Spencer, 7. Alan Ballard, 8. Matt Stewart. Time 3:29:04

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rip Williams, 2. Rick Ziehl, 3. Mike Kirby, 4. Jimmy Crawford, 5. Bobby Boone, 6. Jordan Hermansader, 7. Robert Hall, 8 Nadine Keller. Time 3:31:46

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Josh Wise, 2. Jeremy Sherman, 3. Bobby Cody, 4. Jesse Hockett, 5. Brandon Lane, 6. Alan Ballard, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Bob Ream Jr, 9. Mike Spencer, 10. Bobby Boone, 11. Ronnie Case, 12. Robert Hall, 13. Nadine Keller, 14. Nathan Hale, 15. Jordan Hermansader, 16. Matt Stewart. No Time

FEATURE: 40 laps) 1. Mike Kirby, 2. Rickie Gaunt, 3.Rip Willaims, 4. Jeremy Sherman, 5. Charles Davis Jr, 6. Josh Ford, 7. Cory Kruseman, 8. Damion Gardner, 9. Rick Zeihl, 10. Jesse Hockett, 11. R.J. Johnson, 12. Bill Rose, 13. Seth Wilson, 14. Josh Wise, 15. Brandon Lane, 16. Jimmy Crawford, 17. Alan Ballard, 18. Mike Leslie, 19. Ronnie Clark, 20. Chuck Buckman, 21. Bobby Cody, 22. Dwayne Marcum. No Time

Chuck Buckman and Bobby Cody flipped, in separate accidents, on lap 18 restart.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Charles Davis Jr 1 – 7, Rickie Gaunt 8 – 32, Mike Kirby 33 – 40.

Hard Charger was Cory Kruseman coming from 17th to 7th.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Davis-335; 2-Rip Williams-333; 3-Kirby-289; 4-Gardner-288; 5-Kruseman-277; 6-Gaunt-235; 7-Ford-208; 8-Wilson-179; 9-Ballard-173; 10-Wise-169.

NEXT USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: March 26, 2005 – Perris, CA – Perris Auto Speedway

VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: March 18, 2005 – Phoenix, Arizona – Manzanita Speedway – 5th “Sokola Classic”

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin-18.890; 2. Mike Spencer ,44, Engstrom-19.135; 3. Charles Davis Jr.,8a, Smiley-19.186; 4. Seth Wilson ,17, Racing Optics-19.219; 5. Jimmy Crawford ,17C, Crawford-19.227; 6. Bobby Cody ,41, Cody-19.296; 7. Rickie Gaunt ,2A, Smiley-19.306; 8. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-19.316; 9. Josh Ford ,73, Ford-19.329; 10. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard-19.377; 11. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander-19.402; 12. Jesse Hockett, 2, Massey-19.411; 13. Tony Jones, 87, Vermeer/Ferreira-19.423; 14. Mike Leslie, 76AZ, Montgomery-19.444; 15. Nathan High, 6A, Pritchett-19.496; 16. Troy Rutherford, 5, Keller-19.498; 17. Chuck Buckman, 4M, Buckman-19.512; 18. Josh Wise, 7, Priestley-19.548; 19. Marty Miller, 3W, WWS-19.587; 20. Dave Darland, 42, Cheney-19.603; 21. Bob Ream Jr., 8, B.R.A.T.-19.663; 22. Dwayne Marcum, 12, Pratt-19.715; 23. Ronnie Clark, 33X, Clark-19.732; 24. R.J. Johnson, 15az, Martin-19.761; 25. Robert Hall Jr., 16AZ, Hall-19.815; 26. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno-19.824; 27. Rick Ziehl, 14, Lancaster-19.899; 28. Jeremy Sherman, 77B, Bryan-19.902; 29. Brandon Lane, 97H, Lane-19.908; 30. Bobby Boone, 61, Ratz-20.281; 31. Shon Deskins, 23A, Deskins-20.664; 32. Ronnie Case, 91A, Carsten-21.104; 33. Matt Stewart, 85, Stewart-21.962; 34. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller-21.972; 35. Bill Rose, 6R, Rose-NT.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ford, 2. Gardner, 3. Hall, 4. Jones, 5. Buckman, 6. Boone, 7. Ream, 8. Crawford, 9. Keller. 3:22:54

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Wise, 2. Spencer, 3. Cody, 4. Ballard, 5. Marcum, 6. Deskins, 7. Kruseman, 8. Leslie. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Sherman, 2. Miller, 3. Davis, 4. Gaunt, 5. Clark, 6. High, 7. Kirby. 3:20.91

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Lane, 3. Wilson, 4. Rip Williams, 5. Johnson, 6. Rutherford, 7. Hockett, 8. Stewart. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Kirby, 2. Crawford, 3. High, 4. Buckman, 5. Kruseman, 6. Hockett, 7. Marcum, 8. Johnson, 9. Clark, 10. Boone, 11. Keller, 12. Stewart 13. Ream,14. Deskins. 3:41:16

FEATURE: (20 laps) 1. Rickie Gaunt, 2. Rip Williams, 3. Charles Davis Jr., 4. Josh Ford, 5. Jesse Hockett, 6. Bobby Cody, 7. Josh Wise, 8. Dave Darland, 9. Mike Kirby, 10. Cory Kruseman, 11. Tony Jones, 12. Alan Ballard, 13. Mike Spencer, 14. Nathan High, 15. Brandon Lane, 16. Jimmy Crawford, 17. Seth Wilson, 18. Chuck Buckman, 19. Robert Hall Jr., 17. 20. Marty Miller, 21. Damion Gardner, 22. Jeremy Sherman. NT

**Leslie flipped during the second heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Rip Williams, Laps 2-20 Gaunt.

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