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The first night race at Perris this season was still a little windy, but it didn't bother Mike Kirby as he overpowered the track and the field for his 37th SCRA win and first of the year. It wasn't as windy as opening day, and the racing was not at all "WOOish" as the winner came from 13th starting spot on the grid with the runner-up, Cory Kruseman, from 9th. A hearty crowd braved cool wind aided temps up in the grandstands to see some great racing all night that began at a new earlier time, 6:30 PM. This got the frigid fans home earlier than usual.

Mrs Wags pics are up finally!!!

Mike Kirby, driving Brad & Nancy Geurin's, Statewide Towing, Geurin's Mobile Home Service, Western Steam Systems, Blue # 5, Stinger, wasn't thrilled with his 13th starting slot for the main. Mike was 15th in qualifying and had to hustle to get 3rd in his heat to qualify for the main event. After Mike English took the lead on the opening green, "Super K" Kirby made a few swift moves and before long was in the hunt as he played the tricky track masterfully moving thru the pack. He overtook Cory Kruseman on lap 22 and was pulling away at the end for a big win. Mike said it was a good thing for the team because at the last race they went through $1500 worth of tire smoking and made only $500, and the team bank account needed it! Mike's easy going attitude was shining again as he made the winners circle one more time.

Cory Kruseman hustling the Worldgate Networks, TCR, Del Mar Wire, black # 1 racer, came out firing on all cylinders this week, after a bad outing last time out. He set fast time in qualifying, then lined up at the back of heat one and was prepared to charge. Going into turn one, he was above the cushion and flying forward on a super passing shot that could have put him up front. Unfortunately, Rodney Argo was there waiting for him after crashing into the wall ahead of him. Cory couldn't stop in time, and tipped over on his top, mangling the front end. Keith Williamson, also involved in the skirmish, and Rodney were done for the night. Cory's chances looked iffy at best when we got a look at the car on a hook heading to the pits. The front torsion tube was the worst of it and required bending back in place and some quick welding. In addition the front end needed replacing for the # 45 to make it back for the semi. The team got a lot of help in their pit and Cory made the main event by running 2nd in the Semi and started in row 5 of the 30-lapper a little later. He quickly moved down low on the track and passed his way into the lead by lap 11, leading comfortably for 10 laps before "Super K" came by.

Troy Rutherford took the Sander Engineering, Shaver Engines, Barnes Oil Systems to his 2nd podium appearance in two races with a strong 3rd place finish. Troy was 7th quick, 4th in his heat on a slamming slide job, and 3rd in the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash. He made a run at early leader English, before the "black and blue" division (Kruser-Kirby) came by. The Gardner Motorsports # 96 was in the mix until the checkered flag, trying to move around Kruseman till the end. Troy is the SCRA point's leader after two weeks with a 13-point lead over the Gasman. Tony Jones, Mike Kirby and Levi Jones round out the top five.

The main event had 4 cars lose their starting position and go to the back. Steve Ostling had his belts loosen and needed to stop and cinch up. Tony Jones, Mark Nation and Charles Davis Jr all were late to the starting grid and were penalized. Steve O did the best of the three coming back to get 7th on a good ride in what he described as a "good" new motor. The Fischer Motorsports entry was moving up fast with their new bullet. Tony Jones had a tough night, as he couldn't make the third heat due to a fuel line problem, and had to run, and then win, the Semi to get in the main.

Richard Griffin led for 5 laps as he looked strong and ready to rock and roll this season. His goal is to reclaim the championship from Cory, and he is off to a good start. He was 2nd in his heat and the dash before getting 4th in the main. Jeremy Sherman started 20th in the main, due to a slow, for him, qualifying lap, and roared up to 5th for the hard charger award in Mark Priestly's yellow # 7. There was some great action all night as the youth was looking to unseat some veterans.

Lance Gremett brought out his new Avenger chassis car and was pleased with the results. He was late arriving as they thrashed to put the finishing touches on the new car at home. He only got one qualifying lap in, and a lost shock didn't help things. He started in the back of the C main and rolled up top to pass the field and make the first heat. After running third there, he lined up last in the main event and finished 20th, just trying to get the feel of the new car. The smiles in his pits told the story of how they feel about his new ride!

Ronnie Clark brought his car out for the first time this year and just missed making the main. He, his dad and crew came from Tucson to start the year without former car owner, Hank Winter. Damion Gardner made the long tow from Concord again, but no cigar this time. His qualifying lap put him in the C main and he finished 5th, ending his night. The young man is just getting used to this wingless stuff and plans to come back again. Another long tow, this one by Andy Forsberg, was stalled in the semi when he was the first car out. With 42 cars timing in, there was plenty of action to spice up things this week.

Missing this week was Adam Mitchell's car, as Adam was in the pits explaining how he nearly cut off his finger while checking stagger on his racecar in the shop? That's his story and he never wavered on it. He plans to be back as soon as it heals just a little bit more. Cary Faas was in the pits, sans car also, due to no time to get the car ready, but he got involved with helping Kruseman's crew get the # 1 car back together. He vows to be back next week. Other news in the pits includes a new TCR chassis in the Jim Ruth pit. This one is Gary W Howard's and is a nice bright red. I tried to tell them where the polka dots would go, but it fell on deaf ears. Gary drove the white # 25 to 8th after being 3rd quick and starting 10th in the main event.

Brian Venard had tough luck again with his family Mopar powered # 47. The beautiful sprinter was done early when a rear main seal came out during hot laps. Buster, his dad, says it will be a lot of work to take the motor apart and replace the offending part, but they will be ready next week. Brother Steve made the main and ran 17th this week, so not all was bad in the Venard family compound. Danny Sheridan didn't have any luck in Ron Didonato's # 57 for the second week in a row, but this time they rolled it on the trailer. The crew thrashed on the Spin Tech Special very hard, but this week it didn't return much of the hard work back. Danny and Ron are both positive on this new venture and promised to do much better next week. The car will feature a new red scheme next time out. Ron's long time painter, Santini, has whipped up a variation to the blue and white pattern most familiar to Ron's fans through the years of his driving. Charlie Ekiss is on his own now as former car owner, John Ball, is rumored to be off horse racing with his boxer friend, and former other driver, Jeff Shildemeyer. Charlie is a friendly guy and hopes to continue to improve and score well this season. He asked me a neat question, NOW, am I eligible for the Wagsdash? When he was part of a big rig two car team last year, he wasn't, but now he is. Careful there Charlie, don't do anything on purpose to make the race.

Wagsbucks totaled $82 this week, thanks to my regular helpers (!) and will go to Mel Murphy next week when I see him. I forgot the envelope when I went in the pits later? Mel had an oops in the C Main and didn't return. There were few crashes, mostly the bump and run type, so it was a fairly clean night. Shiny Tires were aplenty and super picker Krista Bandy picked one of the Gardner Motorsports cars and Michael Hinrichsen's # 16 as the two winners for the night. There were a lot of excellent efforts to choose from under the lights of the PAS!

Levi Jones made the flight from Indiana, along with Tony Elliott, as USAC made a good showing this week in local cars. Levi drove Glenn Crossno's # 38 again and was 5th quick, 2nd in his heat, 7th in the dash and 11th in the main to leave town 5th in points. Both Glenn and Levi are smiling. I wonder how long he can keep coming back? Tony Elliott made another appearance in the Gardner Motorsports 2nd car, ending up 14th after the smoke cleared. Bud Kaeding came from up North to replace the announced J J Yeley in the 21J car of Dwight Cheney's, and was running strong in the main until he had a problem and stopped on the track, then had to restart to get 18th.

The new sports bar at the PAS seemed to be real popular when my wife Terry and Evelyn Clark settled in there to escape from the biting wind that we were unprepared for, what with our heavy coats safely tucked away at home. The new addition for fans will have even more customers when the warm weather appears, very soon! When it was obvious the planed live feed from the action on the track wasn't on the big screen TV in there, and instead a tape of an old race was playing, she wanted to go home as opposed to back up in the wind. Evelyn's husband Mike, took her home, so Terry was ready. I gave her an alternative, the pits. We went out there for the Semi and feature, and it was much warmer on the ground than up in the grandstands. I am not very good on the spin move required to take in the action from inside the oval, but I think I enjoyed the main from my perch for the most part.

The new National Sprint Car Annual is now available. Allan Brown, the man with the powder blue hat circulating the grandstands of many tracks around the country all year selling his "must have" racing publications, has released the 2001 annual that features the top sprint car associations and their cars, all in one magazine. It features stories, stats and lots of photos of the top cars in the land. You can get yours by sending a check or money order for $8, and that includes 1st class postage and handling, to: National Sprint Car Annual, P.O. Box 448, Comstock Park, MI 49321-0448.

On our always "prayer aware" list that includes George Gervais (who is still in limbo surely ready to wake up) and Wagtimer Willie Bandy (our friend who is undergoing Chemo treatments right now), we have a new entry. Bud Balmer, crewmember on Adam Mitchell's crew, the big guy with the big smile, just underwent successful open-heart surgery to repair a valve. He is doing well and hopes to be back racing soon.

It is so good to be back watching racing again! I promise to bring my heavy wear gear next time. After all, it is the desert, and nights are cool in downtown Perris. Plan ahead, come early and enjoy the awesome racing, it is well worth it, regardless of what my frozen better half might have spouted out this past week. I'll dress my ace photographer better on Saturday at the PAS!

Don't forget the 2nd Annual Gary Sokola Classic at Manzanita Speedway, March 15 and 16th. You can enjoy a two-day race in Arizona and get involved as well. Lap sponsors are still being accepted for the 40-lap race. Laps are $100 each, so do it now, or find someone to share and split it, it all works. Call Sammy Bahr at 949-764-2263 daytime and 714-536-7300 nights.

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