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March 6, 2005

The third Valvoline USAC/CRA event made it thru the night without the predicted “scattered showers” and gave the hearty crowd a great race track and a speedily run show done by 10 PM. Damion “The Demon” Gardner, from Concord, California, came south to Perris Auto Speedway one more time to set fast time at 17.018 and win his second race in a row there. The Demon didn’t fool around as he went straight from his eighth starting spot to take the lead on lap 12. He quickly checked out on the pack in the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Eagle Chassis, Shaver motor powered # 50 and was long gone at the end of the race. There were 38 cars checking in with 24 running the 30 lap main event.

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Damion is pumped up this year, and after missing the main at Manzanita, he has won the next two races, no make that dominated the next two. Focused could be the term most appropriate and it’s obvious he and crew chief Bruce Bromme Jr are on the same page. Both have helped each other to step it up by communicating successfully with each other. Even though they had plenty of success last year, it didn’t come easy at first, but if these last two races are anything to gauge by, watch out, this team is hot! In passing seven cars, the Demon was the hard charger of the night, and was so excited in victory circle he said ” I could go anywhere on the track, my car was awesome!” It was his 10th CRA win in the second season of the club. He now is 15th in the all time CRA win list with 22 victories.

Steve “the Hired Gun” Ostling was called in to sub for Rickie Gaunt, who came down with the flu. Steve drove the Smiley Crane Service, Extreme Chassis, Chargin motored # 2A to a second place finish in his first ride in the car. He was too late in arriving to hot lap the car, because he was working when he got the call, but did very well as he looks for a full time ride for the season.

Point leader Mike Kirby took the Alexander Bros. Trucking, LaVilla Mexican Restaurant, Statewide Towing, Stinger, RC Performance motored # 4 car from tenth to third with some great moves in the feature. He was second in the Snap-on Tools Trophy Dash and won the semi before starting tenth in the main event. Mike said the change from a TCR back to a Stinger has been tough, but the team is making him real comfortable and they look to win very soon. The car looked solid as Kirby handled traffic with ease like normal and will remain the CRA point leader for another week..

Danny “Showtime” Sheridan put on a good show getting fourth in his new Kittle Motorsports entry. He started on the front row and ran second toTroy Rutherford after the first lap, but he took it to the Black Widow entry and then led until the Demon came roaring by on lap 12. Then, Showtime swapped positions with Ostling and Kirby before he settled in 4th and a great night for the Kittle Brothers team.

Others running strong on the night made it interesting. Charles Davis Jr was in the hunt early as he got up to a podium slot before falling back to fifth as he chased teammate Ostling. He qualified eighth and ran second in his heat before the main. Josh Wise was happy to be racing before the National USAC series begins in the midwest. He had girlfriend Stacy supporting him in his pit this week when he jumped into Mark Priestley’s brand new car and shook it down with a 12th to 6th run in the feature. All that good action and the car was getting stronger near the end. Josh might get a few more starts before his other ride back east starts and will be at Bakersfield Speedway next race. Tony “the Cowboy” Jones had a real good night after killing his car the last race. He was ninth quick, then ran second in his heat before he finished a strong seventh in the main event.

The torrential rains that have plagued Southern California for weeks, were falling all around the area, but never materialized at the PAS. National USAC travelers in town to race were Josh Wise, sixth in the main, Dave Darland, ninth, and Josh Ford, twelfth. Rodney Argo returned in the Don Argo owned Ford powered car for the first time over a year. He flipped in his heat and returned to run strong in the Semi until the motor smoked him back to the pits. Mike Spencer was in a brand new TCR car this race after tweaking the team car the last time here four weeks ago. He made the main as an alternate and ran 18th. Gregg Bragg jumped into Hall of fame driver Billy Wilkerson’s # 11 car, and ran 14th in his first go around. Bobby Cody destroyed his car at the last race of the season in 2004 and made this his first race of the new season and secured 11th in the main event. He is not running for points this year, only his first win and let the point’s fall where they may. Defending Champion, Rip Williams, was second quick, ran third in his heat and eighth in the main event as he is thinking about repeating as champion. Cory Kruseman was fifth quick and fourth in the Semi before running 10th in the main event.

Shiny tires are still blazing under the lights. Who knows why some teams take the time to make their cars look so good under the lights, but they do and the crowd loves it. This week Alan Ballard’s # 97 was probably the best, but Mike Kirby and the two Smiley cars plus Cory Kruseman and Tony Jones were just the best on the night of many clean and sharp looking race cars.

Don Kazarian, Perris Auto Speedway promoter, is supporting the Cancer efforts of the Perris neighborhood. He pledged a goal of $10,000 would be aimed for in collections at the track for the Cancer effort. The drivers came out of the pits during intermission to take their helmets up in the grandstands to get money that will go to a cause that has affected most of us, and a deadly killer, cancer.

The next race will be at Bakersfield Speedway on Saturday, March 12. It’s a short trip up there for the only visit to the racy oval, so don’t miss it. Cory Kruseman won there last year in the Alexander car, can he repeat in the potent Glenn Crossno machine? Can Gardner make it three in a row? Will “Kapt” Kirby take the win in the “Silver Bullet” car? Will Ostling get a ride? Will Rip win his 100th? Can Cowboy Jones get his first win of the year? Will a four time midget winner there get his first ever 410 win? Can Bobby Cody put that new car in the winners circle? Questions we’ll get answers to in a few days, see you there!

Results from Perris Auto Speedway, March 5, 2005
TROPHY DASH: (3 laps) 1. Josh Ford, 2. Mike Kirby, 3. Rip Williams, 4. Damion Gardner. Time 53:26

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Alan Ballard, 2. Tony Jones, 3. Bobby Cody, 4. Damion Gardner, 5. Cory Kruseman, 6. Mark Heidenreich, 7. Seth Wilson, 8. David Cardey, 9. Nate Ziegler, 10. Dany Ebberts. Time 2:54:34

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Dwayne Marcum, 2. Jason York, 3. Rip Williams, 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Jordan Hermansader, 6.Mike Spencer, 7. Josh Wise, 8. Randy Waitman, 9. Matt Stewart, 10. Rodney Argo. No Time

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rick Williams, 2. Danny Sheridan, 3. Gary W Howard, 4. Steve Ostling, 5. Dan Hillberg, 6. Rick Ziehl, 7. Josh Ford, 8. J Hicks, 9. Nadine Keller. 2:52:94Time

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Steve Paden, 2. Charles Dav is Jr, 3. Greg Bragg, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Matt Rossi, 6. Jimmy Crawford, 7. RJ Johnson, 8. Mike Kirby, 9. Joshua Williams. Time 2:58:54

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Mike Kirby, 2. Josh Ford, 3. Josh Wise, 4. Cory Kruseman, 5. Jimmy Crawford, 6. Danny Ebberts, 7. J Hicks, 8. Mike Spencer, 9. Jordan Hermansader, 10. RJ Johnson, 11. Mark Heidenreich, 12. Dan Hillberg, 13. Randy Waitman, 14. Seth Wilson, 15. Nadine Keller, 16. Matt Stewart, 17. Rodney Argo, 18. Rick Ziehl, 19. Matt Rossi, 20. Joshua Williams. No Time

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Steve Ostling, 3. Mike Kirby, 4. Danny Sheridan, 5. Charles Davis Jr, 6. Josh wise, 7. Tony Jones, 8. Rip Williams, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Cory Kruseman, 11. Bobby Cody, 12. Josh Ford, 13. Troy Rutherford, 14. Greg Bragg, 15. Danny Ebberts, 16. Jason York, 17. Alan Ballard, 18. Mike Spencer, 19. Steve Paden, 20. Gary W. Howard, 21 Rick Williams, 22. Dwayne Marcum, 23. Jimmy Crawford. Time 8:39:11

Argo crashed on lap 1 of Heat 2, Joshua Williams flipped on lap 1 of the Semi.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Troy Rutherford, 2-11 Danny Sheridan and 12-30 Damion Gardner.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Kirby-170; 2-Davis-164; 3-Rip Williams-145; 4-Gardner-144; 5-Kruseman-129; 6-Ostling-109; 7-Rick Williams-103; 8-Spencer-97; 9-Jones-86; 10-Wilson-84.

NEXT USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: March 12 – Bakersfield, CA – Bakersfield Speedway

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