Watching Cory Kruseman race is always a pleasure. Driving the Cory Witherill # 61 is familiar on the coast as he returns home after each venture East, and if it's a race night, he's there in the blue and yellow entry. This week he had some fun in Indy with his USAC sprint car owner Tony Stewart. Seems as though Cory was shaking down a pavement ride at IRP and was having some trouble getting his best out of it. Enter Mr Stewart who jumped in the car and cut a lap a tad faster than Cory's, to show his driver just how to do it! How many car owners could or would dare to do that for their driver!!! Cory is blessed as he is in good hands with Tony's help.
Cory ran at Gas City, Indiana on Friday night and got 10th in his new Stewart Motorsports white Mopar # 21 sprinter. He explained he was moving up towards the front, running in about 5th when he did a wild wheelstand going down the straightaway. While tilted, he looked over and saw the car next to him and felt fine so he continued on. When the wheels came down, he was suddenly looking at the turn and hadn't moved the wheel left yet. That panic reaction put him off the track, with a slow return to the racing surface that dropped him back and sealed his 10th place finish. The traveling doesn't seem to bother him in spite of the lost sleep and the long plane flights.
Without qualifying in the VRA, the draw makes for some interesting line-ups. Cory won his heat and started 6th on the main event grid next to Luis Espinoza. The feature had a number of reds and yellows, but Cory was able to take the lead from new point leader, Mike Knopf about a third of the way into the race. Cory is a master at Ventura and using the high line is something only a few in the VRA have really mastered, so it was there for him as he moved away with a big win putting on a show. His car owner was in Madera winning the sprint car feature the same night.
Steve Ostling guest drove the # 0 car of Buzz and Doug Shoemaker this week, starting on the front row after getting 2nd in his heat. He lost his spot up front on the start and dropped back a handful of spots before reeling in everyone but the winner later on. Imagine that, Steve ran 2nd again! It looked like third would belong to SCRA regular, Josh Ford, but something happened to his car late in the race and he retired with a 14th. Great job up until then by the strawberry sponsored young man. Oops, sorry Josh, I forgot about the red stuff! Luis Espinoza worked his way into the last podium spot as he did a great job in the pretty # 09 car.
Interestingly enough on the night there were two ladies racing sprints for the first time. Track official, Hobie Conway and Nadine Keller were the lucky ladies ready to do it in the dirt! Hobie is best known as the rocket on the red Kawasaki ATV that zooms to the proper spot on the track in case of trouble. She works hard to do her job every race. She is well respected for her intensity and abilities to do much for the tracks well being. In fact, one of her new duties is to "spritz" the track in between races sometimes, as a little water is needed and it saves Jim Naylor from rushing out to the water truck for a pass. Hobie is an accomplished stock car racer, but the driving a sprinter was a big dream for her. Oren Prosser stepped up and let Hobie drive the car that he and his son, Oren Jr, share each race. Hobie was 8th in her heat and 7th in the semi, so her night ended there, or did it. Soon after the semi, she was back on her quad and working like normal right after missing the main event. Great job and I know she had fun. Nadine was in one of the Cory Kruseman "rent a ride" school cars and was 9th in both her heat and the semi as she got into this thunder and lightning stuff.
One the most colorful racers around these parts is Mike Knopf! He not only is seen in outrageous colorful outfits, but is an obvious body builder with a very buff body he struts around in. Mike is the new point leader after his 4th place finish this week. We have seen him run with us at Santa Maria often and before that other tracks during the SCRA events up north. A likeable personality, Mike has done a great job with the VRA and will be looking to win the championship in his # 5 ride. You really ought to visit with this guy, he's outrageous!
Unlucky participants in the main who "got involved" and went to the pits, included Jimmy "Neutron" Crawford, Chris Wakim, Ronnie Case, Chris Tramel and a few more who got caught up in the many incidents this 30 lapper endured. Although the event ran right up to the new 10 pm curfew, the crowd enjoyed the ending.
I think I should be on Wiley Miller's payroll. It just seems like every time I get a break from SCRA events and drop in at Ventura, I always like to talk to Wiley, last years Senior VRA champion. And each time I do, he wins. Yes, he did it again after another friendly conversation in his pit, and I wonder if I am his lucky charm? He beat Russell DeBlauw, the guy who was on a two race win streak, in winning what I call the "Grandpa Grand Prix"!. Wiley hustled up from his 5th starting spot to win and looked smooth doing it. Ron Bach, the points leader, finished 2nd to continue his great start this season.
As usual I enjoyed the Naylor hospitality, inclding the water truck rides, which made watching the racing from the announcers box a pleasure. Jim interviewed a lot of people including Jay Drake and Troy Rutherford, two former Ventura racers who have gone on to rewarding racing elsewhere. Jay will be running the Irwindale twin midget races this coming Saturday while Troy will try to continue on with his 7 races running 4th or better! Think about how you can help attendance at your favorite sprint car track this week. Bring a friend, tell your work friends about it, organize a "road trip", pay someone's way in,. Any and all of these things will help!
Next stop is Perris this coming Saturday, and lets get the rain gods to move on away for a nice weather break this time. Pack it in, it will be awesome. Look for the SCRA's first visit to Ventura on May 3 before a long trip to Manzy the next weekend.
SCRA standings as of 4/13/03
1. Richard Griffin 452, 2. Troy Rutherford 442, 3. Damion Gardner 395, 4. Rip Williams 323, 5. Steve Ostling 320, 6. Mike English 314, 7. Rickie Gaunt 290, 8. Mike Spencer 273, 9. Levi Jones 249, 10. Tony Jones 215, 11. Cory Kruseman 211, 12. Adam Mitchell 201, 13. Lance Gremett 179, 14. Rodney Argo 158, 15. Verne Sweeney 148, 16. Jerry Coons, Jr 135, 17. Bryan Stanfill (R) 132, 18. Tracy Hines 121, 19. Jeremy Sherman 117, 20. Jimmy Crawford (R) 114, Bobby Cody 114