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CORY CAPTURES USAC MIDGET AND VRA 360 FEATURE WINS AT HOME!

By Ken Wagner 4/24/05

Some might think Jim Naylor is doing something right after getting in last nights USAC and VRA features in under threat of weekend rain that loomed all week at his track. Some might have thought since the weather man was predicting showers and thunderstorms starting on Friday thru the weekend, it would never happen, again like last years scheduled midget race. In fact I was one who watched the internet weather picture until I called to see how wet it was on Saturday morning. The reply from the bossman himself was he was watering the track in preparation for his first midget race in awhile, so I got on the road.

Mrs Wags had a few pics from Ventura. Click here to see.

The overcast skies didnít deter 30 USAC midgets, 38 VRA sprints and 20 Ford Focus midgets from putting on a dandy show for those who took a chance on the weather that didnít arrive until shortly after curfew. Robby Flock had fast time for the midgets as USAC/ CRA regulars Cory Kruseman, Damion Gardner and Mike Spencer came to play. Cory and Nadine Keller ran with the VRA and the fast paced night had plenty of action for all who dared to travel to the beach.

Cory Kruseman has long claimed Ventura Raceway as his starting spot and home track. The things he has accomplished over the years since his TQ days there are somewhat astounding. Dean Thompson set the standard that all west coast drivers have chased since he won 103 races in 410 sprints. Rip Williams, after 27 plus dedicated years reached 100 last week as he zeroís in on that very record. Cory, with some 12 years behind him already has 70 wins himself. Add to that an SCRA championship, two Chili Bowl Championships and other prestigious wins including the Oval Nationals and numerous National USAC wins, plus a few VRA victories, the Kruser continues to pile emí on. Saturday night was no exception as he won two features and made his large and close knit family proud again.

In the midget feature, Cory started in the second row and took the lead quickly in two laps. Brad Kuhn snatched it from him about 10 laps later when the Kruser bobbled in turn two, yet he came back to regain the lead and went on to win in Andy Bondioís superlative midget. The ďbikeĒ wheel he sported at the Chili Bowl was not on the car because it is not allowed under USAC rules. Although Kuhn, a long way from his home in Indiana, ran really strong, he was no match for Cory on his home track in Andyís midget, but ran a close second.

The sprint experience was a little different for the Kruser as he tracked down the point leader, Blake Miller, from his 6th starting spot to take the lead, but here comes Jimmy ďNeutronĒ Crawford on the loud pedal. Jimmy grabbed the lead and took off like he meant business pulling away. So, Cory slowly reeled him in and with Jimmy about to take the white flag, the Neutron jumped the Shark! Well, he bobbled enough that Cory snaked under him for the lead and the win a lap later. Great job by Jimmy, who will be married in three weeks, as his car ran strong all night.

Bobby Michnowicz continues to be the Focus point leader, but didnít have a good night when he crashed in the main event. He was fighting for 4th place when he and the 4th place car got together, with him coming out on the flipped side, and done for the night. Alex Harris won the 20 lapper.

Damion Gardner came to town to drive drag racer Cruz Pedregonís # 71 midget. He qualified 13th and won his heat, then started 12th in the main. With the majority of the cars ahead of him running exclusively on the bottom, he had his work cut out for himself. It took a few thrusts very high on the track to convince him there had to be a faster way, and when he found his groove a little lower, he began moving up with fifth his finishing spot. He needed a few more laps as he got going pretty good midway in the race. Nice job!

So far this year Venard Motorsports # 47 has been missing in action. When Buster, Linda and Grandma Rosie moved up to Gardnerville, Nevada, they took the two # 47 sprinters with them. Check out the pictures they sent Click here. Since December, Buster has created a new race shop and will be making plans to go racing somewhere in the near future. Son Steve Venard is still chasing sponsors before coming back to race this season. His brother Brian is looking for a ride and trying to get used to baby things for the new arrival in his household. He and Nicol have daughter Haley Rose to keep them busy now. Not sure what Busterís plan for racing is at this time, but he has one, you can be sure of that.

News from the Keith Williamson camp brought their plans to me last week. Last year Keith moved from sunny So Cal to Phoenix and ran several times at Manzanita late in the year. Over the winter Keith and his brother Gary refreshed the Ford motor, but there is a lot going on for the two before they get back to racing. Gary made a career change in jobs and now has a new business to deal with. Keith is building a house and boat for fun breaks. They plan to be at Manzanita for the May 21st show and will run all the USAC/CRA races there and then add as many as the budget allows at Perris the rest of the season. Being a real low buck team running Ford power, they are very unique in their dedication to racing and work extremely hard to go on this road alone.

Ronnie Case ran 10th in this weeks VRA feature in his own 360 powered car. He explained to me that he has purchased all new parts for his 410 motor and as soon as he can find a new crank, that nobody has in stock, he will get it assembled and be ready to go out on his own in a former Rip Williams Stinger he acquired from the Jory owned race team. He is excited about his chances yet needs the motor to get ready. Perris Auto Speedway announced the fan friendly fairgrounds leaders made a decision to not allow camping anywhere on the fairgrounds anymore except on the following dates: Memorial Day Weekend (May 28-30, 2005), 4th of July, Oval Nationals (Nov. 3-5, 2005) and Labor Day Weekend (Sep 3-5, 2005). Anything else is out! One wonders why discouraging some fans who have RVís to come and enjoy their weekends at the races is beyond my understanding. Using the family RV to go to the races is a time honored tradition and unfortunately, the PAS has no say in the matter.

Coming up will be the start of CRA racing practically every weekend. For the next ten weeks, the club will race at Perris 6 times, and Ventura, Manzanita, Hanford and Santa Maria one each. Make your plans now to catch the most exciting racing on dirt along the way. The next race is April 30th at Perris. See you there.

For those who have asked about the red vette that now parks in my garage, and wonít likely be coming to a dirt track anytime soon, here are a few pics. Click here!

USAC MIDGET FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Cory Kruseman, 2. Brad Kuhn, 3. Garrett Hansen, 4. Johnny Rodriguez, 5. Damion Gardner, 6. Josh Lakatos, 7. Shannon McQueen, 8. Scott Pierovich, 9. Eric Wilkins, 10. Robby Flock, 11. Steve Paden, 12. Tyler Brown, 13. Jerome Rodela, 14. Wally Pankratz, 15. Dallen McKenney, 16. Jimmy Christian, 17. Stephen Graves, 18. Amy Maris, 19. Ryan Kaplan, 20. Chris Rahe, 21. Mike Spencer.

FORD FOCUS FEATURE: (20 laps) 1. Alex Harris, 2. Robbie Whitchurch, 3. Todd Carroll, 4. Bill Camarillo, 5. Chris Veach, 6. Cal Smith, 7. Audra Sasselli, 8. Jet Davison, 9. J.R. Williams, 10. Rob Kershaw, 11. Robbie Hawks, 12. Cameron Veach, 13. Tom Fish, 14. Bobby Michnowicz, 15. Keith Janca, 16. Jake Vail, 17. Chase Barber, 18. John Israel, 19. Nick Carlson. NT

VRA FEATURE: (30 laps - With Starting Positions) 1. Cory Kruseman (6th), 2. Jimmy Crawford (7th), 3. Blake Miller (4th), 4. Kevin Kierce (5th), 5. Tom Stansberry (9th), 6. Steve Conrad (15th), 7. Chris Wakim (18th), 8. Tom Hendricks (1st), 9. Seth Wilson (12th), 10. Ronnie Case (16th), 11. Bruce Douglas (3rd), 12. Bill Welch (14th), 13. Rob Kershaw (20th), 14. John Nock (10th), 15. Steve Chulahoff (17th), 16. Nadine Keller (19th), 17. Shawn Kautz (2nd), 18. Clark Templeman III (8th), 19. Guy Woodward (13th), 20. Ron Bach (11th)

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