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By Ken Wagner 4/30/05

Damion Gardner, from Concord, CA, started 23rd in this weeks Valvoline USAC/CRA 30 lap feature race at Perris Auto Speedway on Saturday night, and still won his third feature of the season in the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Eagle, Shaver number 50 sprinter. After setting his seventh fast time out of eight events this season, he encountered trouble in his heat and the 12 lap semi when he did not finish either race. Taking a provisional starting spot at the back of the line-up, the ”Demon” decimated the field as he passed 22 cars and took the lead on lap 28 for an almost impossible feat that left the crowd stunned and amazed, it was awesome!

There were some Mr Wags pics this week. Click here.

In victory circle Damion said ”things fell apart there early, but in the main, we were on a mission. I was trying to be real clean coming thru the pack. I knew I could do it, but when I got to third, I really knew it then!” Damion let it all hang out as he darted around the dirt oval pulling the wheels up coming out of nearly every corner and giving the sprint car world something to talk about. This is one for the ages and will be referred to often in the future as a milestone for all drivers to shoot for. I remember when Rip Williams won a Friday night 20 lapper at the PAS, then won the second inverted 20 lapper from the back for the only other time I remember recently that anyone came from back there to win.

Bruce Bromme Jr and his crew worked hard to even get the “little red sucker” to the back of the main. Damion got caught in his heat with no place to go and got whacked back to the pits. Then in the Semi, a broken torsion bar sent a jagged piece to the left rear tire and caused a flat. They were the last car on the starting grid, but made the crowd come alive with his adventures. Bruce left home after promising his Mom Marge, who is very ill, they would win this one for her, and they did.

Mike Kirby took over the lead on lap six after early leader, Rodney Argo, had his power steering lock up forcing him out of action. Mike then led until Cory Kruseman took over on lap 21. Then the suspense was all about Damion and could he do it? The ending saw Damion, Cory and Tony Jones standing on the podium in that order with Kirby and Charles Davis Jr following.

Cory Krusemancame out gunning this week as the debut of the new Bullitt Chassis wasn’t very kind to him and his team on it’s maiden voyage two weeks ago. Things were much better this week when Cory was 7th quick, third in his heat and started sixth in the main. Cory, in the ITI Performance, Sander Engineering, Bullitt, Downing # 38, chased down Mike Kirby on lap21 and appeared to be on his way to another win. His car was strong, but he couldn’t hold off the Demon.

Tony Jones, driving the Ferreira Dairy, Standard Feeding, Maxim, RC Performance # 87, was back on the podium for the first time this season. Tony was 10th quick and was 2nd in his heat before starting third in the main event. Tony showed why he is known as “the Cowboy” when he dropped back to about 7th before roaring back up to 3rd at the end.

Johnny Rodriguez made his first non-wing sprint car start this week in Mark Priestley’s # 7 car a good one as the Midget star ran a strong 12th. His only sprint car experience up until now has been with a wing, and he said early in the afternoon he was really exited to get this chance that he had been waiting for.

A new car, but not a new driver, appeared this week when Jack Hawley returned from a near 20 year retirement to strap in a sprinter again. He looked like he still remembered the routine, but will have to settle for 13th in the semi this week.

Ronnie Case got in his 3rd or 4th different ride this season when he jumped in the 0 car of Shoemaker and sons. Buzz and Doug continue to work very hard to put the Orange car in the winners circle. Ronnie made the feature and ran 17th on a goodnight in a strange car to him.

Rick Becker has been out only a couple of times this year. The former champion stock car racer has been known to put others in his car, but this week was his best one yet as he was 8th quick and made the main with a 4th in his heat. He finished11th and ran strong in the main.

The intermission brought a nice presentation for Rip Williams, his wife Becky and car owners Jack & Sharon Jory. Nice black jackets with Rip Williams 100 wins stitched on the back, courtesy of Jim Naylor of Ventura Raceway, were given to the four infront of the main grandstand. Classy move and afterwards the crowd sang happy 49th birthday to the defending champion who climbs that plateau on May 5th.

If you don’t check out Ventura this week with the USAC/CRA making it’s first appearance there, then you’ll miss out. It is the BOMB!

VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: April 30, 2005 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin-16.010; 2. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics-16.206; 3. Charles Davis, Jr, 8A, Smiley-16.313; 4. Bobby Cody, 41, Cody-16.390; 5. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley-16.425; 6. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-16.433; 7. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno-16.560; 8. Rick Becker, 67, Becker-16.573; 9. Danny Ebberts, 77, Acosta-16.575; 10. Tony Jones, 87, Vermeer/Ferreira-16.650; 11. Rodney Argo, 19, Argo-16.710; 12. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander-16.725; 13. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom-16.753; 14. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard-16.766; 15. J.Hicks, 66, Miller-16.801; 16. David Cardey, 59, Giardina-16.856; 17. Jordan Hermansader, 92, Sertich-16.866; 18. Jason York, 25N, York-16.889; 19. R.J. Johnson, 15AZ, Martin-16.899; 20. Steve Ostling, 5, Keller-16.918; 21. Dan Hillberg, 82, Hillberg-16.925; 22. Bobby Graham, 14, Lancaster-16.930; 23. Steve Paden, 1, Farrier-17.110; 24. Johnny Rodriguez, 7, Priestley-17.124; 25. Jimmy Crawford, 17C, Crawford-17.170; 26. Ronnie Case, 0, Shoemaker-17.268; 27. Jimmy Thornell, 25, Ruth-17.391; 28. J.J. Ercse, 33, Blair-17.560; 29. Todd Hunsaker, 75, Hunsaker-17.672; 30. Joshua Williams, 34, Williams-17.720; 31. Brandon Springstead, 36, Springstead-17.799; 32. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller-18.325; 33. Jack Hawley, 1J, Hawley-18.332; 34. Richard Rose, N8, Ziegler-NT.

TROPHY DASH: (3 laps) 1. Davis, 2. Gardner, 3. Cody, 4. Wilson. :50.16

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hillberg, 2. Crawford, 3. Spencer, 4. Ebberts, 5. Hunsaker, 6. Gaunt, 7. Hawley, 8. Hermansader, 9. Gardner. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. R.Williams, 2. Jones, 3. Ballard, 4. Case, 5. York, 6. Graham, 7. Wilson, 8. J.Williams. 2:59:40

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hicks, 2. Davis, 3, Kruseman, 4. Argo, 5. Johnson, 6. Springstead, 7. Thornell, 8. Paden. NT

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kirby, 2. Ostling, 3. Ercse, 4. Becker, 5. Cardey, 6. Cody, 7. Keller, 8. Rodriguez. 2:56:80

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Wilson, 2. Hermansader, 3. Johnson, 4. Cody, 5. Cardey, 6. Rodriguez, 7. York, 8. Graham, 9. Thornell, 10. J.Williams, 11. Springstead, 12. Gaunt, 13. Hawley, 14. Keller, 15. Hunsaker, 16. Gardner. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Cory Kruseman, 3. Tony Jones, 4. Mike Kirby, 5. Charles Davis, Jr., 6. Rip Williams, 7. Danny Ebberts, 8. Jordan Hermansader, 9. Alan Ballard, 10. Mike Spencer, 11. Rick Becker, 12. Johnny Rodriguez, 13. R.J. Johnson, 14. Seth Wilson, 15. David Cardey, 16. J.Hicks, 17. Ronnie Case, 18. J.J. Ercse, 19. Jimmy Crawford, 20. Steve Ostling, 21. Bobby Cody, 22. Dan Hillberg, 23. Rodney Argo. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Argo, Laps 6-20 Kirby, Laps 21-27 Kruseman, Laps 28-30 Gardner.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Rip Williams-517; 2-Davis-492; 3-Kirby-476; 4-Gardner-451; 5-Kruseman-441; 6-Gaunt-354; 7-Josh Ford-310; 8-Jones-268; 9-Wilson-267; 10-Ballard-246.

NEXT USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: May 7 – Ventura (CA) Raceway

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