KRUSEMAN NAMED # 1 IN NON-WING SPRINT CAR POLL AGAIN!!!!
The SCRA appeared at Manzanita in Phoenix this past week and a rerun of the week before between Cory Kruseman and Tony Jones happened like expected. These two seem to be destined to battle it out for bragging rights and the 2002 championship. Tony took the opening green flag lead in the main event, but Cory made the big time "Wagsmove of the week" to pass Tony down the back stretch and then lead every lap to win his 55th SCRA leading victory. He is in a tie with Rip Williams for that top spot. It was also his third of the season, grabbing another "Mother's Day" trophy for his mom.
Mrs Wags is finally done. Click Here for the pics.
Cory didn't look particularly fast in his heat, looking like he might miss the dash struggling to get a transfer. When a bobble by the fourth place car in front of him allowed him to grab the last transfer, he went on to run 2nd to Jones in the dash. Then in the main, he played cat and mouse with the Cowboy for 30 laps thru traffic. The # 45 was a very fast racecar come feature time. Cory, driving the WorldGate Network Systems, Camland, TCR car was up to the challenge that was almost a carbon copy of the week before, although running on the smaller quarter mile track at Ventura then. This bigger Manzy half mile was fast and the action furious with those two going thru traffic measuring each other. Cory used the fast but narrow groove to his advantage in winning this one and kept Tony in the points behind him. If Cory does go off to race some Midwest USAC this summer, Tony will benefit greatly, but I don't think Cory will give away any points opportunities this season, choosing to defend his title.
Cory was named # 1 in the latest National Hall of Fame Poll from Knoxville, Iowa this past week. The poll is for non-wing racing only as more attention is going to our heroes these days. Tony Jones was 3rd, Richard Griffin 5th, Jeremy Sherman 8th and Troy Rutherford 11th in the poll. Other SCRA regulars included Mike Kirby, Steve Ostling, Rickie Gaunt, Rip Williams and John Scott in the top 20. Troy Cline, Damion Gardner and Levi Jones garnered multiple votes and made this important list. Two more who run with us on occasion are J J Yeley, who was 4th and Tony Elliott 9th. A great showing for our west coast runners as usual!
The Cowboy, Tony Jones, looked like he was up to the challenge again this week, as he drove the Ferreira Dairies, Avenger Race Cars of El Paso, VGI Graphics, # 87 to 2nd in his heat and won the J E Pistons Passing Masters Dash. All this before taking the lead on the opening rush in the main event, and then chased the eventual winner for 30 laps after the monster "Kruser" pass pushed him back to 2nd. Tony actually passed Cory twice, but the lap traffic he used to get an advantage also shut the door on him each time. Tony didn't get a very good start on the last restart with two laps to go, and this allowed Jeremy Sherman to narrowly get by for 2nd. Tony was patient all night and another podium finish will add to his cache for the year.
Jeremy Sherman had five in a row on his mind when the night started. With half the race gone, he was laboring back in about tenth and things looking a little bleak. Suddenly, he began the march forward that turned into a wild charge. He came up just a little short, but gets kudos for trying. He passed two cars on a restart to get to third and then rolled by the Cowboy with little time left and could only chase Cory to the checkers. Cory didn't wait for him, and Jeremy was disappointed in not winning. He did an outstanding job in the Roy Miller Freight Lines, Angelus Waterproofing, LA Pipe & Supply, # 7, and now comes back wanting to end the "jinx" at Perris this week. He just hadn't had any luck there. Note, his grandma, Doris Clark, saw her first race since having open heart surgery two months ago. Doris has followed Jeremy to most of his races in his career, and enjoyed his drive at the end.
A crash late in the race by Troy Rutherford set up a bazaar scene that did not go unnoticed by the crowd. Troy was a lap car battling with the 3rd place car when he jumped the cushion in turn one and crashed into the wall. Bob Ream Jr, who set fast time and was running in the top 10, began slowing a lap before the incident and was on the backstretch barely moving (and perhaps distracting the officials?) when Troy went on his head back in turn two. The bad part was the red flag did not fly until after the leaders had come through the crash scene at near full speed, while at the same time the yellow shirted track crew was rushing across the track to the wreck. Aaaaaarrrgggg, it was too close for my eyes to digest. Luckily, no one was injured, including Troy, and the race restarted to finish quickly. Gary W Howard was rumored back in Ventura running Buzz Shoemaker's 360, so the Jim Ruth # 25 car was off to Phoenix looking for points. Jordan Hermansader took this time to return to the clay, being overjoyed to get a chance in this strong car. He did great with 13th in qualifying out of 32 cars, and then won his heat ahead of Cowboy Jones. Later, he was doing well in the main when a cheap bolt unraveled itself, causing him to park the car. Look for him to find a ride soon.
Mike "Super K" Kirby had another tough trip to the desert track in Arizona. It has killed one motor already, and this week would create another motor problem when he dropped out of the main while running about 8th and him moving forward very well. Here's hoping Mike can find the help with these motor maladies, because it wouldn't be the same out there without him. Mike Spencer also dropped out early, as did the already mentioned Bob Ream Jr. On the other hand, Rip Williams came from 14th to 5th at the end to earn the hard charger award with some nifty driving on a track that rarely treats him well. Charlie Davis Jr finished his second race in a row. Now that might not seem like much, but at Ventura it was the first time he finished a race there in his history of running there! He finished 6th at Manzy in the brand new John Boy chassis, # 94 car painted a familiar yellow with red trim like many of his cars in the past. His crew also won the small shiny tire award picked by Bethany Thrasher, the Arizona award young lady type person. She also noted Danny Sheridan's crew for the big bottle of baby oil, as the overall winner of the week. Thanks Bethany!
The weather was really very nice, with light wind and a fine t-shirt evening at Manzy. The track was fast, but the groove was up high and only the brave made the moves forward. They mostly used the low groove to launch under and by their competitors, before going back to the faster top groove. Sherman did this very well, as did Williams and Steve Ostling, who finished 7th. Damion Gardner made his 2nd visit to the desert a lot better than the first one where he crashed hard on the first night of the Sokola Classic in March. He was 10th quick, ran 4th in his heat to transfer to the dash where he was 7th, and finished 8th in the main after running 5th earlier in the main. Still showing his fast car and bravery, the Demon Damion is anxiously awaiting a good sponsor while shaking up the SCRA veterans with his fast learning capabilities.
Charlie Ekiss brought out his # 78 car repainted this week. The yellow top and blue bottom combination is pretty sharp, as he has lost the red from last year. He said these are his preferred colors after using his sponsor's choice last season. He barely missed transferring to the main after the long tow over here. Bobby Graham had his best finish in the # 38 Glenn Crossno car with a ninth this week when nothing jumped out in front of him to stop him like the last two races when he ran Glenn's car. Rumor has it his regular ride, owned by Ben Lancaster, will be an Avenger chassis that is on order. It will be strange to see Ben's hand built chassis parked after years of his hard work creating them, but when you use a "factory" built chassis, you have plenty of people to share set-ups with! Local driver Eric Wilkins, who owns two SCRA victories earned several years ago, had his ups and downs trying to compete with the visitors this week. Eric was involved in a crash not of his doing in his heat, and had to win the Semi to get to the main, well he won it, anyway. He had another incident in the main, but returned to get 10th on a long night for him and his crew. He has won 4 of the 7 completed 360 races at Manzy this season.
Richard Griffin came out first in qualifying and ran a low 19 second time on the still sloppy track, that ended up being 2nd quick on the night. The track first improved, then fell off at the end of the 32 timing efforts. Richard looked fast all night, but was only able to get 4th in the main after a 2nd in his heat and 4th in the dash. The Gasman hasn't won in a while, but the team is continuing to work hard and press for that elusive first 2002 win, and it will come, then probably more in bunches.
Dave Keller turned over to me that great RC car that is now up for raffle to raise money for the SCRA racers come Wagsdash night in Ventura. Come get your raffle tickets for this unique hand machined winner by Dave. I will have the tickets with me at all racers from now on!
Just a few comments about the 32nd Tony Hulman Classic in Terre Haute , Indiana this week. Nice guy Jon Stanbrough picked up the prestigious win in the familiar red # 57 he has been driving several years now. It had to be his biggest win ever. Terre Haute is always fast and qualifying an adventure. Remember the Brad Noffsinger crash in the Gardner car there several years ago, going down the back stretch and flipping wildly over the short wall and land near the pits? Well two cars may have outdone him this race. Dave Darland did a wild end over end flip going into turn three, just like Brad, and ended up sending his tire on a moon launch that the TV tape showed dramatically. If you wondered why Bud Kaeding set fast time and didn't appear in any races, the tape also showed his horrendous splash in turn three and what happens when the left side of your car wants to flip over and be the right side. Non wing is where it's at for the best action. J J Yeley was 7th as he continues on his march to repeat as USAC champion, even though he missed getting a ride at Indy.
There were many dignitaries having fun in the pits this week. John Redican, Hank Winter and many more. When Bubby Jones and Lealand McSpadden started swapping car owner stories in the pits after the races, it was a hoot! Wouldn't a movie of the exploits of these two be great! Also, wouldn't it be fun if Lealand decided to crew chief a sprint car in the SCRA and give Bubby some "legendary" competition? Lealand says he doesn't think he could stand watching his own son, Jeff, drive a sprinter like Bubby does Tony. Bubby always said with a smile, he knew Tony would be real good, if he didn't break his neck first! You would have to have been there when Lealand, ever the crowd favorite even today, drew a small crowd of autograph seekers after the race when they recognized him. One small young 5 year old was treated royally by the master fan man, and warmed many hearts nearby. Lealand's presence is missed by his loyal fans, but he generally is off having fun in the sand dunes of Mexico with his wife Janet and tries to ignore the pull of the drivers seat that still haunts him!
Perris looms this coming weekend and Dubya's house will be "in the house". He loved it on the way home from Phoenix and he was quite at home on the couch, in the dining seating area, the rear bedroom and wherever he wanted to catch a nap along the way. Look for us as we continue on the exciting SCRA trail. Get those Oskaloosa tickets from me if you want to set with the California group, they are going fast. Get involved with the tour tow money for the racers towing the 7,000 plus miles to race, ask me how!
SCRA DRIVERS POINTS as of 5/11/02 1.) Cory Kruseman - 606, 2.) Tony Jones - 582, 3.) Richard Griffin - 562, 4.) Steve Ostling -533, 5.) Jeremy Sherman - 502, 6.) Troy Rutherford - 495, 7.) Rip Williams - 466, 8.) John Scott - 464, 9.) Mike Kirby - 432, 10.) Rickie Gaunt - 357.