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The SCRA returned home to The PAS after two weeks on the road and things haven't changed, the racing is still hot! Tony "Cowboy" Jones patiently moved thru traffic and bypassed a spirited battle between Rip Williams and Damion Gardner to cop his 3rd SCRA win of the year, and 13th of his career, pulling to within 9 points of point leader Cory Kruseman. Four drivers held the lead at one time or another during the race, as the 30-lap event was far from tame.

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Tony dropped back from his 7th starting spot early in the race. He labored as far back as 12th for a while before he began moving forward to fifth. Then a timely, for him, red flag pause allowed his father, Bubby, to touch the car. On the restart he was like a rocket, sending him to the front and another win. Tony, driving the Ferreira Dairies, Avenger Race Cars of El Paso, VGI Graphics, # 87 was ready after the 18-lap red flag stopped the action. He finished the job quickly, taking the lead with 5 laps to go and withstanding a white flag lap "mystery yellow" that shuffled the field behind him on the last restart. Tony ran the top groove almost exclusively, like he was on a rail, in winning his heat and the main event. He had too much for the rest of the field this week.

Steve Ostling, driving the Fischer Motorsports, Watt Enterprises, Pacific Coast Sportswear, Stress Relief Engineering, Drake Chassis, # 29 started 10th in the main event. When the mystery yellow appeared, he was in 4th but had showed signs of going to the front. On that last restart, he blew into 2nd and almost pulled even with Tony, but settled for a strong 2nd trying to make his fast bottom groove the winning path. Steve missed the transfer from his heat, but won the semi to set up his great drive in the main. It was his 3rd runner-up finish this season and he looks like he is about to break thru for a win soon.

Damion Gardner and Rip Williams were a show of their own for most of the race, and especially right up to the checkered flag. Early on Rip and the Gasman, Richard Griffin, provided the close quarter action, but Damion stuck his nose into that battle, literally, and took the lead from Rip, several times! "Demon" Damion was driving just like that, making moves that didn't look possible and causing the crowd to get excited. Damion, driving his own COY Construction, Aldrich Air, C M Excavating, # 20, was a blur much of the night. He broke a bar on his jacob's ladder, probably when he hit the wall early in the race, and took advantage of the red flag stop to fix it. He then returned and never backed off to fight hard for the podium finish that would be his first. After all the wheel to wheel action on the nights wild ride by the "LittleDemon", Damion went wheel to banging wheel with Rip on the last 50 yards to take third from the veteran who earlier looked like he might break his winless streak in 2002.

Rip was hard on the gas from the get go this night, leading almost half the race, and ended up losing two spots after the mystery yellow. He was running 2nd and clearly going to cross the finish line that way, but in racing, you don't do anything until the large singing experience happens! Rip fought hard for that position, but the restart wasn't his friend and he was up high when Ostling came under him, then he just barely missed holding off the little Demon! Richard Griffin also got a bad deal when he banged with someone and the resulting flat right front tire put him in the rear on a restart. Luckily, his crew was able to get the tire replaced before the next green appeared as they appeared to wait for him! He managed to race back to 10th by the end, but another front row start was ruined by bad luck after winning the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash.

Mike Kirby was 11th tonight and I was politely informed that he did not have a motor "problem" last week at Manzanita, as I reported, but more like some kind of a brake failure, (you know me and my technical knowledge of these things, so bear with me here). Whatever it was, it caused vibration and noise that made him think it was a motor, so he pulled in. Mike is a very cautious driver when it comes to his equipment. He will always park his car when anything that might cost money appears to happen. In this case, if he had continued to drive the car with "the" problem last week, he might have met the wall when the broken pieces started to come off. He was 2nd in his heat and finished 11th in the main. He told me his trip back east for the tour is dependent on not having any more expensive repair problems, the budget won't take it.

Jeremy Sherman ran 5th after winning is heat and taking third in the dash. It was only his second top five at Perris this year as he continues to struggle getting the "handle" on the PAS. Jeremy has won four of the last five at Manzanita, but can't get that first elusive win at the California desert track. He is one of the many who are so competitive in the SCRA, and that is what makes the racing so good.

One of the shocks of the year happened this week when the Gardner Motorsports Racing Team closed its doors. The blue and white Sled cars are parked and none outside of the family knows for how long, or if they are indeed done racing. The long history and tradition of the family # 96 sprinter that has graced the winner's circle for many years could be at risk. Life sometimes interrupts our dreams and what we desire, it is what happens when we expect something else, but racing is in their blood. As soon as things get sorted out, the "things" is usually that ugly word MONEY, hopefully they will be back.

Troy Rutherford, of course, is out of a ride with this sudden Gardner door closing. He turned up this week in the # 21J of Dwight Chaney. It wasn't the best debut, but he got 16th after starting in the back row of the main. Don't know what is in store for Troy or the 21 J car, but the 50 lap Memorial Day race coming up at Perris this week should be a quick answer. Point leader Cory Kruseman had little luck this week after he won his heat early. He was last in the dash, and then started 8th and finished 6th in the main. He still maintained his point lead in defending his championship. Cory never seemed to get it going after jumping the cushion on a restart. He was off to Habstadt with Jeremy Sherman after the races to run their Sunday night show. Cory crashed in qualifying and didn't race while Sherman finished 9th. J J Yeley crashed in the main, as did Jay Drake, as neither had much luck at that fine facility this week.

Dropouts this week include Rick Becker and Gary W Howard, both early on in the race, and I didn't find out why. Bobby Graham was really kickin' it in the main when he got it over the berm and into the wall while running 5th. He started 12th and was flying when the end came. His push bar came off and Keith Williamson ran over it, ending his night as well. Rodney Argo had his best finish in a while with a 12th this week, after missing a couple of races. New driver out this week was Tom Wilhelm, whose yellow and red # 64 has a long history behind it. Walt Kennedy, Lealand McSpadden and many more, including Mel Murphy, have driven this wide-bodied car. The car and the Ford motor that was in the frame back then belonged to Danny Pivoveroff, former car owner and SCRA official recently. Tom has no experience and was just getting in some laps during his initial outing in the car.

Dan Tedrick got the infamous Wagsbucks of $ 166 this week when he jumped the berm and nailed the wall, crumpling his front end. Dan is the loner who comes by himself and works hard on his very low budget racecar each time out. The nice man smiled and asked if it meant he could be in the Wagsdash this year? Absolutely, he is the kind of racer this race is made for. He could really use some help. Hint, Hint!

Shiny Tire leader Krista Bandy wasn't in the house as grandpa Willie was recovering from his latest cancer treatment. His cancer is now in remission! But, there is more work to be done, to get rid of the tumor. Anyway, Malory Gardner and Emily Jones presided over the presentations of Rickie Gaunt's winning effort by his crew and the runner-up award for Mike English. Great job by those two crews and all the other shiny tire efforts on the track, there were many. Rickie also was the hard charger of the night when he came from 17th to 8th.

Probably most fans saw on TV the two high flying endo's from Terre Haute a few weeks ago. Dave Darland and Bud Kaeding both had nasty rides. Darland is back racing, but Bud is experiencing some eye problems from his crash. He should be Ok as time heals his eyes, but for now he is parked for a little R & R. The pics of his red eye condition was gruesome, and reminiscent of a Billy Boat crash from Eldora a long time ago.

The 50-lap race at Perris is next, so lets get out there and fill the place. Look for us as I will have the RC raffle tickets available and will be collecting tour tow money as well as the Wagsbucks for the night. Tickets for Oskaloosa are going fast, get yours! Oh yeah, Dubya was pleased with his new track vehicle, choosing to relax during the racing out of his normal caged position! See ya Saturday!

SCRA Points as of 5/19/02: 1. Cory Kruseman Ventura CA 661, 2. Tony Jones 652, 3. Richard Griffin 605, 4. Steve Ostling 595, 5. Jeremy Sherman 560, 6. Rip Williams 525, 7. John Scott 524, 8. Troy Rutherford 523, 9. Mike Kirby 472, 10. Rickie Gaunt 399, 11. Charles Davis, Jr 398, 12. Damion Gardner 398, 13. Mike English 372, 14. Gary W. Howard 267, 15. Bobby Graham 256, 16. Levi Jones 213, 17. Danny Sheridan 209, 18. Tony Elliott 198, 19. Rodney Argo 193, 20. Adam Mitchell 166

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