Mrs Wags pics are good. Click here!to check them out!
Damion gave us 19 laps of action from the fifth row to the front, instead of like recent wins from the front row. It was fun to watch him work his way forward thru traffic, but he wasn't done yet! He took aim at both early leader Josh Wise and eventual runner-up Griffin before taking the lead on lap 19. From this point on, he had his hands full of the Gasman. Damion rode the black TCR, Gaerte, Weld # 45 hard all night. He had the defending champion in that "little red sucker", on his tail as they dueled side-by-side the rest of the way. On one lap down the backstretch, it looked like a drag race, as they were side by side when the Demon pulled the highest wheelstand you can imagine at speed. He had it way up on the push bar and when it came down, it bounced very hard, but he continued on in the lead, whew.
With each driver never lifting and utilizing nerves of steel in this close battle, the ebb and flow was intense for the lucky fans. Richard tried every way to get around the Demon, pulling even on many thrusts, but until Damion stayed lower than usual to block him late in the race, he was unable to make any move past him. Richard literally was inches behind as they crossed the finish line lap after lap, until the opening appeared. When the Gasman, driving the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Circle C Marketing # 50, found that opening up top, he went around the Demon with 8 laps to go and began to pull slightly away. WOW!
Damion was not giving up as he rushed up to the back bumper of the red car and made some moves. Suddenly, a late race yellow with 4 laps to go, bunched everyone up with the red and black cars in tandem. When they went single file out of turn two down the backstretch, you knew the show wasn't over. As Richard hit the restart cone, the Demon hit the loud pedal and made a "Lealandish" type move, rushing low, to put a quick, hard and fast slider on the leader, as they went into turn three. The crowd held their breath to see if the Demon could hold on to his fast mount out of four, and he did. Damion then held off the charging Griffin, after displaying the ultimate brass pair, and won his 5th race of the year. A great night of racing, but there still was more to watch.
Troy Rutherford never led this week, but "Rambo" was right on the tail of the duel for the lead all night in Mark Priestley's, Roy Miller Freight Lines, Prime Pilot, Vital Express, # 7. He finished a close third for his 9th top five finish in ten events this year. Troy ran as high as 2nd early on as he continues to impress in the beautiful yellow car with his consistency. He was fast, but not quite as the leading pair. He remains in 2nd place in championship points, only 27 behind the leader, Griffin.
Last year Josh Wise showed the SCRA family that an accomplished midget driver could handle these 410 monsters when he subbed for Rodney Argo for about 5 races. This week he took the opening green flag in Mike Sala's # 19s sprinter and rode the very top of the berm to lead for 6 laps. And when the Gasman took the lead away from him, he didn't back off, staying right in the battle, and took the lead back briefly on lap 14 with some very veteran like action. Later, when Gardner made a move on him and went by, Josh struck the third turn wall and turned over the black car, but not before impressing a lot of people. We will see a lot of him in the future up front. Rip Williams continued his passion driven exploits as he ran fourth and was right behind Rutherford the last half of the race. Those two had their own battle to amuse the fans and the fun was watching them, too. Rip is showing the youngsters plenty as the # 3 black sprinter is one to beat every week. His teammate, Mike English, won his heat but was whacked out of the main event early. It "earned" him the hard luck award of the night from Hedman Headers, but he had more to give when the wrecker took him off the track.
Mike Spencer was the KSE hard charger of the night after qualifying 33rd out of 35 cars this week. I didn't see qualifying, so assumed he had a problem. He didn't have a problem in the 50 lap main as the youngster came from 22nd to 6th and was really looking for more. The Hal Engstrom # 44 is another low buck team looking for more sponsorship so Mike can have a better chance to get that elusive first SCRA win. He is fun to watch as he continues to improve.
Under the "stuff happens" this week, tough things affected many like normal. Adam Mitchell had another rough week, but not before he beat Rip in the second heat and then won his first JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash. Rip was fast, but Adam has the white lightning # 99 really running fast himself. He got involved in enough bad stuff that he was done early in this long race. Adam has been running up front, but just can't quite stay up there, but soon perhaps he will. Rickie Gaunt stopped on the work area early in the race and did not return. Mike Kirby also didn't last long this week as he went in to work on something and was done. Jimmy Crawford got into two tangles and he was out. Same for Lance Gremett and Alan Ballard as stuff happens.
Bobby Cody debuted a pretty new light blue car that put him 2nd in his heat and 12th in the main as he tries to change his recent bad luck to good. Good job and he was a little calmer than usual and that will put him closer to the front in the future. Good drive by Brian Venard as he overcame a stop to get back to 9th before the checkers flew. Marc Hart returned in between the responsibility of raising his young 3 year old daughter and didn't make the main, but looked good in his heat before he dropped out of the semi. Tom Downing returned and didn't have much luck, but his smile was evident in the pits. Seth Wilson is getting more and more great laps in and this week he nailed 10th in the main. Great for the new driver, but more impressive is his fast action and ability to stay out of trouble.
Levi Jones flew in from Indiana with car owner Glenn Crossno to run the # 38 on Saturday, before returning to Eldora for a Sunday USAC race. Levi won his heat and ultimately ran 7th on the night. At Eldora on Sunday he was 10th, right in front of Cory Kruseman in 11th and Damion Gardner in 13th. It was Damion's first planned trip of several before the Mopar Million in September and it sounds like he did well. J J Yeley won the race as he practically swept USAC this weekend winning the $50,000 bonus for his dirt - pavement double, plus this fastest ½ mile race on dirt. Can you imagine a duel between J J and Damion in the future?
This week we set up a table and collected some tow money for the NWWC tour, the 13th annual Wagsdash and received $160 of Wagsbucks while passing out some Wagsdash posters. The minimum $200 payout of the Wagsbucks will happen at the next race as we added Trevor Brilman to the Wagsdash entry list after his bad crash. Shiny tire winners were Bobby Cody's # 41 and Rickie Gaunt's # 4 as many others, especially the black Jory cars, were shining bright all night! Something else special happened this week when my cousin, Mike Prince and his fiancée, Judi, showed up with grandson Nick and enjoyed what I do that they had only heard about for years. Nick got an autograph from the Demon on his new shirt as they all appeared to have fun.
It looks like I might be going alone on tour again this year as Mrs Wags new job doesn't allow for more than a few vacation days with grandkids and her mom. It looks like I will drive in order to see the first race and then get in a couple of days with my son Kevin and daughter Jill on the way to Oskaloosa. Nothing is set in concrete, but I am looking forward to this trip as usual. I am working on Terry's flying into KC for the final at Lakeside!!!
Chris Holt received $100 cash, donated from ten different fans, to give to Damion if he won, or the hard charger if he didn't. Chris couldn't remember his name and from what turn the extra money came from. He wants to give credit, but is eat up with that old people's disease that I too suffer from, CRS! E-mail him at Mr Chris Holt with the data.
With a week off I will try to resolve my trailer situation and go get my Mule home from the decorator. We come back to the PAS in two weeks on June 7th and then the second and last stop at Tulare the following week, June 14, be there!
SCRA DRIVER POINTS as of 5/24/03 1. Richard Griffin 692 2. Troy Rutherford 665 3. Damion Gardner 617 4. Rip Williams 554 5. Steve Ostling 539 6. Mike Spencer 444 7. 4 Rickie Gaunt Torrance CA 10 442 8. 6 Mike English Norwalk CA 10 431 9. 38 Levi Jones Olney IL 7 329 10. Tony Jones 328 11. Adam Mitchell 290 12. Brian Venard 256 13. Verne Sweeney 241 14. Lance Gremett 239 15. Josh Ford (R) 235 16. Cory Kruseman 211 17. Rodney Argo 195 18. Alan Ballard (R) 192 19. Bryan Stanfill (R) 191 20. 41 Bobby Cody 183