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By Ken Wagner 5/29/05

Cory Kruseman won his third main event of the season in the Valvoline USAC/CRA series this past Saturday. It was the “Salute to Indy” 50 lapper at Perris Auto Speedway and he drove the ITI Performance, Sander Engineering, Bullitt, Downing # 38 to the win from his 14th starting spot on the grid. Cory now has the new car working perfectly as he came thru the pack quickly to win his third race of the season. In the winners circle he thanked car owners Glenn and Carol Crossno and crew chief Mike Nye for giving him an awesome race car.

Mrs Wags photos are here. Click here.

Cory is now 3rd in points only 40 behind the leader Rip Williams as he continues to move up in the standings. Cory is very comfortable in the new Bullitt chassis and he stopped the four race win streak of Damion Gardner. Cory put the car wherever he wanted and it performed the best yet for him.

RJ Johnson is young but very experienced in open wheel cars. The two time AMRA Midget champion started out this year serious about competing with the big boys of CRA. With a best of ninth twice during the year, RJ graduated on Thursday from high school and then headed for Perris. With the support of his dad, Ricky who is a many time sprint car and midget champion himself, he had his best run in the Arizona Race Mart, Weiler Farms, Ellis, Pro Flyer # 15 so far as he climbed all the way to 2nd place. He battled with Mike Kirby and Rip Williams the last half of the race and bested both of them with some heady driving. What a great drive by the youngster as he now puts his hat squarely in the circle to be the next new winner. He is growing up fast and showed how well he has improved. Earlier in the year he told me he was a little in awe of the CRA top drivers, and realized it wasn’t as easy as his earlier career efforts. He was ready to win this week and don’t be surprised if he does sooner than later.

Rip Williams continues to drive with his elbows up protecting his point lead and gathering momentum each week. Rip, driving the John Jory Corporation, Weld Wheels, Stinger, Shaver #3, battled back from being passed by the winner midway thru the race to get third near the end. He still leads Damion by 34 points and isn’t going away by any means.

Damion Gardner had the demon bite him this week as he was minding his own business in the feature when lightning struck. He set his 10th fast time out of 12 races this season and had a little shuffle in the trophy dash that set the stage for his night. He banged wheels with another car and made a great save to move into the heat race where he was third. Starting 8th for the umpteenth time in the main, he was methodically moving up when “War Dog” Wilson found the wall and he couldn’t avoid him. The front axle was bent so far back, the next 30 laps or so were very difficult to maneuver the beast, yet the Demon fought hard to get up to sixth when a late race red came out and the crew had another chance to touch the car. When he returned, he later said “this might not be so bad” he immediately jumped to fifth and was moving strong again. Unfortunately, that false promise didn’t allow him to correct the next twitch the little red sucker gave him, and he spun out, done for the night.

The track wasn’t the best one we ever had, but no black grooves and it looked like they could race hard on it in both lanes. Some “wide body “ drivers were hard to pass like normal, but it didn’t stop the Kruser and several others to make their march forward. The packed house made for a fine fan day and things will continue on in the great racing of CRA.

Joshua Williams drove hard like he always does in this his rookie season, but this race was different. He made his first main event a good one, starting 21st he hung in there and finished 6th for the hard charger of the night moving 15 places forward. Great job for the rookie.

The tough luck boys made a long list this week as only seven cars finished the main event. As one car owner pointed out, it would be very interesting if I could figure out how much money it cost all the teams, and total up their money spent on broken parts and motors during the night. In other words, how much it really cost each team to run this 50 lapper. I suspect it would be very pricey, and especially for the first few who dropped out early.

Perhaps the guy who went thru the most spare parts was Danny Sheridan. Danny hit the wall in qualifying and basically broke all the bolt on parts on his Kettle sponsored # 18 blue car. Front and rear end damage was so extensive, they missed the heats and started last in the semi. Danny managed to garner the last transfer to the main and was moving very well in the feature getting up in the top ten when the driveshaft let him down. He lasted long enough to get 15th, but “Showtime” didn’t get to fly very much this week.

Mike Spencer has struggled with his new car this year as the team couldn’t seem to find the key to make it happen for him. They spent all week switching over to a used Maxim chassis of the four bar type very much like their old car of last year and had high hopes to do well this night. He was second in his heat looking very racy, but pulled into the pits right away in the feature with a problem that couldn’t be rectified, done for the night.

Jimmy Crawford was doing OK early in the main, but got sideways and over easy on his head and had to hit the trailer. He can’t seem to get a break. He ran third in the semi to transfer, starting 20th only to be thwarted again.

Tony Jones had his troubles again this week after several strong outings. The Cowboy was third quick in qualifying and third quick in his heat to start on the third row of the feature. He was the last car to the starting grid after chasing a problem with the motor after his heat, even changing the mag. On the original start, he slipped into the wall in the first turn and stopped, but came back for a while before retiring very early.

Dan Hillberg Rode up over a wheel in the semi and went into a wild spinning crash that ended against the third turn wall. He was dazed, and later very sore, but the car was whacked pretty hard. He says a lot of bolt-on stuff was mangled, but hopefully, the chassis is intact.

Seth Wilson also stuffed his car into the first turn wall, but unlike Jones he didn’t return after something broke sending him into his early ending. This incident had a lot to do with Damion’s win streak as it took out Charles Davis Jr and bent the Demon’s front axle back several inches, but he restarted.

Steve Ostling looked good again this week as he was 4th fast in qualifying, won the Snap-on Tools Trophy Dash and then transferred to the main, starting fifth on the grid. Steve ran strong in about fifth or sixth until late in the race when he lost a valve in the Black Widow team car and retired as the last car out and was 8th.

Super Rickie Gaunt was making a pass for the lead on a restart against the Ripper when his car stuttered and he dropped back. When a red flag stop happened very soon after that, he had already started down the middle of the pits and wasn’t allowed to go back to the work area to fix the car and get back in. The timing was tough as he was ushered off the track by the flagman, so he went like a good solder, and then the red happened, but it was too late. Rules, rules, rules, sometimes they just bite you. If he had circled the track and caused a yellow maybe he could have repaired the loss of fire problem and returned.

Don Kazarian made a surprising announcement this evening when he gave a possible opening day in June for a new 1/8th mile drag strip that will grace the parking lot out front. Being an old drag racing fan, I realize the best part of this is two things. One, it will get more of the street racers off the highways and give them another place to go thrash their cars, and two, anything that helps the dirt track make money to keep operating is a good thing.

This coming week is the first trip to Hanford this year and should be a great race on the fast oval. Check it out if you have never been there, you won’t be disappointed. The 3/8 mile track is nicely banked and provides very good racing. The covered grandstands makes for ease of watching for fans and the place is hard to beat for pure excitement. Give it a shot.

The day after the race at Hanford, on Sunday, June 5th, Bruce and Pam Bromme will host a celebration of life for his mom Marge, who passed away recently at her former home in Paso Robles. Those who wish to say goodbye to Marge can join the memorial tribute beginning at 11:30 that morning at 182 Bridge Gate Lane, Paso Robles, Ca. Call 805-239-1374 for directions.

VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: May 28, 2005 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin-16.502; 2. Charles Davis, Jr, 8A, Smiley-16.560; 3. Tony Jones, 87, Vermeer/Ferreira-16.650; 4. Steve Ostling, 5, Keller-16.675; 5. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom-16.685; 6. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley-16.733; 7. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-16.836; 8. R. J. Johnson, 15AZ, Martin-16.882; 9. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander-16.979; 10. Bobby Graham, 14, Lancaster-17.006; 11. Bobby Cody, 41, Cody-17.017; 12. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics-17.022; 13. Gary Howard, 25, Ruth-17.105; 14. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard-17.115; 15. Dan Hillberg, 82, Hillberg-17.146; 16. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno-17.177; 17. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller-17.320; 18. Tom Stansberry, 48, Bach-17.346; 19. Jordan Hermansader, 92, Sertich-17.393; 20. Rick Becker, 67, Becker-17.420; 21. David Cardey, 59, Giardina-17.447; 22. Ronnie Case, 33, Blair-17.448; 23. Jimmy Crawford, 17C, Crawford-17.642; 24. Shawn Kautz, 29, Kautz-18.277; 25. Joshua Williams, 34, Williams-18.281; 26. Richard Rose, N8, Ziegler-19.158; 27. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle-NT. DASH: (3 laps) 1. Ostling, 2. Jones, 3. Davis, 4. Gardner. :51:98

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Cardey, 2. Spencer, 3. Gardner, 4. J Williams, 5, Howard, 6, Kirby, 7. Keller. 2:56:41

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Graham, 2. Gaunt, 3. Davis, 4. Stansberry, 5. Rose, 6. Ballard, 7. Case. 2:56:64

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Cody, 2. Hermansader, 3. Jones, 4. R. Williams, 5. Crawford, 6. Hillberg. 2:53:82

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kruseman, 2. Johnson, 3. Wilson, 4. Ostling, 5. Becker, 6. Kautz. 3:53:61

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Kirby, 2. Becker, 3. Crawford, 4. Case, 5. Ballard, 6. Sheridan, 7. Kautz, 8. Howard, 9. Keller, 10. Rose, 11. Hillberg. 3:34:08

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Cory Kruseman, 2. R.J. Johnson, 3. Rip Williams, 4. Mike Kirby, 5. David Cardey, 6. Joshua Williams, 7. Ronnie Case, 8. Steve Ostling, 9. Bobby Graham, 10. Damion Gardner, 11. Rickie Gaunt, 12. Bobby Cody, 13. Rick Becker, 14. Alan Ballard, 15. Danny Sheridan, 16. Jordan Hermansader, 17. Seth Wilson, 18. Charles Davis, Jr., 19. Tom Stansberry, 20, Tony Jones, 21, Jimmy Crawford, 22. Mike Spencer.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-26 Rip Williams, Laps 27-50 Kruseman.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Rip Williams-745; 2-Gardner-711; 3-Kruseman-695; 4-Kirby-677; 5-Davis-672; 6-Gaunt-523; 7-Jones-384; 8-Wilson-381; 9-Ballard-380; 10-Josh Ford-365.

NEXT USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: June 4 – Hanford, CA – Kings Speedway

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