WALT JAMES TO BE THE 2003 WAGSDASH GRAND MARSHALL AT VENTURA.
Mrs Wags is done click now!
Cory drives the WSA Healthcare, Agromin Soil, Sander Engineering, Witherill car whenever he is in town and has won a few VRA races in the car. Historically, this was his first victory in SCRA since he and Harlan Willis split up last year due to his focus on USAC racing back East. He had fast time until his "replacement" in the # 45 car, Damion Gardner took it away late in qualifying. If you wanted drama, picture this: When Cory drove the # 45 he was the 2001 SCRA champion and won 56 SCRA races over the years in Harlan Willis cars. His replacement now has 10 wins in a very short year plus time frame and sits 3rd in points. Damion has been dominating the last month in SCRA, so much so that other teams are scratching their heads and generally muttering under their breath the usual things like he must be cheating, or the one I like the best, he is crazy! Cory is the returning fair-haired boy that came to stop the streak, or so it would seem. It was a classic on paper, yet the much-wanted battle never really materialized for more than a few laps at the end when Cory was in control.
Cory missed the dash with a fifth in his heat, while Damion finished 4th in his, putting him on the outside of row two in the main. Cory then won the Semi and started on the inside of row five. Steve Ostling had this one under control until he hit a back marker on lap 21 while leading. He just made one of those judgement calls that went awry, should I go up or, oh noooo, down! This put him in the back on the restart, and this after his front end was repaired on the ensuing red flag stop. Damion had captured 2nd by this point and Cory was running third. On the restart with 11 laps to go, Damion went forward like normal and immediately Cory utilized the very top of the turn two cushion to launch past the Demon and take the lead. Cory had found that spot much earlier and it was looking so much like a wall banging incident was coming up, but Cory is the teacher and drove it in hard every lap without concern for what we saw from the grandstands, yikes!!! The real battle between these two winners never really materialized as Damion had to fight off Super Rickie Gaunt to get second and Cory had to worry more about the track to hang on for his 57th win. Cory's best move of the night was when Rip had taken the lead on lap 24 and he came back under him into turn one with both drivers on the gas and inches apart. Cory seemingly rooted the Ripper out and pulled back in the lead that he would not relinquish from here on. Of course everyone in the grandstand could hear Carri screaming as her man did the deed!
For Damion, it was a good point day as he gained ground on SCRA point leader Richard Griffin and 2nd placeTroy Rutherford, putting him only 5 points behind 2nd place for now. Damion didn't appear to have a clear handle on the black TCR, Gaerte, Weld # 45 this week, but that didn't stop him from making the kind of moves that won 6 races this year. Vinnie Laettner said the track was a "connect the dots" kind of a track, meaning traction was here and there and very spotty, but they still were in the hunt all night. True, everyone searched for "their" line with many not finding anything that worked well, but still it was a very exciting race as a result. The Demon was still a happy camper, but I have a feeling he is getting ready for the next time that the Kruser returns! You do know that was the 7th TCR chassis win this season out of 12 races!
Super Rickie Gaunt made great moves all night as he tried hard to win the race and keep temporary teammate, Mike Kirby behind him. Rickie and Mike were driving the Alexander Trucking, Ray's Trucking, Larry Murakami Cont., # 4 team cars and both did very well. Rickie actually led briefly, but couldn't quite hold off the Demon at the end. Super Rickie has been driving especially good this year, but hasn't gotten a win, yet! He is more focused on beating the bad boy who leads the club with six wins this season, and the big R on his chest means he won't stop trying until he beats him! Kirby was a show of his own as he ran the top and passed a ton of cars before a late race fuel situation, he didn't run out fuel but the car was gurgling, and that cost him a couple of spots, dropping him back to finish seventh. It was a good show watching him run like he could win again. Watch out when he gets that confidence thing going, he is tough to stop.
Rip Williams snuck up from the 8th row in the main to take the lead and battle hard to the end. I didn't see him coming until he passed Gardner, but his car was working well on the tricky track. He said he went where they weren't, but I know it was more than that, he was on a mission. Ripper had a fast car and if the full moon yellows hadn't been so many, he might have fared better than the 4th he finished in the Jory # 3.
Point leader Griffin gave up a few points this week after what might be best described as not his day! It all started on his first qualifying lap when the car biked hard going from turn one to turn two, and then flipped over on the top of the cage and did a little helicopter spin for good measure. In the pits, the Bruce Bromme Jr crew had their work cut out and Richard came back out at the end to get 17th quick time, but it put him back in the feature on row 8 with Rip. He had a good run going there until the last few laps when he dropped back to ninth. It was reported he was missing a shock and yes, he was still fun to watch.
Tony Jones and Brian Venard appeared in the dumpster class this week, much to their dismay. Tony had a problem early that kept him from qualifying, then tagged the Semi, but was off the track before the 12 lapper started. He had some kind of motor breakage related to the heads. Brian reported the crank was broken in the Mopar and they won't know the full damage until the motor gets opened up this week. Also having no luck were Adam Mitchell and Kevin Urton as they ended the night in the feature, but in the last two paying spots due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rodney Argo had a balky car this week after being sick and not knowing they could run until late Friday night. The car stumbled in trying to qualify and later never did run full open and dropped out of the main. Troy Rutherford's string of top five finishes ended this week, but he gave it a heck-of-a try. He crashed pretty hard in the main, but was able to repair and get back to 10th at the end. Before that he was in the dogfight for the front spot.
On the plus side we had Mike Spencer again doing a great job getting fifth and looking for more. He just keeps consistently moving up with the big boys. Others doing well included Brian Stanfill tying his best SCRA finish ever in 6th, Josh Wise in Mike Sala's car getting 8th and Jimmy Crawford finishing 14th in his 360 motor car! Gary Howard won his heat and later got 12th in the main event. His new motorhome now makes it easy to take his family to the races in style!
The NWWC Tour has added a date on August 18 at Highland Speedway near St Louis. Another Joe Dooling presentation added to the Speedway 67 track we ran last year. Joe already has his "party" media night scheduled. Last years version was entertaining, the food was good and the beer drinking Olympic style strong. This makes nine race dates plus the Lakeside media night where an invitational 20 lapper will be run. It is less than two months until tour time so, get your plans done, get your tow money for the traveling racers to me, and we'll all be happy. Call me at 949-472-9247 to help out the boys on a long tow. Remember, the tow rigs get around 5 miles per gallon, so lets see now…. About 5000 miles divided by 5, multiplied by cost of gas ($1.75 average?) = about $1750 dollars just to get there and back. Hmmm, and they have motel bills and food expenses and hopefully some winnings to offset the cash outlay, but now you see why we collect tow money, don't you? Send it in or see me at the races, it ALLgoes to them!
News from the 13th annual Wagsdash comes the announcement of the Grand Marshall for this year's race. Succeeding Eddie Wirth this year will be long time racing superstar Walt James. Walt is a former professional race car driver who was the founder and first president of the California Racing Association (CRA). He was also the WRA's first president, serving from 1982-1985 and continues to lead them today. Walt continues to be a big part of the WRA "big show" as they appear all around California displayng the great oldies that once blazed the dirt tracks and now are the beloved race cars of pure beauty the fans love to see. Walt and the WRA have appeared at the last two Wagsdash events to show off their beautiful hardware. The group will be appearing again this year in the Ventura expanded midway with Walt as the featured CRA racer from the past as we continue to honor some of the all time greats from our sport. Others that were honored at the annual Wagsdash in years past were Jimmy Oskie, Lealand McSpadden, Bubby Jones, Buster Venard and Eddie Wirth.
The track was a mystery to most this week, but the Tulare Thunderbowl officials, led by promoter Steve Faria, took action and fixed the evil launching pad on the backstretch that caused more than a few to literally fly like a motocross bike and hurt their qualifying efforts. The crowd was good and the promoter says he was happy, so next year he expects to have the SCRA back again! Steve says the WOO will be there this fall and I expect they will fill the house as the wing cars like this track, too! The no overnight parking or camping signs that appeared early in the morning, went away after Evelyn Pratt went to work on the local officials. They have new rules with new fairboard members, but the SCRA has always "stayed over" and after further deliberation, it was allowed. I noted at least 20 motorhomes and racing rigs staying, so it is a good thing to help the racers and their fans save a little motel cash. Not everyone wants to drive home after the races, so this makes it nice. We were glad for the rule change ourselves as we got rested before the Sunday drive home.
SCRA Webmaster, Steve Lombardo, brought new sprint fan, Eric of Toyota, with him down from No Cal to see the event. Eric loved what he saw, and the former "other type" racer says he will be back. Steve cooked a ton of food for all those who dropped by, especially the SCRA officials that finally arrived for the feed. We all missed ace photographer, Steve Lafond, but it was rumored that our long haired friend was at a rock concert? Lombardo's enthusiasm for our racing makes him more than just the webmaster, it makes him a fan.
Norm Bogan has gone home from the hospital and is feeling good, so he says. I haven't confirmed that the stint they put in his artery was made by Glenn Crossno's manufacturing facility, but these little gizmo's are more common than ever and should do the trick. He was a little stir crazy after missing Tulare, so he and wife Pat were out and about on Sunday visiting an old favorite restaurant in Marina Del Ray that feature pastrami sandwiches they love. Norm is waiting for final word from his doctors to see if he gets to go back to work this week or not. He says he doesn't want to lose his sick leave for something like this? Regardless, he has been OK'd to drive, so Perris is a likely target this coming Saturday.
Coming back to Perris is always good, but the long range weather cast says cool temps are still hanging around out there, that is NO 90 plus heat yet. It should be another good chapter in the saga of who can beat the black dragon # 45? I haven't seen any bounty put up, but the Demon will be out to protect his four in a row win streak he has going at the track. Only the Ripper has beat him there this year, so lets get out to Perris on Saturday and cheer on your favorites. Maybe even get in on the dancing contest or get an autograph in the pits afterwards, or give me some Wagsbucks, or tow money for the tour, just get there, you know the drill!
A FEATURE (30 Laps)
1. Cory Kruseman. 2. Damion Gardner. 3. Rickie Gaunt. 4. Rip Williams. 5. Mike Spencer. 6. Bryan Stanfill. 7. Mike Kirby. 8. Josh Wise. 9. Richard Griffin. 10. Troy Rutherford. 11. Steve Ostling. 12. Gary W. Howard. 13. Josh Ford. 14. Jimmy Crawford. 15. Verne Sweeney, 16. Danny Sheridan. 17. Mike English. 18. Alan Ballard. 19. Bobby Cody. 20. Rodney Argo. 21. Adam Mitchell, 22. Kevin Urton.
Laps Led: Ostling 1-21, Kruseman 22-23, Williams 24, Kruseman 25-30
SCRA POINT STANDINGS as of 6/14/03
1. Richard Griffin 810, 2. Troy Rutherford 777, 3. Damion Gardner 772, 4. Rip Williams 662, 5. Steve Ostling 578, 6. Rickie Gaunt 571, 7. Mike Spencer 549, 8. Mike English 514, 9. Levi Jones 364, 10. Tony Jones 358, 11. Adam Mitchell 329, 12. Josh Ford 310, 13. Cory Kruseman 285, 14. Bryan Stanfill 275, 15. Verne Sweeney 274, 16. Brian Venard 263, 17. 9 Alan Ballard 251, 18. Lance Gremett 241, 19. Rodney Argo 221, 20. Jimmy Crawford 219.