The SCRA put on another moving "show" this week, this time at the PAS! It came complete with a record 13 car megacrash, a brand new rookie winner, a driver going to the hospital when he didn't want to, a two car crash that could be heard anywhere on the fairgrounds, only 11 cars running at the end and the night ended with an empty grandstand watching a dozen TQ's wanting to put on a show for them. It was one of those nights when it might have been better fishing at the lake beyond the dam nearby, me thinks.
Mrs Wags pics are up here.
Rookie Josh Wise was a show of his own this night driving the Weldway Inc., Paul Oil Co. Inc., Keading Performance, # 19s. He had fast time at 16.700, ran 4th in his heat, then finished 6th in the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash and started on the third row of the main event. With all the extracurricular action around him, he was still in position to win with half the race gone. He took the lead on lap 20 from Steve Ostling, who spun after contact with the winner, and went on to stymie several attempts to unseat him. Josh was up to the task and in the end was pulling away from Troy Rutherford who was his chief nemesis until the end. Jake Argo has been touting this 20 year old kid for a long time and now look what happened. Congratulations to the entire team, it wasn't a total surprise, but a green rookie beating these veterans is awesome!
Troy Rutherford had another good night driving the Roy Miller Freight Lines, Primepilot, Vital Express Kunz chassis'd car. He won the dash and started on the pole of the 30-lap main. He and the Demon had their own war going on at the start, but when Damion Gardner got sideways, pointing it both right and then left dramatically before the first lap was complete, the end result was 13 cars pilled up near the front stretch flag stand. It was ugly, but Troy avoided it and Damion was caught up in it. Troy restarted and led the first three laps before Steve Ostling took the point. Troy came back to pressure the winner late in the race, but settled for 2nd and another good run in the Priestly # 7 car. This makes 13 races out of 13 in the top ten, and 11 in the top 5, amazing consistancy for my Rambo man!
Smilin' Mike Spencer has some extra horsepower as an idle Gardner motor found it's way into his car this week. The driver still stands on the gas and this time almost made his dreams come true. At the end of the race, Mike was the fastest car on the slick track and pulling in on the two leaders. It looked like he was going to make it, but didn't have enough time to spank them this time. He still grabbed his biggest podium moment with a third. Mike, racing the yellow Murrieta Development, Spenco Machine, Instant Oil Change, # 44, has run very consistent this season and this is his best finish. What a smile he had in victory circle and later in the pits. This kid is coming fast with his patient smooth driving. Add another star to the star studded SCRA show, he's ready to strut his stuff.
The megacrash is best seen on video, but when the Demon got sideways in close quarter action racing for the lead, he banged wheels with Spencer and was at the mercy of the other cars as they began banging together. It became a slow motion melee with cars climbing on cars as the pile gathered more cars until they all stopped. The worst looking part was watching Brian Stanfill up in the air on top of one car, man he was up there! Nobody was hurt, but a lot of cars were expensively damaged. The second crash was the worst looking, even though many said their hearts lurched on both. Mike English was flying forward and somehow got over a wheel and banged up against the wall, then began flipping down the front stretch. Mike Kirby close behind him was in Rickie Gaunt's back-up car after the # 0 car had a small motor problem. Kirby was fast, and yet when he saw English in trouble, did everything he could to avoid the black crasher. Still, they came together cage to cage in a resounding crunch, and the result sent both over on their side and when they finally came to a stop, and the crowd went silent. There was a pause and then slight movement in both cars as helmets moved slowly. Finally Kirby, after a few long excruciating minutes of waiting, climbed out of his busted up mount. English was crammed in his wrecked car and they used the "jaws" to cut the top of the roll cage to help get him out. He was then trussed up and loaded into an ambulance and sped off to the hospital for check out. Sunday morning Mike was released, very sore and not at his best after finding out nothing was broken and he would be just fine. Kirby walked out of the pits after the races looking Ok, but surely would be sore from the major league impact of the two cars.
The Gasman, Richard Griffin, gave the little red sucker a workout this week after the team rebuilt the battered racecar during the week because of the Tulare experience last week. He finished fourth, but it could have been much worse as he remarkably stayed out of trouble all night this week. Adam Mitchell started 20th and throughout all the "action", he avoided skirmishes like one would go thru a mine field, carefully, and finished fifth with the best passing job of the night! Rip Williams actually took the lead and looked like a winner until a flat sent him into the work area. He returned to get 6th, but he was much faster tonight than most. Greg Bragg, the young rookie from Visalia, made the main and finished eighth after a scintillating battle in the heat to get there. Up to this week, Bragg and his team have fought car problems, but on this night he showed some skill in his fifth sprint car race after coming from Dwarf cars!
The heats were really great this week as the faster cars had to earn their spot to the main the hard way, unlike the outlaws, they passed people! Still the weekly dumpster routine got a big workout this week as it was just one of those nights with no explanations. Trevor Brilman and Mike Kirby's rides were both trailered before the heats with motor problems. A.J Reyer had a balky 360 that never did enough to justify unloading, getting no qualifying time and then only a token appearance in the Semi, where he finished last. Dan Hillberg got whacked in his heat and was done for the night. Keith Williamson pulled off in his heat and loaded up, done. Same with Mel Murphy as smoke appeared on his car in his heat and he was gone. Lance Gremett, same story as they reported a possible crank/motor problem. He was 4th quick so high hopes were in their pit for the night, but smashed again. With so many choices for the hard luck deal this week, it was a tough choice and we will add Lance to the Wagsdash as he becomes the sixth low buck racer to be invited to the 13th annual event at Ventura on October 18th.
And then, as we continue to fill the dumpster with race-car trash, came the main event thrasher that claimed 4 cars right off the bat: Seth Wilson, Tony Jones, Brian Stanfill and Damion Gardner were done before the action really warmed up, darnit!! The Demon then got in Ron Didonato's # 57, but a flat took him out before long. Tony Jones was interviewed by Chris Holt, and he had a lot to say as the microphone was offered to a number of drivers while the Megacrash was cleaned up. Tony's 2003 season has been one big disaster! He indicated that they had this car finally ready to really perform well and look what happened. They now will spend the next two weeks getting ready for the next race, where they will try to win the PAS Firecracker 50! Somebody take the bullseye off his back.
Jimmy Crawford crashed next, when I think something broke from the megacrash incident earlier, and was on the hook and out. Rickie Gaunt was involved in the first incident, so when he was forced to bring his car to the work area to fix a broken shock tower because his left front tire bounced all the way around the track, it was his 2nd stop, and he was OUT! Bobby Graham got a shot in a 4 day old brand new car from Glenn Crossno's stable, and he crashed and was gone. Danny Sheridan also had a problem when he climbed the wall and came back down easy, on that yellow flag only to stop on the track and now only 13 remained. Then the "thud" happened and Kirby and English were gone. After Wise passed SteveO for the lead, well it was a yellow flag spinout situation really, Steve later ran into a slowing car and he was gone! Carnage and June gloom went hand in hand here at the PAS this week! WHAT?
Bobby Michnowicz, one time CRA rookie of the year and longtime driver who retired a few years ago to concentrate on the Timeless T business, is back racing and ran 7th this week at Ventura in his Focus Midget. He likes running these little cars. The family man says this is a cool way to still race and not have the pressure of the big cost and driving a sprint car like the old days. Also at Ventura, my hats off to Chris Tramel as he almost won his first sprint car race. A rabbit ran across his path and Chris Wakim slipped by before he could nail it.
J J Yeley was the winner of the Ohio non-wing four-day series this week. He won two and was 2nd in the other two as he continues to cut a wide swath in USAC racing. Pretty amazing for the former SCRA star and now has his sights on the USAC win record, and don't you bet against him, he is just driving the wheels off in 3 divisions! Cory Kruseman was 5th, 7th, 11th and 20th in the series making a downhill spiral not what he had hoped for after claiming Tulare gold last Saturday. Levi Jones had a 4th at Eldora for his best run in 4 nights. John Scott had 7th and then 10th at high speed Eldora for a good showing. Two familiar names also ran the Eldora track on Saturday, Casey Shuman and Troy Cline. They finished near the back, but both qualified for the 30 lapper and that is something with over 40 cars signing in.
The message board, pizza boy, video wanderer, Dean Mills, showed up at the PAS this week and let us know he is moving to Indiana! He will be the ALL Star videographer the rest of the year. He has been in Phoenix recently and was hoping to do the SCRA tour. Dean's great video work will be missed, but maybe this challenge will be worth the new effort.
You know, for those of us who are close to these mighty warriors who risk their lives every race to put on a show for us, the reporting is harder because the feelings for our racers run very deep. Seeing these kinds of instant heartbreak moments can be mentally beyond belief. When you eyeball something like the Kirby/English crash up close and personal, you don't dare breath until they are pronounced OK. Anyway, if you have kids you know how it is as they are like my kids! My heart wasn't in my pit walk after the races and we will present the shiny tire awards to Rip Williams and Greg Bragg next time.
We are off this week so I will warn you right now about the PAS and their Firecracker 50 coming up on Friday, July 4th. The place will be packed, the racing will be unbelievable, the winner will not be known until the checkers fall, there is not a better fireworks show, and you better plan ahead! Like call and get your tickets right now, or be sorry when all the good seats are gone! Join me and Mrs Wags as we camp out in the camper area and cook out at noon. Come on by for a visit, we'll throw another wiener on the barby. Get well fast Mike, your fans are thinking of you.
A FEATURE (30 Laps)
1. Josh Wise. 2. Troy Rutherford. 3. Mike Spencer. 4. Richard Griffin. 5. Adam Mitchell. 6. Rip Williams. 7. Josh Ford. 8. Greg Bragg. 9. Verne Sweeney. 10. Bobby Cody. 11, Steve Ostling. 12. Mike English. 13. Mike Kirby. 14. Danny Sheridan. 15. Bobby Graham. 16. Rickie Gaunt. 17. Damion Gardner (#57), 18, Jimmy Crawford. 19. Damion Gardner (#45). 20. Bryan Stanfill. 21. Tony Jones. 22. Seth Wilson.
Laps Led: Rutherford 1-3, Ostling 4-9, Williams 10-13, Ostling 14-19, Wise 20-30
*Note: Gardner drove DiDonato's #57 car in A-Main after his Willis #45 car was damaged on the opening lap.
SCRA DRIVER Point Standings as of: 06/21/03
1. Richard Griffin 878 2. Troy Rutherford 841 3. Damion Gardner 799 4. Rip Williams 716 5 Steve Ostling 625 6. Mike Spencer 612 7. Rickie Gaunt 602 8. Mike English 548 9. Adam Mitchell 387 10. Tony Jones 376 11. Levi Jones 8 364 12. Josh Ford 356 13. Verne Sweeney 320 14. Bryan Stanfill 295 15 Cory Kruseman 285 16. Brian Venard 263 17. Alan Ballard (R) 255 18. Lance Gremett 248 19. Jimmy Crawford (244 20. Bobby Cody 244