HOOSIER TIRES HIT LAS VEGAS JACKPOT WITH BLACK TRACK ATTACK!!!
Picture this: Over 110 degrees in the shade, an asphalt pit area even hotter, black ice not cool, race teams looking for shade and something cool to drink, a dry looking dirt track, and it was obvious even with the sandy track we were not at the beach this week! The good side was that the Gasman scored a big SCRA win on wild night at the Las Vegas track. With hardly one full groove available around the half-mile track, Richard Griffin, and all those chasing, spent their night searching for the "sweet spot " on this black slick track that reminded me of the old Ascot slick track next to the famous long gone dirt track. I don't know if anyone found it, but Richard won his 40th SCRA race skating his way patiently for 30 laps.
Mrs Wags Vegas pics are ready.
Richard drove a great race, allowing all crazy things to happen, until he was comfortably behind Jeremy Sherman and running in second place. When the yellow # 7 began going a little wide and smoking his tires late in the race, the Gasman struck quickly down the backstretch on lap 21 and took the lead. He then pulled away in the Temecula Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Circle C Marketing, # 50. It was a well-earned victory, and one his experience made possible. Richard started 6th and was one of the few who didn't have to change a tire and restart at the back in the main event. He was 2nd in his heat after starting on the tail, and after setting fast time and a new track record at 18.585, he was methodical to the checkers. It further extended his point lead over Cory Kruseman to 29 points.
Jeremy Sherman almost made it big on a night when the heat and black ice were two things on everyone's mind. Jeremy had his usual cheering family group of the Thrasher's in the grandstands and was out to win big time. He looked like he was in position to put the Roy Miller Freight Lines, LA Pipe and Supply, Angeles Waterproofing and Restoration on the top of the podium. Perhaps the hot weather to most other So Cal drivers wasn't a big deal to this Phoenix driver, as he was up to the track crazies this week and performed well until the tires began to smoke a little at the end. Still, finishing second was a major accomplishment this week. Jeremy usually does well on the slick tracks, so this was not unexpected.
Cory Kruseman fought the track like most, and didn't really have a great day for him, but still ended up on the podium using skill and patience to place third. He ran third in his heat before getting pushed out of the "groove" (?) in the J E Pistons Passing Masters Dash and finishing last. In the feature, he just used his tires enough to stay close and had a couple of opportunities to get by Griffin before the Gasman took the lead. Cory hung in there in the WorldGate Networks, Camland, TCR # 1 and held off Damion Gardner at the end. He didn't try any wild moves and it paid off.
The Demon, Damion Gardner, was up to his fast tricks again this week. He had the luxury of leaving his own car home and driving the Wilkerson # 11a sprinter this week. The practically new car was a former Bill Lloyd owned, Ellis chassied car. Damion stormed to the front in the beauty and led the race early by a big margin. On a red flag start, he surrendered his lead by changing a wasted right rear tire, and went to the back. He was able to put on quite a show coming back to get 4th at the end. Don't know if that was a one time ride or not, but after his performance, Billy might want to use the budding star again, and again.
The track wasn't improved as expected from marketing sources, and for these non-wing heroes, it was just plain unacceptable, except for the front-runners who will never complain when they win. The heat was normal for Las Vegas, but the schedule was not as good as earlier or later dates would be in the year. Even with a cooler date, the track still won't hold water and instead demands rubber down to make traction. For wings, OK, but for the SCRA, not! Don't know how much water was put on the surface, but it didn't appear wet when the crews looked it over in the afternoon before getting on it to mash it more it later. I thought Ohio was bad two weeks ago, but this was worse without as much dust. I wonder if the tire bill equaled or passed the SCRA Wichita tour race two years ago that had teams burning up a dozen or more tires. Is this water thing getting to be a broken record?
As disappointing a race to this wag as it was, there were still some exciting moments, mostly due to cars abandoning planed lines and darting across others space, causing some quick brake use by the offended. Many had the same problem coming out of turn four when they couldn't hold their line and would slide up high, allowing others to pass low and get by, if they planned ahead. That move was made dozens of times throughout the night causing even the most veteran of drivers to miss heat transfers and more. There was no groove around that end of the track. However, turn one/two seemed to have a low and high line, but it took a lot of skill to execute perfectly each lap to move forward. Most were like a yo yo, drifting up and down the track as they gained and lost real estate. These conditions made the Gasman's performance all the more amazing on this surface. I must admit that as soon as we saw that Kirby was OK after the race, we split the hot pits and cruised on outa there. No pit walk for us wore out heat stroke fans.
Steve Ostling and Tony Jones both suffered in the points chase this week, dropping further back than they liked with their respective troubles. Steve had a problem in the Semi when he nosed the car into the inside wall on the backstretch, and didn't transfer to the main. Tony made it to the main, but suffered from tire woes and couldn't quite get the handle on the slippery track for his usual gusto charges. He won the Semi running the top and getting away from the pack, but was unable to get thru the traffic in the feature to pull the same moves off on the leaders.
Adam Mitchell and Charles Davis Jr had their troubles this week, boy howdy! Charles in charge is getting no luck after his long tows across the Arizona desert to compete with SCRA. He should get a free front row line-up spot to make up for his rotten luck. This week he was the first car out after another shunt in traffic. Adam Mitchell was taken out by others crashing in the Semi when he was in position to transfer and minding his own business. Both were victims, but they say that's racing. These two would like a little luck to fall their way for a change. The bad stuff as usual, didn't stop there when Jordan Hermansader, Dan Hillberg, Tony Everhart and Mike Kirby had walls in their path. Mike's crash was the worst, violently sending his soon to be battered car to the dumpster and his body home sore and bruised. He was making a move to grab 2nd at the time and was upended after contact with a lap car. It was quick and bone jarring to all who saw this one when he took this ride. They didn't find all the parts off this crash. Tony ended up with the $60 collected in Wagsbucks.
Troy Rutherford returned to SCRA for at least one race and drove Dwight Cheney's 21J car. Troy started 20th and ended up 10th as he has been back in the Midwest practicing this dry slick stuff. Justin Marvel arrived from Indiana to run Ben Lancaster's 2nd car and finished 9th, getting the hard charger award. Bobby Graham ran 5th and did a marvelous job, as did John Scott capturing 6th. Both were in the hunt until the end and impressed me.
Rodney Argo and Danny Sheridan had both some good and some bad things happen on the night. Argo assumed the lead when Damion went to the back, but on the next restart, he was a little wide and shuffled way back finally finishing 15th. Rodney had powered his way into 2nd as the big Ford was breathing very well on the slick surface. Danny grabbed the last transfer in his heat before winning the dash and was up front in the main until he too got swished backwards when he got wide, and didn't recover, still finishing 11th with all that. This was a track that all those who succeeded were smiling and those not hopeful to just get out of there in one piece. No more hot stuff, please!
Jim Naylor and Chris Holt were describing the action when the SCRA was on the track all night, instead of the humor man who confused himself with witty zingers showing his raceless knowledge. Do DJ's get a special thrill about confusing crowds who know more than they do, or is it my imagination? When you closed your eyes, you almost could be convinced you were back at Ventura Raceway, but the warm air quickly disspelled any notions like that. Jim and Chris politely gave the real story to the large number of fans in the stands that seemed to enjoy the show. Mr Naylor had a night off when his AMA motorcycle race was cancelled due to forecaster's braininess, so took the opportunity to come over and see for himself what is up at this track. He was itchin' to have had a chance to prepare this one.
The SCRA will be relieved to come home this week, not only to a racy track, but to get a head start on the 4 day holiday that will feature a 50 lapper at Perris on the 4th and then 30 laps at Tulare on Saturday. A rare two-race weekend will bring the fans from far away that always wish for those special weekends to justify the trip here. This will be the last good chance to raise tow money for the tour, so look for the Wagtimes booth and get involved. Get your chance on a beautiful Snap-on toolbox, a beautiful hand crafted RC sprinter, and I still have a few tickets to Oskaloosa! I leave you with this thought. Boy, what a difference a week makes!
SCRA DRIVER POINTS as of 6/30/02 1. Richard Griffin 940, 2. Cory Kruseman 911, 3. Steve Ostling 869, 4. Tony Jones 859, 5. Rip Williams 819, 6. John Scott 795, 7. Mike Kirby 778, 8. Jeremy Sherman 768, 9. Damion Gardner 709, 10. Rickie Gaunt 618, 11. Charles Davis, Jr 612, 12. Troy Rutherford 566, 13. Mike English 538, 14. Gary W. Howard 510, 15. Bobby Graham 504, 16. Rodney Argo 346, 17. Danny Sheridan 331, 18. Bobby Cody 279, 19. Adam Mitchell 255, 20. Mike Spencer 231.