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By Ken Wagner 6/5/05

Ricci Faria, of Visalia, California, made his starting spot his finishing one at Kings Speedway this week in the Valvoline USAC/CRA sprint car series. Even though Josh Ford and Rickie Gaunt led a few laps each, after 30 laps, Ricci took his Reeley Irrigation, Darrell Green Trucking/Stinger/Rietz # 89 car to his first USAC non-wing victory of his career after some 25 career wins in 360’s. He just couldn’t be caught on this night after winning on Rebel Cup race earlier in the year.

Mrs Wags pics are here.

With a very challenging track facing the 30 car field, Ricci did what he had to, stay on the bottom, be smooth and eat up the laps, leading the last 20 for the win. He was 11th quick and third in his heat to start on the pole in the inversion of the main event. The orange car didn’t look like it was normally used as a wing car, as he pulled out the victory. Ricci said it was awesome after racing 16 years and getting this big victory. He also said he had t-shirts for sale but they had a wing on them!

Rip Williams finished second and was not feeling well at all during the day and evening. Rip was fourth quick and fourth in his heat before hanging on to second at the end. Rip was very racy in the John Jory Corporation, Weld Wheels/Stinger/Shaver black # 3. He continues to lead in the championship point race, now by 80 over Damion Gardner, having gained 60 points in two races on the Demon.

For the second week in a row, R.J. Johnson made the podium with some heady driving moving him forward. Again he battled with the big boys to grab third in his Arizona Race Mart, Weiler Farms/Ellis/Pro Flyer # 15 sprinter. The announcer called him J.R. several times so “you can call me R.J.” made his driving do the talking and was the hard charger, coming from 13th to 3rd in the event. What looked like a quiet rookie year has heated up as the youngster is gaining fans and quietly accepting his best results.

On a night of attrition, and only 12 cars finishing the main event, Rickie Gaunt, Charles Davis Jr, Cory Kruseman, Josh Ford and Damion Gardner all started in the front four rows of the main event, but did not take the checkers, getting 15th thru 19th places in that order. Amazing that could happen on one night. Rickie, after leading seven laps earlier, appeared to have a problem when he pulled off the track into the infield and then parked it on the back stretch with his second stop, and done. Charles got caught up in the incident that took out then leader, Josh Ford, who was the victim of a slide job gone wrong. Charles returned a restart or two later to rejoin the field but to get points. Cory’s car slowed suddenly and headed to a “stop on the back stretch” and ended up in the work area, and done. Damion got caught in another multi car “thrash” that sent him to the trailer with no time to repair, and done again. And poor Josh was taken out when he looked like he might be on his way to his first win with the club, and that after running the night before at Gas City in Indiana as did Kruseman. It was not a night for the top ten in points, as leader Rip’s second place finish and 10th place point man Spencer’s fifth did the best among them.

Gardner had his 11th fast time of the year and roared thru his heat with a wheelstanding effort that was impressive and it looked like he had more to give. Mike Kirby thrashed all night in his Alexander Trucking car after fairly slow for him qualifying effort. He was second in his heat, but eventually started 18th on the grid. He came all the way up to fifth, using his many veteran skills, but when the track disappeared on the top, everybody else was on the bottom, he fell back to tenth.

Rodney Argo was third quick in his Ford racer owned by his dad Don this week. He ran second in his heat and started 6th in the main and pulled up to challenge the leaders before a ill fated slide job sent him and several others to the work area and back to the tail, where he came back to get eleventh.

Tony Jones is like the lonesome cowboy these days that gets wounded in a gunfight and lives to fight another day, but is getting tired of no respect. He got “winged” again this week on the first lap of the feature and then became the second car out when whatever was broke, couldn’t be fixed. Alan Ballard had no luck after doing a wheelie and landing on a car in front of him on the first restart. He missed the next restart, but returned on the next full restart and then was called for a second stop and sent to the pits. I didn’t see it, but the officials did. Showtime Danny Sheridan continues the "blue funk" mising the main after an equipment problem guided him off the track in his heat and he had another problem in the semi. Chin up Danny, here comes Saturday. Nadine Keller out raced her “other car” to get the last transfer in her heat, then ran real well in the main until another car and hers got together, putting her stopped on her side when the action stopped. Her Black Widow Racing # 16 car was righted and pushed off to the trailer, but Steve Ostling, in her “other car” and not the one she was involved with in the incident, continued on from his provisional 21st starting position to finish sixth on the night for a good run in the new style Sled chassis.

Jason York made a strong run this week with the CRA and had his best finish of the year as he ran fourth in the main after getting the last transfer in the semi. Mike Spencer had an early stop in the race and came back to get 5th for a great recovery. I think he likes the four bar car pretty good. Local 360 driver Evan Suggs made a great showing against the visiting hot dogs. He was 19th quick out of 30, won his heat and finished 7th in the main. He looked very good out there.

It was a pleasant night in Hanford and the CRA racing was strung out as three other classes ran their heats and features. The 25 lap modified feature from … well, it was l o n g and long one, but the real story was the laps put on by the modifieds, the Ford Focus and WRA made for a well used up surface that didn’t bode well for the 410 main event. Only the Ripper was smiling at the end.

Al Pombo, a well known racer in the area, was in attendance and celebrated his 80th birthday. Oh and thanks to Scott Baker for his doggy treats for the “boys”. Next stop Perris on June 11, lets see what happens next in the long season. Can Cowboy Jones finally get the monkey off his back and win this year? Will Gardner return to his top of the podium slot? Can Kirby tame the car with it’s own mind? Shall the Kruser make the “other little red sucker” a winner for his 4th win? What about the “Blues Brothers” and their luck lately as both Charlie and Rickie have led races, but things happening aren’t good? And what about that R.J., is he ready to win? Ostling and Spencer, are they ready to break thru? Isn’t Perris the best place to be this week?

VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: 6/4/05 – Hanford, California, – Kings Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin - 14.943; 2. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno - 15.239; 3. Rodney Argo, 19, Argo - 15.495; 4. Rip Williams, 3, Jory - 15.514; 5. Davey Pombo, 3P, Pombo - 15.531; 6. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley - 15.538; 7. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle - 15.596; 8. Jason York, 25N, York - 15.607; 9. Charles Davis Jr, 8A, Smiley - 15.668; 10. Josh Ford. 73. Ford - 15.673; 11. Ricci Faria, 89, Faria - 15.683; 12. Bobby Cody, 41 Cody -15.697; 13. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom - 15.720; 14. Rob Kershaw - 15.761; 15. Steve Ostling, 5, Keller - 15.777; 16. R. J. Johnson, 15AZ, Martin - 15.803; 17. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics - 15.805; 18. Bobby Graham, 14, Lancaster - 15.858; 19. Evan Suggs, 33E, Suggs - 15.873; 20. Tony Jones, 87, Vermeer/Ferreira -15.900; 21. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander - 15.910; 22. ® Joshua Williams, 34, Williams - 15.928; 23. Jimmy Crawford, 17C, Crawford - 15.935; 24. Greg Bragg, 33, Blair - 16.018; 25. Peter Murphy, 21A, Dorathy - 16.068; 26. Tom Stansberry, 48, Bach - 16.115; 27. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller - 16.126; 28. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard- 16.168; 29. Johnathan Logan, 32, Logan - 16.224; 30. Jimmy Reeves, 0 Reeves - 16.613.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Gardner, 2. Kirby, 3. Wilson, 4. Davis, Pombo, 6. Spencer, 7. Murphy, 8. Logan. No Time

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Graham, 2. Kruseman, 3. Ford, 4. Gaunt, 5. Stansberry, 6. Reeves. 7. J Williams, Kershaw. No Time

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Suggs, 2. Argo, 3. Faria, 4. Keller, 5. Ostling, 6. Crawford, 7. Sheridan. No Time

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Johnson, 2. Jones, 3. Ballard, 4. R Williams, 5. York, Bragg, 7. Cody. No Time

SEMI: (12 laps) 1.Pombo, 2. Spencer, 3. Cody, 4. York, 5. Ostling, 6. Crawford, 7. Stansberry, 8. Reeves, 9. J Williams, 10. Logan, 11. Kershaw, 12. Sheridan. 13. Murphy, 4. Bragg. No Time

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Ricki Faria. 2. Rip Williams, 3. R.J. Johnson, 4. Jason York, 5. Mike Spencer, 6. Steve Ostling, 7. Evan Suggs, 8. Bobby Cody, 9. Davey Pombo 10. Mike Kirby, 11. Rodney Argo, 12. Bobby Graham, 13. Seth Wilson, 14. Nadine Keller, 15. Rickie Gaunt, 16. Charles Davis, Jr., 17. Cory Kruseman, 18. Josh Ford, 19. Damion Gardner, 20. Tony Jones, 21. Alan Ballard. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Ford, Laps 3-9 Gaunt, Laps 10-30 Faria.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Williams-810; 2-Gardner-740; 3-Kruseman-726; 4-Kirby-717; 5-Davis-698; 6-Gaunt-552; 7-Wilson-414; 8-Jones-404; 9-Ballard-399; 10-Spencer-398.

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