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The raciest little track by the sea was fast, the night at the Seaside Park beach was nice and cool and Chris Wakim was still the one when the checkers flew at Ventura Raceway this week. The battle for the championship in VRA Sprint Cars is heating up as the VRA point leader put another notch in his belt with another win. In his attempt to further his chances to win a championship, he passed his nemesis, and the guy 2nd in points behind him, Tom Stansberry, on the last lap. In fact he put the Ventura slider on him twice in the last two laps before it stuck, by barely a few feet, as they crossed the line together. It was a barnburner for 30 laps that was well worth the trip to the coastal track.

Chris is a very likeable guy who would love to be the next VRA champion, and continues to drive like one! He had his hands full of Stansberry most of the race as several had the lead before the end. Steve Conrad, Luis Espinoza and Tom Stansberry staked their claim on a victory, but the point leader focused better at the right time to grab victory and keep his point lead over Tom by 165 points. There are nearly a 1000 points up for grabs each week, so one slip and things could change fast. With three more events at Ventura and one at the PAS, this deal is not done by a long shot.

Up until now, Young Blake Miller is best known to some PAS fans only as the young man on Ripper’s team who has won the Wagtimes shiny tire award many times. This week he really put on an outstanding drive for a green rookie that was most impressive. He won his heat in the car he shares with his dad, Danny, who drives with the seniors. Well, dad got his front end tangled up in the Senior main and left Blake with no car to drive for his race that followed. Enter Ron Bach, a man known to help others by loaning his cars out, and young 17 year old Blake started at the back of the main in a Ron Back # 49. He ran it up to a 6th place finish and that’s entertainment!

The Mopar Million has caused a lot of stir in the non-wing world since it was announced officially in January. Earl Baltes has stepped up once again to put on one of his “way beyond” events that pays more than anything else (a one million dollar purse) and it has attracted 150 official entries. Of course, some of those early entries won’t be there due to one reason or another, and their slots have been for sale to others that didn’t get in on the sign up list. Who’s going to win, I don’t know, but first think about what it will take to just make the main event.

Every car will get two chances in qualifying on Friday, with one lap by everyone first, then a second lap later to complete the cycle. That should take, oh about 4 hours of excruciating time. Wonder if Earl will rent a water truck for this one? Next, ten heat races will run with the fastest six cars in each heat inverted at the front, and the remaining nine lined straight up by their qualifying time behind them. Only the top two will go directly to the main on Saturday with at least $10,000 already in their pocket. The next 10 will go into the Saturday work up mains, (F up through the A main), with the top four finishers in each sub-main moving on until the B main adds four more to the 20 already in the finali. The last three in each heat are done and go home. Then add the top two qualifiers, that didn’t earn their way into the main, at the rear, making it 26 fire breathing sprinters on the chase for the big bucks when the green flag drops. Sound like fun? Hardly, as it will be “B’s to the wall” and full speed ahead when this thing starts action on Friday.

To be the winner, it will take a lot of luck, plenty of skill, some racing savvy and a car that lasts thru the slide jobs and “slick track” speed bursts by some who shouldn’t be there, and yes, even some who should. Of course according to one Indiana expert, no California driver has a chance, with noted wing drivers and local USAC runners getting all the attention. I guess the SCRA guys should just pass? NOT! Don’t count out the Gasman, Richard Griffin, the Demon, Damion Gardner and Troy “Rambo” Rutherford even though the cards are “slick stacked” against them! The SCRA graduates, J J Yeley, Cory Kruseman and Jay Drake are “slick trained” and will be on the list of my favorites as well. Boston Reid, Dave Darland, Tracy Hines and Californian, Bud Kaeding round out my top ten favorites who should be right in there. My long shot is Jon Stambrough who could surprise all of them. Others that could surprise are Tyler Walker, Kasey Kahne, Tony Elliott and maybe Jac Haudenschild. Troy Cline, Danny Sheridan and our transplanted John Scott will also represent the Left Coast, plus Billy Wilkerson’s car will have Brad Noffsinger driving and Glenn Crossno’s # 38 will sport Levi Jones his chance at the big bucks. All of them will have a serious uphill battle to make it to the front. It wouldn’t be a major shocker if it’s not one of the favorites to cash the big check on Monday morning, as we remember other recent big non-wing races where Travis Rilat, Boston Reid and Jessie Hockett took the big money from the favorites. So look for some surprises and hopefully a good show, especially if it rains real hard Thursday. The game faces on each team will make it hard for fans to get in good visits until it’s all over. They will all have the “Yeley look” in the pits, and that is very, very focused. Good luck to all and make it a west coast winner!

Good luck to the fans, it will be a nightmare just negotiating traffic in the grandstands just to get a drink at Earl’s bar! And prior to that, the converging from all over the country just to get in the grandstands, and live through the marathon that is sure to be, will earn brownie points for big time traveling. Can you imagine the crowd? You can’t be worried about “your space” for this race, there won’t be much. And how will the purse be raised? Count the heads and multiply by $200, probably the average amount spent by the attendee’s, and you will have your answer. Will it ever happen again? Don’t count on it, but just enjoy what happens, it will make somebody’s year.

How about J J Yeley’s latest creation all set for the Mopar Million? From the pics I saw it is not exactly a traditional sprint car in looks, with all the side panel square footage to make it more “winglike” in making it stick on the slidejobs to come. It looks like exactly what the traditionalists are fighting against with side panels that continue to cover up the cars and make me cringe. Is it a plane, a rocket, a shooting star, or is it faster than a speeding bullet, will it fly higher than the moon, or is it just another “mind messer” from J J like the monster he brought to Oskaloosa in 2002? One thing for sure, J J is good at causing a stir and winning races, and with $200,000 up for grabs, he wants it all and will do whatever it takes to get it! His teammate, Cory Kruseman is relaxing in Hawaii with his wife Carri getting ready for the race his way. With his recent hot streak, you might say he has as good a chance as any to earn this big one.

Mike English was at Ventura enjoying another night off from racing. His recent split with the Jory team came down to taking care of his rapidly expanding business more than anything else. He doesn’t have the time to work on a racecar several nights a week, race on Saturday and keep up with his work load at home and in his shop. He has added a part time worker and expects more to come in this growth spurt. Mike is not done driving, but needs to find a good ride that won’t require a lot of time away form his business. His 18 year old daughter is gong to college now, so he has that to take care of as well. Mike is a good man and will work in his fun when he can, but until then, which could be any time, he has to concentrate on the financial aspects of his life.

I will be staying home and working on the Wagsdash at the PAS this week as “things” just won’t let me go travlin’ to Ohio for this very important race. Plenty left to do for the Wagsdash as it’s only a few weeks until the chili feed, auction, sexy driver contest and general good time for fans and racers alike all happens. The new T-shirt will be “explosive” and different, so plan to get yours when the black beauty is available on October 18th. Make plans to come early and enjoy a night of pizza and fun with other fans and a few racers.

VRA driver Nadine Keller reports she might just enter the sexy driver contest at the Wagsdash and hopes the Gardner brain trust finishes fixing her car soon, so she can get back to driving it. She might have some other female competition on and off the track as Kim Lewis, wife of Rick Lewis who started driving a sprinter last year, now has her own sprinter and two races under her belt. Can you imagine dueling bikini’s? What will the boys do to top them, and can the defending champ, Kevin Kearce, come up with a better lap dance for Wilda? Plan to be there early for this show, it might be interesting. Remember the winner is the one who collects the most money and moose shorts aren’t going to do it this year!

Look for more great racing this week as those left behind can drive, too! Will Rip take back his record? Will we have a new winner? Could Steve Ostling finally push 2nd back a notch and win? Isn’t it time for Mike Kirby to appear again? Will the two Josh’s duel for the victory? Can the Podium Cowboy do it in the dirt this week? Will Charles Davis Jr come West instead of go East this week? Is Adam Mitchell’s monster weenie dog the secret of his success? Is Mike Spencer there or here this week? Is it true that 8 of the top 20 in SCRA points will be at the MM? All of this and more to be answered on “LIVE, it’s Saturday night at the PAS!”

2003 SCRA points as of 9/7
1. Richard Griffin 1806 2. Troy Rutherford 1704 3. Damion Gardner 1676 4. Rip Williams 1539 5. Mike Spencer 1143 6. Steve Ostling 966 7. Rickie Gaunt 944 8. Cory Kruseman 868 9. Mike English 838 10. Tony Jones 832 11. Josh Ford 832 12. Levi Jones 750 13. Adam Mitchell 717 14. Alan Ballard 669 15. J.J. Yeley 552 16. Verne Sweeney 527 17. Seth Wilson 520 18. Jimmy Crawford 503 19. Charles Davis, Jr 487 20. Bryan Stanfill 462

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