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The Santa Maria faithful, both fans and car owners, came together at one of the most eye appealing stops on the SCRA's long road of racing this week. With some fog rolling in, the fast track showcased a Ripper/Demon battle that was THE show this week. With 26 cars in the house, excitement rolled off this small 1/3 mile bowl sending waves of action up into the stands. It still gives me chills to watch them back em' in there! It was the last visit up there for the SCRA this season.

Mrs Wags pics are here.

Rip Williams, driving the John Jory Corp, AMA Plastics, Tomarco Fasteners, Gambler chassis, # 3 sprinter was 3rd in his heat and 2nd in the dash to put him on the front row of the main and set-up his first win in nearly a year. He took the led on the opening green of the 30 lap main ahead of the Gasman, Richard Griffin, and pulled away. He flew out to a good lead before Damion Gardner was able to shed his blockers and come after him. Rip has had a rough year, only getting in the coveted top five finishing positions 33% of the time in the 33 races so far this season. Many other times he was leading, or in the hunt, when something would happen to end his run. A flat tire in the 50 lapper a few weeks ago was his latest near win, and there were plenty of other opportunities that slipped away. This week he made the black # 3 too wide for Gardner to get by and won his 56th SCRA race. It tied him with Cory Kruseman on the all time SCRA win list. Rip also has 30 CRA victories and his total of 86 puts him in third place, two ahead of Lealand McSpadden, and only 9 behind Ron Shuman on my unofficial CRA/SCRA total list that is led by Dean Thompson's 103.

Damion Gardner drove the Mark Priestley # 7 car last week at the PAS because, well it was cheaper on his budget, and he says it's not likely he can catch point leader Richard Griffin, so why not. He also says he learns a lot when he drives other cars, and that will help him with his own car. Interesting, but for my money the fans want to see him in the silver & Gardner green # 20. Lucky for us this week as he was in his own cockpit, the one sponsored by Coy Construction, Aldrich Air, CM Excavating. The very fast track didn't allow as many bold moves, but Damion was on his usual "never give up" path and made many runs at the Ripper, but didn't find any room to go around. He tried high and low, and threw several mighty sliders that didn't work, but his best opportunity was maybe thwarted when a lap car spun and flipped into the wall with only three laps to go as he was getting some bite on the top. Damion was still "up" after the race, being as animated as if he had won. You could see he had fun, and isn't this what it's all about!

Watching the classic battle up front was Steve Ostling. This guy was in the ball park and ended up on the podium, but one might think he was cheering for them to get really excited and maybe let him by for this win. Hardly, but he was there just in case as his night included 4th in his heat and 5th in the dash before grabbing third at the end. It was the 9th podium in 25 races for the "Mexican National Champion"! Steve is very comfortable in the blue and white Fischer Motorsports, Stress Relief Engineering, Accu-true, High Performance Harleys, # 29 sponsored car and is anxious to step to the top of the podium before year-end for him and his crew.

Fast time this week wasn't one of the "power" cars that usually run the quick numbers, NO! It was by a young driver in only his second ever sprint car race! Josh Wise started off his sprint car career last week by making the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash his first time in a sprinter, Don Argo's Ford sprinter! He did it again this week, but went one better. He set fast time and finished the race in 5th place. Keep in mind that he is an accomplished midget driver only sitting in for the injured Rodney Argo, but he looks like he's been there! Curiously, the car does not sport a yellow flag and I wonder what's up with that? He has driven like a veteran and looks great, but is that rule gone? Josh was smooth from the first lap and never let anyone by to make another good showing for Rodney's crew. Car owner Don Argo is very impressed and pleased with Josh and promises if Rodney's back heals in time for him to drive in the Oval Nationals at Perris, there will be two Ford powered sprinter's in their pit!

The point leader, by way too much for this time of year, is just cruising along. He won his heat and the dash, and then ended up 4th for a good clean night. He is perhaps too far ahead for the others to challenge, but it won't keep him and his crew from trying to win more races before it's all over this year. He leads the club with six wins, with Mike Kirby having 5, Cory Kruseman at 4 and Tony Jones and Damion Gardner with 3 each. With eleven different winners in SCRA, it just points out how many can win from week to week, with at least a half dozen or more ready to break through.

Three drivers who were moving well, but ended up the night early were local driver, Danny Sheridan, Hanford Stinger maker and new proud papa, Richard Harvey JR, and the Cowboy, Tony Jones. Danny was in a local car that he won in the week before, but had something happen that sent him lightly into the inside wall early leaving him at 19th on the final sheet. Tony was moving from his 18th starting spot up to 9th, before smoke began pouring out of his car and he pulled to the infield, finishing 18th. Richard was using 360 power, yet made the pretty "petty blue" # 6 run in 6th until the car quit and he finished 15th. They all deserved better, but it's racing and who knows what will happen.

Jordan Hermansader was unfortunate to crash twice this week in Ben Lancaster's # 14. The first looked like equipment failure as he just nosed into the wall while leading his heat and was in the pits too soon. In the semi, he was running strong again and was trying to avoid another car moving up on the track, when he got in the loose stuff and was sucked into the wall, sending him over several times in a snap roll experience he didn't need. These two seem to be getting on the same page, so they need a little luck. They received the small Wagsbucks and a ticket to this years Wagsdash. Shiny Tires were few this week, but Gary Howard and Greg Porte received the big and small of that.

Jason Statler made a rare appearance with SCRA this week, probably to test the waters for the Oval Nationals later on. The fast wing driver was 2nd quick, but after a minute under the tow truck on the SCRA scales, he was a few pounds too light and forfeited his time. He later started at the back of the semi and earned a feature start at the rear there. Jason put on a good show for his fans coming to 12th for the hard charger award. I wonder how many other wing drivers could follow Damion's example and do good down south?

With several of the SCRA hot dogs not in the house, many fans were disappointed by their absence. Santa Maria has long been a great showcase track for the SCRA and CRA before that. Walt James started the whole thing back in '64 when he brought the CRA up for Doug Fort's little bowl. Always good crowds and generally good car counts, but in recent time, not all the heroes go up there? Mike Kirby chose to run a stock car show to prepare for a big buck race he plans to compete in later. He added his luck just isn't good there, so he isn't anxious to go there. John Scott is busy rebuilding the car destroyed on the tour and chose to do that and work on some other need projects, thus his absence. Cory Kruseman, not in the points allowing him to run the 4 Crown at Eldora that he has missed in the past. Bobby Graham and Jeremy Sherman are not in current rides at this point. Charles Davis Jr is still rebuilding his race team after horrible luck on tour in August. He should be at Manzy this weekend. Some others with lower budgets try to keep it closer to home and probably get ready for the coming bigger races. It is not cheap this sprint car racing. Those who did show put on a good show and the crowds like going there, so it looked very successful to me!

Cory Kruseman, off traveling and racing away from the SCRA for two weeks in a row, had a better week this time, especially after last weeks IRL gear box failure ended his initial IRL dream start last Sunday. This was after climbing as high as 12th in the Texas race. His interview was very thankful and his performance should rate more IRL starts next year. Great job by the dirt track champion! At Eldora this week, Cory was 3rd in the sprint car feature, after setting fast time in Keith Kunz's # 67, 19th in the Silver Crown race and 8th in the midget event. Levi Jones, who had SCRA car owner, Glenn Crossno, in his pit at Eldora, finished 10th in the sprint car race. Glenn's # 38 car ran at Santa Maria with Troy Rutherford getting 10th driving it there. J J Yeley was 12th in the Silver Crown event, and 2nd in both the sprints and midgets, as he had a pretty good day back there. He leads the Silver Crown and is within striking distance in the other two classes standing 2nd in both. Go J J, as I know the USAC faithful hate having the west coast boys do well in USAC country!

The board meeting about closing Ventura Raceway, that is in the hot racing news now, was held last Tuesday while I was in Texas. Many people stood up for the racetrack and what it means to all of us, with over 500 people there to support Jim Naylor and his 25-year tradition. The fight is coming, as the "bad guys with money" want to take away the racetrack for reasons that don't follow logic. The family styled entertainment is of the finest in the land, so why should we let them take it away from all of us. The fight has begun and soon official protest petition sheets will be available for signatures of support. Help save Ventura Raceway, that is the battle cry, and you all can get involved. If they don't come your way, call me and I'll make sure you get some. We need all the signatures we can get to quell this uprising, so don't forget about it.

Look what happened to Sacramento's West Capitol, Fremont's Baylands, Gardenia's Ascot, and most recently, San Jose Speedway. These were legendary race tracks they needed to close to do something better for the people, and now nothing is there! Isn't history wonderful? Do they ever learn? Sacramento today has a housing track put up after a 10-year wait, and Ascot now has some kind of an auto auction on the property, but give me a break! We could still be racing at three of those today, but for those "special people" who know better and want to make more money "for the people"? None of those tracks are making money today and fans all over are missing them. Right here in Orange County they built a big open-air theater for the rock concert trade that lasted for three years and has been closed for ten. Why did they close it? Too much noise! Race cars are quieter! Don't let this happen to Ventura. Get on board and fight!

Next week I will review a few things about the cost of running a big race for car owners, and won't you be surprised! Also I will explain why this might possibly be the last Wagsdash as we know it. With the Wagsbucks collections falling off, maybe I should rethink that idea, too. After all, for 14 years we have been collecting and maybe it has run it's course because money is tight. Perhaps some info on the rumored stories about where the SCRA will and won't run next year will appear. Walt James announced the beautiful cars of WRA will be at Ventura on Wagsdash day for the fans viewing pleasure. My thanks to him and the many "geezers" who work hard to give us a great show of history of our racing. It will make the Wagsdash even more of an event to be at!

Manzanita looms on the hot horizon as the SCRA takes their first of two more trips across the desert this coming week for a one-night show. Racing is always hot on the big half mile, so we will see you there. I will be having some fun if I don't have heat stroke! Hah, after the recent Perris Sunday, I think I can handle anything! By the way, Wagsdash 12 needs help. See me to get involved or check wagtimes.com to see how you can help the low-buck racers race! Mrs Wags camera should be back this week, so look for better lit pictures as she misses her "good one", but is hanging in there with the antique Sony she is using now. Ta Ta.

SCRA Point Standings as of: 09/21/02
1. Richard Griffin 2085, 2. Damion Gardner 1675, 3. Tony Jones 1629, 4. Rip Williams 1595, 5. Cory Kruseman 1592, 6. Rickie Gaunt 1456, 7. Mike Kirby 1440, 8. John Scott 1412, 9. Steve Ostling 1404, 10. Mike English 1397, 11. Bobby Graham 1038, 12. Jeremy Sherman 1007, 13. Troy Rutherford 997, 14. Charles Davis, Jr 804, 15. Levi Jones 742, 16. Mike Spencer 708, 17. Rodney Argo 687, 18. Gary W. Howard 622, 19. Adam Mitchell 602, 20. Bobby Cody 602,

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