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By Ken Wagner 9/25/05

Riddle of the week. Who drives a “little red sucker”, qualifies quickest 65% of the time and wins sprint car races 45% of the time? The Demon, Damion Gardner, That’s who! He was the quick timer for the 18th time and won his 12th Valvoline USAC/CRA event of the season this week at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, AZ during the Arizona Hall of Fame induction night. Driving the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply – Arizona Race Mart, Eagle, Shaver, red # 50, the Demon put on a high speed clinic that forced his car owner to say it looked like Richard Griffin in the car just like old times! Richard won several championships in this Ron Chaffin owned car prior to Damion taking over the reins two years ago. In winning his 33rd west coast victory, Damion pulled into a tie with Eddie Wirth and Mike Sweeney on the all time list. He also is only 20 points behind point leader Rip Williams to boot.

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As Damion mesmerized the crowd with his high speed antics, he had a long way to go from his eighth starting spot on a fast narrow track. He worked his way up top slowly into second and found a determined Josh Ford running the low groove while he himself had been waiting for the high groove to come in with little help from others up there. After crew chief Bruce Bromme Jr told him to get up top and stay there on a red flag stop late in the race, the track quickly came to him and he got faster. Josh held on to the lead until Damion flashed by with three laps to go in the 30 lapper, denying the young driver his first win.

Josh Ford finished a strong second in the Berry Pack Agricultural Packaging –Temecula Valley Pipe& Supply, Edson, Downing # 73 sprinter. He had a look at his first win, but the little red sucker got him in the end. Josh had made the moves on hard charging “Showtime Sheridan” for the lead and was looking like a winner late in the event. He was 8th quick and fourth in his heat before starting third in the main event. Josh will let this ego building experience help him to get that first win.

Danny Sheridan has been on a streak of sorts the last month with four top fives in his result ledger. He was third in his heat this week before leading seventeen laps and finishing third in the main. Driving the El Camino Pipe & Supply - Red Line Oil, Stinger, Pick, blue # 18, “Showtime” made his strongest showing at the big half mile and made his car owners very happy. Danny’s new poster went over very well with the local fans as his popularity continues to grow as his experience does.

Troy Rutherford gave Mark Priestley’s yellow # 7 car another good workout grabbing fourth from his 13th starting spot. Hometown favorite, Jeremy Sherman finished fifth after starting 16th in the main and was the hard charger of the night. It was his first time in the Alexander Trucking car that Mike Kirby drove to victory here in March. Kirby’s new team will debut October 1st after leaving the Alexander ride last week and missing two events. The team will reunite some of his long time supporters including crew chief Brett Roa, Jim Wolfe, Tom Wilhelm and others as the new team comes together under the LA Prep colors. Mike will return to the coil over style car he liked last year and look for them to be fast out of the box.

Birthday boy Charles Davis Jr was not hurt seriously when another car slammed hard into his cage on the left side in a bone jarring crash on the front stretch in the main event. Two others were involved as Nadine Keller and Shon Deskins both flipped as well. Shon went to the hospital for observation after getting knocked unconscious, but is expected to recover quickly. Charles will have a sore arm next week but vows to be back at Perris for the next race. Nadine was all smiles as she weathered at least five sideways flips and visited with fans in the pits afterwards.

Rip Williams suffered a flat tire late in the main event and lost 35 points off his point lead as he came back to get 13th. Seth Wilson was nudged over on his head on the first start of the feature, but the soft rollover didn’t hurt the car and he recovered to run eighth by race end in front of a packed house. Cory Kruseman had tough luck this week when he had to change a tire on a lap five red flag stop, yet came back thru the pack to get sixth to maintain his spot of third in points behind Gardner and Williams. J Hicks surprised by leading the first five laps after qualifying ninth and starting on the front row with Sheridan. He finished seventh for his best this season and went back to California smiling.

Don’t forget the 15th annual Wagsdash at Ventura Raceway on October 29th! Auction items are still welcome and more race sponsors are signing up every day. This week Kittle Motorsports joined the action as my quest to pay $10,000 to win the main event that night surges on. No decision on the final format for the Wagsdash portion of the show or the “draw” to fill the field, but all will be revealed soon. The event t-shirt is being finalized with sponsor spots still available.

The USAC/CRA returns to Perris this coming week with the Ripper/Demon show taking front and center. Will we get a new winner this year, stay tuned.

VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: September 24, 2005 – Phoenix, Arizona – Manzanita Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin-19.103; 2. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics-19.166; 3. Nathan High, 6A, Pritchett-19.246; 4. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-19.284; 5. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno-19.320; 6. Jordan Hermansader, 5, Keller-19.348; 7. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom-19.362; 8. Josh Ford, 73, Ford-19.374; 9. J. Hicks, 66, Miller-19.385; 10. Mike Leslie, 76AZ, Montgomery-19.485; 11. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle-19.497; 12. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley-19.519; 13. Troy Rutherford, 7, Priestley-19.611; 14. Charles Davis Jr, 8A, Smiley-19.660; 15. Danny Ebberts, 77, Acosta-19.698; 16. Jeremy Sherman, 4, Alexander-19.756; 17. J.T. Imperial, 4J, Tuttle-19.834; 18. Tom Ogle, 5AZ, Turner-19.925; 19. Marty Miller 3W, WWs Racing-19.944; 20. R.J. Johnson, 15AZ, Martin-20.060; 21. Mike Martin, 57, Martin-20.089; 22. Bob Ream Jr, 8, B.R.A.T-20.164; 23. Brandon Lane, 97H, Lane-20.393; 24. Shon Deskins, 5X, Deskins-20.489; 25. Ricky Hood, 33, Cushman-20.536; 26. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller-21.567; 27. Keith Williamson, 95, Williamson-NT.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Miller, 2. Ream, 3. Rutherford, 4. R.Williams, 5. Gardner, 6, Sherman, 7. Spencer, 8. Leslie, 9. Hood. 3:16.86

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Davis, 2. Johnson, 3. Sheridan, 4. Ford, 5. Kruseman, 6. Lane, 7. Wilson, 8. Imperial, 9. Keller. 3:18:44

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ebberts, 2. Gaunt, 3. High, 4. Hicks, 5. Hermansader, 6. Deskins, 7. Ogle, 8. Martin. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Wilson, 2. Spencer, 3. Leslie, 4. Sherman, 5. Imperial, 6, Hood, 7. Keller, 8. Deskins, 9. Lane, 10. Ogle, 11. Williamson. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Josh Ford, 3. Danny Sheridan, 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Jeremy Sherman, 6. Cory Kruseman, 7. J. Hicks, 8. Seth Wilson, 9. Nathan High, 10. Mike Spencer, 11. Bob Ream Jr, 12. Ricky Hood, 13. Rip Williams, 14. R.J. Johnson, 15. Jordan Hermansader, 16. Rickie Gaunt, 17. Mike Leslie, 18. Danny Ebberts, 19. J.T. Imperial, 20. Charles Davis Jr, 21. Nadine Keller, 22. Shon Deskins. NT

**Charles Davis Jr., Shon Deskins & Nadine Keller all flipped during the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Hicks, Laps 6-22 Sheridan, Laps 23-27 Ford, Laps 28-30 Gardner.

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-R.Williams-1,550; 2-Gardner-1,530; 3-Kruseman-1,441; 4-Mike Kirby-1,329; 5-Davis-1,185; 6-Gaunt-1,086; 7-Spencer-1,011; 8-Ford-949; 9-Sheridan-818; 10-Wilson-808.

NEXT USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: October 1 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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