Positivity - By Bobby Gerould
Perris Oval Nationals Notes: It is amazing how much happens between laps 31-50 of an open-wheel dirt race. If the Perris Oval Nationals were like the Knoxville Nationals and only contested for 30 laps, Mike Kirby would have won by a straightaway and led every lap. But as it so often does in a sprint car event of length, the crap hit the fan after lap 30. The result was a terrific shootout right up the 50-lap checkered flag that saw Cory Kruseman and Josh Ford trade the lead and keep the fans on their feet. Kruseman beat Ford by a half car length in what veteran PAS announcer Scott Daloisio called the best Oval Nationals yet. ...Word of Erin Crocker's World of Outlaws prelim win swept through Perris. USAC is looking forward to Crocker doing midget racing soon. Also the word is that Kraig Kinser, the son of Steve, is headed for more USACing. One driver who won't be racing in USAC as much next year is Bud Kaeding. Bud says he will do the full Silver Crown deal, but will put a wing on and race with the All-Stars more in 2005. …Brad Sweet, the 18 year-old wonder-kid sprint car racer from Grass Valley, California is looking into the possibility of moving East to race his #1 JB sprinter. The hope is that he will catch the eye of sponsors and or a top-notch car-owner. Sweet finished ninth in his first trip to Perris on the opening night of the Oval Nationals. …Danny Sheridan raced his way from the C-Main into the A-Main Saturday. ...Chico announcer Troy Hennig was pressed into duty on Friday night when regular PAS infield mic handler Chris Holt was unable to attend. Hennig did a fantastic job with interviews of the stars of the night. Troy will be married to Kylie Greene in January 2005. ...Cory Kruseman will return to California and West Coast racing on a full-time basis in 2005. He will drive the Glen Crossno #38 which is being wheeled by Mike Kirby presently. The $64,000 question is what will become of Tony Stewart's #21 seat? With Kruseman out, who will get that chair? The money in the Perris pits was on Josh Wise who was the midget man for Tony Stewart this year. ...Josh Ford impressed the heck out of me in his weekend of racing. ...Thursday's racing ran late after a rain storm pelted the PAS in the days leading up to the $100,000 three-day event. ...The L.A. area traffic is so horrible that it took us an hour and 45 minutes to go from our Ontario hotel to the track which is only 25 miles away. You may hear horror stories about So-Cal snarls on the freeway but until you've witnessed it, it is difficult to comprehend. ...The PAS sound system bumped some Dazz Band, and Issac Hayes for me this time around. ...Spotted at Perris: World of Outlaws announcer Johnny Gibson took in night one along with WoO official "Bear". …USAC President Rollie Helmling was supervising, along with Western States head man Tommy Hunt, and new USAC official Owen Snyder. … The Perris Oval Nationals A feature was a race to remember. Fluky stuff happened. The two leaders getting connected to each other like a toy train qualifies. Mike Kirby jumped the cushion twice in turn two on consecutive laps. That left Damion Gardner an opportunity to slide Kirby in three and four, which he did. As the two raced off turn four, Kirby's front end rose up and his front nerf bar slipped over the top lip of the rear nerf on Gardner's machine. They became connected and spun together in turn one. The two were out of contention for a prize one of them looked certain to win. ...We hated that both the Oval Nat's and Tulare WoO race took place on the same weekend. Hopefully this will be avoided in 2005 scheduling. ...Food, Travel and Lodging: …Flew from Sacramento to Ontario on Thursday via Southwest Airlines. An internet "fun fare" of $39 plus tax for a one way ticket allowed me to travel roundtrip for about $100. (Paul McMahan would be happy to know there is a Round Table Pizza restaurant in the Ontario Airport. …As usual we rented a car from National. If you are in the Emerald Club, you stand in no lines! I always highly recommend National Rental Car. A Dodge Stratus in LA for four days cost $90. …Our hotel was the Ontario Airport Doubletree. The room was clean and comfy and the hotel is full service with a lounge, pool, room service, etc… The staff was friendly and we enjoyed the stay much more than many of the dumpy joints we end up at. …Thursday we ate the track and a PAS cheeseburger was good. Friday we hit Yoshinora, a Japanese quick-service place that hasn't made its way to Northern California yet. I liked it so much I ate lunch there on Saturday too. ...Saturday night I sampled the infield concession stand nachos which were quite enjoyable I must say. ...They had funnel cakes on the grandstand side but I didn't get one.
Greg Hodnett won the first three out of four races in Pennsylvania with his new Bob Stewart owned Lee Stauffer wrenched Apple #12 iMAX-5 (Prototype sprinter.) ...Dale Blaney is going to run the Rick Wright #35 at an upcoming World of Outlaws race in Texas. ...Sprint car rookie sensation Cameron Dodson scored his 10th victory of the 2004 season at Ohio Valley Speedway, Parkersburg, West Virginia on Sunday afternoon. The season-ending event on the 3/8-mile semi-banked track was originally scheduled for Saturday night but rain caused the one-day delay. ...The Trophy Cup at Hanford was enjoyable with only a couple exceptions. The B-Main was longer than long as drivers struggled to gain traction while trying to hustle for one of the four remaining transfer spots into the feature. The resulting spins and cautions made for anxious times as we knew that rain was coming. The rain hit the track at 10:25 PM but by that time, four interviews had been conducted by Sean Buckley after the completed A-Main. Ronnie Day drove from 16th to win the Saturday A-Main but he came up five points shy of Jac Haudenschild's winning points total. 'Haud' is back in the Beef Packers #83, and the 46 year-old looked good running second on Friday and fifth on Saturday. The A-Main racing on Saturday was impressive with the fast guys coming from the back of a fully inverted feature. It really did bring back the feel of the 'old days' when the features were fully inverted in NARC, and at West Capitol Raceway. Rob Johnson of Santa Rosa hung with the leaders for most the feature but had some late bad luck that dropped him a few spots at the checkered. Terry McCarl salvaged a weekend that started foul with his #88 being deemed too lite at the scales. 1,350 lb.. without driver was the rule for the 11th Annual Trophy Cup. McCarl received last place points for time-trials out of 57 cars. He fought back and ended up third in the Saturday feature. ...The Hanford Comfort Inn was our host for one night. No problems.
...Kings Speedway was our stop for the USAC Western States Midgets running a CO-sanctioned race with the BCRA midgets. Also on the card were the California Rebel Cup winged 360 sprint cars. Ronnie Day won the Rebel championship in the Elite Racing Team's #1 car. Dennis Moore Jr. was shaking down the Morrie Williams #0 for the Trophy Cup which is now just a few days away. We had our first look at rookie Robert Ballou of Rocklin. No question, this kid puts the HammerDown! He is just 16 years old. Jeff Delte, a 17 year-old, was also very solid in his heat race. ...We learned that Jac Haudenschild is the likely shoe of the #83jr car for the Trophy Cup. Terry McCarl will be in from Iowa, and Mike Wagner from Pennsylvania. Randy Hannagan, Steve Kent, Brent Kaeding, Ricci Faria, Day, Moore Jr., Chuck Gurney Jr., Brad Sweet, Blake Robertson, and Stephen Allard will head a list of an expected 60-80 teams at Hanford this Friday and Saturday. ...Nick Green did not make his debut at Hanford this past weekend. Word filtered to us that the Blackwell midget hurt a motor while Green was turning laps at the Jimmy Sills School of Open Wheel Racing in Marysville. Jimmy is Nick's Uncle. ...The Midgets currently have a crop of young drivers that are exciting to say the least. At different times this season we've seen bravery and skill in Johnny Rodriguez, Thomas Meseraull, Steve Paden, Josh Wise, Bobby East, Jerome Rodela, Tyler Brown, Brad Galedridge, Garrett Hansen, and Danny Stratton. The vets like Wally Pankratz, and Robby Flock are mixing it up with these kids and the outcome seems to always be entertaining. You really should treat yourself to the midgets on a dirt track near you.
...Jack Hewitt will be making his final competitive Sprint Car start of his career this weekend at the Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana. Hewitt was injured in an accident at North Vernon and has since been keeping himself busy with duties away from driving. Hewitt once drove for DuWayne Starr. Cheryl Starr was very gracious to make copies of her notes from many Calistoga races that we had no details of. We knew the feature winners but little else. Thanks to Cheryl we learned all kinds of stuff from the 1979-1994 seasons. Please check out the Calistoga Winner's List page to view the new notes. Scroll down the page to about the 1979 season and begin there. ...Steve Kent won the Tulare Thunderbowl winged 410 race on October 2nd. ...J.J. Yeley has been confirmed as a competitor in the Mopar Sprint Car Nationals event at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 13th. That race is the next RRS points earning event. Yeley is slated to drive the No. 75 Mopar owned by Gary Stanton. ...Lots of stuff happening in the near future. How about the night of October 16th? All on the same night: The Trophy Cup (Hanford), USAC/CRA Wags Dash at Ventura, BCRA Midgets for a $15,000 purse at Santa Maria, and the USAC Western States Sprints and Midgets at Las Vegas. Whoa. This weekend, the winged 360's are in Chico for a big showdown on the high-banked quarter-mile. The Fall Nationals is a headline event for winged 360's in Northern California. The USAC Western Midgets will compete at Kings Speedway in Hanford this Saturday. Tim Green's son Nick will make his debut in the midgets after a very successful karting career. Nick will be steering Cliff Blackwell's midget as overseen by Tim. Meanwhile the USAC/CRA series gets down at Perris in the Jeff Bagley Classic. Mike Kirby is the hottest driver in recent weeks. The series is gearing up for the Perris Oval Nationals on October 28th, 29th, and 30th. This Saturday all kids 14 and under will receive a free full color poster featuring west coast sprint car superstars Rip Williams and Damion Gardner. Printed on high quality paper, this gorgeous 18 X 24” poster is courtesy of So. Cal Performance, Wagtimes.com and Hoseheads.com and will be perfect for getting autographed and hanging on the wall. ...Scott Hall reports that Kasey Kahne was upside down in a winged sprint car at Eldora on Saturday night. Kahne got pinched into the backstretch wall on lap one by eventual winner Jeremy Campbell and flipped wildly down the track. Ron Blair then slid into the front end of Kahne's stopped machine but the NASCAR Nextel Cup star jumped out of his machine without injury and headed to the airport to catch a flight back to Talladega, AL. ...Tony Stewart had this to say about the Copper World date change for 2005. "It's long overdue. Bringing back the true tradition of the Copper Classic is something that I'm really excited about. PIR is one of the nicest facilities that USAC goes to all year. It's kind of like going to the Daytona 500. Once the season is over everybody is getting ready for the Copper Classic. It's a very prestigious race to win. That's just what makes it special. It's extremely fast, one of the fastest places you can go to with USAC. It's pretty impressive to run there." ...Lucas Wolfe running third at Port Royal's WoO show is pretty impressive. The son of Randy Wolfe caught the attention of Donny Schatz who said he wished could have raced as well as Lucas at age 17. ...The Williams Grove National Open is 'tough sleddin''. I heard that term first from Larry Shelton. It means that the competition is deep with numerous cars that could win and or make the feature. Like Knoxville Raceway, the locals in Central Pennsylvania are good. They race Thursday night through Sunday night each weekend. They are sharp, and their motors hit hard because they have to. They race on big tracks. The point is that if you really want to prove to the world that you are a driving talent, you can do it by winning at Williams Grove in a World of Outlaws show. That's what Mark Smith did in prelim action Friday (10.01.04). I knew Smith was a racer when I saw him wad up a car bad at Eldora, shake it off, and return later in the night to race again. The folks in Pennsylvania have known he could drive for sometime. He is the hired shoe in the Zemco #1z that is probably best known as the car Billy Pauch was so successful in.