Hi once again, I am still trying to
recover from my trip to the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma. First and
foremost I would like to thank Kelly Westphal for taking me in for
the weekend and giving me a place to stay, and for being a great tour guide.
I will take you day by day through my trip to Tulsa.... I left early (6:00
a.m. P.S.T), arrived at the airport, then on to Denver where we were stuck
on the runway for over an hour. By the time we go to Tulsa I was an hour late.
Even though I was late, Kelly, along with Sandy Heinz were there at
the gate to pick me up and we got in Sandy's car and went to the track. I
would also like to thank Sandy for taking care of my two friends, Bob Miller
and Bill Botelho with grandstand tickets once again this year.
I would like to also thank Bobby Gerould and Roger Hess for
giving me the chance to work for TV for the first time. If you ever get the
chance.....do it. It was a very interesting look into the behind the scenes
part of racing on television. Being able to work with Bobby, Larry Rice,
Brad Doty, Dave Reiff, Dave Argabright and Kevin Eckert was a great
opportunity that I will never forget.
On Thursday we got to the track and
watched hot laps, then Bob and I walked to the pits to try to get to know
the drivers. We returned back to the perch in turn four to watch the heat
races that were fairly boring with not a lot of passing, and lots of on the
bottom action. Sammy Swindell couldn't even move up through the heat
race after venturing to the high side. Dave Darland picked off the
preliminary night win with an impressive performance to back up last years
excellent year. Critter Malone actually passed Darland twice.
The first time, the yellow came out and the other time Critter stalled
the motor after jamming the brakes on in turn one. Friday night was much more
exciting through the heat races with lots of passing and a very good main
event. Cory Kruseman got the win this night with a flawless performance
after starting in the front row. Tracy Hines was also fast but a smoking
motor late in the race almost ruined his Chili Bowl weekend. Travis
Rilat took a spectacular ride in the first heat race out of turn one and
landed between the fence and the end of the building.
After the races we went to a favorite
spot for a lot of the racers in Tulsa, The Winner's Circle. Everyone
there was great to us all weekend. I had a great time seeing Lance Blevins,
Aaron and Brandi Berryhill along with Terry and Lori McCarl.
I also got the chance to meet Mike Goodman for the first time, he seems
like a real nice guy with a good future in sprint car racing. After the obligatory
trip to Hooters on Saturday we went to the races to see the finale
and do my first television broadcast. Basically what I got to do was "spot"
for Bobby by handing him notes as to the other action that was happening that
he couldn't see. Kevin Eckert also did a GREAT job in the booth for
Larry Rice and Bobby.
As for the finale, there was a lot
of action with Cory Kruseman out front, the fight behind him was awesome.
First Hines got into the wall then Darland and Kevin Doty
got together. By lap 25 Jason Leffler had moved up to seventh and was
on the move from 19th starting spot. Bud Kaeding had also moved into
the top-ten from his 20th starting spot. Gary Wright was running a
strong 3rd on lap 43 when he went for a huge flip in turns 1-2. In the incident,
Leffler was also involved and had to go to the back. Getting ready
for the restart with Kruseman out front with a four lapped car cushion,
Dan Boorse stopped in turn four with a fuel leak and a very hot foot.
On the restart Bud Kaeding had moved into the top-five and made a move
into third with five laps to go. Kruseman "cruised" to his first ever
Chili Bowl win followed by unknown Shane Cottle and 20th starting
Bud Kaeding. It was a very excited Bud who exited his car and
showed his approval by saluting Bobby and myself in the TV booth....I guess
you had to be there but it was a very special moment.
After the races were over I went to
the Press Room where I saw my friends Cory Kruseman and Bud Kaeding
enjoying the spoils of victory. I was able to congratulate both of them along
with Cory's wonderful wife Carrie. We went back to The Winner Circle
to have some refreshments and relax after the long day. ...Back to Kelly's
to get some sleep before getting on the plane and heading home on Sunday.
On my plane was an All-Star group of people including Parnelli and Page
Jones, winning Car Owner Andy Bondio, Jeff Shaver with Michele
and Cathy, and last but not least, Dino Tomassi who owned the car
that Jason Leffler drove. I got home Sunday afternoon and was picked
up and swept home after a very fast, fun and exciting weekend.
Here are some notes
and news from the weekend.....P.J.
Jones took a hard ride in the John Lawson car and was done for
the weekend on Friday night...Travis Rilat showed up on Saturday with
his name upside down on the side of the car after flipping Wednesday and Friday
night...Billy Boat got almost as many boos as Sammy Swindell...Preston
Cross was the busiest man in the building after repairing the cars of
Boat, Pauch and Jones all weekend...Dan Boorse was quietly
running 2nd when his fuel pump broke and caught fire with 7 laps to go...Good
to see Joey and Shannon Saldana and good luck to them this year
on the Outlaw trail...Mike Thurman will be the Crew Chief for Saldana...Jack
Hewitt's two seat Sprint Car was the hit of the weekend with Page Jones
in the back...I would love to strap in that thing someday, maybe at Eldora...Dave
Rieff probably needed to change his underwear after he got out of the
back of that car (e-mail me sometime Reiffer)...Good to hear Jack Miller's
salty voice again...I got to read Brad Doty and Dave Argabright's
book, Still Wide Open on the way home, I couldn't put it
down, I would advise any fan to get this. It is an excellent book...Great
to see Gale Custer from Weld Wheels(Thanks for the info on Bobby
Davis Jr.)...If you ever get a chance to look at Andy Bondio's
car up close, check it out it is a masterpiece...Lealand McSpadden
was helping Kruseman, and I bet he could have gotten into a car and
made the race...Cory Kruseman has opened a non-wing driving school
at Ventura, I would love to make it down there sometime and strap in...Always
great to see Kendra Jacobs and Mindy Stephens, both sweethearts...
How could I write this without saying
something about Johnny "Mad Dog" Murdock from Texas with his
Tennis Ball haircut? He was a real movie...Good to talk to Kenny Jacobs
as he tells me, (we, HammerDown!) that he has a new partner
for the upcoming year making it Jacobs/Hoenicker Racing. Congrats Mouse...Thanks
to Kenny and Annie Woodruff for the tour of the house and shop
on Saturday, good luck to you and Daryn Pittman for the 2000 season...Also
good to see MSPN (Mike Nelligan) and hopefully getting my pictures
soon...Korey Weyant from Springfield, Illinois was the youngest driver
at 14, Jerry Marks was the oldest at 70 but had my favorite hometown,
Monkey Island, Oklahoma...Former California sprint car driver
Robert Marfia had two cars but had tough luck all weekend with both
machines. ...Billy Pauch couldn't get away from the bad luck all night
Friday...Kevin Olson was as tame as I have ever seen him (too bad)...Emmett
Hahn and Lanny Edwards have the fastest cleanup group I have ever
seen after crashes...Johnny Gibson was running around all weekend,
helping with everything as usual...It was weird not to see Andy Hillenburg
this year...Tony George was impressive for not running midgets too
often...I like the way they re-worked the track before the A-Main...
...Just want to say hi to our crew
chief Billy Albini, I know he likes to see his name on the web... Well
that is all for now but I would like to put out a little message to anyone
out there that is looking for somebody to help on a successful sprint car
team as Jason Statler is looking for a crew chief and crew member to
help him this year. He is planning on running in California until Dirt
Cup (June), then leaving to race back east for the summer. If anyone is
interested feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and see you next time, BF