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Oregon's Roger Crockett uses patience to post Pacific Sprint Cup victory CHICO, 9-4-02- Roger Crockett of Eugene, Oregon returned to the track where he began his young racing career Wednesday night and stole the "crown jewell" of the Hoosier Tires California Sprint Car Civil War Series with a victory in the 6th annual Pacific Sprint Cup Invitational at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. The annual Pacific Sprint Cup is the highlight event of the 13-race Civil War sprint car series that travels to four different California tracks between March and October. While the series pays more than $20,000 in championship funds to the top drivers of the season-ending point standings, the Pacific Sprint Cup is the most lucrative event of the campaign as it boasts a purse of $50,000 and awards $3,000 to the winner.

Since it began six years ago, the Pacific Sprint Cup has not had a repeat winner and this year is no exception as Crockett becomes the sixth different driver to win this prestigious event, a race that appeared as if second place would be the outcome for the former series champion until the waning laps. At the waving of the green flag it was Grass Valley driver Ricky Wondergem snatching the early lead for most of the opening lap until former Silver Dollar Speedway track champion Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove used the low line in turn four to steal the just prior to completion of the first lap.

Once in front, DeCaires charged to a healthy lead aboard the Redi-Green Motorsports #1K while Crockett worked into the second position ahead of Wondergem. With just eight laps down DeCaires began approaching lapped traffic but found his route cleared at the ten lap mark when a red flag came out for Steven Tiner of Elverta who went upside down after launching off the third turn. Tiner was uninjured in the incident and later returned to the field despite damage.

When green flag racing resumed, DeCaires was clearly in charge of the field as he muscled ahead to a lead of several car lengths ahead of Crockett and Wondergen while Elk Grove's Gary Morgan and Chad Riolo of Roseville put on show in a heated battle for the fourth position that went well into the late laps of the event. Through a series of caution flags for various spins and stalls, DeCaires continued to lead the event with authority until the 25-lap mark when he tangled with Placerville's Jimmy Trulli while working into traffic in the fourth turn. The collision sent both Trulli and DeCaires into a spin and stall, tearing the front wing from DeCaires' John Boy and costing him the valuable lead which then fell into the hands of Crockett.

Always a top contender in previous championship action at Silver Dollar Speedway as well as Civil War events statewide, Crockett, the 2001 Northern Sprints Tour Champion, took command of the lead position for the remaining five laps with Wondergem in tow followed by Morgan and Riolo along with series point leader Mike Henry of Sacramento who inched into the top five in the closing circuits. At the finish line it was Crockett picking up his third Civil War win of the season with Wondergem finishing a season best second place followed by Morgan, Riolo and Henry.

"I feel really bad for Greg, he was running a good strong race and had that happen to him," said Crockett. "He would pull ahead of me on the restarts and I thought I would be able to close in on him in traffic and the another yellow flag would come out. In didn't really have a good look to get by him out in the open or the opportunity to put pressure on him too early, it was definitely going to take some lapped traffic for me to catch him, he was running really good tonight."

In heat race action on Wednesday, Chico's own Jonathan Allard claimed victory in the first 10-lap event and shared success with other heat winners Jimmy Trulli of Placerville, Jim Richardsen of Gaeagle and Crockett. Henry was the fast qualifier with a 12:364. Trouble in his heat race placed the point leader in the B-main event when he finished first ahead of Andy Forsberg and Riolo.

The California Sprint Car Civil War Race Series will continue on Saturday, September 14 as the series travels to kings speedway in Hanford for the 11th round of competition before continuing to Twin Cities Speedway in Marysville and Placerville Speedway the following weeks.


FAST QUALIFIER: Mike Henry, Sacramento 12.364

Heat 1 Jonathan Allard, Chico; Jeremy Phillips, Wheatland; Steven Tiner, Elverta; Rick Wondergem, Grass Valley; Mike Monahan, Sparks,NV

Heat 2 Jimmy Trulli,Placerville; David Robinson Jr., Auburn; Jeff Halleib, Auburn; Andy Gregg, Placerville; Destiny Hays, Oroville

Heat 3 Jim Richardson, Graeagle; Korey Lovell, Yuba City; Gary Morgan, Elk Grove; Herman Klein, Sacramento; Eric Hopkins, Camino

Heat 4 Roger Crockett, Eugene, OR; Ron McBride, Orangevale; Colby Weisz, Colfax; Mark Hall, Grass Valley; Kyle Schild, Sacramento

B-Main Mike Henry; Andy Forsberg, Auburn; Chad Riolo, Roseville; Kyle Schild; Joey Magaruh, Vacaville; David Robinson Jr.; Mike Monahan; Destiny Hays; Eric Hopkins; Richard Brace Jr., Auburn; Robert Stice, Grass Valley; Marc Mackay, Shingle Springs; Pat Harvey Jr., Grass Valley.

A-Main Roger Crockett; Ricky Wondergem; Gary Morgan; Chad Riolo; Mike Henry; Mark Hall; Korey Lovell; Kyle Schild; Andy Forsberg; Jeff Halleib; Herman Klein; Greg DeCaries; Ron McBride; Andy Gregg; Colby Weisz; Jimmy Trulli; Jonathan Allard; Jeremy Phillips; Jim Richardson; Steven Tiner

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