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KRUSEMAN WINS SCRA OPENER by Robert Mayson TULARE, CA, APRIL 4, 2004 - Cory Kruseman took the lead with four laps to go and went on to win Sunday's season opener for the NAPA Auto Parts / Auto Trader Magazines SCRA sprint cars at the Thunderbowl Raceway. Already the all-time leader in career main event wins with the SCRA, Kruseman's 63rd feature victory also gave him his third career win at Thunderbowl Raceway in just ten SCRA visits.

"We really didn't even plan to be out here this weekend," Kruseman later confessed. "We finished our Tony Stewart cars at about 1 a.m. Friday morning and learned later in the day that the races were cancelled, so I caught a redeye out of Indianapolis and raced last night. I'm just so delighted that I can come back here and race for the Alexander's because they give me a great car. I think I run eight times with them now and have won four races."

JE Pistons Dash winner Rickie Gaunt started on the pole with the Ron Chaffin / Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply #50 John Boy driven by Damion Gardner to his outside. Gaunt had problems on the initial start and got crossed up coming down for the green flag. Tim Kaeding's first non-wing ride was a memorable one after he climbed Gaunt's tail tank and piggybacked his way harmlessly into the infield. Gaunt and Kaeding were allowed to return to their original starting positions since two other cars slid to a stop forcing a complete restart.

Gaunt and Gardner made contact exiting turn four on the restart, enabling Kaeding to lead the field into turn one. Gardner quickly recovered and took the lead on the opening lap using the bottom of turn two. With 13 of the 30 laps now in the record books, Gaunt began pushing his Tony Smiley / David Zoriki #2A Extreme closer to Gardner. With Gardner now facing lapped traffic, Gaunt stuck a wheel under the leader exiting turn four just prior to the midway point for the race. Methodically gaining on the Gardner and Gaunt, Kruseman had Mark Alexander's / LaVilla Restaurant #4 Stinger in a position to challenge for second position by the end of the 20th circuit.

The high groove appeared to go away a little on Gardner in the closing laps and he was passed by Gaunt for the lead on lap 22, and then, by Kruseman one lap later. Kruseman momentarily held the lead on lap 25 after a bump with Gaunt entering turn one. Kruseman's pass was, however, negated when Kaeding, who was running sixth at the time, littered the front straight with the fragments of his shredded left rear tire. Gaunt reassumed the lead, but would relinquish it to Kruseman for good on lap 27 after skating a little wide through the second turn. Gaunt had problems at the same end of the track on the following lap, which allowed Gardner to score a second place finish in his first SCRA run since replacing recently retired series champion Richard Griffin in the Ron Chaffin sprinter.

"There was a little rubber laid down coming out of (turn) four and Rickie ran her in there and he missed it, but it was a drag race down to turn one. It was about the third time that we had done that. I guess the third time was the charm because we made it work," Kruseman said of his race winning passing. "Believe it or not, our right rear tire was in good shape except that it had a cut and was going flat. It was starting to rollover with about six laps to go and I was getting a little concerned. I waved to Rickie when I went by him and then I thought he might drive back by me and make me look bad when my tire started going flat. Luckily, it came back in with about four pounds of air in it."

For those of you that believe in lucky numbers, it should be noted that Kruseman's win in car #4 came on the fourth day, of the fourth month in the year 2004. And, that he started in the fourth position and took the lead four laps from the finish before earning his fourth feature win driving for Mark Alexander. Kruseman's teammate, Jordan Hermansader, driving car #4X finished fourth.

Veteran Mike English gave car owner Mel Murphy his first-ever top five finish driving Murphy's Plumbing Specialist #62 TCR across the finish line ahead of Arizona Race Mart Fast Time Award winner Charles Davis, Jr. Brent Kaeding was named the KSE Products Hard Charger thanks to his seventh place run from the 15th starting spot.


TIME TRIALS 1. Charles Davis, Jr., Smiley 8A, 16.065 2. Damion Gardner, Chaffin 50, 16.121 3. Cory Kruseman, Alexander 4, 16.177 4. Danny Sheridan, Dorathy 21A, 16.284 5. Tim Kaeding, Roth 83JR, 16.321 6. Alan Ballard, Ballard 97, 16.351 7. Rickie Gaunt, Smiley 2A, 16.351 8. Verne Sweeney, Sweeney/Zoriki, 16.357 9. Troy Rutherford, Sala 19, 16.394 10. Ronnie Case, Blair 33X, 16.424 11. Jimmy Crawford, Crawford 18, 16.451 12. Mike English, Murphy 62, 16.494 13. Jordan Hermansader, Alexander 4X, 16.522 14. Mike Spencer, Engstrom 44, 16.549 15. Mike Faria, Faria 4F, 16.599 16. Alex Pruett, Pruett 56AZ, 16.599 17. Mark Nation, Nation 3N, 16.652 18. Brent Kaeding, BK Racing 69, 16.688 19. Dwight Cheney, Cheney 42, 16.706 20. J Hicks, Miller 66, 16.720 21. Aaron Altaffer, Altaffer 84, 16. 859 22. A.J. Burgin, Burgin 2, 16.918 23.Seth Wilson, Racing Optics 17, 16.967 24. Brian Coelho, Coelho 5C, 16.979 25. Kaylene Verville, Verville 01, 17.121 26. Richard Harvey, Jr., Kittle 6K, 17.193 27. Casey Shuman, Sweeney/Zoriki 6, 17.431 28. Mike Martin, Martin 57, 17.469 29. Nadine Kellar, Kellar 6Z, 17.492 30. Brad Sweet, Sweet 1, 17.508 31. Jeremy Ellertson, Ellertson 98J, 17.515 32. Peter Murphy, Tarlton 21, 17.575 33. Ronnie Clark, Clark 33, 17.692 34. Bruce St. James, St. James 7K, 17.772 35. Tom Stansberry, Bach 48, 17.903 36. Kevin Urton, Urton 51, 18.057 37. Wayne Williams, BK Racing 68, 18.587 38. David Hair, Hair 44X, 18.672 39. Bobby Cody, Cody 41, No Time

C-MAIN (8 laps) 1. Murphy, 2. Sweet, 3. Urton, 4. Clark, 5. Williams, 6. Ellertson, 7. Stansberry, 8. St. James, 9. Hair, 10. Kellar - 2:24.33

SHAVER ENGINES HEAT 1 (10 laps) 1. Altaffer, 2. Hermansader, 3. Murphy, 4. T. Kaeding, 5. Davis, 6. Rutherford, 7. Verville, 8. Nation - 2:40.31

STINGER CHASSIS HEAT 2 (10 laps) 1. B. Kaeding, 2. Gardner, 3. Spencer, 4. Case, 5. Burgin, 6. Ballard, 7. Harvey, 8. Sweet - No Time

SPIN TECH MUFFLERS HEAT 3 (10 laps) 1. Kruseman, 2. Wilson, 3. Gaunt, 4. Faria, 5. Shuman, 6. Crawford, 7. Urton, 8. Cheney - 2:45.91

OVAL TRACK RACING HEAT 4 (10 laps) 1. Coelho, 2. English, 3. Martin, 4. Sheridan, 5. Hicks, 6. Clark, 7. Pruett, 8. Hermansader - No Time

JE PISTONS DASH (6 laps) 1. Gaunt, 2. Gardner, 3. T. Kaeding, 4. Kruseman, 5. Hermansader, 6. Case, 7. English, 8. Sheridan - 1:45.76

B FEATURE (12 laps) 1. Davis, 2. Ballard, 3. Sweeney, 4. Rutherford, 5. Urton, 6. Harvey, 7. Sweet, 8. Hicks, 9. Cheney, 10. Crawford, 11. Nation, 12. Clark, 13. Pruett, 14. Burgin, 15. Verville - No Time

A FEATURE (30 Laps) 1. Kruseman, 2. Gardner, 3. Gaunt, 4. Hermansader, 5. English, 6. Davis, 7. B. Kaeding, 8. Sheridan, 9. Rutherford, 10. Murphy, 11. Spencer, 12. Sweeney, 13. Ballard, 14. Harvey, 15. Wilson, 16. Faria, 17. Martin, 18. Urton, 19. Coelho, 20. Case, 21. Altaffer, 22. T. Kaeding. - No Time.

Laps Led: Gardner 1-22, Gaunt 23-26, Kruseman 27-30

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