GAUNT FLIES TO VICTORY AT TULARE by Robert Mayson TULARE, CA, APRIL 24, 2004 - Running in places where few dared to go, Rickie Gaunt powered his way through some of the roughest parts of the race track and was able beat his teammate Charles Davis, Jr. to the checkered flag Saturday at the Thunderbowl Raceway. The victory was the tenth of Gaunt's NAPA Auto Parts / Auto Trader Magazines SCRA sprint car career and the first for his car owner Tony Smiley. Earlier in the program, Gaunt also blasted the Smiley Crane Service #2A Extreme to his 27th lifetime Arizona Race Mart Fast Time Award.
"The nice thing is that my teammate Charlie Davis came home second," Gaunt said with a grin. "I'm so fortunate to be involved with Tony Smiley and Dave Zoriki Motorsports. They like to have a good time and they're just as competitive as I am. They gave me a good race car tonight and I like this place. I haven't won a lot of races in my career, but I've won here before, and I feel confident here. I gave one away here a couple weeks ago, so it feels good to win tonight." Adding to the list of team accomplishments for the evening, Davis won the JE Pistons Dash to put the Ron's Fuel Injection #8A Extreme on the front row for the 30-lap race with Australian driver Peter Murphy to his outside.
Taking advantage of the turn four banking, Murphy easily beat Davis to the green flag at the start and comfortably led the 22-car field into the first turn. Gaunt ran fourth at the end of the opening lap and was able to overtake Steve Ostling coming down to complete the second lap. Davis bobbled in turn four on the following circuit allowing Gaunt to slip around the outside of him for the second position. Making his SCRA debut in the Martin & Betty Chaney / Don Sharp Insurance #69 Stinger, Murphy began to come under fire from Gaunt by the end of the sixth lap.
The only caution period of the race came one lap later when Danny Sheridan stopped in turn four with front-end damage. Ostling tried to move his Harlan Willis / TCR Performance #45 past Davis shortly after the restart, only to lose the fourth position to Kevin Urton.
Coming into the night, Murphy had never led a lap during an SCRA main event. Unfortunately for Murphy, his reign as race leader ended on the 12th lap, after he caught a rut exiting turn four and had Gaunt shoot ahead of him. Once out front, Gaunt was never really challenged. In fact, Gaunt's only anxious moment came two laps from the finish when he was busy working his way through lapped traffic and Casey Shuman was spun around by another car directly in front of him. Gaunt managed to avoid Shuman, as well as, a couple of lapped cars that abruptly slowed in front of him. To his credit, Shuman managed to avoid stopping, which essentially guaranteed Gaunt's victory.
Davis passed Murphy for the runner-up spot just before the halfway point of the race, but still found find himself nearly a half straightaway behind his teammate at the conclusion of the race. For Murphy, his third place finish bested his previous highest finish, which dated back to a fifth place run at Santa Maria Speedway during the 2001 season. Even though Ostling took back the fourth position from him on the 26th lap, Urton left Thunderbowl Raceway with his first ever SCRA top-five finish. Brad Sweet's eighth place finish made him the highest finishing 360 powered sprinter, while Ricci Faria's ninth place finish from the 22nd starting spot earned him KSE Products Hard Charger.
Following time trials, the "For Teens Young Guns Shootout" was held for drivers between the age of 16 and 20. Sixteen-year old Chad Boespflug took the win. The six-lap event was sponsored by the Pruett Group, which helps teens and the parents of teens cope with the challenges facing today's teens.
RACE #2 - THUNDERBOWL RACEWAY, TULARE, CA Date of Race: 4/24/04
ARIZONA RACE MART TIME TRIALS 1. Rickie Gaunt, Smiley 2A, 16.048 2. Mike Faria, Faria 4F, 16.173 3. Aaron Altaffer, Altaffer 84, 16.316 4. Peter Murphy, Chaney 69 21, 16.339 5. Steve Ostling, Willis 45, 16.339 6. Alex Pruett, Pruett 56AZ, 16.476 7.Seth Wilson, Racing Optics 17, 16.482 8. Charles Davis, Jr., Smiley 8A, 16.483 9. Alan Ballard, Ballard 97, 16.533 10. Brad Sweet, Sweet 1, 16.568 11. Kevin Urton, Urton 51, 16.576 12. Danny Sheridan, Dorathy 21A, 16.785 13. Casey Shuman, Sweeney/Zoriki 6, 16.791 14. Mike Martin, Martin 57, 16.821 15. Chad Boespflug, Big Boe Racing 98X, 16.976 16. Verne Sweeney, Sweeney/Zoriki, 17.013 17. Brad Evett, Evett 45X, 17.091 18. Kaylene Verville, Verville 01, 17.147 19. Mark Nation, Nation 3N, 17.161 20. Ronnie Clark, Clark 33, 17.220 21. Mel Murphy English, Murphy 62, 17.264 22. Jonathan Logan, Evett 32, 17.523 23. Dennis Rodriguez, Rohwer 20, 17.702 24. Jason Yount, Yount 25, 19.756 25. Ricci Faria, Faria 89, No Time
"FOR TEENS YOUNG GUNS SHOOTOUT" (6 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Ballard, 3. Clark, 4. Sweet, 5. Logan, 6. Pruett - 1:41.45
SHAVER ENGINES HEAT 1 (10 laps) 1. Sweet, 2. Sweeney, 3. Gaunt, 4. Murphy, 5. Shuman, 6. Nation, 7. Wilson, 8. Logan - 2:56.99 STINGER CHASSIS HEAT 2 (10 laps) 1. Urton, 2. Evett, 3. Ostling, 4. Clark, 5. Davis, 6. M. Faria, 7. Martin, 8. Rodriguez - 3:01.98
SPIN TECH MUFFLERS / OVAL TRACK RACING HEAT 3 (10 laps) 1. Sheridan, 2. Altaffer, 3. Ballard, 4. Boespflug, 5. Yount, 6. Murphy, 7. Pruett, 8. Verville - 2:59.70
JE PISTONS DASH (6 laps) 1. Davis, 2. Murphy, 3. Gaunt, 4. Ostling, 5. Ballard, 6. Urton, 7. Sweet, 8. Altaffer - 1:42.36
B FEATURE (12 laps) 1. M. Faria, 2. Wilson, 3. Pruett, 4. Martin, 5. Nation, 6. R. Faria, 7. Verville, 8. Rodriguez, 9. Murphy, 10. Logan - 3:22.84
A FEATURE (30 Laps) 1. Gaunt, 2. Davis, 3. Murphy, 4. Ostling, 5. Urton, 6. Ballard, 7. M. Faria, 8. Sweet, 9. R. Faria, 10. Altaffer, 11. Wilson, 12. Boespflug, 13. Shuman, 14. Pruett, 15. Clark, 16. Sweeney, 17. Yount, 18. Nation, 19. Evett, 20. Martin, 21. Sheridan, 22. Verville- No Time.
Laps Led: Murphy 1-11, Gaunt 12-30
SCRA DRIVER Point Standings
CAR NAME HOMETOWN STARTS POINTS