DAMION GARDNER PASSES PETER MURPHY LATE TO WIN SEVENTH. - By Ken Wagner – Perris, CA. …The 20th Valvoline USAC/CRA event of the season featured Damion Gardner's last lap pass of Aussie driver, Peter Murphy, as they went under the white flag exciting the crowd. Peter led 28 laps before Damion made a very calculated pass for his seventh win of the season. Gardner said "I knew I was faster than Murphy, but he was running in the middle of the track, and I had to wait for "my lane" to open up before I could go for it".

Gardner, known to USAC / CRA fans as "The Demon" has had a couple of unlucky tumbles in recent weeks. Driving the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Shaver, Ron-Ber, Inc, # 50, Gardner was more determined to win a week after crashing in the main event and losing valuable points to Rip Williams. He hasn't given up on winning a championship, but the team is focusing on winning races now. The track sweet spot was mostly in the middle so passing was an adventure all night. Only the brave survive when they go up high, and we love it!
This win might set the tone for the seven remaining events as they head for the fast track of Manzanita Speedway next Saturday.

In the prior six appearances with the club, Peter Murphy had three top five finishes, but this week he had his best performance yet. Peter drove the Weld wheels, TCR, Gaerte # 45 for only the third time. He took his outside front row starting spot in the main off to a big lead before "The Demon" showed up. The likable Aussie is still getting used to driving a traditional sprint car, but he is coming fast in getting it down. Great job by Peter and he was happy with the finish, as were crew chief Mike Nigh and car owner Harlan Willis! It is amazing how the Willis team continues to bring in different drivers and still run up front in the black TCR car.

"Chargin" Charles Davis Jr hasn't seen much of the USAC/CRA series this season as he and the Smiley Crane Service, Extreme Chassis, Dave Zoriki, # 8 have been on the road back East for much of the last three months. His third place finish is his best with this club this year as he held off Mike Kirby the last few laps for a podium appearance. Charlie and teammate "Super Rickie" Gaunt will be back for the Oval Nationals.

Point leader Rip Williams set fast time in qualifying and settled for fifth this week in the competitive 30 lap feature. He leads the championship race by 91 points. Kirby used every trick in the book in his 14th to fourth run. He remains second in points, a mere three ahead of Gardner.

Cory Kruseman came all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the night before he had a flat tire and still came back to finish seventh. The Kruser had an unusually rough night on the Perris track where he usually shines. He was squeezed by another car into the wall in his heat, where he took a bad header that knocked him out, but he came back to transfer from the semi to the main. After a few feature laps he felt a bad vibration in the car, probably from the crash, and pulled off early.

Ronnie Case continues to lead the Rookie points chase as he is over 140 points ahead of David Cardey with seven events left on the schedule. Ronnie finished eleventh this week as he makes the Green # 33 sprinter move forward in the main each race.

Duane Feduska made his first main event since the late 80's at Ascot. He has run 10 races this season up to now and struggled every race so far. This week they added new injectors to their arsenal and it worked. He led his heat until Troy Rutherford rumbled by him by mere inches at the flag. His second place finish put him in the main where he ran 17th for a big night for him and his open trailer low buck team. They need more financial help, but will take this night and smile.

Wagsdash defending Champion, Alan Ballard, brought out his brand new TCR and made the main event, finishing 12th as he broke it in just fine. Although not painted yet, the # 97 made his dad Ernie smile just a little bit we think. Look for Alan to continue to improve as he approaches voting age.

The next race is across the desert to Phoenix, where the big half mile awaits the travelers and the high speed racing is always the bomb!. Manzanita, now is run by Dennis Wood, and there have been some improvements and clean-up done by track crew and volunteers recently. It will be a great weekend as everyone tunes up for the upcoming Western World that will feature the USAC/CRA and some of the National USAC runners as well.

California - Perris Auto Speedway

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-16.900; 2. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom-16.983; 3. Tony Jones, 2, Vermeer/Ferreira-17.067; 4. Troy Rutherford, 7, Priestley-17.127; 5. Ricky Gaunt, 2A, Smiley-17.168; 6. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard-17.178; 7. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin-17.190; 8. Steve Ostling, 29, Fischer-17.229; 9. Brian Venard, 47, Venard-17.305; 10. Charles Davis Jr., 8A, Smiley-17.309; 11. Josh Ford, 73, Ford-17.315; 12. Kevin Urton, 51, Urton-17.318; 13. Peter Murphy, 45, Willis-17.330; 14. Cory Kruseman, 4, Alexander-17.342; 15. Rodney Argo, 91x, Ferro-17.420; 16. Jordan Hermansader, 5, Keller-17.435; 17. Mike Kirby, 38, Crossno-17.483; 18. Rick Ziehl, 14, Lancaster-17.517; 19. Ronnie Case, 33, Blair-17.565; 20. Dan Hillberg, 82, Hillberg-17.577; 21. Bobby Cody, 41, Cody-17.619; 22. Adam Mitchell, 99, Mitchell-17.630; 23. Nadine Keller, 6, Keller-17.730; 24. Rick Becker, 67, Becker-17.787; 25. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics-17.810; 26. David Cardey, 59, Giardina-17.907; 27. Greg Bragg, 12, Pratt-18.184; 28. Ronnie Clark, 33x, Clark-18.280; 29. Bruce St. James, 7k, St. James-28.286; 30. Matthew Rossi, 16, Rossi-18.447; 31. Jack DeArmond, 24, DeArmond-17.454; 32. Duane Feduska, 23, Bellegante-18.645; 33. Mark Deskovick, 7x, Deskovick-18.660; 34. Bobby Ferro, 91, Ferro-19.725; 35. Dwayne Marcum, 25, Ruth-21.484.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kirby, 2. Cody, 3. Murphy, 4. Williams, 5. Wilson, 6. Venard, 7. Gaunt, 8.  St. James, 9. Deskovick. 2:55.31

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ziehl, 2. Davis, 3. Spencer, 4. Rossi, 5. Mitchell, 6. Ballard, 7.  Kruseman, 8. Ferro, 9. Cardey. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bragg, 2. Argo, 3. Gardner, 4. Case, 5. Jones, 6. Ford, 7. Keller, 8. DeArmond. 2:56.21

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rutherford, 2. Feduska, 3. Ostling, 4. Clark, 5. Urton, 6. Hillberg, 7. Becker, 8. Hermansader. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) <BR>1. Gaunt, 2. Jones, 3. Mitchell, 4. Ford, 5. Ballard, 6. Kruseman, 7. Urton, 8. Cardey, 9. Wilson, 10. Keller, 11. St. James, 12. Deskovick, 13. Hermansader, 14. Venard, 15. Ferro. 3:31.30

FEATURE: (30 laps) <BR<1. Damion Gardner, 2. Peter Murphy, 3. Charles Davis Jr., 4. Mike Kirby, 5. Rip Williams, 6., Troy Rutherford, 7. Mike Spencer, 8. Tony Jones, 9., Ricky Gaunt, 10. Josh Ford, 11. Ronnie Case, 12. Alan Ballard, 13. Rick Ziehl, 14. Greg Bragg, 15. Bobby Cody, 16. Ronnie Clark, 17. Duane Feduska, 18. Adam Mitchell, 19. Cory Kruseman, 20. David Cardey, 21. Matthew Rossi, 22. Steve Ostling, 23. Rodney Argo. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-28 Murphy, Laps 29-30 Gardner.

NEW VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Williams-1,258; 2-Kirby-1,167; 3-Gardner-1,164; 4-Rutherford-880; 5-Jones-726; 6-Bragg-712; 7-Ostling-678; 8-Cody-663; 9-Spencer-617; 10-Venard-600

NEXT VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE: September 25 - Phoenix, Arizona - Manzanita Speedway

Wag’s NOTES:

Kruseman has two days of sprint car classes to teach before heading back to Indiana and his next race. In the meantime he will deal with the sore chest and aching body. There will be a Kruseman Fan Club Picnic at the Oval Nationals on Saturday, October 30th. You must be a member, so contact Julie Shiosaki at 310-222-8690 for more info.

Ronnie Case’s talent will win the Rookie of the Year award if he keeps up the good driving and the hauler doesn't quit on the team like it did on the last trip to Hanford. They had to go back and get it a few days later after repair. David Cardey continues to run well as he gets to the main more often than not. He has made the feature in 13 of 17 appearances and won two heat races for his highlights. The difference between the two is Ronnie is consistently finishing ahead of David in the features.

Wagsdash is coming October 16th, so don't be bashful and help build the purse. Do it now or come to the Chili feed at noon on that Saturday and do it then. This is the last week to get sponsors on the annual Wagsdash T-shirt, so call me at 949-472-9247! Remember, the 30 lap Wagsdash race itself is gone. In it's place will be two short dashes, one for the low buck boys and another for the Big Dawg racers, paying about $2500 each. The balance of Wagsdash purse will be inserted into the 30 lap main event that night. It should be a fun event from noon until 10 PM! Plan on coming early to the festivities to help. I could use a few EZ-UP's to protect the auction items, so let me know if you can loan me a few.