United States Auto Club, Western Sprint Cars
Tucson Raceway Park, Tucson, AZ.
East goes southwest for Tucson Sprint Sweep - by Bobby Gerould - Tucson, AZ. - November 20, 2004. …Bobby East of Brownsburg, Indiana ran away with the sprint car portion of the Old Pueblo Classic Saturday night at Tucson Raceway Park. The United States Auto Club Western States Sprint Car feature event win was the 15th overall for East in 2004. "This is great!" exclaimed East in the winner's circle. "My crew had this baby hooked up tonight. The Ford motor was strong, and the Penske shocks worked perfectly." The 19 year-old's winning mount was the Klatt Enterprises #5x Beast.
In chilly conditions that left the track hard to grip, Tony Hunt led the 21 car field to the green flag on the 3/8's-mile paved oval. Hunt's Western Speed racing teammate Brian McClish had the lead as the sprinters headed down the back chute. Aaron Pirece then jumped to the front to lead the second go-round but he could not keep back East who stormed to the point from his sixth starting spot.
On lap eleven the first of two caution flags appeared after Destiney Hays and Greg Taylor tangled together in turn four. A three-way battle with Taylor, Hays and Rick Hendrix was entertaining while it lasted. As they raced three-wide through turn three and four, Hays and Taylor touched and Taylor smacked the wall. Taylor was not injured but was done for the race. Hays continued, picking up at the rear of the field along with defending series champion Michael Lewis who pitted during the caution.
East drove away on the restart and a battle for second between A.J. Fike and Pierce erupted. By lap 15 Hunt joined the competition for the runner-up spot. On lap 21, Hays raced back into the top-ten with a double pass in turn four of both Shauna Hogg, and McClish. Meanwhile, East hit traffic on lap 22 and sliced through the tail-enders with amazing precision. By lap 30, East had lapped up to tenth place! Hunt, the 2004 points leader, snatched second from Pierce with eight laps to go in the 40-lap contest.
The final yellow flag on lap 34 was for Michael Trimble who struggled all day and night with rear-end issues on his #15. The last stanza of the race restarted with several lapped cars between East and Hunt. East opened up a full straightaway advantage by the time Hunt cleared traffic on lap 36. East crossed the finish line comfortably ahead of Hunt, Pierce, Robert Beck (who started 11th), and Fike. It marked the second straight year that East has won the Old Pueblo Classic.
Hendrix finished sixth, Brad Bumgarner was seventh, and Hays rebounded impressively in eighth; the last car on the lead lap. Jeff Gardner finished ninth after starting 17th to earn the Weld racing Hard Charger Award. Lewis rounded out the top-ten.
East paced Earl's Qualifying turning the high banked paved bowl in 14.62 seconds. He also won the companion USAC National Midget feature. Pierce, McClish, and Lewis were heat race winners. Hunt wrapped up the USAC Western States Sprint Car Earl's qualifying championship. For his season-long strong efforts in time-trials, Hunt will earn $5,000.
Name / First Lap / Fast Lap
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Pierce, 2. East, 3. Wise, 4. Taylor, 5. Murgoitio, 6. Hays, 7. Trimble. NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. McClish, 2. Beck, 3. Bumgarner, 4. Gardner, 5. Anderson, 6. Schmelzle, 7. Kaiser. 2:02.62
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Lewis, 2. Fike, 3. Hunt, 4. Hogg, 5. Hendrix, 6. Russell, 7. Mitchell. 2:00.03
SEMI: (10 laps) 1. Hays, 2. Anderson, 3. Murgoitio, 4. Hendrix, 5. Schmelzle, 6. Russell, 7. Kaiser, 8. Mitchell. 2:32.34
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Bobby East, 2. Tony Hunt, 3. Aaron Pierce, 4. Robert Beck, 5. A.J. Fike, 6. Rick Hendrix, 7. Brad Bumgarner, 8. Destiney Hays, 9. Jeff Gardner, 10. Michael Lewis, 11. Mike Murgoitio, 12. Brian McClish, 13. Josh Wise, 14. Shauna Hogg, 15. Alan Kaiser, 16. Chris Schmelzle, 17. Greg Anderson, 18. A.J. Russell, 19. Michael Trimble, 20. Greg Taylor, 21. Marvin Mitchell.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 McClish, Laps 2-3 Pierce, Laps 4-40 East.
NEW WESTERN SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Hunt-845; 2-Lewis-801; 3-Bumgarner-753; 4-McClish-719; 5-Trimble-606; 6-Beck-601; 7-Murgoitio-586; 8-Hogg-582; 9-Anderson-544; 10-Barber-539.
NEXT WESTERN SPRINT CAR RACE: November 25 - Irwindale (CA) Speedway - 64th Mopar "Turkey Night Grand Prix"