CORY KRUSEMAN HANGS TWO WINS ON CRA TRAVELERS AT WATSONVILLE AND SANTA MARIA!
AGGRESSIVE TRIP FOR CRA AS PLENTY OF CARS AWAITED THEM TO CHALLENGE.
June 23, 2011
By Ken Wagner
The long weekend trip north with two races for USAC/CRA was a productive and successful one, especially for Cory Kruseman who started up front and didnít make any mistakes as he inherited the lead both nights and held on for his 96th lifetime CRA victory on Saturday night at Santa Maria. There were 32 and 27 cars making both main events interesting and fun to watch. At Watsonville there were pavement drivers, wing drivers taking off the hardware, 360 drivers and 9 CRA travelers the first night. Santa Maria added 4 CRA regulars to the mix and a large crowd to cheer them on.
My pics from Ocean Speedway Click here to view. From Santa Maria Click here to view! Doug Allens work is here as usual click here to view. Steve Lafond's click here to view.
It was cool and cloudy at the first stop in Watsonville and the sun never appeared. Not to worry as the track stayed heavy and the racing action highly entertaining. Mike Spencer set fast time at 12.814 with a new track record. There were two crashes in qualifying as one was Adam Kaeding a cousin to the famous racing brothers Bud and Tim.
The heats winners were Nic Faas, Shauna Hogg, Matt Mitchell and Evan Suggs as everyone looked for racing lines. The feature started a little rough, go figure, as Mike Spencer was in the pits not ready to go with an engine change. Nine, count em, nine cars cracked up after the pole sitter, Scott Pierovich, did a wheelstand and a pirouette move that sent them all scurrying for cover. The rule says on the opening green if there are 3 or more cars stopping, everyone gets their spot back on the restart! Wowow, it took so long the Bromme warriors were able to make the needed motor change and start at the back of the pack. A couple of more scurries and David Cardey was on his head and back to the trailer never to be seen this weekend. Local sensation Ryan Bernal who wowed us all last year with a two barrel 360 powered car that ran 5th at Petaluma, headed off with a flat tire and couldnít return when they werenít ready on the restart.
During all this excitement cars were trying to move up to contest the leader as Geoff Ensign ran a steady 2nd place rarely varying on the track and his preferred mid high groove slot. Danny Sheridan made a rare 410 run this year and was on the gas and racing from his 4th row starting spot to grab third with the urge for more. He thought he had Geoff figured out as he watched him run up in the groove and so Showtime made a plan lower to roll under him for his spot. Oh no you donít as Danny was committed to the bottom and here came Geoff down the track going into turn 3 and as soon as the little blue bugger tapped the 2nd place car, Showtime spun to a quick stop. He recovered to 12th in the 5 laps left.
While nobody was paying attention, well I am sure some little red sucker fans were watching the 50 car for sure; Mike Spencer began his charge from the 24th starting spot with high hopes. After Danny spun, Spencer was charging towards 4th then got by Faas and Mitchel to grab a podium spot with third place. Not a bad ride as he spent most of his time trying to figure where to go next without getting clobbered.
Overall, the 30 lap feature was entertaining as Tony Hunt (pavement), Evan Suggs (Wing runner) and a bunch of the competitors wanted a piece of the 410 wingless warriors from down south. Everyone had an hour before lights out so they loaded up and headed out. Some went on to Santa Maria while others stayed nearby.
Santa Maria had a little sunshine in store for us so the day wasnít so gloomy when we got to the track at 10 oíclock. A lot of maintenance for those that ran last night and set-ups were getting put on the cars. A very scenic track this one, and from the grandstands you can see the whole enchilada created right before your very eyes. The infield holds some stockers while the ďhot carĒ pits are off to the left and you can see the activity going on. Up on the highway 101, there is always something rolling up or down it to catch your eye.
Richard VanderWeerd came out on top in qualifying with a 14.664 time that was far off the track record held by some old retired guy not to be named here. The track looked a little rutted all the way around, but it didnít go dry slick like it can. With 27 cars in the house, there was some excitement in the stands.
Somehow Mike Spencer was on the front row on the main, and you know me, I hate the fast guys in the front, but that is why they go ahead and run these things. Mike immediately took off and began lapping cars while the rest of the field just fought for the spot ahead of them and Kruseman chased from behind him in 2nd place. A few incidents sent some to the showers early as Geoff Ensign had no luck and was out early. Rip Williams had his problems and followed soon. Danny Sheridan had a slow qualifying time, but won his heat and started 19th in the field of 22. In 10 laps he was all the way up to 6th and chasing down Danny Faria, one of the widest cars in the pack. After several tries to get around him, Showtime became a victim when Faria spun coming out of turn 4 and Sheridan was right there trying to back up, thatís not possible, and so ran straight into him with a lap car making him the meat of a 3 car sandwich and he was stopped. On the restart he managed to get spun off the track and was done for the night.
Matt Mitchell got a pass to the infield and still Spencer was running away from the pack. Coming around turn 4 with about 8 laps to go, Mike slowed and a rear-end busting was the noise he heard, and done for the night.
Back up front Cory Kruseman inherited the lead he would not surrender and no matter how hard Nic Faas tried, he couldnít make the pass for a win. Nic did, however, win the 4 car match race for $1000 that was open to the four fastest cars transferring to the main. Ricky Kirkbride was the last car running after the first four laps and he was done. Then in the next segment Rickie Gaunt couldnít improve his position one spot and gone! For two laps Richard VanderWeerd tried to get to Slick Nic, but he couldnít get by him so Faas won the unique event and the $1000!
No Blake Miller and the Priestley car as they have parted ways with the car owner saying Darren Hagen will drive the car when he is free. There were several who had to work on Friday that made Santa Maria and that was good. Ronnie Gardner made it up and was pretty good in his heat making a run to the front and holding off a fast Matt Mitchell for the win. Other heat winners were Rip Williams, Danny Sheridan and Shauna Hogg.
Tony Hunt had fun I think as he put on dirt tires for the first time in many years. He said probably in the 90ís, but his 10th and 17th place finishes were good. He was part of the Western Classic Sprints contingent that joined up for two days. Richard VanderWeerd and Austin Williams won the ďbeat your brotherĒ event this week as they outraced Jace and Cody for this race.
Next race will be the Firecracker 30 at the PAS and this one continues to fill the house for the fireworks, in the sky, after the races each year. Plan to get there early as they usually have some kids games with a 3 legged race, a balloon toss and other yuks with the racers and kids. It will be only the 8th CRA race so far this year.
Can you believe we have only had 7CRA races so far this season? Car counts so far this season are 27, 30, 21, 24, 33, 31 and 27.That is an average of 27 cars per race and actually not too bad considering all the parked cars out there. What will it take to increase that number? Beats me as I donít have my crystal ball hooked up yet! If we donít get some relief in the job market and an increase in sales for our small businesses. Ö.. we are in deep danger.
Still mulling over Wagsdash possibilities, yet I know the economy is not doing racing any favors. Hang in there and do something. I know I am not the average fan, but I also know I am averaging 600 miles per race and I am going to Indiana next month so that should tell you how far I am willing to go to see a 410 race! If you run that out to fuel costs, itís about $ 650 just to get there and back home for me. Throw in food and motels and it is obvious I invest a lot to see the best racing in the land. If I were a racer with a gas hog hauler, the diesel bill would be nearly $2800 for like miles and now add pit fees, fuel, tires, plus food and incidentals and the number becomes astronomical. And this is if you donít crash or break a motor. The racers are working stiffs who are racing for a hobby! Now think about that and come support them!
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