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 Rich C's SCRA Report

05.12.01 - Perris Auto Speedway
Howdy all.  Long time no write.  I've sat down to write several columns but never finished any of them.  I've got quite a collection of unfinished work so I'll just start from scratch.

Since it's been a while since I wrote, I'd like to welcome you to the Cory Kruseman's "Baby needs New Shoes" tour.  Cory has won half the SCRA races to date.  The Kruseman's are expecting (well, one of them anyways) and at Cory's current pace, this child will have a shoe collection that will make Imelda envious.  For crissakes Cory, the kid isn't even here yet.  Cory now has a 150 point lead over Troy Rutherford in the driver's points.  Behind Cory, Rutherford, John Scott, Richard Griffin and Tony Jones fill out the top 5 with only 20 points separating them.  By the way, that little tidbit of info comes via the SCRA webpage which still doesn't work on Netscape 4.04.

I was helping Casey Shuman and Mike Hinrichsen last weekend.  It went pretty well.  The track was rolled in pretty tight for qualifying and both cars drew pills about in the middle of the order.  Times were pretty slow and conditions slick so we threw the kitchen sink at the cars for qualifying.  You kind of hate to pull most of your tricks out of the hat so early in the night as you want to leave something in reserve for later.  It seemed to work though as Casey qualified 3rd quick and Mike 7th quick.

The PAS crew went out and scratched the track for the D main bringing the grip back.  A rookie named Joe Winston was too tight going into turn one and flipped his thingie off at the start of the C main.  He was okay after the little birdies quit circling his head.

Mike English, Tony Jones,  Rip Williams and Rodney Argo won the heats. The track seemed to be getting faster as the night went on and we spent the night loosening up the cars after putting the screws to them early. Casey and Mike were in the same heat but couldn't make their way up to the front in time to transfer.

Casey started on the pole of the B and after losing the draft early was right on Troy Rutherford's tail at the finish of the B.  Mike was 4th. I think the front guys finished pretty much where they started.  Cory won the dash which included a few people like Mike Kirby, Steve Ostling (in the #29 Fischer car) and Alex Grigoreas who haven't been there lately.

Casey's car was pretty good for the B main and the initial thought was to leave it alone.  But idle hands are the devils playground and the horns came out.  It really wasn't that bad though, we just raised the car slightly with the thought it might help at the end of the race. Probably should have left it alone but Casey was happy with it.  Mike's car was too loose and he struggled to keep the car under him.  Casey raced with the same group all throughout the race.  Danny Sheridan, Hank Winter, Rodney Argo, Rickie Gaunt and Rip Williams were in that bunch. Casey passed Troy and Hank coming off the 4th turn to grab 10th and Mike held on for 16th.  Cory took off at the start and ran away so we won't talk about him.  No real big moves forward into the top five as the track was fairly fast and the same speed in both grooves.

Rip Williams has really been struggling the last few races.  He had spun out of the two races prior to this one.  Rip came from 14th to finish 7th.  Rip switched from a Stinger chassis to a Gambler and it's taking him a little while to figure it out.  Granted the Stingers are basically 89 Gambler copies and Rip switched to a 2001 89 Gambler and things should be basically the same but they really aren't.  Yeah, I know I'll hear from the Stinger fans saying that the cars are not 89 Gambler copies but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it ain't a bee.  Since Rip provided his 89 Gambler to Stinger and said "copy that", you would imagine they're about the same.  In any case, I have a feeling that if you combine Rip's embarrassing finishes with his latest moving forward finish we may see the beginning of Rip's "I'm pissed off now and going to the front" tour.  It will be interesting to see if his tour gets on a collision course with Cory's tour.

Alex Grigoreas was having a good run when his steering failed.  The difference between this year and last for Alex seems to be that he's driving the piss out of a new Gardner car instead of driving the piss out of his old relic.  The Gardner cars seem to reward aggressive driving when the right rear is hooked up.

Rickie Gaunt is having a miserable year.  Everything that went right last year is going wrong this year.  He's having a hard time getting a handle on the car.

Switching to golf now, Danny Sheridan took a big divot with his turn three qualifying swing and duffed his approach to the heats.  Danny made a beautiful recovery with huge drives in the C, his heat and the main event.  He finished 9th in the main after starting shotgun.

And now we switch to the JJ Yeley news.  He's had some good runs with the dirt sprint car lately.  He won at Attica and finished 2nd at Eldora and Haubstaudt.  JJ has driven the Matzak #99 Silver Bullet car the last few races but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the #9 car sometime in the future.  Since the #111 car didn't have a sponsor JJ was worried that at some point it would be parked and he didn't want to be left without a seat when the music stopped.  No, he hasn't gotten a ride for the 500 but he is getting a lot of laps there.  JJ's driving the 2-seater IRL car where they give high speed rides to people around the speedway.  Sort of like a two seat sprint car ride that costs a ton more.  He's pretty happy with his dirt car right now and has been working on the pavement car to get it consistent too.  He'll be in one of the #9 cars at the Night Before the 500 race at IRP.

I wanted to mention that Casey was using a new head restraint from Simpson.  It's something they developed for Jack Hewitt a few years ago.  Basically, it's a strap that connects to the "A" behind the seat and runs tightly against the back headrest.  The strap runs through a loop attached to the helmet and slows the head's forward movement but still allows side to side movement.  It has a rip cord that runs through the shoulder straps in the uniform and you release it sort of like flushing one of those old toilets with the tank up on the wall.  I like it.

Our old friend and honorary Californian Rusty McClure could still use your help.  He has hospital bills of about $400k and still has about another year of therapy before the doctors will release him for work.  I got an email from him a while back and while he didn't mention anything about the money, he seemed in good spirits.  There seems to be so few really nice people around and Rusty is one of them.  I may sound like a broken record here but if you can help, please do so.  There are several sites that are supporting this with one of them being www.sprintcars.com

In old news, here are some excerpts from my unfinished columns.

I went to the race at Irwindale to help JJ Yeley.  JJ was running as a teammate to Ed Carpenter for the Snider/Foyt team.  JJ was having a good run at Phoenix the week before when the front oil seal failed. Actually, he had a pretty good run in the midget too.  He ran right on the leader's tail for most of the race until the car started running out of fuel at the end.  He lost another spot just at the line when the motor shut off.  He finished 5th and then got bumped up a couple spots when his teammates were disqualified for being underweight.  Maybe he got lucky as they only weighed the first three cars that finished.  Then again, JJ's car was a couple years old and I understand that the new cars are lighter.  We'll never know.

At Irwindale, JJ had a good practice.  It was nice to have a weekend without turmoil.  He went out the first session then came in for an air pressure adjustment.  He went out the second time then came in for a weight adjustment in the rear of the car.  After the third session, he came in and parked the car saying it was good.  JJ was 4th fast overall in practice.  They had a bit of a thrash on Ed's car to get it right. They changed all kinds of stuff on that car.  It was kind of a surreal experience.  You had people like Pancho Carter, Parnelli Jones and Tony George hanging around the pit.  Tony was under Ed's car helping change gear and stuff.  I know people are just people but you just don't expect someone who owns the Indianapolis Speedway to be doing that kind of stuff.  Hell, he may mow his own lawn for all I know.

Anyway, we put new tires on JJ's car for qualifying.  JJ qualified 6th with Ed shooting up the time chart to 4th quick.  After JJ qualified, we found that the stagger had went from 4 " to 6".  On dirt, it wouldn't be that much of a big deal to have the stagger change like that but on pavement it's a huge difference.  JJ picked his way forward during the race and was 2nd behind Aaron Fike at one point.  Russ Gamester came from 20th to pass both and win.  John Heydenreich came from 10th to finish 3rd ahead of JJ.  It seems to me that Gamester was 5th quick in practice so he must have had something go wrong to qualify 20th.  Since my big complaint about pavement races is that they are often won from the front row, it was nice to see someone come from that far back to win.  Tyler Walker had a good run forward too.

JJ used a motor from Chuck Snyder in the Silver Crown car at both races.  The thing hits hard.  It makes as much or more horsepower as most of the SCRA 410's.  JJ also used one of Chuck's motors when he set fast time at Eldora.  JJ's motor wasn't ready and it was a last minute deal to get something to put in the car.  The motor was one of Snyder's that he leases to people so it wasn't one of his high dollar lightweight pieces.  I could say that it puts out the power too but you'd probably not believe me.  How about if I put it this way, Keith Kunz says that motors win qualifying and drivers win races.  JJ wanted to thank the people at Snyder Engines for helping him out.

Well, it seems I rambled on for a while again.  Just a lot of pent up opinions that just busted out.  Things have slowed down a bit for me at work so hopefully I can get back on track with the columns.  This weekend the SCRA returns to Manzy and while I'm not sure yet if I'll be there, I'll be there in spirit.  I love watching races at Manzy and
Ventura and it bums me out when I can't get there to see them.

But until then....

See ya at the races

RichC

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