Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

Kaplan Dominates SCRA!

Waterford, Ca…After taking my Busch Series “Napcar” nap, my 7-year-old daughter Kyra, and I ventured down to Hanford to watch the SCRA 360 sprint car opener at Kings Speedway.

After moving approximately 15-times, Kyra FINNALLY located a spot that she was able to deal with. She decided that we sit atop of the bleachers heading into turn 1. OK fine by me babe!

Please bear with me in regards to drivers names, sponsors, chassis makes, bullet builders, etc, etc, and so on. I could not hear the announcer at times, and at times he didn’t know who was who. That’s not a shot at him either.

The SCRA gassers and mashers took qualifying under a beautiful blue sky with pink clouds. There’s just something about being at the racetrack period, but when you’re taking all of this in with your daughter who hangs the moon to begin with, it just makes you realize what’s most important to you.

With a very nice crowd on hand, 16-year-old female rookie Justyne Hamlin wheeled the beautiful yellow #8 to an impressive mid-15 second lap, and proceeded to take fast time. According to the announcer, Justyne was 3rd in the nation in Micro-Midget’s.

To my delight, super fan Mike James and his beautiful fiancée came and sat with us. It’s always a delight to see “Oak”, who hails from Oakhurst and converse with such a knowledgeable, devoted fan of our sport.

Ahhhhhh yes. The soothing sound of the 360 power plant’s come to life as Heat #1 rolled out.

The “Awesome Aussie”, Peter Murphy brought it all home, but it wasn’t a “gimme” by any means as New Zealand’s Dean Alexander was WFO running the cushion, and dogging Peter to the finish.

In Heat #2- Jesse Mack broke while leading. Which left a fight for the win to Davey Pombo and a super impressive Ryan Kaplan who was wheeling the Rick Williams owned and wrenched #6. Pombo eventually prevailed and brought home the 2nd race of the evening.

Heat #3- Leading proved to be bad luck in this heat as well. Steven Williams who was leading also broke. Daniel Hood and Tony Everhart finished 1st and 2nd in this one.

In the dash, the kid from Chico, Ca. simply put it to ‘em. Ricky did a superb job setting up the car, as the track started slickin’ off pretty good. Ryan kept hitting all of his marks like a seasoned vet. Did I mention that this was his first race in a sprint car?!  Ryan and Ricky kept getting faster as the night went on. It was absolutely incredible.  

The SCRA main event was staged on the straightaway. So Kyra and I took a stroll to go look at the cars. As we were walking the straightaway past the cars, she stopped and said, “Daddy, I like that black one”. I told her that I did too. It was the black Tom Tarlton owned #21 piloted by Peter Murphy. I gave Peter the usual “good luck mate”, thumbs up.

It was pretty cool. Before lining up, Peter was idling around the track, and he waved at Kyra, she thought it was the coolest thing. That kind of stuff can bring tears to a Father’s eyes ya know?  Here I am, kickin’ it with my princess, and one of the coolest dudes around is acknowledging her….. From the racecar! Sounds crazy, I know. It’s amazing how just a simple wave from a driver can mean so much to a child at a track.

During the intermission “Oak” and I were ready to see what “Kap” was going to do in the main. Mike boldly stated to me, “if you can win in a Midget, you can win in anything!” Well, that statement soon became fact.

When the green flag dropped Richard Harvey’s SCRA non-winged sprint cars thundered into turn-1. Kaplan didn’t jack around, and without hesitation got the elbows up and went to work. There was about a 20-30’ slick strip on the race track entering turn-1. Ryan was really cranking her sideways on that slick spot, and  just obliterating the cushion.

The track went red on lap-12 as John Nigel (sp?) flipped hard in turns 1-2.

After re-racking them. Pombo would be on his bumper and when the green waved again, Ryan raised the bar even higher. He not only did a superb job of getting through lapped traffic, but just knowing that a tough competitor such as Davey Pombo was giving it his all behind him he never stumbled. Ryan Kaplan brought home his first ever sprint car win, with Davey coming home 2nd.

Rusty Carlile finished in the 3rd spot after a tremendous fight with Peter Murphy who moved up from his 10th place starting spot to settle for 4th.

Ryan Kaplan simply amazed me. It doesn’t matter if he ran away with it. He still got through lapped traffic, and he also looked extremely comfortable in the sprint car. After about 2 laps in on the restarts, the car  really started working and became a rocket. It got faster and faster with every lap. If he made a mistake in a corner on entry or exit, he made sure it didn’t happen again the next lap. If he threw the front end, he would change his exit or entry. The kid kept digging, and never gave up.

We already knew that Ryan was a good Midget shoe, but to see the driving display he put on this evening in a sprint car left me thinking about it the whole 2-hour trip home. It’s not too often that you get to see something as special as what went down this night in Hanford.

I spoke briefly with Ricky on the front strait after the win, and offered my congratulations and as always he was his modest self. As a matter of fact, as I was giving my congrats to him, he gleamed over at Ryan who was taking pictures and said, ‘Ryan didn’t do too bad either. This was his first race in a sprint car!’

No Ricky, Ryan didn’t do too bad at all, and neither did you. Congratulations to you both on the big win.

Check out Ryan Kaplan here;

Follow the SCRA here;

Winning tuner Ricky Williams will be under the wing next week at Placerville’s Civil War race and 2nd place finisher Davey Pombo will be piloting the David Key Trucking winged sprint car for this weekends Golden State Challenge double header at Hanford.

BCRA Midget driver David Prickett took a few practice laps in his Midget to give the fans an idea of what to expect on March 24th, as the BCRA Midgets will get after it in a companion show with the SCRA sprint cars.

I wish something could be worked out before this Midget race. The USAC Western States Midgets are up the road in Bakersfield. This is the kind of thing that hurts us all. Instead of having a solid head-to-head BCRA vs. USAC show, we will have diluted fields at both tracks.

Nevertheless I will see you at a track soon!






Get your own FREE Guestbook from htmlGEAR