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See You At The Races!!!

Kruseman wheels his way to victory in the Oval Nationals  
by Ronnie Gardner

November 1, 2004...  Night one
 
 58 cars were on hand for the 9th annual Oval Nationals at the Perris Auto Speedway. It was wet real wet after rain had pounded the surface all week witch made the track rough and tacky all night. The pits were under water so this mint that the trailers had to pit outside the track on a concrete lot outside turns three and four. With the pits being outside the track it made it extra hard to push the cars out for wheel packing and hot laps resulting in the first heat starting at around 9:00. The Nationals were a National points race so all the top stars from the USAC  national division were on hand including Drake, Kaeding, Hines, Darland, Kruseman, Stangbrough, Levi Jones, Gaines, Ford, Hessert, Elliott, and Neely.
 
 The most time consuming process was Qualifying because they could only qualify 15 cars at a time then had to push them off the track before 15 more could qualify. Fast time was the #21 Tony Stewart Racing Mopar of Cory Kruseman with a 16.678. Second quick was Damion Gardner with a 16.838 and third was Tony Elliot with a 17.047. Points for the final night were paid for all racing threw the night so every race was important for the final night starting position.
 
 With the big car count there had to be a c-main event so all cars not qualifying in the top 40 had to go to the c- main. The C-main winner was Peter Murphy driving the #45 Harlan Willis Maxim.
 
  Heat winners for the opening night were Kevin Urton, multi time NARC Champion Brent Kaeding, Former Oval national prelim winner Troy Rutherford, Rookie point leader Ronnie Case and Tom Hessert. The B main went to Craftsman truck rookie Tracy Hines.
 
 Mike Kirby lead all 25 laps on his was to the win in prelim night one starting from the pole. Second was Josh Ford who got up next to Kirby with 3 laps to go but was not able to come away with the lead win Kirby pended him behind a lap car and lead the rest of the laps for the win. Third was Cory Kruseman who pasted Tony Elliott for the third spot late in the race to get on the podium.
 

Night Two
 
  Night two went a lot smother as the trailers were back in the infield. All were back on hand except Jordan Hermansader and Rick Williams. Hermansader lost an engine the night before. Everybody was happy as they got to move there cars from outside the track to back in the infield that the PAS workers had worked on all night to be able to get the cars in there with out any trouble.
 
 Qualifying was exciting as it saw the fastest laps of the year. Fast time was the Lucas oil # 2b of Levi Jones with a blistering 16.395. Second quick was Cory Kruseman with a 16.405 and third quick was Damion Gardner with a 16.465.
 
 There was a C-main once again this time it saw Rodney Argo take the 10 lapper easily over Cardey, Sherman and Ballard.
 
  It was a little easier to past since the track was smother and a little slicker witch made the heats pretty exiting. First heat saw Kokomoís Tony Elliott win from the back row in a impressive drive in his Jeffís Jam It In Storage #11. Second heat saw the Kruser take the win also from the back row. Third heat went to Damion Gardner who smoked by on the outside to take the win from the back row also. Forth heat was all Dickie Gaines who won his first race in Ca. Fifth heat went to the ripper Rip Williams who did the normal rip thing and ran away with the win.
 
 The B main was won by Indianaís John Stanbrough followed by Josh Ford, Levi Jones and Tom Hessert. Rick Zeihl who was driving a one race deal for Nadine Keller but missed the main by one. He looked like the fastest car but ran out of time and had to settle for 5th. His luck was never good all weekend.
 
  The 25 Lap A main was won wire to wire by Rip Williams who ran away with the win from his pole starting spot. Second was Kruseman followed by Gardner, Kirby and Ford rounding out the top five. This race went with out many yellows as there was one for Greg Bragg. This Locked Kruseman in who was the high point man for the weekend in Saturdayís A main along with Ford, Williams, Gardner, Kirby, Kaeding, Hines, Elliott, Stanbrough, Drake, Rutherford and Cline.
 
Final Night
 
 The Grand stands were packed for the final night of the Oval Nationals. With those twelve guys being locked in hot laps were set up different as only three races were slated for the final night. The C main B main and the A main. Hot laps were only for the C and the B main guys. The A main cars hot lapped between the C and the B.
 
  First race of the night was the C Main. That was won by Young Mike Spencer who had Jake Argo turning the wrenches for the weekend. Ebberts, Lane, Jessup, Leslie, Scott and Keller were invalid in a turn three pile up as only Keller and Jessup able to continue. Following Spencer into the B were Sheridan, Ballard, Howard, Sherman, Zehil,  Jessup and Case.
 
  B main was won by Brent Keading who lead most of the 20 lap affair. Murphy, Ziehl and Cody were invalid in a turn four crash that put all of the out for the night. Cody would start the A main cause of Provisional. Gauntís hopes of a second oval nationals ended when he came to a stop in turn number two with a broken cam shaft. Kaeding went to the main along with Levi Jones, Tom Hessert, Charlie Davis Jr., Gaines, Bragg, Ostling Sweet, Venard, Sheridan, Darland and Spencer.
 
   Kirby jumped out to the lead from his outside pole position. Running the cushion perfect as he stretched his lead to a straight away. Lap 13 yellow for a stalled Dickie Gaines. Kirby Leading with Kaeding 2nd and Ford third. Kirby once again stretches a big lead on the restart. Lap 29 yellow for debris on the front straight bunched the field up once again. Kirby was still leading over now second Damion Gardner who had worked the bottom and got by Ford and Kaeding. Keading second and Kruseman was up to third. The lead battle starts to heat up as Gardner closes up on the back of Kirby when Kirby jumped the cushion three laps in a row in turn numbers one and two. Lap 37 Kirby Jumps the cushion in one and two and Gardner gets a run on him down the back stretch and gives him a big slider going in turn three and slides up in front of him coming out off turn four. Kirby gave him a little bump going down the front stretch and the two locked bumpers and slide to a stop in turn number one on lap #38. This handed the lead over to Bud Kaeding. On the restart going into turn number one Hines ran over Rutherford and flipped bouncing off Ripís cage and landing on top of the wall. Five seconds later Damion Gardner comes flipping into turn one after everything was over destroying his eagle chassis. Darland, Gaines Rip all came to a stop. After all this mess was cleaned up we went back to racing but not for long as Troy Cline flipped on the restart coming out of turn #4.
 
  Finally we got lap 38 done when Kruseman toke the lead on the restart from Kaeding with a turn 3 slide job but when Kruseman slid wide, Josh Ford drove by both of them on the bottom to take the lead. This sets up a ten lap battle between Ford and Kruseman.  Ford lead on lap # 44 when Kruseman makes a run at him on the top in turns numbers one and two and takes the lead down the back stretch but when Kruseman tries to protect the bottom in three and four and Ford drives back by him coming out of four. Ford hangs tough and when Kruseman jumps the cushion in turn one Ford stretches it out to a five car link lead. But Kruseman didnít give up and drove it harder. With the Mopar screaming under the hood of the # 21, Kruseman charged hard on the top driving harder then I have ever seen anybody drive and closes back up on Ford sailing the car harder and harder in to the turns every lap. With the White flag flying Kruseman closes back to the rear bumper of Ford going down the front stretch and sailed his car into turn number one rolling the top perfect and pulling along side Ford going down the back straight away he backed it in hard into three and beat Ford down the front stretch to the win of his second career Oval Nationals and 30 Grand. The A main had to be the best race I have ever seen in a long while and it reminded me why I love non wing sprint car racing so much.  
 

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