November 1, 2004...
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
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
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 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
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.
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.