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 Press Release

Charles Davis Jr. Wins At Manzy
By: Windy McDonald

Phoenix, AZ (March 30) While two time Arizona Sprint Car Association champion Charles Davis, Jr. enjoys the success he has had with the west coast Sprint Car Racing Association, it is evident that the challenge of racing against Arizona's best on Manzanita Speedway's one third mile track also presents a challenge.

Saturday night, facing a tough 32 car field of non winged sprinters, Davis managed to keep the crowd on its feet as he and ASCA points leader Eric Wilkins let it all hang out with Davis coming home with a car length win in the 25 lap feature. Davis had the Fred and Evelyn Bryan Buckley lined up on the outside of the fifth row with Wilkins starting alongside him.

From the time the flag dropped on the 20 car starting field until action was finally slowed on the 22nd lap for the only yellow flag, few fans were using their seats as they stood in awe of the driving display in the battle for the lead.  

Paul Beregszaszy sped away from the field at the drop of the green and kept the HB Machine/Medtek car in front for nine laps while Davis and Wilkins were working their way toward the front. Most of the field were using the lowside of the track but Davis moved to the outside and put the F&E Development/Arizona Race Mart car in front on the tenth lap.
Even with the lead Davis knew he still had some work to do as Wilkins had switched to the high side and both drivers were pushing the cushion. Davis dropped to the bottom when the leaders encounter traffic on the 19th lap and Wilkins shot past in his Canyon Aparrel/Westgate Electric Buckley.

The same traffic that cost Davis the lead was responsible for him reclaiming it a lap later as Wilkins tried the low line and there went Davis. The duo traded a little paint a couple of times and both were happy that the yellow came out with three laps remaining to give them a clear track to the finish.

Jeremy Sherman, winner of the NAPA/Budweiser Western World Championships last October at Manzanita, was up to third at the yellow and was hoping the track would stay green. He felt that he still had a shot at the win with Davis and Wilkins battling each other as well as the traffic. However, he was still smiling with a third place finish with the Total Seal car.

The entire field was quick as 18 of the 20 starters took the checkered flag and 16 of them were still on the lead lap. Bob Ream, Jr., the dominant ASCA sprint car driver the past few years, finished fourth with the 2000 champion Marty Miller in fifth. The rest of the top ten also had some talented drivers as Mike Boat, making his first start of the year, was sixth, five time champion Ricky Johnson seventh, former modified midget champion Jeff Henry eighth, 1998 rookie of the year Terry Belcher, Jr. ninth and Mike Martin tenth.

Both Davis and Sherman will head back to SCRA competition but expressed hopes of having a couple of open dates, the first of which could be April 20th,  to again challenge the ASCA drivers.

In contrast to the precision driving in the feature the 12 lap semi main was tough on equipment. Three cars flipped hard getting into the first turn as several cars made contact and Jon Gaston, Jason Sutphen and Shawn Deskins got airborne. Fortunately none of the drivers were injured but their cars suffered major damage and they were through for the night. Steve Cushman went wire to wire to win the semi with Belcher, Jr. making a late charge that fell just short. The other two main event transfer spots went to Matthew Rossi and Theo McCarty..

The track was very fast in the preliminary races but yellow flags kept the eight lap track record intact. Davis came out of the third row to win the first heat race and was clocked at 14.70 on the final lap. The overall record for a non winged sprint car is 14.43 held by Tony Elliott who was at the wheel of a 410 c.i. sprinter. Martin finished second and Ream was third. In the second heat it was Mike Boat taking the win after trophy dash winner Josh Pelkey spun a bearing and gave up the lead. Miller took second with Davey Bateman in third. Sherman had the pole for the third heat and beat Johnson, up from fifth, and rookie driver Brandon George. The fourth heat went to Beregszaszy with Wilkins in second and Henry fourth.

The introduction of drivers for the sprint car main event had to be delayed a couple of minutes as many of the drivers were in the pits congratulating 14 year old R.J. Johnson following his great drive in winning the Kenz & Leslie BG Midget Series feature.

Johnson, who turns 15 in April, almost got the win in the March 9 season opener but a faulty magneto brought him to a stop about 200 yards short of the checkered flag. This time the Weiler Farms/Arizona Race Mart Proflyer Buick never skipped a beat and Johnson was flawless. R.J. showed patience as he avoided several spinning cars and, although he dropped back from his second row starting position early in the race, he waited for the traffic to thin out and then urged his car toward the front.

Mike Welker led the first two laps and then gave way to fifth starting Adam Young. Young lead lap # 3 and then Welker put his Mad Max Upholstery car back at the point. He stayed there until the 13th lap when points leader Luke Icke made pass and appeared in shape to win his second straight at Many.

R.J. was flying on the bottom of the track and showed the savvy that belied his years as he urged his car past Icke. The Colorado driver gave it one last try as he flew to the outside of Johnson entering the final turn but Johnson was not to denied as he scored one of the most popular wins ever at the track where his father Ricky has won a combined seven driving championships.

Johnson, a high school freshman who stands 5 feet 3 and weighs in at 140 pounds, said he was thinking about what happened on the white flag lap on March 9th when he started the final lap. "Yeah, it was on my mind and I was hoping I wouldn't suffer the same misfortune. Luckily, this time I didn't".

Young brought the Elite Collision Center midget home in third with 15 year old Justin Fisher, another high school freshman in fourth. Mike Leslie, winner of the trophy dash took fifth with David Birmingham, Jr., the defending champion in sixth. Steve Sussex, Jr., the 2000 champion crossed the line in eighth ahead of rookie driver Dustin Burkhart and Rob Clary.

Icke beat Sussex and Leslie in the first heat and Young bested Welker and Johnson in the second preliminary race.


Main event: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Eric Wilkins 3. Jeremy Sherman 4. Bob Ream, Jr. 5. Marty Miller 6. Mike Boat 7. Ricky Johnson 8. Jeff Henry 9. Terry Belcher, Jr. 10. Mike Martin 11. Terry Belcher 12. Nathan High 13. Clint Haulot 14. Theo McCarty 15. Steve Cushman 16. Paul Beregszaszy 17. Brandon George 18. Jay Ervine 19. Davey Bateman 20. Matthew Rossi
Lap Leaders: 1-11, Beregszaszy–10-19, Davis–20, Wilkins–21-25, Davis

Semi main: 1. Steve Cushman 2. Terry Belcher, Jr. 3. Matthew Rossi 4. Theo McCarty 5. Michael Bryan 6. Ryan Linder 7. Chris Bonneau 8. J.T. Imperial 9. Darrell Sickles 10. Kaylene Verville 11. Chris Rhein 12. Jon Gaston 13. Jason Sutphen 14. Shawn Deskins

1st heat: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Mike Martin 3. Bob Ream, Jr. 4. Clint Haulot 5. Steve Cushman 6. Chris Bonneau 7. Michael Bryan 8. Darrell Sickles

2nd heat: 1. Mike Boat 2. Marty Miller 3. Davey Bateman 4. Jay Ervine 5. Matthew Rossi 6. Shawn Deskins 7. Josh Pelkey 8. Kaylene Verville

3rd heat: 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Brandon George 4. Nathan High 5. Ryan Linder 6. J.T. Imperial 7. Jon Gaston 8. Theo McCarty

4th heat: 1. Paul Beregszaszy 2. Eric Wilkins 3. Jeff Henry 4. Terry Belcher 5. Terry Belcher, Jr.6. Jason Sutphen 7. Chris Rhein 8. Brian Stansbury

Trophy dash: 1. Josh Pelkey 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Mike Martin 4. Theo McCarty

Main event: 1. R.J. Johnson 2. Luke Icke 3. Adam Young 4. Justin Fisher 5. Mike Leslie 6. David Birmingham, Jr. 7. Steve Sussex, Jr. 8. Dustin Burkhart 9. Rob Clary 10. Doug Elliott 11. Dean Daly 12. Chris Edwards 13. Dale Daly 14. Mike Welker 15. Shane Parker 16. Scott Mears
Lap Leaders: 1-2, Welker–3, Young–4-12, Welker–13, Icke–14-20, Johnson

1st heat: 1. Luke Icke 2. Steve Sussex, Jr. 3. Mike Leslie 4. David Birmingham, Jr. 5. Rob Clary 6. Justin Fisher 7. Doug Elliott 8. Dean Daly 9. Bugs Norbury
2nd heat: 1. Adam Young 2. Mike Welker 3. R.J. Johnson 4.Chris Edwards 5. Dustin Burkhart 6. Dale Daly 7. Scott Mears 8. Shane Parker
Trophy dash: 1. Mike Leslie 2. Bugs Norbury 3. Shane Parker 4. Justin Fisher






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