Phoenix, AZ (April 20) The Arizona Sprint Car Association journeyed out
onto Manzanita Speedway's famed half mile track for the first time this year and
after watching Charles Davis, Jr. and Bob Ream, Jr. present their version of
"The Clash of The Titans" fans were hard pressed to remember a better
race ever being staged on the Manzy clay.
Davis, the 1996 and 1999 ASCA champion has campaigned the past two years with
the west coast Sprint Car Racing Association and only gets to race in front of
his home town crowd when the SCRA makes a stop in Phoenix or he has an open
date. He has had three such dates dating back to last October and he has now won
three in a row in the Fred & Evelyn Bryan Buckley. He bested Ream in
last year's Buddy Taylor Memorial and then handed ASCA points leader his only
loss last month.
Ream showed the form that has carried him to 45 ASCA victories but fell a
mere 0.85 seconds short of garnering his first win of the 2002 season. The side
by side, nose to tail action between the two former champions (Ream was the 1998
titlist) kept the crowd on its feet after they both managed to slip past Jason
Sutphen who led the first 14 laps.
Sutphen beat Chuck Buckman into the first turn and never made a mistake as he
kept the Hot Metals machine in front while Davis and Ream were coming through
the pack. Ream, who started eighth, broke into second on the eighth lap and
Davis, up from 11th, followed him through for third. The two had Sutphen in
their sights and starting reeling him in. The turning point of the race
came a couple of laps later when Ream's Truck Works/Buckley bicycled as he drove
it hard into turn three and Davis shot past to claim second.
Sutphen was smooth and Davis had to put everything on the line as Ream was
running on his tail. They both made the move on Sutphen and started to separate
themselves from the field. They were coming up on traffic and lapped two
cars before the only yellow flag of the race came out when Buckman got in
trouble on the back straightaway as they worked the 18th lap.
Ream threw everything he had at Davis and tried hard to pull it off on the
ensuing restart. He had the Monte & Susie Taylor machine working on the
bottom and pulled alongside Davis in each turn and was still there when the
checkered flag fell.
While the champions were the main attraction, fans who could tear their eyes
away from them saw some fierce competition behind them. Rick Byler, who has
returned to racing after a couple of years off, drove a steady 25 laps and
maintained his third starting spot and 1997 champion Josh Pelkey nipped Sutphen
for fourth on the final lap.
Marty Miller's drive from the back row was also a story of its own. With
points leader Wilkins attending a business meeting out of state, the 2000
champion had a chance to move to the top of the standings. He had problems in
the trophy dash and then more trouble in his heat race and had to run the semi
to make the starting field. He managed to finish third in the 12 lapper to earn
the 19th starting spot and, with no yellow flags to help his progress, he used
the beautifully prepared track to drive all the way to sixth. He was hoping for
more laps as he had the WJS Development Buckley flying. He ended the night still
29 points behind Wilkins, a three time winner this year. Behind Miller came
Terry Belcher, Jr. Davey Bateman, Terry Belcher and Lonnie Sherman. Seventeen
cars finished and fifteen were still on the lead lap.
While the main event ran without serious incident the preliminaries saw
yellow and/or red flags in each event except the first heat which was won by
Paul Norbury and the trophy dash which went to Paul Beregszaszy. Lonnie
Sherman's win in the second heat was slowed by a yellow flag for a harmless
spint but the second heat was halted when John Kuescher bicycled in turn three,
hit the wall and did an end over end flip. He was treated at the track as he
managed to walk away. Two cars got into the fence in the fourth heat which was
won by Davis with both Matthew Rossi and John Gaston having their night end
The track was at its best and Davis turned what may have been the fastest lap
ever for a 360 c.i. steel block sprinter when he was timed at 19.36 seconds on
his final lap. He joked later that it was quicker that his qualifying lap for
the last SCRA race. Actually that 19.36 would have given him fast time for the
March 16th SCRA race.
Kaylene Verville led the semi for nine laps before she blew and engine
continuing a string of bad luck that has plagued her through the first five
races. Nathan High then took over and held off Beregsaszy, Miller and
SCRA's other representive, fifth ranked Jeremy Sherman, had a dismal night as
the Joey Moriarity car was never up to speed and Sherman parked it two laps into
Main event (25 laps)
1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Rick Byler 4. Josh Pelkey 5. Jason
Sutphen 6. Marty Miller 7. Terry Belcher, Jr. 8. Davey Bateman 9. Terry Belcher
10. Lonnie Sherman 11. Steve Cushman 12. Paul Beregszaszy 13. Nathan High 14.
Jeff Henry 15. Ricky Johnson 16. Bobby Marcum 17. Jay Ervine 18. Chuck Buckman
19. Paul Norbury 20 Jeremy Sherman
Lap Leaders: 1-14, Sutphen–15-25, Davis, Jr.
Semi main (12 laps)
1. Nathan High 2. Paul Beregszaszy 3. Marty Miller 4. Steve Cushman 5. Brandon
George 6. Ryan Linder 7. Chris Bonneau 8. Mike Gregg 9. Kaylene Verville 10.
Bernie Smith 11. Breck Higgins
1st heat (8 laps-Time: 2:44.27)
1. Paul Norbury 2. Rick Byler 3. Bobby Marcum 4. Jeff Henry 5. Nathan
High 6. Mike Gregg 7. Brandon George 8. Bernie Smith
2nd heat (8 laps, no time)
1. Lonnie Sherman 2. Davey Bateman 3. Chuck Buckman 4. Terry Belcher, Jr. 5.
Kaylene Verville 6. Steve Cushman 7. Marty Miller 8. Chris Bonneau
3rd heat: (8 laps, No time)
1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Josh Pelkey 3. Ricky Johnson 4. Jay Ervine 5. Ryan Linder 6.
Breck Higgins 7. John Kuescher
4th heat: (8 laps, no time)
1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Jason Sutphen 3. Terry Belcher 4. Jeremy Sherman 5.
Paul Beregszaszy 6. Matthew Rossi 7. John Gaston
Trophy dash: (4 laps-Time: 1:23.09)
1. Paul Beregszaszy 2. Paul Norbury 3. Charles Davis, Jr. 4. Marty Miller
UNOFFICIAL ASCA POINTS
1. Eric Wilkins 915
2. Marty Miller 886
3. Bob Ream, Jr. 855
4. Josh Pelkey 781
5. Ricky Johnson 780
6. Jeff Henry 703
7. Terry Belcher 646
8. Jason Sutphen 633
9. Terry Belcher, Jr. 610
10. Davey Bateman 585
CHRIS EDWARDS GETS FIRST CAREER WIN IN BG MIDGET FEATURE
What they lacked in numbers they made up for in competition with Chris Edwards,
the Arizona Midget Racing Association BG Midget Series 2001 rookie of the year,
finally putting it all together to garner his first career main event victory in
the Saturday night 20 lapper at Manzanita Speedway.
Only 16 cars were on hand but a larger field could not have made it better as
Manzy's 1/3rd mile track was lightning fast with cars running as many as four
abreast as they fought for positions.
Edwards, who has had dismal luck this year after finishing all but one race
in the top ten last year on his way to a third place finish in the final
standings, not only scored his first ever win in convincing style, it also
marked his first top five finish of the year and only his second in the top ten.
The 19 year old speedster started his Performance Transmission car alongside
Scott Mears and immediately sped away from the field at the drop of the green.
Mears stalled on the second lap and by then David Birmingham, Jr., the defending
champion had jumped from fourth to second with his Hydro Flow Mortar and Plaster
Stealth and Mike Welker was running third with Steve Sussex, Jr., Mike Leslie
and R. J. Johnson fight their way toward the front.
Edwards had no reason to look back but he missed some great racing as Sussex
fought his way past Birmingham after starting seventh with eighth starting Mike
Leslie following him through. Birmingham drove back past Leslie, who had earlier
won his heat race and also came home a winner in the trophy dash for the third
time this year.
When the checkered flag fell ending the 20 lap race Edwards was 2.55 seconds
ahead of Sussex, the 2000 champpion and Birmingham. Leslie crossed the line in
fourth, just ahead of R. J. Johnson. The rest of the top ten were Justin Fisher,
Welker, Doug Elliott, Rob Clary, Jr. and Mears.
With points leader Luke Icke racing at home in Colorado, Sussex moved into
the points lead but is only eight points up on high school freshman Johnson with
Leslie another six points back.
Leslie won the first heat over Edwards and Sussex while Birmingham easily
took care of Welker and Johnson in the second heat.
The BG Midget Series will not return to Manzanita until they share the card
with the ASCA sprint cars in the Arizona Race Mart/Sunoco Salute to Indy on May
Main event: (20 laps) 1. Chris Edwards 2. Steve Sussex, Jr. 3. David
Birmingham, Jr. 4. Mike Leslie 5. R.J. Johnson 6. Justin Fisher 7. Mike Welker
8. Doug Elliott 9. Rob Clary, Jr. 10. Scott Mears 11. Dean Daly 12. Dale Daly
13. Mike Courtney 14. Bugs Norbury
Lap leaders: 1-20, Edwards
1st heat: (8 laps-Time 1:32.97) 1. Mike Leslie 2. Chris Edwards 3. Steve
Sussex, Jr. 4. Scott Mears 5. Doug Elliott 6. Dale Daly 7. Bugs Norbury
2nd heat: 1. David Birmingham, Jr. 2. Mike Welker 3. R.J. Johnson 4. Justin
Fisher 5. Rob Clary, Jr. 6. Dean Daly 7. Mike Courtney (DNS-Adam Young)
Trophy dash: 1. Mike Leslie 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Shane Parker 4. Adam Young
BG CHEMICALS MIDGET SERIES UNOFFICIAL POINTS
1. Steve Sussex, Jr. 297
2. R.J. Johnson 289
3. Luke Icke 288
4. Mike Leslie
5. Justin Fisher
6. Adam Young 253
7. David Birmingham, Jr. 225
8. Chris Edwards 223
9. Mike Welker
10. Doug Elliott