Phoenix, AZ (July 3) Four former champions and the current points
leader kept the fans on their feet for the final 20 laps of Wednesday night's
Action Pit Stop Shop Firecracker 50 at Manzanita Speedway.
Bob Ream, Jr., the 1998 Arizona Sprint Car Association champion was never more
than a car length in front of two time champion Charles Davis, Jr. and points
leader Eric Wilkins was another car length back. Lap after lap the trio battled
but Davis and Wilkins could not make the move that would allow them to claim the
Ream, who took the lead on the seventh lap, held off Davis and crossed the
finish line with less than a car length advantage with Wilkins still in pursuit.
Marty Miller, the 2000 champion came out of the seventh row to finish
fourth and five time champion Ricky Johnson drove from 18th to fifth. Rounding
out the top ten were Mike Boat, Josh Pelkey, Chuck Buckman, Terry Belcher, Jr.
and Paul Norbury. Also on the lead lap were Ben Gregg, Mike Martin, Lonnie
Sherman and Jeff Henry.
Ream, who won last year's Firecracker 50 but had not led a lap at Manzanita
since last October, proved he was all the way back early. He quickly moved from
eighth to second and then passed Gregg for the lead on the seventh lap. Two laps
later Wilkins and Davis moved in behind Ream and a lap later Davis got by
By this time all eyes were on the Total Seal car driven by Jeremy Sherman.
Sherman, who failed to make the main through his heat race after nearly spinning
while trying to pass Davis, Jr for the lead, was flying through the 20 car
starting field. After starting 19th, he had worked his way to sixth by the 14th
lap. He was up to second at the midpoint, but as he tried to take the lead from
Ream two laps later he lost it and was two laps down before he could be
Ream's win, his first at Manzanita this year, was his 48th ASCA win ending a
drought at Manzy dating back to October 12, 2001. It marked his third
overall win of the year.
The thirty four car field, largest of the year, made for extra excitement
in the heat races with only the top four finishers transferring from each heat
to the fifty lap feature.
Wilkins started on the inside of the second row and powered his way to the win,
his eighth heat race victory of the year, in the first eight lapper. Terry
Belcher, Jr. finished second after starting on the pole, up and coming Ben Gregg
took third after starting fifth and Paul Norbury, although starting seventh,
earned the final transfer spot. Failing to transfer were ninth starting Ricky
Johnson along with Josh Foster, J.T. Imperial, Jay Ervine and Brandon George.
The second heat was more of the same as Rob Davis used his pole position to beat
Boat, Martin and Miller. Davey Bateman, who had finished the last two races at
Manzy in the runner up spot and 1997 champion Josh Pelkey, who was ranked fifth
in points were among those who could not get into the top four.
Davis, Jr. started on the pole in the third heat and led wire to wire.
After Sherman's spin it was easy for him to remain perfect in heat race
competition in his four starts this year. Bobby Marcum, Jeff Henry and Chuck
Buckman got the other transfer spots.
Ream won the fourth heat over Lonnie Sherman, Ron Kratz and Jason Sutphen.
Wilkins scored his third trophy dash win of the year as he beat Davis, Jr.,
Pelkey and Sutphen to collect the Action Pit Stop Shop hardware.
Wilkins third place finish, his 10th top three of the year, plus his wins
in the heat and dash maintained his commanding points lead over the field.
He started the 14th race of the year 224 points ahead of Ricky Johnson and now
leads Ream by 210 with Johnson another 69 back.
ACTION PIT STOP SHOP FIRECRACKER 50
Main event: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 3. Eric Wilkins 4. Marty
Miller 5. Ricky Johnson 6. Mike Boat 7. Josh Pelkey 8. Chuck Buckman 9. Terry
Belcher, Jr. 10. Paul Norbury 11. Ben Gregg 12. Mike Martin 13. Lonnie Sherman
14. Jeff Henry 15. Jason Sutphen 16. Rob Davis 17. Jeremy Sherman 18. Ron Kratz
19. Bobby Marcum 20. Davey Bateman
Semi main: 1. Davey Bateman 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Jeremy Sherman 4. Josh Pelkey
5. Jay Ervine 6. Bernie Smith 7. Josh Foster 8. Darrell Sickles 9. Breck Higgins
10. J.T. Imperial 11. Nathan High 12. Travis Cooley 13. John Yates 14. Shon
Deskins 15. Brandon George 16. Brandon Lane 17. Chris Bonneau 18. John Gaston
1st heat: 1. Eric Wilkins 2. Terry Belcher Jr. 3. Ben Gregg 4. Paul Norbury
5. Ricky Johnson 6. Josh Foster 7. J.T. Imperial 8. Jay Ervine 9. Brandon George
2nd heat: 1. Rob Davis 2. Mike Boat 3. Mike Martin 4. Marty Miller 5. Davey
Bateman 6. Josh Pelkey 7. Nathan High 8. Chris Bonneau
3rd heat: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Bobby Marcum 3. Jeff Henry 4. Chuck
Buckman 5. Jeremy Sherman 6. Breck Higgins 7. John Gaston 8. Darrell Sickles
4th heat: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Lonnie Sherman 3. Ron Kratz 4. Jason Sutphen 5.
Bernie Smith 6. Brandon Lane 7. John Yates 8. Chris Bonneau 9. Shon Deskins
Trophy dash: 1. Eric Wilkins 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 3. Josh Pelkey 4. Jason
UNNOFICIAL ASCA POINTS
1. Eric Wilkins 2560
2. Bob Ream, Jr. 2350
3. Ricky Johnson 2281
4. Marty Miller 2257
5. Josh Pelkey 2217
6. Jeff Henry 2092
7. Terry Belcher, Jr. 1997
8. Davey Bateman 1794
9. Jason Sutphen 1747
10. Fred Bryan 1460