Phoenix, AZ (July 13) Chuck Buckman and Terry Belcher, Jr. won main
events in what many fans called the best doubleheader in recent memory Saturday
night at Manzanita Speedway. Buckman scored his first career win in the Arizona
Sprint Car Association feature and Belcher got his first win of the year in the
IMCA Dirt Modified race.
Facing a star studded field that contained nine drivers who had sprint car wins
in their resume, Chuck Buckman accepted the challenge to get his first ever win
in Saturday night's 25 lap feature on Manzanita Speedway's ultra fast one third
While Buckman's win could be considered an upset, he had only two top five
finishes in his nine previous starts, many figured he was overdue. The third
year driver had shown power and skill several times including a run from 15th to
second on May 4th. He finished a strong third in the 50 lap Memorial Day
Championships and had run with the leaders several times only to be beset with
Buckman lined up on the inside of the third row and quickly moved into second
behind Brandon Lane who took the lead from his pole position. Lane, making only
his second start of the year, held Buckman at bay until the 19th lap when
Buckman found a fast groove on the outside to take the lead.
Bob Ream, Jr., ASCA's winningest driver, was on the move from his fifth row
starting position and also shot by Lane and took up the chase. The duo ran side
by side and nose to tail with only the heavy traffic halting the side by side
racing. Just behind them Marty Miller, Eric Wilkins and Mike Boat were locked in
a similar battle for third. Ream kept his Truck Works Buckley on the inside
while Buckman was pushing the cushion and finally put his Monte Taylor owned
sprinter in front at the white flag. Undaunted, Buckman drove to the inside when
Ream snapped a torsion bar going into turn one and brought his unsponsored car
under the checkered flag with Ream still trying to steal the win.
Miller, another of the low side drivers, barely edged Wilkins with Boat
another car length back. Rounding out the top ten were Fred Bryan, Lane, Paul
Norbury, Ricky Johnson and Terry Belcher, Jr., all former sprint car winners
except Lane. The 1997 champion, Josh Pelkey took 11th. Even though
the race was slowed by yellow flags only twice, four other drivers–Ben Gregg,
Brandon George, Jason Sutphen and Jeff Henry-- also finished on the lead
The track maintenance crew fought 110 degree temperatures and scored a
knockout as the track was smooth, fast and dust free. The preliminary races were
run on a fairly heavy track but was at its best for the feature.
Wilkins, who entered the race with a 345 point advantage over Ream, helped
his cause as he came out of the third row to win the first heat, his tenth heat
race win of the year. Ben Gregg continues to make a claim for most improved
driver with a strong second place finish while Fred Bryan, fresh off his first
career main event win, was third after starting seventh and Terry Belcher, Jr.
came out of the fifth row to get the final main event transfer spot.
After winning the trophy dash Jeff Henry was pumped for the second heat and
took the win from the second row with Miller giving chase. Buckman set up his
hopes for a main event win with a drive from eighth to third and Ream had to
come back from an early spin to take fourth.
Chris Bonneau drove into the lead from his outside front row at the drop of
the green in the third heat and stayed there to the checkered flag with
polesetter Jason Sutphen, Travis Cooley and Lane getting the other transfer
The 12 lap semi went green all the way and Boat, a 10 time ASCA winner who
has also scored two SCRA wins at Manzy, displayed his talent with a drive from
the middle of the field that netted him the win in near record time. Steve
Cushman led the first eight laps but lost his brakes and Boat was there to take
the lead. Cushman still managed to bring his Interstate Wreck Rebuilders car
home in second, just in front of Norbury, Pelkey and Johnson.
The sprint cars get a much needed week off before they take to the Manzy half
mile track for only the third time this year on July 27th.
ASCA SPRINT CARS
Main event: 1. Chuck Buckman 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Marty Miller 4. Eric
Wilkins 5. Mike Boat 6. Fred Bryan 7. Brandon Lane 8. Paul Norbury 9. Ricky
Johnson 10. Terry Belcher, Jr. 11. Josh Pelkey 12. Ben Gregg 13. Brandon George
14. Jason Sutphen 15. Jeff Henry 16. Brian Hacker 17. Travis Cooley 18. Steve
Cushman 19. Rick George 20. Chris Bonneau
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-19, Lane–Laps 20-23, Buckman–Lap 24, Ream–Lap 25,
Semi main: 1. Mike Boat 2. Steve Cushman 3. Paul Norbury 4. Josh
Pelkey 5. Ricky Johnson 6. Brandon George 7. Brian Hacker 8. Rick George 9. John
Gaston 10. Shon Deskins 11. J.T. Imperial 12. Bernie Smith 13. Michael Bryan 14.
1st heat: 1. Eric Wilkins 2. Ben Gregg 3. Fred Bryan 4. Terry Belcher,
Jr. 5. Steve Cushman 6. J.T. Imperial 7. Brian Hacker 8. Nathan High
2nd heat: 1. Jeff Henry 2. Marty Miller 3. Chuck Buckman 4. Bob Ream,
Jr. 5. Ricky Johnson 6. Josh Pelkey 7. John Gaston 8. Rick George 9. Bernie
3rd heat: 1. Chris Bonneau 2. Jason Sutphen 3. Travis Cooley 4.
Brandon Lane 5. Paul Norbury 6. Mike Boat 7. Brandon George 8. Shon Deskins 9.
Trophy dash: 1. Jeff Henry 2. Fred Bryan 3. Paul Norbury 4. Jason
UNOFFICIAL ASCA POINTS
1. Eric Wilkins 3060
2. Bob Ream, Jr. 2725
3. Ricky Johnson 2581
4. Marty Miller 2557
5. Josh Pelkey 2540
6. Jeff Henry 2362
7. Terry Belcher, Jr. 2277
8. Jason Sutphen 2002
9. Davey Bateman 1992
10. Fred Bryan 1865
BELCHER, JR. RUNS AWAY FROM FIELD FOR HIS FIRST WIN OF THE YEAR
When the green flag flew of the start of the 25 lap IMCA Dirt Modified feature,
Manzanita Speedway's one third mile track was in perfect shape even though 89
competitive laps had already been run. The ultra fast track was to Terry
Belcher, Jr.'s liking as his sprint car driving style carried him from his sixth
starting position to give him the lead on the seventh lap when he maneuvered by
R.C. Whitwell who had led to that point.
Junior steadily built on his lead as he was running at a record pace. He had
a straightaway lead over 11th starting Darren Williams when the only yellow flag
of the race was displayed on the 19th lap when Jason Noll lost power. Belcher
went back to work and left it to the rest of the 25 car starting field to battle
for the lesser positions as he flashed under the checkered flag 2.61 seconds
ahead of Williams. Belcher's dad, a five time winner this year, was on the
move from his tenth starting position but fell off the pace in the closing laps
and could not overtake Williams and had to be content with a third place finish.
Jason Black almost stole that position in the final laps and had Anthony Madrid
beside him at the finish. The rest of the top ten, all on the lead lap despite
only one caution flag, were Joe Warner, Whitwell, Ron Funk, Ricky Thornton and
Greg Lemon. Jeremy Payne was the only other car on the lead lap.
Belcher, Jr. drove out of the third row to beat Williams who started a row
behind him in the first heat. Rick Ward led the eight lapper early and was
running third at the finish with Madrid and John Cornell in pursuit. Black put
on impressive drive as he matched Belcher's performance by driving from sixth to
first in the second heat. Whitwell took second ahead of Jay Armstrong, Warner
and Funk. Rich Lewerke bested the field in the third heat as he held of
Jason Noll, Darin Center, Belcher and Lemon.
Warner and Thornton started the night tied for the points lead and Warner's
sixth place finish was enough to give him a three point lead as he looks forward
to the next outing on July 26th. Williams gained ground with his second
place finish and now trails the leader by only seven points.
IMCA DIRT MODIFIEDS
Main event: 1. Terry Belcher, Jr. 2. Darren Williams 3. Terry Belcher 4.
Jason Black 5. Anthony Madrid 6. Joe Warner 7. R.C. Whitwell 8. Ron Funk 9.
Ricky Thornton 10. Greg Lemon 11. Jeremy payne 12. Jay Armstrong 13. Steve Adams
14. Jim Armstrong 15. Dave Van Bruggen 16. Mark Harrison 17. Jason Noll 18. Matt
Tipton 19. Mike Ostrom 20. Jeremy Thornton 21. John Cornell 22. Rick Ward 23.
Darin Center 24. Rich Lewerke 25. Dick Reid
Lap Leaders: laps 1-6, Whitwell–laps 7-25, Belcher, Jr.
1. Terry Belcher, Jr. 2. Darren Williams 3. Rick Ward 4. Anthony Madrid 5. John
Cornell 6. Mark Harrison 7. Steve Adams 8. Matt Tipton (DNS–Jeff Gibson)
2nd heat: 1. Jason Black 2. R.C. Whitwell 3. Jay Armstrong 4. Joe
Warner 5. Ron Funk 6. Jeremy Payne 7. Dick Reid 8. Jeremy Thornton 9. Jim
3rd heat: Rich Lewerke 2. Jason Noll 3. Darin Center 4. Terry Belcher
5. Greg Lemon 6. Ricky Thornton 7. Dave Van Bruggen 8. Mike Ostrom