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See You At The Races!!!

 Press Release

By: Windy McDonald

Phoenix AZ (July 27) With the night's racing going world wide via the internet (www, to 112 countries) and a full grandstands witnessing the action, the Arizona Sprint Car Association and the BG Chemicals Midget Series let it all hang out Saturday night at Manzanita Speedway. Eric Wilkins won a final, hectic three car battle to the checkered flag to get his sixth ASCA win and fifteen year old R.J. Johnson captured the Midget feature.

While Eric Wilkins may well have won Saturday night's Arizona Sprint Car Association feature race on Manzanita Speedway's half mile track without it, the points leader admitted that a late race yellow flag was something he needed. It was also something that brought about one of the most exciting four laps ever run on the big oval.

With the 30 car field whittled down to the top 20 for the main event it was rookie driver Brandon George who led the first five laps with Nathan High, up from fourth, applying pressure and putting his ABC Sand and Rock sprinter in front on the sixth lap. Wilkins, as usual, started the 25 lap race lined up in the sixth row and slipped into third behind Nathan High and Mike Martin on the eighth lap.  The points leader set his sights on the tail second of Martin's Naquin Precision Earth Moving sprinter and was pushing the cushion on the very fast half mile track. He bicycled the Westgate Electric Buckley on the tenth lap and almost went over. He recovered and went back to work.

On lap #12 Martin made an inside pass for the lead and Wilkins followed him past High.
Wilkins threw everything he had at Martin who was trying to get his first ever main event win but the Yuma driver was flawless and was still leading when the first yellow flag of the race came out on the 18th lap when Ben Gregg stalled allowing the rest of the field to close in. While most drivers in the field probably welcomed the opportunity to take a deep breath Bob Ream, Jr need it most. Ream had two close encounters with the wall and was far behind the leaders in fifth when the yellow came out allowing him to make up a lot of real estate.

Wilkins tried the inside at the restart but Martin was up to the challenge. Wilkins repeatedly got side by side with Martin but could not claim the lead. Meanwhile Ream took third away from Marty Miller. While working the 22nd lap, Paul Norbury crashed on the back straightaway bringing out a yellow that set up what amouted for a four car, four lap trophy dash with Martin at the point followed by Wilkins, Ream and Marty Miller.

When Martin brought the cars into turn four for the restart Wilkins again tried to get the lead but Martin, as he had done repeatedly, held the fast line. Martin led the 22nd lap but when he took it into turn one he had Ream trying the inside with Wilkins pushing the cushion on the outside. Wilkins had the momentum and was in the lead when they exited turn two with Ream dropping Martin back to third. Once in front, Wilkins was not to be denied and was 1.75 seconds in front of Ream's Truck Works Buckley at the checkered flag. Martin, who drove the best race of his career finished third. " The car was overheating and that yellow flag really concerned me. I did not know if the hot engine could hold them off. Unfortunately, it couldn't," he said in a post race interview.

Miller, the 2000 driving champion,  picked up his ninth top five finish of the year with a fourth place finish. Chuck Buckman, fresh from his first career win, made a late race charge that carried him to fifth after he started 13th. Rounding out the top ten were High, Fred Bryan, Bobby Marcum, George and Brian Hacker. Marcum started in the scratch position and was the night's hard charger as he drove past 12 cars on his way to his eighth place finish. Seventeen of the twenty starters were still running at the finish and they were all on the lead lap.

Wilkins started off the evening with a win in the four lap trophy dash, his fifth dash win of the year. He missed a clean sweep as Jeff Henry beat him in the final heat race of the evening after finishing second in the dash. In that heat High and Terry Belcher, Jr. also earned transfer spots to the feature. Miller beat Martin, Davey Bateman and Buckman in the first heat. George garnered his first ever heat win as he bested Ricky Johnson, Ben Gregg and Rick Byler in the second heat. The third heat was a runaway for Ream who finished a straightaway ahead of Hacker, Bruan and Bernie Smith. Norbury, who was uninjured in his main event crash, won the semi main with Jason Sutphen, Josh Pelkey and Marcum also earning their way into the feature.

The ASCA sprinters return to the short track on August 3rd and the ASCA regulars will again have the added challenge of matching skills against SCRA regular Charles Davis, Jr. who has three wins and a second in his four starts this year.



Main event: 1. Eric Wilkins 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Mike Martin 4. Marty Miller 5. Chuck Buckman 6. Nathan High 7. Fred Bryan 8. Bobby Marcum 9. Brandon George 10. Brian Hacker 11. Davey Bateman 12. Ricky Johnson 13. Jeff Henry 14. Terry Belcher, Jr. 15. Bernie Smith 16. Josh Pelkey 17. Jason Sutphen 18. Paul Norbury 19. Ben Gregg 20. Rick Byler
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-5, Brandon George–Laps 12-22, Mike Martin–Laps 23-25, Eric Wilkins

Semi main: 1. Paul Norbury 2. Jason Sutphen 3. Josh Pelkey 4. Bobby Marcum 5. Kaylene Verville 6. Chris Bonneau 7. Ronnie Clark 8. Brandon Lane 9. Shon Deskins 10. Mike Deskovick 11. Michael Bryan 12. John Gaston 13. Rob Davis 14. Travis Cooley

1st heat: 1. Marty Miller 2. Mike Martin 3. Davey Bateman 4. Chuck Buckman 5. Paul Norbury 6. Bobby Marcum 7. Rob Davis 8. John Gaston

2nd heat: 1. Brandon George 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Ben Gregg 4. Rick Byler 5. Jason Sutphen 6. Ronnie Clark 7. Shon Deskins 8. Michael Bryan

3rd heat: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Brian Hacker 3. Fred Bryan 4. Bernie Smith 5. Kaylene Verville 6. Travis Cooley 7. Mike Deskovick

4th heat: 1. Jeff Henry 2. Eric Wilkins 3. Nathan High 4. Terry Belcher, Jr. 5. Josh Pelkey 6. Chirs Bonneau 7. Brandon Lane

Trophy dash: 1. Eric Wilkins 2. Jeff Henry 3. Paul Norbury 4. Jason Sutphen

1. Eric Wilkins 3300
2. Bob Ream, Jr. 2940
3. Marty Miller 2771
4. Ricky Johnson 2721
5. Josh Pekley 2645
6. Jeff Henry 2512
7. Terry Belcher, Jr. 2397
8. Davey Bateman 2132
9. Jason Sutphen 2107
10. Fred Bryan 2028

The "young guns", R.J. Johnson and Justin Fisher entered Saturday night's BG Midget Series ranked one-two in the standing and gained ground with a one-two finish in the 20 lap feature on Manzy's one third mile track.
While the Midgets may be short on cars they never lack in excitement and it was more of the same Saturday night when only 14 cars signed in and two were withdrawn before the first race was run. Reports from the pits indicated that the cars owned by Larry Young and driven by Steve Sussex, Jr. and Adam Young did not participate in wheel packing until the rest of the cars had been on the track for many laps. As a result they were informed that the cars would have to tag the heats and the crew, who disagreed with the rule, loaded up and left.
The 12 cars left gave the fans a great support show starting with the two heats and all through the 20 lap feature.
Steve Alcott beat newcomer Amy Maris into the first turn and led the first lap before the former Mini Sprint Car driver put her RaZor Performance car to the front and led her first main event since moving to the Midgets. However Johnson was flying and had the lead on the fourth lap after starting seventh. He kept his Ace Automotive ProFlyer Buick in front until Chris Edlwards took the lead on the tenth lap. The two encountered  traffic while working the 12th lap and R.J. shot past midway down the back straightaway as he went to the inside. Edwards made contact with Dean Daly and also with Johnson. His car vaulted high in the air and did three end over ends before coming to rest on its wheels. While Edwards, ranked second in last year's final standings, managed to walk away he was later taken to the hospital for observation where he was treated and released.
Justin Fisher, who had slid wide and dropped far back in the field in the early laps,  was third behind Johnson and Mile Leslie on the restart and it turned into a three car battle royal for the remaining nine laps. Leslie was riding the rim in his efforts to get past Johnson who pinched it low through each turn. While Leslie could get beside the youngster, he could not successfully make the pass.
Fisher watched the battle for the lead and when Leslie got it just a little too wide the high school sophomore took his Capitol Tree Service machine to the low side and dropped Leslie's Canterra Homes/Ellis Race Car to third. Both Fisher and Leslie kept pressure on the points leader but he never faltered and crossed the line for his second win of the year. Behind the front runners were Mike Welker, David Birmingham, Jr., Doug Elliott, Ronnie Clark, Mike Courtney and Alcott.
Edwards beat Johnson in the BG Chemicals trophy dash and then came back to take his heat race over Fisher and Clark. R.J. won the other heat with Alcott and Welker trailing.


Main event: 1. R.J. Johnson 2. Justin Fisher 3. Mike Leslie 4. Mike Welker 5. David Birmingham, Jr. 6. Doug Elliott 7. Ronnie Clark 8. Mike Courtney 9. Steve Alcott 10. Dean Daly 11. Chris Edwards 12. Amy Maris
Lap Leaders: Lap 1, Steve Alcott–laps 2-3, Amy Maris–Laps 4-9, R.J. Johnson–Lap 10, Chris Edwards–Laps 11-20, Johnson

1st heat: 1. R.J. Johnson 2. Steve Alcott 3. Mike Welker 4. Amy Maris 5. David Birmingham, Jr. 6. Mike Courtney

2nd heat: 1. Chris Edwards 2. Justin Fisher 3. Ronnie Clark 4. Mike Leslie 5. Dean Daly 6. Doug Elliott

Trophy dash: 1. Chris Edwards 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Mike Leslie 4. Ronnie Clark

1. R. J. Johnson 937
2. Justin Fisher 827
3. Mike Leslie 815
4. Mike Welker 789
5. David Birmingam, Jr. 760
Chris Edwards 760
7 Adam Young 661
8 Doug Elliott 643
9 Steve Sussex, Jr. 538
10.       Dale Daly 483






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