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 Press Release

Western World Championships
By: Windy McDonald

Phoenix, AZ (November 9) The "real Western" is back. That was more than amply demonstrated in the Saturday night finale with a standing room only crowd of 7, 118 cheered on the toughest and largest field in recent history as they fought it out  for the $12,500 first place prize money. USAC's Bud Kaeding had no last lap problems this time and beat Jeremy Sherman who won last year's NAPA Auto Part/Budweiser Western World Championship when Kaeding crashed on the final lap.

Kaeding, who missed much of the season due to injuries, started on the pole of the race billed as SCRA vs. USAC and beat fellow front row started Troy Rutherford into the first turn. He pulled away from Rutherford who was driving the Mark & Carmen Priestly car that carried Sherman to his win last year, and set sail on Manzy's famed half mile track that was surprisingly fast despite heavy winds.

While Kaeding was pushing the cushion with his BK Motorsports sprinter, the local fans were focusing on Bob Ream, Jr. who was moving toward the front with his Pop's Racing Products Mopar powered machine. Ream, although a former Arizona Sprint Car Champion, was not listed among the favorites but proved that he should have been as he went by SCRA champion Richard Griffin, USAC Silver Crown titlist, J.J. Yeley, former USAC Sprint Car champion Tony Elliot, USAC Midget points leader Dave Darland and Rutherford to move into a challenging position.

Ream completed his work as he used traffic to his advantage and took the lead from Kaeding on the 18th lap. He pulled away to a one second advantage before the race was halted two laps later as Jerry Coons, Jr. lost a fuel filter and his Smiley's Crane Sevice Extreme Chassis burst in flame. Coons stopped down low on the front straightaway and the fire crew finally extinguished the fire as Coons quickly exited the car. When Ream stopped for the red flag his crew found a severely blistered left rear tire and it had to be replaced which moved him to the back of the pack and gave the lead back to Kaeding.

The local fans had another focus as they saw Sherman coming through the field. He had started 17th and was working both the high side and low groove as he passed car after car and took over second from Yeley with about ten laps remaining. Then he started reeling in the leader with his Ellis Racing Special and made  a picture perfect slide job to briefly take the lead  in the closing laps but Kaeding was up to the challenge  and dived to the low side to reclaim the lead. 

He held off another last lap effort and avenged  the 2001 finish with a narrow win. Yeley, who started eighth, was doing his usual three wheeling and brought the ABC Sand & Rock Twister Chassis car home third. Eleventh starting Charles Davis, Jr. took fourth  Richard Griffin in fifth. Rounding out the top ten were  Dave Darland, Rickie Gaunt, Ream, John Scott and Rutherford. Twenty of the twenty-four started completed the 40 lapper.
Griffin's fifth place finish was good enough to net him the Non Winged World Championship and its $10,000 payday. Yeley was second in points with Kaeding third
The Semi was just as exciting at the main event as Sherman showed his power by holding off Levi Jones for the win. Sherman started third and Jones, who transferred from the consy and started 19th and was challenging for the lead in the closing laps.

Damion Gardner, one of the pre race favorites won the consy and was on his way to the front of the semi when he jumped the cushion, slammed the wall on the fifth lap and did a series of snap rolls. He was uninjured. Brian Stanfill got into the fence on the 14th lap and flipped hard as Bobby Cody also rolled in the same incident. Again, neither was injured.
The combined field of 103 non winged sprint cars plus 33 mini sprints was the largest field since the 1977 Western which attracted 161 entries.

Main event (40 laps) 1. Bud Kaeding 2. Jeremy Sherman 3. J.J. Yeley 4. Charles Davis, Jr. 5. Richard Griffin 6. Dave Darland 7. Rickie Gaunt 8. Bob Ream, Jr. 9. John Scott 10. Troy Rutherford 11. Tony Jones 12. Mike English 13. Levi Jones 14. Steve Ostling 15. Brian Tyler 16. Rip Williams 17. Danny Sheridan 18. Rick Ziehl 19. Tony Elliott 20. Mike Spencer 21. Casey Shuman 22. Jerry Coon, Jr. 23. Tracy Hines 24. Jay Drake
Lap Leaders–laps 1-17, Kaeding–laps 18-20, Ream–laps 21-40, Kaeding
Semi main: (20 laps) 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Levi Jones 3. John Scott 4. Steve Ostling 5. Brian Tyler 6. Casey Shuman 7. Jerry Coons, Jr. 8. Mike Spencer 9. Cory Kruseman 10. Tim Crawley 11. J.D. Vance 12. Marty Wilcox 13. Steve Cushman 14. Verne Sweeney 15. Brian Stanfill 16. Bobby Cody 17. Dan Hillbereg 18. Tom Downing 19. Jordan Hermansader 20. Damion Gardner
Consolation: 1. Damion Gardner 2. Cory Kruseman 3. Levi Jones 4. Steve Cushman 5. Marty Wilcox 6. Josh Ford 7. Dennis Rodriguez 8. Alan Ballard 9. A.J. Felker 10. Mike Rux, Jr. 11. Ronnie Clark 12. Travis Rilat 13. Matt Westfall
With the adrenalin still flowing from his great second place finish in the NAPA Auto Parts/Budweiser SCRA feature, Jeremy Sherman quickly went to work in the DMC Financial/ 360 sprint car feature. Sherman lined up on the outside of the front row with his Joey Moriarity/Total Seal Ellis and beat polesitter Jason Sutphen in the first turn. Although challenged early by J.J. Yeley and Danny Sheridan, Sherman held the field at bay until the tenth lap when Yeley, with at least one wheel off the ground and sometimes both front wheels, slipped past while working the ninth lap. However a yellow flag fley when Chris Bonneau and Jay Ervine spun and that gave the lead back to Sherman.
Yeley kept his Smiley's Crane Service/Extreme Chassis close and managed another pass a few laps later in traffic. Sherman tapped Ervine in trying to get back by Yeley and Ervine spun. That yellow flag again moved Sherman to the front.

Marty Miller was on the move from his tenth starting berth and got by his team mate Sheridan and then Yeley to close on Sherman. With three laps remaining both Yeley and Sheridan blew right rears and headed to the pits. Both made it out on the lead lap but at the back of the field. Bob Ream, Jr. spun and was hit by Chuck Buckman on the lap 27 restart and both cars were put on the hook.

Miller made it close but could not overtake the determined Sherman and had to be content with second in the season's biggest race. Ricky Johnson drove a smooth consistent race and finished third ahead of 15th starting Eric Wilkins, the 2002 Arizona Sprint Car champion. Yeley had a fast final three laps and drove back to take fifth. Behind the top five were Bugs Norbury, Jeff Henry, Chris Bonneay, Jason Sutphen and Ervine. With a total of 52 cars in the show the 360s ran two races for the non qualified drivers. Charles Davis, Jr. started ninth in the first consy and drove the Fred & Evelyn Bryan car to a win in the ten lapper. Rick Johnson, Travis Rilat and Fred Bryan also transferred to the semi.

Fifteen year old R.J. Johnson, the Arizona Midget Racing Association driving champion, stopped studying for his Driving Learner's permit long enough to get a win in his first sprint car start as he beat Ben Gregg, Kent Rosevear and John Keusher in the second consy.
Josh Ford drove out of the third row to win the 15 lap semi main with Mike Boat taking second, Keith Rauch third, Eric Wilkins fourth and Jeff Henry fifth. Boneau, Ervine and Rosevear also transferred to the feature. Davis crossed the line in third but had made two stops during the race which resulted in disqualification.

Main event: 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Marty Miller 3. Ricky Johnson 4. Eric Wilkins 5. J.J. Yeley 6. Bugs Norbury 7. Jeff Henry 8. Chris Bonneau 9. Jason Sutphen 10. Jay Ervine 11. Josh Ford 12. Bernie Smith 13. Danny Sheridan 14. Keith Rauch 15. Kent Rosevear 16. Bob Ream, Jr. 17. Chuck Buckman 18. Josh Pelkey 19. Mike Boat 20. Mike Martin
Lap leaders: laps 1-30, Sherman
Semi main: 1. Josh Ford 2. Mike Boat 3. Keith Rauch 4. Eric Wilkins 5. Jeff Henry 6. Chris Bonneau 7. Jay Ervine 8. Kent Rosevear 9. Kaylene Verville 10. Rick Johnson 11. Tim Beal 12. R. J. Johnson 13. John Keuscher 14. Ben Gregg 15. Fred Bryan 16. Brandon Lane 17. Brian Hacker 18. Michael Bryan 19. Charles Davis, Jr.
1st Consy: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Rick Johnson 3. Travis Rilat 4. Fred Bryan 5. Tim Beal 6. Aaron Reyer 7. John Ziehl 8. Larry Lloyd 9. Jim Aragon 10. Kelly Denison 11. Alex Pruett 12. Chris Tramel
2nd Consy: 1. R.J. Johnson 2. Ben Gregg 3. Kent Rosevear 4. John Keuscher 5. John Geyer 6. Shon Deskins 7. Jesse Dunham 8. Ron Kratz 9. Ron Bach 10. Charley Fagan

Terry Palmer came close to drinking from the winner's cup several times this year but could not savor the sweetness of a win until the Mini Sprint Western. Palmer entered the race tied with Jeff Greszler for second in points but had fallen slightly behind in the Thursday night preliminaries. His thirst for victory propelled his PJ1 Oils mini sprint from ninth to first in just 5 laps. The thought that he had been beaten on the last lap twice this year kept him in front of seven time modified midget champion Jeff Henry and this time he did not falter.

Although Henry tried to steal it in the final turn he fell short and Palmer ended his season on a bright note and was a close second in the final standings. Behind the leaders were Tim Ogle, Dave Alexander, Thomas Ogle, Dustin Carmony, Duane Adams, Charles Mokry, Joey Strobel and Dennis Parks the 2002 points champion.

Main event: 1. Terry Palmer 2. Jeff Henry 3. Tim Ogle 4. Dave Alexander 5. Thomas Ogle 6. Dustin Carmony 7. Duane Adams 8. Charles Mokry 9. Joey Strobel 10. Dennis Parks 11. Danny Mathus 12. Don Keesler 13. Mark Strobl 14. Scott Pasmore 15. Robert Mitchell 16. Rick Alexander 17. Judd Hathaway 18. J.D. White 19. Brent Yarnal 20. Kiley Fellers 21. Mike Kuemper 22.  Jeff Greszler 23. Richie McQuillan






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