Phoenix, AZ (March 15)
A total of 85 cars filled the pits
for Manzanita Speedway's Sprint Car, Mini Sprint and Dwarf Car season opener
Saturday night and Marty Miller, Terry Palmer and Rick Kochanowski were the
three drivers celebrating in the winner's circle. Past champions in general and
Marty Miller and Ricky Johnson in particular had the attention of the fans
Saturday night. Although Miller led all 25 laps it took a daring move on the
23rd lap to preserve the win for the Bill & Linda Sweeney Buckley.
Miller shot past pole sitter Shon Deskins
at the drop of the green and Johnson followed him on the outside line into
second. The duo ran that way as they were slowed numerous times for spins and
crashes and the race was briefly halted when Chris Bonneau did a slow roll.
While Miller was hearing Johnson's motor roaring behind him, the chase for third
on back was hectic with Kaylene Verville holding off the challengers until
Brandon Lane who started 11th finally worked his way past her. Just behind them
were Charles Davis, Jr. and Bob Ream, Jr. who repeatedly traded postitions. The
two made contact on the 21st lap with Ream spinning and Davis flying off the end
of the track. Some heated words were exchanged as Davis confronted Ream while
the track was being cleared but the exchange ended peacefully as the drivers
expressed their ideas on the cause of the contact.
When the green flag fell for the restart it
was again Miller running low and Johnson still on his rear bumper. As the
duo headed for the first turn on lap 23 Johnson, a five time champion, pulled
out all the stops and put the Bobby Martin Ellis to the outside. He shot past
Miller and had a three car length lead as he drove into turn 3. Miller never
lifted his heavy right foot and the Buckley stuck like glue on the bottom of the
track. He was back in front before the lap was completed.
Johnson was a car length back at the
checkered flag with Terry Belcher, Jr., taking third after starting in the
seventh row. Lane was fourth and Jeremy Sherman came from 15th to claim fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Verville, the ‘97 champion Josh Pelkey, Bernie
Smith, Mike Martin and Ben Gregg. Belcher was the hard charger of the race as he
passed ten cars on his way to his third place finish. Sherman and Smith also
improved ten positions in the 25 lapper.
Pelkey was a surprisingly easy winner in
the trophy dash as he beat Ream into the first turn and was able to pull away.
Ream came back to get an impressive win in the first heat by driving out of the
third row to beat John Gaston and Chris Bonneau. The second heat ended up with
only three cars taking the green flag after two unsuccessful starts and Davis
won over Ben Gregg and Jeff Henry. Jimmy Norman, Bernie Smith, Paul Norbury and
Tony Smiley were all involved in the incidents that caused the restarts and all
were sidelined. The third heat went to Lane who led all the way to beat Pelkey
and Johnson. Miller got by Verville midway through the fourth heat and went on
to win with Kaylene edging Shon Deskins for second.
The semi main was a showcase for two top
contenders for rookie of the year honors. Justin Fisher who finished second to
R.J. Johnson in the 2002 Midget points, got the win with Johnson taking second
over Jay Ervine. Bernie Smith was fourth and Smiley took fifth.
Eric Wilkins, the defending champion, sucked a valve in his chevy powerplant
during warmups and was a spectator the rest of the evening.
ARIZONA SPRINT CARS
Main Event: 1. Marty Miller 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Terry Belcher, Jr. 4.
Brandon Lane 5. Jeremy Sherman 6. Kayllene Verville 7. Josh Pelkey 8. Bernie
Smith 9. Mike Martin 10. Ben Gregg 11. Bugs Norbury 12. R.J. Johnson 13. Jay
Ervine 14. Bob Ream, Jr. 15. Charles Davis, Jr. 16. Jimmy Norman 17. Shon
Deskins 18. Chris Bonneau 19. John Gaston 20. Justin Fisher
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-25, Miller
Semi Main: 1. Justin Fisher 2. R.J.
Johnson 3. Jay Ervine 4. Bernie Smith 5. Tony Smiley 6. Bugs Norbury 7. Jason
Sutphen 8. Joey Moriarity 9. Paul Norbury 10. Mike Kuemper 11. Jess Dunham 12.
1st Heat: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. John
Gaston 3. Chris Bonneau 4. Terry Belcher, Jr. 5. Joey Moriarity 6. Jesse Dunham
7. Mark Deskocick
2nd Heat: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2.
Ben Gregg 3. Jeff Henry 4. Jimmy Norman 5. Bernie Smith 6. Paul Norbury 7.
3rd Heat: 1. Brandon Lane 2. Josh
Pelkey 3. Ricky Johnson 4. Jeremy Sherman 5. Justin Fisher 6. Jay Ervine 7. Bugs
4th Heat: 1. Marty Miller 2. Kaylene
Verville 3. Shon Deskins 4. Mike Martin 5. R.J. Johnson 6. Mike Keumper
Trophy Dash: 1. Josh Pelkey 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Jeff Henry 4. Marty Miller
PALMER FALTERS, THEN MAKES LATE CHARGE
TO WIN MINI SPRINT FEATURE
It took Terry Palmer all year to finally win a feature in 2002 and his chances
of getting to the checkered flag first in the season opener appeared dim when he
dropped far back in the early stages of the 20 lap feature. His Razor
Performance Products car handled perfectly and he made up the deficit to take
the lead on the 17th lap and then brought it home.Jeff Greszler drove from
fourth to first in the opening lap of the MonsterLimo.com main event but gave
way to Danny Mathus on the second lap. Mathus was able to build a slight lead as
the two worked their way past the back markers under green flag conditions for
the first 15 laps.
The yellow was displayed for a stalled car
and Mathus suddenly lost power and dropped to the back of the field turning the
lead over to Greszler. Palmer had moved into contention and had the lead a lap
later and then beat Greszler by three car lengths. Charles Mokry came out of the
fourth row to finish third ahead of Dustin Carmony and Don Keesler. Behind the
top five were Thomas Ogle, Brent Yarnell, Mark Stroh, Kiley Fellers and Jim
Mattison. Mokry started off well as he beat Carmony in the trophy dash and then
went wire to wire to beat Kurt Stults and Mattison in the first heat. Ogle
bested Greszler and Carmony in the second heat and Fellers worked his way from
seventh to first in the final heat to win over Mathus and Palmer.
Main Event: 1. Terry Palmer 2. Jeff Greszler 3. Charles Mokry 4. Dustin
Carmony 5. Don Keesler 6. Thomas Ogle 7. Brent Yarnell 8. Mark Stroh 9. Kiley
Fellers 10. Jim Mattison 11. Tony Osculi 12. Rick Alexander 13. Lance Petersen
14. Danny Mathus 15. Dan Goodman 16. Kurt Stults 17. Judd Hathaway 18. Brian
Shaw 19. Brandon George
Lap Leaders: Lap 1, Greszler–laps 2-15, Mathus–lap 16, Greszler–laps
Semi Main: 1. Judd Hathaway 2. Tony
Osculi 3. Don Keesler 4. Brian Shaw 5. Lance Petersen 6. Dan Goodman 7. Dennis
Parks 8. Dale Janisse 9. Robert Mobley 10. Brandon George
1st Heat: 1. Charles Mokry 2. Kurt
Stults 3. Jim Mattison 4. Rick Alexander 5. Lance Petersen 6. Tony Osucli 7.
Dave Alexander 8. Dan Goodman 9. Soctt Birdzell
2nd Heat: 1. Thomas Ogle 2. Jeff
Greszler 3. Dustin Carmony 4. Mark Stroh 5. Judd Hathaway 6. Brian Shaw
3rd Heat: 1. Danny Mathus 2. Terry
Palmer 3. Kiley Fellers 4. Brent Yarnell 5. Don Keesler 6. Dale Janisse 7.
Trophy Dash: 1. Charles Mokry 2.
Dustin Carmony 3. Jeff Greszler 4. Terry Palmer 5. Mark Stroh 6. Dennis Parks
NEW CAR MAKES KOCHANOWSKI A WINNER
What a difference a car can make. After watching his fellow drivers take home
all the glory for the past few years Rick Kochanowski displayed remarkable
skills as he debuted a new Ford sedan Saturday night and proved to be the cream
of the 28 car field.
Rick gave an indication of things to come when he opened the season with a win
in the trophy dash and then finished third in his heat race after starting
He saved the best for last as he methodically drove his way from seventh to
wrest the lead from Kevin Stalbaum on the sixth lap and was still out front when
the checkered flag fell six laps later. Tim Jones, who started one row behind
Kochanowski, was just behind him at the finish with Matt Lund, who ran with the
leaders all evening, in third. Pole sitter Garry Clovis edged Stalbaum for
fourth. Rounding out the top ten were Nick Bruce, Sandy Matthews, Art Garcia,
David Brodeur and Craig Austin.
Clovis drove his Ford pickup to a win over
Matthews and Kochanowski in the first heat: Stalbaum won the second heat after
starting sixth as he bested Pat Hennesey and Craig Austin while Lund stayed in
front of Bruce and Tim Jones in the third heat.
Kochanowski's win in the dash came at the expense of Stalbaum, Matthews and
DESERT DWARF CARS
Main Event: 1. Rick Kockanowski 2. Tim Jones 3. Matt Lund 4. Garry Clovis
5. Kevin Stalbaum 6. Nick Bruce 7. Sandy Matthews 8. Art Garcia 9. David Brodeur
10. Craig Austin 11. Theron Bobbitt 12. Denny Dowty 13. Pat Hennesey 14. Chuck
Vallone 15. Helen Hennesey 16. Rob Chevalier 17. Nick Escobedo 18. Rick Hoelzer
19. Gary Sibley 20. Mark Pasucci 21. Tom Jones 22. Larry
Stewart 23. Jason Swonger 24. Mike Wooster 25. Greg Loper
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-5, Stalbaum–laps 6-12, Kochanowski
1st Heat: 1. Garry Clovis 2. Sandy
Matthews 3. Rick Kochanowski 4. Art Garcia 5. David Brodeur 6. Denny Dowty 7.
Helen Hennesey 8. Rick Hoelzer 9. Larry Stewart 10. Mike Wooster
2nd Heat: 1. Kevin Stalbaum 2. Pat
Hennesey 3. Craig Austin 4. Storm Phillips 5. Greg Loper 6. Chuck Vallone 7.
Theron Bobbitt 8. Ryan Hennesey 9. Chris Snyder
3rd Heat: 1. Matt Lund 2. Nick Bruce
3. Tim Jones 4. Jason Swonger 5. Tom Jones 6. Mark Pasucci 7. Nick Escobedo 8.
Gary Sibley 9. Rob Chevalier
Trophy Dash: 1. Rick Kochanowski 2. Kevin Stalbaum 3. Sandy Matthews 4. David