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 Press Release

Davis's Last Lap pass beat Wilkins in Manzy Sprints
By Windy McDonald

Phoenix, AZ (March 13) Even the newest unabridged dictionaries fall short in finding the right adjectives to describe the 25 lap Sprint Car feature at Manzanita Speedway Saturday night.  Excellent, great, exciting, thrilling—they all fall short. After Bugs Norbury led the first lap there were six lead changes among three drivers with the final change coming in the final turn and netting the win for Charles Davis, Jr.


While the grandstands were not full it was strictly standing room only the entire distance. Bob Ream, Jr., the 1998 champion and winner of the season opener a week earlier, shot from his fourth row starting berth to lead the second lap. However Davis, who started sixth, passed him just past the start/finish line and led the next two laps.


Following a restart for a stalled car Ream shot back to the front with Davis in close pursuit. Davis was back in front on lap #7 and despite several caution flags stayed there until traffic got him on the 20th lap giving the lead to Eric Wilkins, the 2002 champion. Davis put his Tony Smiley owned Chevy at the top of Manzanita’s one third mile track and rode the rim but Wilkins appeared to have it won. He encountered heavy traffic in the final turn with Davis alongside and watched as Davis roared past and beat him to the checkered flag.


Wilkins was in second at the finish with Ream in third ahead of Davis’ teammate Rickie Gaunt. Nathan High was the hard charger of the race as he came from 17th to finish fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Norbury, R.J. Johnson, Joey Moriarity, Darren Hagen and Josh Pelkey. Mike Leslie was involved in a three car skirmish on the 12th lap and was unable to continue and he was the only car to fail to finish the 25 lapper. Until the final lap only one car was lapped but the charge by Davis in the final turn put a couple more down.


The action started early with a fast four lap Arizona Race Mart  trophy dash that put Ricky Johnson in the winner’s circle. It was the  first competition of the year for the six time and defending champion after he turned his car over to Jeremy Sherman in the season opener.


Bugs Norbury went wire to wire in winning the first eight lap heat race that placed four drivers in the feature. In additon to Norbury, Casey Shuman, Bernie Smith and Josh Pelkey, up from eighth, got the main event berths. Ream had the pole for the second heat race and it was no contest as he outgunned Moriarity, Ryan Linder and Hagen. Wilkins made it look easy in winning the third heat with Leslie, Paul Norbury and Michael Bryan trailed. Davis came close to his own eight lap record in winning the fourth heat by a big margin. He drew a front row start and played a game of get gone. Jeff Henry was second in a tight battle with Gaunt and R.J. Johnson who made a last lap pass to get into the feature. Davis’ time was 1:56.14, less than half a second slower than his mark of 1:55.72 set in April of 2003.


The 33 car field had some big guns in the 15 lap semi and only four spots were left open for the feature. Nathan High, taking over the Pritchett Metal Products  Chevy took the win to earn the 17th spot in the feature. His time of 3:45.16 was a new record.  Mike Kuemper was second with Jeff Slinkard in third and Rob Davis fourth. Ricky Johnson was fifth but made the main when Paul Norbury scratched. Marty Miller, the 2000 champion, made his first start since his season ending crash last April but was a disappointing ninth in the semi.




Main Event: 
1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Eric Wilkins 3. Bob Ream, Jr. 4. Rickie Gaunt 5. Nathan High 6. Bugs Norbury 7. R.J. Johnson 8. Joey Moriarity 9. Darren Hagen 10. Josh Pelkey 11. Bernie Smith 12. Jeff Slinkard 13. Rob Davis 14. Casey Shuman 15. Mikey Kuemper 16. Ryan Linder 17. Michael Bryan 18. Jeff Henry 19. Ricky Johnson 20. Mike Leslie

Lap leaders: lap 1 Norbury, lap 2 Ream, laps 3-4 Davis, laps 5-6 Ream, laps 7-20 Davis, laps 21-24 Wilkins, lap 25 Davis.


1st Heat: 
1. Bugs Norbury 2. Casey Shuman 3. Bernie Smith 4. Josh Pelkey 6. Jeff Slinkard 7. Ricky Johnson 8. Chuck Buckman (8 laps, time: 2:05.51)


2nd Heat: 
1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Joey Moriarity 3. Ryan Linder 4. Darren Hagen 5. Nathan High 6. Rob Davis 7.  James Agaron (8 laps, time: 2:01.13)


3rd Heat: 
1. Eric Wilkins 2. Mike Leslie 3. Paul Norbury 4. Michael Bryan 5. Andy Reinbold 6. R.C. Whitwell 7. Kelly Dennison 8. Mike Bonneau (no time)


4th Heat: 
1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Jeff Henry 3. Rickie Gaunt 4. R.J. Johnson 5. Marty Miller 6. Ashley Corey 7. Brian Swinehart 8. Seainn Hendricson (8 laps, time: 1:56.14)


Semi Main: 
1. Nathan High 2. Mikey Keumper 3. Jeff Slinkard 4. Rob Davis 5. Ricky Johnson 6. Andy Reinbold 7. R.C. Whitwell 8. Chuck Buckman 9. Marty Miller 10. Brian Swinehart 11. J.T. Imperial 12. Kelly Dennison 13. James Agaron 14. Seainn Hendricson 15. Ashley Corey (15 laps, time: 3:45.16 N.T.R.)


Trophy Dash: 
1. Ricky Johnson 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 3. Jeff Henry 4. Brian Swinehart (4 laps, time: 1:03.20)






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