AZ (June 26)Track conditions were less than ideal for the running of Saturday
night’s tripleheader on Manzanita Speedway’s one third mile track but the
veteran drivers still found their way to the front. New management took control
of Manzanita and was not able to assemble a track maintenance crew until late in
the week leading to a rough and sometimes dusty track.
When Eric Wilkins finished 19th in the April 10th race and then took a
“working” vacation to Mexico two weeks later, it appeared that he had only
two chances to win his second driving championship---slim and none.
With his third win of the year in Saturday night’s 25 lap feature “The Whiz
Kid” had put himself back in contention. He can look back to that race he
skipped as the only reason he is not leading the chase for the title. Had he
raced and finished only 12th in the feature and fourth in the heat he would rest
atop the standings. He has whittled Ream’s lead to only 130 points and has
half the season remaining.
The win marked the ninth time in his 11 starts that Wilkins has finished in the
Eric let it be known early that he was the driver to beat. He won his eight lap
heat race in a blazing time of 1:58.44 an average of 14.803 seconds per lap
He found a fast groove as he took off from his fourth row starting berth and
quickly put the Ahearn Rentals Buckley into second. He then made a pass on Jeff
Slinkard on the eighth lap and steadily pulled away. The race was halted on the
seventh lap when Brandon Lane bicycled and rolled onto his side and then was
slowed again for yellow flags on laps 14 and on lap 19.
He left it to the field to fight for second and that battle was fierce. R.J.
Johnson finally wrested second from Slinkard on the 23rd lap. Marty Miller was
putting pressure on Slinkard but had to worry about Ream who was trying to make
the high side of the track work. The order remained the same to the checkered
Ben Gregg just missed a top five finish and Nathan High, after moving from tenth
to fourth pulled out of line to try to get to the front but lost three spots and
finished seventh. Then came Ricky Johnson, Chris Bonneau and Chuck Buckman.
The sprint cars fielded 28 cars, just under their 30 car average, and staged
four eight lap heat races. Ben Gregg scored his fourth heat win of the year in
beating Tim Beal, Jay Ervine and Jeff Henry in the first preliminary race.
Behind Wilkins in the second heat were Slinkard, High and Buckman. The third
heat was the best as Ream came out of the third row to nip Ricky Johnson, Paul
Norbury and Jeff McDonald. Miller captured the final heat over R.J. Johnson,
Bonneau and J.T. Imperial.
The 12 lap semi main got off to a rough start as Willy Grombach hit the wall and
rolled. Ashley Corey and Scott Pasmore were also eliminated in the mishap.
Brandon Lane took the win with Bernie Smith, Bugs Norbury and Andrew Reinbold
also transferring to the feature.
The sprints will be back on the one third mile track in the running of the
Firecracker 50 Saturday night, July 3rd. Manzy will also have a fireworks show.
ARIZONA SPRINT CAR ASSOCIATION
Main Event (With Starting Positions)
1. Eric Wilkins
(7th), 2. R.J. Johnson (4th), 3. Jeff Slinkard (3rd), 4. Marty Miller (6th), 5.
Bob Ream Jr. (8th), 6. Ben Gregg (2nd), 7. Nathan High (10th), 8. Ricky Johnson
(5th), 9. Chris Bonneau (12th), 10.
Chuck Buckman (14th), 11. Jeff Henry (13th), 12. J.T. Imperial (16th), 13. Bernie Smith
(18th), 14. Jay Ervine (9th), 15. Chris McArthur (20th) 16. Tim Beal (1st), 17. Bugs Norbury
(19th) 18. Brandon Lane (17th), 19. Paul
Norbury (11th), 20. Jeff McDonald (15th)
Lap leaders: laps 1-3 Beal, laps 4-7 Slinkard, laps 8-25 Wilkins
1st Heat: 1. Ben Gregg 2. Tim Beal 3. Jay Ervine 4. Jeff Henry 5. Brandon Lane
6. Ryan Linder 7. Chris McArthur (8 laps, time: 2:03.94)
2nd Heat: 1. Eric Wilkins 2. Jeff Slinkard 3. Nathan High 4. Chuck Buckman 5.
Scott Pasmore 6. Jesse Dunham 7. Steve Sandrolivi (time: 1:58.44)
3rd Heat: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Paul Norbury 4. Jeff McDonald 5.
Andrew Reinbold 6. Bernie Smith 7. James Aragon (time: 2:03.48)
4th Heat: 1. Marty Miller 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Chris Bonneau 4. J.T. Imperial 5.
Willy Grombach 6. Ashley Corey 7. Bugs Norbury (time: 2:05.02)
Semi Main: 1. Brandon Lane 2. Bernie Smith 3. Bugs Norbury 4. Andrew Reinbold 5.
Chris McArthur 6. Steve Sandrolivi 7. James Aragon 8. Jesse Dunham 9. Ryan
Linder 10. Scott Pasmore 11. Willy Grombach 12. Ashley Corey
Trophy Dash: 1. Marty Miller 2. Eric Wilkins 3. Bob Ream, Jr. 4. Ricky Johnson
(4 laps, time: 1:00.62)
UNOFFICIAL ASCA POINTS
Bob Ream, Jr. 2329
Eric Wilkins 2197
R.J. Johnson 1921
Ricky Johnson 1806
Chuck Buckman 1567
Marty Miller 1526
Nathan High 1424
Bugs Norbury 1364
Jeff Henry 1356
Bernie Smith 1302