AZ (October 2) Nathan High and Ed Bebee picked special nights to score their
first ever wins in Saturday night’s races at Manzanita Speedway. High’s win
came on a night when 37 sprint cars, the largest field for a regular show in at
least a decade while Bebee won extra cash posted by Allscapes Landscapping Co.
in the J.D. Byriders Dirt Modifieds.
Nathan High found the fast groove when the green flag flew to start Saturday
night’s 25 lap Arizona Sprint Car Association feature and shot from fifth to
first on the opening lap. He stayed in the groove and scored his first career
win as he beat former champions Josh Pelkey (1997) and Marty Miller (2000).
The move on the opening lap was instrumental in Nathan’s first win. “The
crew always does a great job and had the car set up to run the bottom. Once I
got out front I was not about to move up on the track,” A jubilant driver said
in his victory lane interview.
Pelkey, still working for his first win of the year, took a little time in
working his way past Mike Leslie, Jeff Henry and Chris Bonneau and was still
running behind High and Ricky Johnson past the halfway point of the feature.
All eyes were diverted from the leader as the crowd watched R.J. Johnson and his
progress toward the front. The youngster won the semi main to earn the 17th
starting position and was the fastest on the track in the feature. He broke into
the top ten before eight laps had been completed and methodically, using the low
line, picked off the cars one by one.
He took over the third spot from Pelkey on the 15th lap and shot to the inside
of the second place car a lap later. That car was driven by his Dad, Ricky. The
cars touched coming through turn four and locked together and they came to a
stop on the front straightaway. That ended the good run for both but R.J. drove
from 19th to ninth in the remaining nine laps and Ricky finished 13th. The
incident cost Ricky his fourth spot in the points standings as he switched
positions with High.
With the Johnsons tagging the field, Miller took over the third spot. Brain
Hacker outdueled Bob Ream, Jr. and Eric Wilkins for the fourth spot. The
position changed on almost every lap as Hacker kept it low while Ream and
Wilkins were pushing the cushion.
With only three races remaining in the 2004 season the chase for the
championship ended the night where it started. Wilkins won his heat race and
Ream finished second in his preliminary race. That netted Wilkins a gain of five
points and pushed his total margin to 188 points. By finishing a position ahead
of Eric, Bobby gained those five point back and the two will enter the October
9th races with Wilkins leading by 183.
Jeff Henry was in the mix for the battle for third as he stayed low on the track
and was passed several times by Ream and Wilkins but was always able to reclaim
his spot until the two finally dropped him to seventh. Mike Leslie was the hard
charger of the race as he came from 18th to eighth. Then came R.J. Johnson and
Buckman got in a lot of laps as he came from the consy to the semi and then made
it to the feature with a drive from 11th to fourth in the semi behind Johnson,
Leslie and Jeff McDonald
Pelkey won his third heat race of the year when Scott Pasmore had serious motor
problems as he took the white flag out front ending his night early. Bonneau,
Andrew Reinbold and Brandon Lane qualified for the feature by finishing in the
Ricky Johnson was strong in his win in the second heat as he beat Henry, Ryan
Linder and Rick Byler. The third heat was a win for High who lead all eight laps
in the Jerry and Susie Pritchett Long Branch Saloon Stewart Chassis for his
sixth heat race win of the year. Ream, after starting fifth, was second followed
by Miller and Davey Bateman.
The fourth heat had the fans on their feet as Wilkins started last in the nine
car field and sped to the front with the left front tire seldom touching the
clay. He got to second and went to work on rookie driver Steve Sandrolini who
was trying for his first win of any kind. With Wilkins applying the pressure the
rookie slipped wide in the final turn and Wilkins three wheeled the Ahearn
Equipment Buckley to the checkered flag. Sandrolini recovered for a second place
finish ahead of Hacker and Bernie Smith.
Brian Hacker was slated to start third in the four car trophy dash but got the
pole when Dan Olmstead was called for jumping the green flag and was put to the
rear. That was all the advantage Hacker needed to bring his Dura Plumbing
sprinter home first for his second trophy dash win of the year.
J.T. Imperial did several end over end flips in the fourth heat and Jay Ervine
did a slow roll in the semi. Ervine rejoined the field after inspecting his car
but Imperial, although not injured, was through for the night.
ARIZONA SPRINT CAR ASSOCIATION
1. Nathan High 2. Josh Pelkey 3. Marty Miller 4. Brian Hacker 5. Bob Ream, Jr.
6. Eric Wilkins 7. Jeff Henry 8. Mike Leslie 9. R.J. Johnson 10. Chris Bonneau
11. Chuck Buckman 12. Ryan Linder 13. Ricky Johnson 14. Bernie Smith 15. Brandon
Lane 16. Jeff McDonald 17. Davey Bateman 18. Rick Byler 19. Steve Sandrolini 20.
Lap leaders: laps 1-25 High
1. Josh Pelkey 2. Chris Bonneau 3. Andrew Reinbold 4. Brandon Lane 5. Willy
Grombach 6. R.J. Johnson 7. Art Garcia 8. Chris McArthur 9. Scott Pasmore
1. Ricky Johnson 2. Jeff Henry 3. Ryan Linder 4. Rick Byler 5. Jay Ervine 6.
Mike Leslie 7. Michael Bryan 8. Lonnie Sherman
1. Nathan High 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Marty Miller 4. Davey Bateman 5. Ashley Corey
6. John Williams 7. Dan Olmstead (DNS-James Aragon, Seainn Hendricson)
1. Eric Wilkins 2. Steve Sandrolini 3. Brian Hacker 4. Bernie Smith 5. Ben Gregg
6. Terry Belcher 7. Jeff McDonald 8. J.T. Imperial 9. Chuck Buckman
1. R.J. Johnson 2. Mike Leslie 3. Jeff McDonald 4. Chuck Buckman 5. Jay Ervine
6. Willy Grombach 7. Michael Bryan 8. Ashley Corey 9. Terry Belcher 10. Dan
Olmstead 11. Ben Gregg 12. Art Garcia 13. John Williams 14. Jesse Dunham 15.
Chris McArthur 16. James Aragon
1. Chuck Buckman 2. Lonnie Sherman 3. Chris McArthur 4. Jesse Dunham 5. Seainn
Hendricson 6. James Aragon
1. Brian Hacker 2. Nathan High 3. Bernie Smith 4. Dan Olmstead
UNOFFICIAL ASCA POINTS
Eric Wilkins 3886
Bob Ream, Jr. 3703
R.J. Johnson 3227
Nathan High 2988
Ricky Johnson 2919
Josh Pelkey 2598
Jeff Henry 2598
Marty Miller 2325
Bernie Smith 2318
Chuck Buckman 2318