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 Press Release

Sherman beats Davis and Gaunt in Manzanita's Buddy Taylor Memorial
By Windy McDonald

Phoenix, AZ (October 16) ...With one of the strongest fields of the year on hand for the running of Saturday night’s Buddy Taylor Memorial race on  Manzanita Speedway’s half mile track, the fans were treated to one of the best Sprint Car races in recent memories. Thirty-two cars were on hand for the speedfest featuring the non winged  360 sprints in the Arizona Sprint Car Associtation sanctioned race.


From the drop of the green flag until the race was finally decided with a last lap pass, the fans were on their feet. Davey Bateman surprised the star studded field when he took the lead on the first lap and held all comers at bay until Charles Davis, Jr. made a high side pass on both second running Rickie Gaunt and Bateman for the lead on the 16th lap. Gaunt, Davis’ teammate in  the Tony Smiley/Tony Zorika stable, followed him and the duo who dominated the Sprint Car Racing Association season started their own private battle for the win.


Meanwhile it was getting crowded at the front as 2001 Western World champion Jeremy Sherman and the Arizona Sprint Car Association points leader Eric Wilkins closed on the leaders. Sherman, who started fifth, finally worked his way by Gaunt who had won the Non Winged World Championship series a couple of weeks earlier, and then set his sights on Davis, runner-up to his team mate in both the NWWC and the SCRA standings.


Most of the knowledgeable fans knew that Sherman had one of his patented slide jobs waiting and he used it entering turn one of the final lap. Davis was powerless to stop it as he had used up his right rear tire and watched Sherman take his sixth main event of the year.


Davis made a last ditch effort to reclaim the lead as he came off the final turn. He almost pulled it off but fell short by half a car length. Gaunt finished third and Wilkins maintained his points lead with only one race remaining on the ASCA schedule with a strong fourth place finish. Bob Ream, Jr. kept his championship hopes alive with a fifth place finish and lost only one point to Wilkins.  Rounding out the top ten were the 1997 ASCA champion Josh Pelkey, Nathan High, Paul Norbury, Brandon Lane and Brian Hacker. Bateman’s great drive ended on the 20th lap when he popped his right rear tire and he was credited with an 18th place finish.


The Memorial was made even more special than usual with Buddy’s Grandson Jon Taylor making his first start ever on a half mile track. Jon had come from behind to win the New Mexico Motor Racing Association championship a week earlier. It marked the first start on a half mile track and he was fast but gave the track the respect it deserves and did not qualify for the feature.


The well prepared half mile track was a little sloppy in the early going and it put a premium on passing. However, the track was worked in by the time the third heat race ran. Ream got things off to a good start as he won the Arizona Race Mart trophy dash over High, Pelkey and Bernie Smith. His win took four points off Wilkins’ lead lowering his deficit to 101 points.


Jeff Henry shot from his front row starting berth  and then held off Gaunt to score his first heat race win of the year. Smith and High trailed the leaders and made the feature with their third and fourth place finishes. High made a last lap pass on Mike Leslie to get into the main.


The second heat was strictly no contest as Davis worked his way from fourth to first and then put second running Paul Norbury a full straightaway behind. Seainn Hendricson was third, just ahead of Brandon Lane.


Sherman had the pole for the third heat and lead all eight laps with Bateman taking second ahead of Hacker and R.J. Johnson.


The fourth heat was a preview of things to come as Ream had the pole and Wilkins was on the inside of the back row. As expected Ream took the win, his 11th heat victory of the year but all eyes were on Wilkins. He had the Ahearn Rentals Buckley flying and was second at the line.


Ream picked up another five points and trailed Wilkins by 96 heading into the feature where Wilkins beat him by one position and increased his lead by ten points. The two broke almost even on the night with Wilkins taking a 105 point advantage into the finale on October 23.


Mike Leslie shattered the 12 lap record in winning the semi main. His time of 4:02.95 was far better than the previous record of 4:09.95 that had been held by Chris Bonneau. 



  1. Eric Wilkins             4407
  2. Bob Ream, Jr.                    4301
  3. R.J. Johnson                      3637
  4. Nathan High                 3518
  5. Josh Pelkey              3149
  6. Ricky Johnson                      3119
  7. Jeff Henry               2928
  8. Bernie Smith                2670
  9. Chuck Buckman            2637
  10. Marty Miller               2515               



Main Event: 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 3. Rickie Gaunt 4. Eric Wilkins 5. Bob Ream, Jr. 6. Josh Pelkey 7. Nathan High 8. Paul Norbury 9. Brandon Lane 10. Brian Hacker 11. Jeff Henry 12. R. J. Johnson 13. Shon Deskins 14. Bobby Marcum 15. Mike Martin 16. Chuck Buckman 17. Seainn Henricson 18. Davey Bateman 19. Mike Leslie 20. Bernie Smith

Lap leaders: laps 1-15 Bateman, laps 16-24 Davis, lap 25 Sherman

1st Heat: 1. Jeff Henry 2. Rickie Gaunt 3. Bernie Smith 4. Nathan High 5. Mike Leslie 6. Shon Deskins 7. Ricky Johnson 8. Ben Gregg

2nd Heat: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Paul Norbury 3. Seainn Henricson 4. Brandon Lane 5. Bobby Marcum 6. Jeff McDonald 7. Chris Bonneau 8. Alex Pruett

3rd Heat: 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Davey Bateman 3. Brian Hacker 4. R.J. Johnson 5. Chuck Buckman 6. Rick Byler 7. Jerry Johnston 8. Ron Kratz

4th Heat: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Eric Wilkins 3. Josh Pelkey 4. Mike Martin 5. Jon Taylor 6. Andrew Reinbold 7. Brian Swinehart 8. Jay Ervine

Semi Main: 1. Mike Leslie 2. Bobby Marcum 3. Chuck Buckman 4. Shon Deskin 5. Jeff McDonald 6. Ricky Johnson 7. Chris Bonneau 8. Andrew Reinbold 9. Brian Swinehart 10. Jon Taylor 11. Jerry Johnston 12. Ron Kratz 13. Rick Byler (12 laps; time, 4:02.95 New track record)

Trophy Dash: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Nathan High 3. Josh Pelkey 4. Bernie Smith







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