Phoenix, AZ (November 6) California drivers
captured both feature races in Saturday night’s NAPA/Budweiser Western World
Championships before a standing room only crowd at Manzanita Speedway.
Bud Kaeding, winner of the 2002 Western and second place finisher last year,
dogged Midwest driver Levi Jones for 35 laps before finally using traffic to
move out front in the 40 lap race for USAC sprint cars on the half mile track.
Only one local driver qualified for the feature and Charles Davis, Jr. made the
most of the opportunity with a great drive from the fourth row to an impressive
fourth place finish behind Josh Wise.
With a strong wind blowing all day and an exceptionally warm day the track
maintenance crew had to put more water on both the half and one third mile track
before the first green flag fell about a half hour late. Both tracks held up
reasonably well but the short track was less than ideal as most of the front
runners were smoking their tires in the feature.
Jones shot from the pole in his Lucas Oil/Karavan Trailer Maxim and built leads
up to 1.82 seconds while Kaeding took his time in working past Josh Wise, part
of the Tony Stewart Racing team that fielded three cars.
Jones maintained about a second and a half lead over Kaeding until they
encountered traffic, then Kaeding closed in. Bobby Cody blew a tire and slowed
to a stop bringing out the yellow flag on the 18th lap. That was the only yellow
in the feature.
With no traffic ahead of him, Jones went back to work and again built a one
second lead until he caught the back markers on the 31st lap. Kaeding then
closed the gap and used the traffic to his advantage to put the BK
Motorsports/Loan City Maxim into the lead on the 36th circuit.
Kaeding held off repeated challenges by Jones who refused to give up but was
still about a second in arrears at the checkered flag.
Wise maintained third through out the race with his team mate Jay Drake dogging
his every move. Drake faded in the closing laps and was the eighth driver across
the finish line.
Charles Davis, Jr. was the only local driver to qualify for the feature and made
the most of the opportunity and brought the Tony Smiley Extreme chassis home in
fourth after starting seventh. Damion Gardner started sixth and improved to
fifth at the finish with Tracy Hines improving from 11th to sixth. Dickie Gaines
was the hard charger of the race as he drove from 20th to seventh. Then came
Drake, Mike Kirby and the 2003 Western World champion Tony Elliott.
Most of the 25 car field finished the grind making traffic difficult for some of
the leaders but seemed to work to Kaeding’s advantage.
The “B” main went to Kirby who methodically worked his way from the fifth
row and had a spirited duel with Gaines before finally getting the Glen Crossno/ITI
Performance sprinter to the finish line in front of Gaines. Josh Ford had the
pole for the 20 lapper and was third at the checkered flag. Jerry Coons, Jr.
took fourth, Tracy Hines fifth and the final main event transfer spot went to
Brian Venard. The rest of the top ten were Steve Ostling who started 21st, Peter
Murphy, Mat Neely and Bobby Cody.
Twenty one cars were scheduled to run the 15 lap “C” main but eight
scratches left 13 cars to take the green flag. There were also two scratches in
the “B” feature which allowed the top eight cars to transfer to the “B”.
Jeremy Sherman, who had three straight top three finishes in the Western,
including a win in 2001, started in the front row of the “C” and won it
easily with Terry Schank in second, Mike Leslie third, Shon Deskins fourth and
Steve Ostling fifth. The other transfer spots went to Seth Wilson, Ronnie Case
and Chuck Buckman.
Although Jay Drake faded to eighth in the USAC race that was more than enough
for him to win the National Championship and he was crowned champion following
the feature. It marked the first time a National Sprint Car champion was crowned
NAPA/BUDWEISER WESTERN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
USAC SPRINT CARS
“A” Main Event:
1. Bud Kaeding 2. Levin Jones 3. Josh Wise 4. Charles Davis, Jr. 5. Damion
Gardner 6. Tracy Hines 7. Dickie Gaines 8. Jay Drake 9. Mike Kirby 10. Tony
Elliott 11. Cory Kruseman 12. Jerry Coons, Jr. 13. Jon Stanbrough 14. Dave
Darland 15. Rickie Gaunt 16. Tom Hessert, 17. Troy Cline 18. Rick Ziehl 19. Troy
Rutherford 20. Josh Ford 21. Mike Spencer 22. Rip Williams 23. Marc Jessup 24.
Brian Venard 25. Bobby Cody
Lap leaders: laps 1-35 Jones, laps 36-40 Kaeding
1. Mike Kirby 2. Dickie Gaines 3. Josh Ford 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. 5. Tom Hessert
6. Brian Venard 7. Steve Ostling 8. Peter Murphy 9. Mat Neely 10. Bobby Cody 11.
Darren Hagen 12. Seth Wilson 13. Brandon Lane 14. Ronnie Case 15. John Scott 16.
Mike Leslie 17. Shon Deskins 18. Chuck Buckman 19. Greg Bragg
20. Ronnie Clark 21. Wil Newlin 22. Jeremy Sherman 23. Jesse Hockett 24. Terry
1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Terry Schank, Jr. 3. Mike Leslie 4. Shon Deskins 5. Steve
Ostling 6. Seth Wilson 7. Ronnie Case 8. Chuck Buckman 9. R.J. Johnson 10.
Charlie Fegan 11. Larry Neighbors 12. Nadine Keller 13. Terry Belcher