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Press Release

2005 USAC/CRA season opener Saturday night at Manzanita Speedway
By Windy McDonald

Phoenix, AZ (January 29) Dave Darland brought some impressive credentials to the 2005 USAC/CRA season opener Saturday night at Manzanita Speedway and lived up to his reputation when he mastered a less than perfect rain soaked track to park the Dwight Cheney sprinter in the winner's circle.

The racing surface, deluged by rains throughout the week including a couple of storms on race day, took its toll on equipment but still provided ample passing in the 30 lap feature on Manzy's half mile track.

The Manzanita maintenance crew had to work with the grader to make a path so that the rigs could drive to the pits. That delayed the start of the race by over an hour even after officials decided to scrap qualifying and line up the four heat races by pill draw for the 38 cars. Passing points were then awarded, as well as regular points, to fill the first 16 positions through the four ten lap heat races.

Darland started on the outside of the third row and moved to third after Jesse Hockett and Cary Faas flipped. Hockett brought out the red flag while working the fifth lap and then Faas jumped the cushion and flipped in the same area on the restart.

Darren Hagen beat Rickie Gaunt into the first turn and kept the Keith Kunz Motorsports Mopar in front until he encountered traffic. He made contact with a slower car while working the 22nd lap and Gaunt, who was running a car length back slammed the spinning car. Both cars were put on the hook ending their night nine laps early.

Darland was the leader on the restart and had pressure from 12th starting Charles Davis, Jr. in the final laps.

Mike Spencer drove a steady race from his third row start to claim third, just ahead of Rick Williams who started a row behind him.

Tracy Hines had much of the fans attention as, after winning the semi, he powered the Mark Preistley Bullitt from the ninth row to challenge Williams but fell a car length short.

Mike Kirby drove the Mark Alexander Stinger to an impressive sixth place finish after starting 16th, Bill Rose, up from 14th was seventh and Cory Kruseman came from 20th to seventh in the Glenn Crossno TCR.

Seventeen year old R.J. Johnson, after a second place finish in the semi put him in the ninth row, brought the Bobby Martin Ellis home in ninth, his first top ten finish with USAC/CRA. Chuck Buckman, Jr. was steady as he cracked the top ten with the Tommy Miller DRC after starting 19th.

Spencer won the first ten lap heat race which took three restarts to get in an official lap. A four car crash sent Kruseman, Matt Rossi, Dan Hillberg and Danny Sheridan to the pits. The pit crews managed to get both Hillberg and Sheridan back on the track.

Rickie Gaunt was second at the checkered flag after starting fourth, Seth Wilson maintained his third starting position and Rick Williams came from the back row to make it to the feature with a fourth place finish.

The second heat went to Faas who made it look easy in beating Mike Leslie, Rick Zeihl and Justin Marvel. Mike Kirby picked up enough points with his fifth place finish to get an eighth row starting berth in the feature.

Darland beat Jimmy Crawford into the first turn and pulled away from the field in winning the third heat. Crawford took second with Rose in third. Hines finished fourth but did not transfer to the feature as he had a point less than Mike Kirby who finished fifth in the second heat race.

Jesse Hockett beat the field in the final heat as he finished ahead of fellow front row starter Josh Ford. Hagen picked up some passing points as he came from seventh to nail down third ahead of Charles Davis, Jr. who started eighth.

Crashes made the 12 lap semi one of the longest races of the night but once it finally got an official start after several restarts it was relatively smooth but even then itd was red flagged for a lap four crash. Numerous cars were eliminated in multi-car crashes before an official lap was run and less than half of the scheduled 22 car field were around to see the checkered flag.

Hines and Johnson shared the front row and Hines got the jump at the official start and finished well ahead of the field. Johnson was second, Chuck Buckman, Jr. drove from ninth to third and the final main event berth went to Kruseman who started 17th,

The USAC/CRA sprints make a return visit to Manzanita for the Sokola Classic March 18-19.


Main Event (30 laps) 1. Dave Darland 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 3. Mike Spencer 4. Rick Williams 5. Tracy Hines 6. Mike Kirby 7. Bill Rose 8. Cory Kruseman 9. R.J. Johnson 10. Chuck Buckman, Jr. 11. Rip Williams 12. Jimmy Crawford 13. Rick Ziehl 14. Darren Hagen 15. Rickie Gaunt 16. Seth Wilson 17. Josh Ford 18. Mike Leslie 19. Cary Faas 20. Jesse Hockett 21. Justin Marvel

Lap leaders: laps 1-21 Hagen, laps 22-30 Darland

1st Heat: 1. Mike Spencer 2. Rickie Gaunt 3. Seth Wilson 4. Rick Williams 5. R.J. Johnson 6. Dan Hillberg 7. Danny Sheridan 8. Matt Rossi 9. Cory Kruseman 10. Levi Jones

2nd Heat: 1. Cary Faas 2. Mike Leslie 3. Rick Ziehl 4. Justin Marvel 5. Mike Kirby 6. Rip Williams 7. Peter Murphy 8. Bobby Boone 9. Ronnie Case 10. Buddy Earle

3rd Heat: 1. Dave Darland 2. Jimmy Crawford 3. Bill Rose 4. Tracy Hines 5. Jeremy Sherman 6. Troy Rutherford 7. Chuck Buckman, Jr. 8. Damion Gardner 9. Shon Deskins

4th Heat: 1. Jesse Hockett 2. Josh Ford 3. Darren Hagen 4. Charles Davis, Jr. 5. Tony Jones 6. Nathan High 7. Nadine Keller 8. David Cardey (DNS-Jerry Coons, Jr.)

Semi Main (12 laps) 1. Tracy Hines 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Chuck Buckman, Jr. 4. Cory Kruseman 5. Nathan High 6. Rip Williams 7. Bobby Boone 8. Jeremy Sherman 9. David Cardey 10. Nadine Keller 11. Matt Rossi 12. Troy Rutherford 13. Tony Jones 14. Dan Hillberg 15. Peter Murphy 16. Damion Gardner 17. Ronnie Case 18. Shon Deskins 19. Buddy Earle (DNS-Danny Sheridan, Jerry Coons, Jr., Levi Jones)






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