Kirby beats Gaunt in USAC/CRA Sokola Classic at
by Windy McDonald
Phoenix, AZ (March 19) Mike Kirby had the high groove all to himself in
the second half of the Sokola Classic USAC/CRA Sprint Car race at Manzanita
Speedway Saturday night and it led to a 3.01 second win.
Kirby was running fifth in the 22 car field when the lead cars moved to the low
side of the track. Kirby also moved down but then switched back to the high side
and drove his way to second. He then took advantage of lapped traffic to get
past Rickie Gaunt on the 33rd lap and steadily pulled away to a comfortable win
which was worth $5000.
The two sprinters owned by Tony Smiley dominated the field for the first 33
laps. Charles Davis, Jr. took the lead from his front row starting berth and led
the first five laps before his team mate, Rickie Gaunt, took over on lap #6.
Gaunt, who had led all but one lap in the Friday night 20 lap feature, built a
comfortable margin over the field while a
tight battle for second went on behind him. Damion Gardner was in the thick of
things until he ran over the rear wheel of a car that slowed in front of him. He
broke a shock and headed for the pits when the yellow flag fell. His crew made
the repairs and he joined the field at the rear of the pack.
Rip Williams, the defending USAC/CRA champion, Davis, who had a nine point lead
over Williams when the race started, Josh Ford, Jeremy Sherman and Kirby were in
pursuit of the leader.
Following a red flag on the 17th lap brought on by flips by both Chuck Buckman
and Bobby Cody the field was bunched. The top of the half mile clay oval did not
work for the leaders and they all moved down.
Kirby knew he could not get the win if he followed the drivers so he put the
Mark Alexander car back on top and found the fastest way around the track. When
Gaunt encountered the lapped traffic, Kirby was in the right place to shoot into
Kirby's win, his 11th at the Phoenix track, came in the car that was driven to
the 2004 Sokola Classic victory by Cory Krusman. Kruseman finished seventh in
the car that Kirby drove last year.
Gaunt finished second to his Torrance, CA town mate with Williams taking third.
Sherman, a two time Sokola Classic winner, was the top Arizona finisher in
fourth with Davis, Jr. of Buckeye, Arizona in fifth. Rounding out the top ten
were Ford, Kruseman, Gardner, Rick Ziehl and Jesse Hockett.
Williams earned qualifying points and finished two positions ahead of Davis to
tighten the chase for the championship. Both Davis and Williams won their heat
races. Davis came out of the third row to beat Gaunt, Dwayne Marcum and Bill
Rose in the third heat and Willams drove from eighth to first in the fourth ten
lapper. He finished ahead of Ziehl who
gave the Shon Deskins car a great ride. Kirby was third and Jimmy Crawford took
the final main event berth with a fourth place finish.
Buckman started the first heat in the third row and drove to a win over R.J.
Johnson, Ronnie Clark and Seth Wilson. The second heat had Gardner taking the
Ron Chaffin sprinter from last to first at the expense of Kruseman, Ford and
Six positions in the feature were up for grabs in the 12 lap semi. Josh Wise had
the pole and held off a late charge by Sherman who started fifth to take the
win. Cody, Hockett, Brandon Lane and Alan Ballard also transferred.
Dave Darland, winner of the January 29 USAC/CRA feature at Manzy had motor
problems and nursed the car home in seventh, just missing a spotin the feature.
Seth Wilson was the first car on the track for qualifying and his time of 19.485
stood up for fast time. Damion Gardner had a streak of four straight fast times
snapped as he went out 31st and was second quickest at 19.552.
Qualifying: 1. Seth Wilson -19.485 2. Damion Gardner-19.552 3. Rickie
Gaunt-19.599 4. Rip Williams-19.729 5. Josh Wise-19.837 6. Dave Darland-19.958
7. Nathan High-19.958 8. Mike Kirby-20.025 9. Bobby Cody-20.050 10. Josh
Ford-20.056 11. Charles Davis, Jr.-20.121 12. Rick Ziehl-20.127 13. Chuck
Buckman-20.142 14. Jeremy Sherman-20.168 15. Bill Rose-20.170 16. Robert
Hall-20.203 17. Bob Ream, Jr.-20.238 18. Brandon Lane-20.244 19. Mike
Spencer-20.269 20. Jesse Hockett-20.286 21. Jimmy Crawford-20.304 22. Cory
Kruseman-20.305 23. Dwayne Marcum-20.340 24. Jordan Hermansader-20.348 25. R.J.
Johnson-20.487 26. Mike Leslie-20.505 27. Allan Ballard-20.549 28. Bobby
Boone-20.661 29. Ronnie Clark-20.694 30. Ronnie Case-21.269 31. Matt
Stewart-21.652 32. Nadine Keller-21.700
1st Heat: 1. Chuck Buckman 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Ronnie Clark 4. Seth Wilson
5. Bob Ream, Jr. 6. Jesse Hockett 7. Bobby Cody 8. Josh Wise (10 laps, Time:
2nd Heat: 1. Damion Gardner 2. Cory Kruseman 3. Josh Ford 4. Mike Leslie 5.
Brandon Lane 6. Dave Darland 7. Jeremy Sherman 8. Ronnie Case (10 laps, Time:
3rd Heat: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Rickie Gaunt 3. Dwayne Marcum 4. Bill Rose 5.
Nathan High 6. Mike Spencerw 7. Alan Ballard 8. Matt Stewart (10 laps, Time:
4th Heat: 1. Rip Williams 2. Rick Ziehl 3. Mike Kirby 4. Jimmy Crawford 5. Bobby
Boone 6. Jordan Hermansader 7. Robert Hall 8. Nadine Keller (10 laps, Time:
Semi Main: 1. Josh Wise 2. Jeremy Sherman 3. Bobby Cody 4. Jesse Hockett 5.
Brandon Lane 6. Alan Ballard 7. Dave Darlands 8. Bob Ream, Jr. 9. Mike Spencer
10. Bobby Boone 11. Ronnie Case 12. Robert Hall 13. Nadine Keller 14. Nathan
High 15. Jordan Hermansader 16. Matt Stewart (12 laps, no time)
Main Event: 1. Mike Kirby 2. Rickie Gaunt 3. Rip Williams 4. Jeremy Sherman 5.
Charles Davis, Jr. 6. Josh Ford 7. Cory Kruseman 8. Damion Gardner 9. Rick Ziehl
10. Jesse Hockett 11. R.J. Johnson 12. Bill Rose 13. Seth Wilson 14. Josh Wise
15. Brandon Lane 16. Jimmy Crawford 17. Alan Ballard 18. Mike Leslie 19. Ronnie
Clark 20. Chuck Buckman 21. Bobby Cody 22. Dwayne Marcum. (40 laps, no time)