Phoenix, AZ (March 25)
Bob Ream, Jr. mastered Manzanita Speedway’s one third mile track that provided less than ideal track conditions and beat Brian Hacker in Saturday night’s 25 lap sprint car feature. Kiley Fellers took the season opener for the Arizona mini sprints.
Manzy’s one third mile track took a beating over the weekend as a total of 177 cars competed in the Friday and Saturday night events. A field of 117 stock cars staged 25 events on Friday nigh and when the sprint cars lined up for their main it was the 37th race staged on the track and it was basically a hard slick track that put a premium on skill. For Ream, one of the dominant drivers over the years, the win obviously boosted his confidence as he held off Jeremy Sherman in the early stages of the 25 lap race and then outran Brian Hacker and Josh Pelkey. His win equaled his total output last year and the 1998 champion voiced optimism that he could again be a force in local sprint car racing.
“I was beginning to have self doubts about whether I could still do this”, he said in his post race interview. “This win removed part of those doubts.”
Sherman had the pole for the feature and shot into the lead at the drop of the green. Ream started on the outside of the second row and went by Josh Pelkey and Jeff Henry on the opening lap He was side by side with Sherman as they completed the second lap and had the lead into the first turn on lap three.
With $20 a lap going to the leader of each lap in the race run honoring the memory of Weince Bailey who competed at Manzy for over three decades in the sixties, seventies and eighties, Sherman was anxious to regain the lead. He managed to get to the inside of Ream as they worked the sixth lap and had the lead down the back straightaway. However as yellow flag waved for a couple of cars that tangled and Ream was back in front as the line up reverted to the last green lap.
Sherman took advantage of a slight bobble by Ream a couple of laps later but again his lead did not hold up as another yellow flag waved.
A yellow with only eight laps completed slowed the field and Sherman decided to gamble with a pit stop for fresh tires. He gave up his second position and was at the back of the pack with 17 laps to go.
Sherman’s gamble did not pay off as he could not make it back to the front and was 12th at the finish line.
Brian Hacker, up from seventh, tried to stay with Ream’s Parker Store sprinter but could not offer a serious challenge. His second place finish matched his career best effort. Pelkey, who won the 1997 driving title and was second to Sherman last year, brought the Total Seal car home in third, just behind Hacker’s Dura Plumbing sprinter.
Jay Ervine finished fourth just ahead of Matt Rossi. The attrition rate was high as only 13 cars finished the race and all were on the lead lap. Seanin Hendricsen led the rest of the top ten with Nathan High who started 21st in the 24 car field, in seventh ahead of Mike Martin, Chuck Buckman and Jeff Henry.
Mike Colegrove had a successful run as he started his first race in a sprint car after winning the mini sprint championship in 2005. The rookie tagged the field and finished 11th.
Rossi got the action going with a win in the Arizona Race Mart trophy dash as he beat Pelkey, rookie Dana Fite and Henry.
Ream beat Hacker, Martin and Tom Ogle in the first eight lap heat and Sherman won the second heat over Pelkey, Hendricsen and Chad Boat. The third heat went to Henry who beat Chris Bonneau, Buckman and Andy Reinbold. Ervine won the final heat with Rossi, Mike Leslie and Marty Miller earning the other main event berths.
The top eight cars in the semi completed the field for the feature. Ben Gregg went wire to wire to win the 15 lapper with Bernie Smith, Jason Tanner, Bruce St. James, Colegrove, High, Brandon Lane and Shon Deskins making their way into the finale.
The sprint cars will be sharing Manzy’s one half mile track in their next outing on April 1.
ARIZONA SPRINT CAR ASSOCIATION
Main Event: (25 laps) 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Brian Hacker 3. Josh Pelkey 4. Jay Ervine 5. Matt Rossi 6. Seanin Hendricsen 7. Nathan High 8. Mike Martin 9. Chuck Buckman 10. Jeff Henry 11. Mike Colegrove 12. Jeremy Sherman 13. Marty Miller 14. Chris Bonneau 15. Ben Gregg 16. Jason Tanner 17. Bernie Smith 18. Mike Leslie 19. Chad Boat 20. Andy Reinbold 21. Shon Deskins 22. Tom Ogle 23. Bruce St. James 24. Brandon Lane
Lap leaders: Sherman laps 1-2, Ream laps 3-25
Semi Main: (15 laps) 1. Ben Gregg 2. Bernie Smith 3. Jason Tanner 4. Bruce St. James 5. Mike Colegrove 6. Nathan High 7. Brandon Lane 8. Shon Deskins 9. J.T. Imperial 10. Dana Fite 11. Johnny Williams 12. Ryan Linder 13. Mike Bonneau 14. Leland Fuller 15. Bill Mueller
1st Heat: (8 laps) 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. Brian Hacker 3. Mike Martin 4. Tom Ogle 5. Bruce St. James 6. Ryan Linder 7. Johnny Williams 8. William Hawkins (Time: 2:11.25)
2nd Heat: (8 laps) 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Josh Pelkey 3. Seanin Hendricsen 4. Chad Boat 5. Ben Gregg 6. Brandon Lane 7. Dana Fite 8. Leland Fuller
3rd Heat: (8 laps) 1. Jeff Henry 2. Chris Boneau 3. Chuck Buckman 4. Andy Reinbold 5. Bernie Smith 6. Mike Bonneau 7. Shon Deskins 8. J.T. Imperial (Time: 2:15.57)
4th Heat: 1. Jay Ervine 2. Matt Rossi 3. Mike Leslie 4. Marty Miller 5. Mike Colegrove 6. Jason Tanner 7. Bill Mueller (Time: 2:15.12)
Trophy Dash: (4 laps) 1. Matt Rossi 2. Josh Pelkey 3. Dana Fite 4. Jeff Henry (Time: 1:05.3)