Phoenix, AZ (July 1) Jeremy Sherman, always the pre race favorite,
overcame an uncharateristic spin and came from the rear of the field to steal
the 50 lap feature from Matthew Rossi.
A multicolor barrage of fireworks during intermission kept the crowd in awe
in Saturday night's Coca Cola Firecracker 50 at Manzanita Speedway but yellow
was the dominant color in the 50 lap feature race for the Arizona Sprint Car
The race, contested on Manzy's one third mile track, had a quick yellow
flag with only one lap completed when cars near the front got together in turn
two and started a chain reation that sidelined six of the eight cars involved.
Once back in line the field, now down to 18 from the orginal 24 starters, did
not make it through the first turn before three cars crashed and the field was
down to 17.
Sherman, who started in the fifth row, was battling for second when he spun
out on the fifth lap. He rejoined the field at the tail end of the pack and
had to fight for every position on his way toward the front.
Rossi was flying out front and built as much as a six second lead over the
field only to have it wiped out with numerous yellow flags.
Josh Pelkey, ranked second behind Sherman in the ASCA points, drove from
11th to third but mechanical problems sidelined him and he parked in turn four
and brought out the yellow and the field again bunched up behind Rossi.
With Sherman having to work hard to make it toward the front, Rossi used a
long green flag condition to pull away to almost a half lap lead. A wild flip
by Jay Ervine brought out a red flag while working the 29th lap. A quick check
of the tapes showed that with 28 laps completed the cars had actually toured
the track 58 times.
Two cars running near the front, those driven by Mike Martin and Brandon
Lane, were disqualified for adding fuel under the red flag and that moved
Sherman up to sixth.
He made quick work of Jeff Henry but it was a different story in making the
pass on the early leader, Andy Reinbold. He used one of his patented slide
jobs to take over fourth and then went to work on Mike Leslie. He was still
running in fourth when a yellow flag waved as Mike Bonneau stopped on the
With the laps counting down, Sherman tried at least three slide jobs in an
effort to move past Leslie who had driven from 16th.
Sherman put on a slide job that would have made Richard Griffin and J.J.
Yeley, themselves masters of the passing technique, proud and was suddenly in
third with five laps remaining. It took him two laps to catch Rossi and only
one more to slide his way to the lead. A disappointed Rossi, looking to repeat
his only win which came in the 2005 Firecracker 50, finished just 0.66 seconds
behind Sherman who improved his 2006 record to nine wins in just 13 starts
keeping him on pace to break the record for most wins in a season that he set
last year when he won 16 times.
Leslie's third place finished netted him the hard charger award as he
passed 12 cars and had his best finish of the year. Reinbold, whose previous
best this year was eighth, had his best night of the year with a strong fourth
place effort after leading the first 11 laps. Jeff Henry had his third top
five this year. Other cars running at the checkered flag in order were Justin
Fisher, Mike Colegrove and Seainn Hendricsen. The Bonneau brothers, Chris and
Mike were awarded ninth and tenth.
The heat races' lap times were very fast with Rossi winning the second
eight lapper by turning the first lap in 14.49 seconds, an average speed of
82.816 mph. His time of 1:58.03 was just 2.78 seconds off the eight lap
record. Other heats were won by Bernie Smith and Reinbold.
Pelkey won the Arizona Race Mart trophy dash.
COCA COLA FIRECRACKER 50 SUMMARY
Main Event: 1. Jeremy Sherman 2. Matthew Rossi 3. Mike Leslie 4. Andy
Reinbold 5. Jeff Henry 6. Justin Fisher 7. Mike Colegrove 8. Seainn Hendricsen
9. Chris Bonneau 10. Mike Bonneau 11. Mike Martin 12. Brandon Lane 13. Jay
Ervine 14. Brian Hacker 15. John Williams 16. Nathan High 17. Josh Pelkey 18.
Bruce St. James 19. Bob Ream, Jr. 20. Chuck Buckman 21. Bernie Smith 22.
Rickey Hood 23. Shon Deskins 24. Jon Taylor
Lap leaders: laps 1-11 Reinbold, laps 12-47 Rossi, laps 48-50 Sherman
1st Heat: 1. Bernie Smith 2. Bruce St. James 3. Brandon Lane 4. Mike
Colegrove 5. Josh Pelkey 6. Mike Leslie 7. Chris Bonneau 8. Seainn Hendricsen
2nd Heat: 1. Matthew Rossi 2. Jeremy Sherman 3. Mike Martin 4. Nathan High
5. Brian Hacker 6. Justin Fisher 7. Mike Bonneau 8. Jon Taylor (8 laps, time:
3rd Heat: 1. Andy Reinbold 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Jeff Henry 4. Chuck Buckman
5. Rickey Hood 6. Jay Ervine 7. John Williams 8. Shon Deskins (8 laps, time:
Arizona Race Mart Trophy Dash: 1. Josh Pelkey 2. Andy Reinbold 3. Nathan
High 4. Mike Martin (4 laps, time: 1:03.90)