(October 28) It seemed that Manzanita Speedway saved the best for last as the Arizona
Sprint Car Association fielded its largest and most talented field of the year
for the end of their regular season. The Parker Store did its part with
Halloween treats for the youngsters, a Halloween costume contest and a
fireworks show. The Midgets, though a little down in car count, also put on a
competitive night of racing.
The one third mile track was in exellent condition and both the high groove
and the lowside were used in the sprint main with the top three pushing the
cushion and the next two running on the bottom. The top three, Jerry Coons,
Jr., Jeremy Sherman and Charles Davis, Jr., are considered to be among the
best open wheel drivers in the state and even though the cushion on top of the
track wore thin they pulled away from Nathan High and Mike Martin in the
closing laps. Coons was 1.37 seconds ahead of Sherman at the finish line.
High was seeking a double clean sweep when he lined up third in the 24 car
field for the 25 lap sprint car feature. He had already made a sweep in the
Arizona Midget Racing Association races by winning not only the feature but
his heat race and trophy dash as well. He had also won the sprint car dash and
his heat. He led the first 6 laps in the feature before giving way to Coons,
the soon to be USAC National Midget champion who had started seventh. Even
though he could not get his third sprint car win of the year his fourth place
finsh made it the best night of his career.
Coons was at the wheel of a new Maxim chassis fielded by Fred Bryan who
also owned the car driven by Charles Davis, Jr.
The win marked Bryan's fourth win of the year as Davis has won twice and
Coons drove the Davis car to an early season win in Tucson.
Josh Pelkey was a show unto himself in the sprint cars. He flipped in his
heat race but his crew readied the car for the consolation race and he came
out of the fourth row to post the win which gave him a seventh row starting
berth in the 12 lap semi main. He made it to the front and that put him in the
ninth row for the feature and he ran the top of the track and was the hard
charger of the night with a sixth place finish. He passed 11 cars in the
feature, 12 in the semi and 7 in the consy. Shon Deskins had a good run but
dropped out of the top five in the closing laps and finished seventh, his
fifth straight top ten finish, his eighth overall. Mike Leslie was next across
the line, Mike Colegrove, a shoo-in for rookie of the year, finished ninth and
Seanin Henricsen was tenth. Henricsen was the main event hard charger as he
came from 24th.
The 39 car field was divided into four heat races with the top four from
each heat transferring to the feature. Coons came out of the second row to
take the win in the first eight lapper wiht Brian Swinehart, Andy Reinbold and
Bobby Ream earning the transfer spots. Jay Ervine cross the line in fourth but
was penalized two spots for a Texas start.
High started third in the second heat and chased down R.J. Johnson for the
win. R.J. finished second ahead of Chad Boat Mike Bonneau.
Jeff Henry played a game of "Git Gone" in the third heat as he
shot to the front at the drop of the green and built a comfortable lead to
beat Jeremy Sherman who started seventh. Deskins took third and Tom Ogle was
fourth. The race was halted for Pelkey's crash when Mike Rux, Jr. spun and
Josh ran over the front end of his car sending him on an end over end flip.
Mike Martin scored the win in the final heat. Martin started third but
quickly moved to the front and held off Davis, Jr. who started fifth. Leslie
drove from seventh to third and rookie driver Darrin Boltin came from sixth to
Finishing second to Pelkey in the 12 lap consy was Bruce St. James who
started on the pole. Bernie Smith took third and Brian Hacker earned a berth
in the semi main with his fourth place finish.
Fifteen cars ran the 12 lap semi but Pelkey managed to chase down the front
runners to get the win. The top eight made the main and they were, in order,
Chuck Buckman, Colegrove, Chirs Bonneau, Brandon Lane, Smith, Brad Kuhn and
Coons called the well prepared Bryan car "very comfortable and very
forgiving". He also said in his victory lane interview,
"I had already decided that I was just going to drive in the USAC/CRA
part of the Western, but I am having doubts about bypassing the 360 Western
Coons elected to bypass the midget races to concentrate on helping to make
sure the new sprint car was right and that opened up the ride in the 21AZ Mike
Burkhart car for High.
High was the class of the midgets and only his team mate R.J. Johnson
offered any threat at all. Nathan stayed on the bottom of the track and R.J.
was running the top. He pulled even with High several times but could not pull
off a pass. He was 2.65 seconds back when he chased High to the finish line.
Chad Boat, a two time midget winner, stayed in the thick of the battle as
he was working low and was a close third at the checkered flag. Mike Leslie
took fourth ahead of Bugs Norbury who won the AMRA driving championship with
his fifth place finish. Rounding out the top ten were John Sarale, Darren
Burkhart, Jonathan Henry, Randy Pankratz and Jeff Perry.
John Sarna continued his hard luck string when, for the second straight
race, he had problems in hot laps and never took a green flag. He had
virtually no chance of coming back to win the championship and his fate was
sealed with his engine failure.
Norbury actually put himself over the top when he beat Henry, Stevie
Sussex, Pankratz and Boltin in the first heat which was called after a race
halting red flag while working the third lap. Sussex flipped when he was
involved in the crash that put Boltin, Colby Copeland and Pankratz out of the
High started on the pole in the trophy dash and was again pursued by
Johnson on his way to the win. Boat finished third, Leslie was fourth and C.J.
Sarna took fifth.
High broke a four lap record that had stood since March 4, 2000 when he
flashed under the checkered flag with a time of 59.59 in the trophy dash. That
barely eclipsed the Bob Ellis record of 59.72.
ASCA SPRINT CARS
Main Event: 1. Jerry Coons, Jr. 2. Jeremy Sherman 3. Charles Davis, Jr. 4.
Nathan High 5. Mike Martin 6. Josh Pelkey 7. Shon Deskins 8. Mike Leslie 9.
Mike Colegrove 10. Seanin Hendricsen 11. Brad Kuhn 12. Andy Reinbold 13. Chuck
Buckman 14. Jeff Henry 15. R.J. Johnson 16. Brandon Lane 17. Tom Ogle 18. Chad
Boat 19. Brian Swinehart 20. Mike Bonneau 21. Chris Bonneau 22. Bob Ream, Jr.
23. Darrin Bolten 24. Bernie Smith
Lap leaders: laps 1-6 High, laps 7-25 Coons, Jr.
1st Heat: (8 laps) 1. Jerry Coons, Jr. 2. Brian Swinehart 3. Andy Reinbold
4. Bob Ream, Jr. 5. Brandon Lane 6. Jay Ervine 7. Ronnie Clark 8. Bruce St.
James 9. Brian Hacker 10. Scott Oliver (Time-1:59.62)
2nd Heat: (8 laps) 1. Nathan High 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Chad Boat 4. Mike
Bonneau 5. Jeff Oliver 6. Darrin Boltin 7. Chris Bonneau 8. John Brinkley 9.
Chris Beal 10. J.T. Imperial (no time)
3rd Heat: (8 laps) 1. Jeff Henry 2. Jeremy Sherman 3. Shon Deskins 4. Tom
Ogle 5. Mike Mundy 6. Brad Kuhn 7. Trey Deane 8. Bernie Smith 9. Mike Rux, Jr.
10. Josh Pelkey (no time)
4th Heat: (8 laps) 1. Mike Martin 2. Charles Davis, Jr. 3. Mike Leslie 5.
Chuck Buckman 6. Seanin Hendricsen 7. Mike Colegrove 8. Dana Fite 9. Don
Earven (Time: 1:58.44)
Semi Main (12 laps) 1. Josh Pelkey 2. Darrin Boltin 3. Mike Colegrove 4.
Chris Bonneau 5. Brandon Lane 6. Bernie Smith 7. Brad Kuhn 8. Seanin
Hendricsen 9. Bruce St. James 10. Jay Ervine 11. Ronnie Clark 12. Brian Hacker
13. Trey Deane 14. Shane Golobic 15. Jeff Oliver (no time)
Consolation Race: (12 laps) 1. Josh Pelkey 2. Bruce St. James 3. Bernie
Smith 4. Brian Hacker 5. Dana Fite 6. Don Earven 7. Chris Beal 8. Scott Oliver
9. Mike Rux, Jr. 10. John Brinkley (no time)
Arizona Race Mart Trophy Dash: 1. Nathan High 2. Mike Martin 3. Jeff Oliver
4. Chad Boat (Time: 1:00.78)
Main Event: (20 laps) 1. Nathan High 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Chad Boat 4. Mike
Leslie 5. Bugs Norbury 6. Johm Sarale 7. Darren Burkhart 8. Jonathan Henry 9.
Randy Pankratz 10. Jeff Perry 11. Ken Perry 12. Darrin Boltin 13. C.J. Sarna
(DNS-John Sarna, Stevie Sussex, Colby Copeland)
1st Heat: (8 laps) 1. Bugs Norbury 2. Jonathan Henry 3. Stevie Sussex 4.
Randy Pankratz 5. Darrin Boltin 6. Colby Copeland
2nd Heat (8 laps) 1. Nathan High 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Chad Boat 4. Mike
Leslie 5. C.J. Sarna 6. Darren Burkhart 7. Ken Perry 8. Jeff Perry (no time)
Trophy Dash: (4 laps) 1. Nathan High 2. C.J. Sarna 3. R.J. Johnson 4. Bugs
Norbury (Time: 59.59, new track record)