Kirby Wins McWhorter Memorial WICHITA, KS, June 12 -- The Non-Winged World Championship (NWWC) / Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) tour made a stop at the 81 Speedway Tuesday night for the running of the 5th Annual Walt McWhorter ...
Kirby Wins McWhorter Memorial
WICHITA, KS, June 12 -- The Non-Winged World Championship (NWWC) / Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) tour made a stop at the 81 Speedway Tuesday night for the running of the 5th Annual Walt McWhorter Memorial. California's Mike Kirby drove the Mark Alexander-Brad Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5 to a hard fought 30 lap victory.
"This is good for Mark, he's been doing this for a long time and now he has a little better budget to work with," Kirby said, referring to the off-season merger with the Alexander Trucking Team. "This Stinger car is pretty awesome and I'm excited about the rest of the year."
One year ago, Kirby was running fourth during this event when he became the first tire casualty just 13 laps into the race. With hot sunlight and heavy winds punishing the 81 Speedway throughout the day, it was feared by most that tire wear might once again become an issue. As it turned out, the track was in remarkably good condition considering the elements.
"Last year, I don't think we made it halfway through the race before we blew a tire," Kirby said. "The track didn't take rubber until about the 15th lap tonight, by then we had gotten by a few cars and we were okay. We ran a different compound than most people. I guess we just picked the right tire tonight. Rusty McClure came over and gave us some suggestions that helped us because running a track like this is right up his alley."
John Scott, who took the checkered flag first in last year's Walt McWhorter Memorial, started on the pole after driving his Pace Electronics No. 83 TCR to it's fourth JE Pistons Dash win of the season. Scott beat Troy Cline into the first turn at the start of the race and led the field down the back straight. Behind Scott, Cline and Rickie Gaunt touched wheels in turn three. Cline was forced off the edge of the banking as a result of the contact and found himself third from last by the time he returned to the racing surface.
Gaunt and NWWC point leader Richard Griffin were closely behind Scott on lap three when Cline came to a stop after having problems in turn two as well. Steve Ostling ran fourth ahead of the BRAT Racing / B&R Automotive No. 8 Buckley driven by Bob Ream Jr. on the restart. In Sander Engineering Time Trials, Ostling broke the one-lap track record (with a time of 16.617 seconds) to give the Fischer Motorsports Team it's first ever SCRA fast time.
Scott elected to restart the race on the bottom, while Gaunt decisively went to the top. Gaunt's choice proved to be the better one and he quickly darted around Scott to take the lead. The pass had to be particularly satisfying for Gaunt, who led last year's 81 Speedway event until he spun on the final lap of the race giving the victory to Scott. Lost in the moment was Kirby's masterful restart that saw him move from sixth to fourth.
Much like he did the year before, Gaunt controlled the race until the caution flag flew on lap eight. Kirby made the most of that restart as well, passing Griffin for the third position. Prior to the restart, Gaunt was pulling away from Scott. After the restart, Scott was able to stay glued to the leader's tail tank. Scott continued to pressure Gaunt for several laps on the cushion until Gaunt slid over the turn one cushion and fell off the back of the banking on lap 15. Gaunt was quick to regroup and only lost three positions before returning to the racing surface.
Scott was far from being home-free once in the lead. Instantly, Kirby pressured Scott in much the same manner that he had been badgering Gaunt. That pressure intensified once Gaunt reached lapped traffic on the 18th circuit. With ten laps to go, Griffin had the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy in a position to challenge for the lead.
Scott hesitated briefly in lapped traffic on lap 22 and received a solid tap on the rear bumper from Kirby. Thanks to some aggressive driving, all three men managed to free themselves from lapped traffic one lap later. Scott had been trying a variety of lines throughout the race, but when he dropped to the bottom of turn four on lap 24, Kirby was able to drive around him for the lead.
With a clear race track in front of him, Kirby was on his way to victory and preparing to take the white flag when Adam Mitchell flipped hard into the catch fence exiting turn four. Mitchell climbed from his car without injury as Kirby sat hoping that he wouldn't get passed on a restart while leading for a second straight race. As if that wasn't weighing heavily enough on his mind, Kirby still had tire concerns.
"Brett Roa (Kirby's crew chief) told me that the car was all mine and that I couldn't hurt the tires in three laps," Kirby laughed, happy that the disappointment he suffered at Eagle Raceway had now been avenged. "We've been pretty bad on restarts lately and I was thinking about the other night at Eagle, that's for sure. Brett told me to calm down and if I kept doing what I've been doing that I'd be fine."
Kirby applied Roa's advice and maintained his line and his composure even when Griffin stuck a wheel under him entering the last set of corners. With smoke streaming from his right rear tire, Kirby reached the checkered flag first for the 35th time in SCRA competition. Cory Kruseman drove the Harlan Willis / Omni Turn No. 45 TCR to a fourth place finish behind Scott. Ream rounded out the top-five with his third career SCRA top-five finish. ### <pre> SCRA RACE #17 - 81 SPEEDWAY, WICHITA, KS (NWWC #3) Date of Race: 06/12/01
SANDER ENGINEERING TIME TRIALS 1. Steve Ostling, Fischer Mtrspts 29, 16.617 *New Track Recored 2. John Scott, Scott Mtrsprts 83, 16.625 3. Bob Ream, Jr., BRAT Racing 8, 16.718 4. Charles Davis, Jr, Morales 94, 16.735 5. Troy Cline, Cline 11, 16.740 6. Richard Griffin, Chaffin 50, 16.755 7. Cory Kruseman, Willis 45, 16.849 8. Troy Rutherford, Gardner 4, 16.854 9. Rip Williams, Jory 3, 16.893 10. Rickie Gaunt, Pratt 12 , 16.901 11. C.J. Johnson, Johnson 45x, 16.941 12. Mike English, Priestley 7 , 16.947 13. Mike Kirby, Geurin 5, 16.965 14. George Gervais, Gervais 9 , 16.969 15. Lance Gremett, Gremett 85, 17.003 16. Danny Sheridan, Sertich 92, 17.167 17. Adam Mitchell, Mitchell 99 , 17.170 18. Michael Hinrichsen (R), Lake Mtrsprts. 16, 17.247 19. Ronnie Clark (R), Winter 138, 17.265 20. Mike Spencer (R), Engstrom 44, 17.330 21. Tony Everhart, Everhart 55, 17.540 22. Casey Shuman, Lake Mtrsprts 6, 17.566 23. Hank Winter, Winter 33, 17.626 24. Glenn Crossno (R), Crossno 38, 17.865 25. Kevin Doty, Dooling 6x, 17.876 26. Jon Robertson, Pratt 12x, 19.081 27. Josh Davis, Davis 98d, 19.377 28. Brian Venard, Venard. 47, No Time
HEDMAN HEDDERS HEAT 1 1. Kirby, 2. Cline, 3. Mitchell, 4. Ostling, 5. Williams, 6. Everhart, 7. Doty
SHAVER ENGINES HEAT 2 1. Gaunt, 2. Scott, 3. Griffin, 4. Gervais, 5. Hinrichsen, 6. Shuman,
KSE PRODUCTS HEAT 3 1. Gremett, 2. Kruseman, 3. Ream, 4. Winter, 5. Johnson, 6. Clark,
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS HEAT 4 1. Sheridan, 2. English, 3. Spencer, 4. Crossno, 5. Rutherford, 6. Davis,
JE PISTONS DASH 1. Scott, 2. Cline, 3. Gaunt, 4. Griffin, 5. Ostling, 6. Ream, 7. Kruseman, 8. English,
JB ENTERPRISE B FEATURE 1. Clark, 2. Williams, 3. Davis, 4. Rutherford, 5. Doty, 6. Shuman, 7. Everhart, 8. Hinrichsen, 9. Johnson, 10. Robertson.
A FEATURE (30 Laps) 1. Kirby, 2. Griffin, 3. Scott, 4. Kruseman, 5. Ream, 6. Williams, 7. Davis, 8. Gaunt, 9. Doty, 10. Sheridan, 11. Cline, 12. English, 13. Ostling, 14. Gervais, 15. Rutherford, 16. Shuman, 17. Winter, 18. Spencer, 19. Clark, 20. Crossno, 21. Mitchell, 22. Gremett,
Laps Led: Scott 1-2, Gaunt 3-14, Scott 15-23, Kirby 24-30