Sherman Wins Manzy's Western World PHOENIX, AZ, October 27 -- Bud Kaeding dominated all but the final lap of the 34th running of the NAPA Auto Parts / Budweiser Western World Championships at Keith Hall's Manzanita Speedway. Kaeding's last...
Sherman Wins Manzy's Western World
PHOENIX, AZ, October 27 -- Bud Kaeding dominated all but the final lap of the 34th running of the NAPA Auto Parts / Budweiser Western World Championships at Keith Hall's Manzanita Speedway. Kaeding's last lap misfortune gave hometown favorite Jeremy Sherman the only break he needed to drive the Mark Priestley / Roy Miller Freightliners No. 7 Stealth to a $12,500 victory.
Sherman becomes the fifth driver from the state of Arizona to win the Western World. Led by now Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) President Ron Shuman (with five victories), Arizona drivers have now managed to keep the bulk of Hall's purse within their state 12 times.
Once considered the second jewel on sprint car racing's "Triple Crown," this year's Western World Championships again showed the resurgence of non-winged sprint car racing. Reminiscent of "The Western's" glory days during the 70's, drivers from seven different states and Australia were represented for this year's edition. Since the first Western World in 1969, members of Sherman's family have competed in the majority of these events. Until today, none has tasted victory in the state's biggest sprint car race.
"This is just awesome. To have your name listed with the guys that have won this race is just phenomenal," Sherman said. "My uncle (Larry Clark) and my stepfather (Dave Ellis) have tried to win this race, and to be the first one to win it out of my family is pretty special...it's the highlight of my career."
By virtue of their preliminary night wins, Sherman and Bud Kaeding shared the front row for the 40 lap finale. Kaeding won a ceremonial coin toss last night and chose the inside row. Despite some second-guessing from some Manzy veterans, Kaeding's decision proved to be the right one and he took the lead on the opening lap as Sherman, Rip Williams, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Cory Kruseman followed.
As Kaeding pulled away from the field, Kruseman was on the move early trying to nail down the SCRA owners title for Harlan Willis. By the end of the ninth circuit, Kruseman was up to third and was within striking distance of Sherman after a pair of caution flags. Williams began fade to about this time after a rock wedged under his throttle. Williams' problems continued on lap 18 after he tangled with Charles Davis, Jr. and Rickie Gaunt on the back-straight and they all came to a stop. Of the cars involved, only Gaunt was able to restart.
Kaeding again sped away on the restart as Kruseman passed Sherman for second in turn two. Working the bottom groove, Kruseman caught Kaeding on lap 22. Kaeding withstood the challenge and temporarily assumed Kruseman's line in turns three and four. Riding the turn two cushion two laps later, Kruseman slipped wide exiting the corner and smacked the wall. For the moment, it looked like luck was on Kruseman's side after the yellow simultaneously waved for Mike Spencer, who stopped on the racing surface with a flat right rear tire.
"He was just pushing it to the limit," Sherman said of Kruseman's encounter with the wall. "He runs hard and he got up above the cushion and hit the wall pretty good. He came down across the track after he hit the wall and I did everything I could to keep from hitting him."
Kruseman's second chance was, however, short-lived after his right rear tire gave way two laps from the finish sending him into the wall exiting turn four. Mike Kirby, who was running fifth at the time, also lost a tire and joined Kruseman in the work area. Even with some visible damage, Kruseman returned and earned enough points to give Willis his first SCRA title.
With his once insurmountable lead erased, Kaeding held back Sherman's run on the restart. Having already accepted the white flag, Kaeding drove smoothly into turn one only to have his car veer suddenly into the fence causing him to flip. Kaeding climbed from his mount and collapsed on the race track, not from injury, but from the utter disbelief that a front end failure had cost him a certain victory.
By SCRA rule, the restart reverted back to lap 38. With the Mike Wall / Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply No. 37 Avenger driven by Tony Jones now behind him, Sherman knew he still had his work cut out for him.
"I was just hoping they'd throw the checkered because I didn't want to run those last two laps," Sherman smiled. "My guys came over to me on the red (flag for Kaeding) and said if you just run two consistent laps and hold the car on the bottom of the track for the restart, we'll be fine."
Hoping to duplicate his father's (Bubby Jones) 1976 Western World victory, Jones tried to build momentum on the restart to set up for some last lap heroics. Regrettably, Jones would lose any chance of keeping Sherman from winning his second Non-Winged World Championship (NWWC) race in as many nights after he pushed in turn two. Jones did manage to keep the NAPA Auto Parts No. 12 Stealth, driven by Coons, back in the third spot. J.J. Yeley started his night by piloting the GT Racing / ABC Sand & Rock No. 76 Twister to a C-Main victory. Transferring from the B-Main, Yeley eventually finished fourth in the A-Main. John Scott was forced to take the same path as Yeley to get to the finale. Scott went on to win the TW Metals Hard Charger Award with his 23rd to 7th place run.