Kruseman Takes Another 50 Lapper PERRIS, CA, July 4 -- Cory Kruseman won his second straight "Firecracker 50" Wednesday at the Perris Auto Speedway. Including last year's July classic, Kruseman has won four of the last five 50 lap races on ...
Kruseman Takes Another 50 Lapper
PERRIS, CA, July 4 -- Cory Kruseman won his second straight "Firecracker 50" Wednesday at the Perris Auto Speedway. Including last year's July classic, Kruseman has won four of the last five 50 lap races on the Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) tour.
Kruseman's smooth driving style and track savvy are attributes that are conducive to his success in longer races. Modestly, Kruseman thanked current SCRA president Ron Shuman for some helpful pointers in these events. "Ronnie Shuman has helped us a lot with the 50 lappers. He gives us a lot of good advice and he's probably won more 50 lappers than anyone out here," Kruseman said, after collecting his eighth SCRA win of the year. "You have to patient out there. It's real easy to get rambunctious when that green flag drops, but we've learned that we have to slow down and take our time. You have to be there at the end because it's the end that pays."
Of his victories this season, Perris has been Kruseman's most prolific venue providing him with six wins in just eleven starts. In light of the birth of first child, Kruseman was visibly proud to be able to dedicate the win to his nine day-old daughter Casie.
JE Pistons Dash winner Rickie Gaunt and Verne Sweeney started on the pole for the main event with Kruseman taking the green flag from the third starting position. Gaunt got the jump at the start and led Sweeney, Kruseman, Griffin and Mike Kirby. Showing his strength early, Kruseman slid the Harlan Willis / Omni Turn No. 45 TCR ahead of Sweeney entering turn one on lap two.
Griffin battled with Sweeney for the third place as the top-two cars broke away from the rest of the field. Griffin was able to get a turn one slide job to stick on lap five moving the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy ahead of Sweeney. In a bold move, Kirby squeezed around the outside of Sweeney before he could exit turn two.
Gaunt and Kruseman held nearly a full straightaway advantage over Griffin and Kirby when the first caution flag of the race flew on lap six for Marc Hart who coasted to a stop exiting turn four. Gaunt maintained the lead after the restart until Kruseman, in a businesslike manner, passed him in turn one on the eleventh circuit.
Fourth place Kirby had problems on lap 16 after he slid too far sideways in turn four and spun to a stop after receiving a mild tap from Troy Rutherford. Unbeknownst to most, Rutherford had developed brake problems and would later be forced to nurse his car around the bottom of the track for the remainder of the race.
After starting eleventh, John Scott had his Pace Electronics No. 83 TCR up to fifth for the restart. Rip Williams had also made a nice charge forward, coming from the 20th position to tenth. Unfortunately for the "Ripper", a turn four traffic jam on the 18th lap resulted in contact that sent Williams into the wall. Williams subsequently flipped in the incident, but was not hurt.
Ten laps later, second place Gaunt also had problems in turn four after he hooked the cushion and came to a stop against the wall. Like his teammate Kirby, Gaunt was able to restart the Mark Alexander-Brad Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5 Stinger at the rear of the field.
Danny Sheridan had also been on the move after starting 14th on the grid. Shortly after the restart, Sheridan was running fourth when he made contact with the turn one concrete and was clipped by Troy Cline. Sheridan slowed to a stop bringing out another caution period. After racing resumed, Cline was ten laps from the finish when he hit the wall in nearly the same spot as Sheridan. Both men were done for the night.
After the restart for Cline's incident, Kruseman's imminent victory was never in doubt except for a brief moment on the final lap of the race when he drifted a little high and nearly made contact with the turn one wall. Recovering quickly , Kruseman avoided disaster and went on to accept another checkered flag from starter Lee Jaskowiak.
"The mud was on the fence at a 45 degree angle and I got up on it, but I didn't actually hit the wall," Kruseman smiled. "We were so close to the fence getting in and we were trying to keep as much momentum as we could. You look up at the scoreboard and it's sure intimidating when you see the 50 car and the 83 car behind you because you know they're coming and they both want to win as bad as you do."
Sander Engineering Fast Qualifier Griffin finished second ahead of Scott. Teammates Kirby and Gaunt both regrouped from having to restart from the rear of the field and finished fourth and fifth respectively. Cautiously driving without brakes, Rutherford did an admirable job to guide his Gardner Motorsports car to a sixth place finish. Rookie driver Chris Rahe made his first SCRA main event and also earned the TW Metals Hard Charger Award with his 22nd to tenth place run.