Start To Finish, It'S Been All Kruseman PERRIS, CA, November 17-- Cory Kruseman ended the 2001 Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) season the same way he started it, with a main event win. In a feat that is unprecedented in the SCRA or CRA ...
Start To Finish, It'S Been All Kruseman
PERRIS, CA, November 17-- Cory Kruseman ended the 2001 Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) season the same way he started it, with a main event win. In a feat that is unprecedented in the SCRA or CRA ranks, Kruseman held the point after the season opener in February and never relinquished it during any point of the 43 race season.
Along the way, Kruseman won a record 15 main events, including Saturday's 50 lap Jack Kindoll Classic at the Perris Auto Speedway. Kruseman, who operations a sprint car driving school at Ventura Raceway, might want to consider adding Perris to his teaching resume since he's schooled the competition 12 times this season at the PAS.
"I keep saying that it's been a dream season because I don't know how to put it in any other terms," Kruseman said in a humble tone. "We didn't tear up a lot of equipment, we won a lot of races, we set some records and we won a championship. Everything just went well for us, but like I've said from the get-go, I'm just the one that gets to sit in the car and have fun. The guys that work they're butts off all week to make it possible for me to come out and be the hero, those are the guys that won this championship."
After a poor run in the JE Pistons Dash, there was some doubt as to whether Kruseman would be able to play "hero" and win his third Kindoll Classic. Unbeknownst to most, there was even a bit of doubt heading into the weekend as to whether Kruseman would be able to drive at all.
"I was so sick all week that I didn't even know if we were going to come. But, I laid on the couch all week so I could go race, and we came to race," Kruseman said.
"We definitely missed in the Dash. This is a new car that we've only run two other times and I haven't been comfortable with it anytime we've ran it. My guys worked real hard to get it going, and it was just explosive in the feature."
Having set the Sander Engineering Fast Time earlier in the evening, many thought that Tony Jones would be the one to be "explosive" come main event time. In contrast to Kruseman's Dash run that left him with the seventh starting position, Jones charged his way to an inside second row starting spot. Danny Sheridan won the Dash and lined up on the pole for the season finale with Rickie Gaunt to his outside.
Gaunt grabbed the lead coming down to a accept the green flag. Exiting turn four on the opening lap, Jones slid the Mike Wall / Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply No. 37 Avenger ahead of Sheridan for the runner-up spot as Brain Stanfill and John Scott followed.
More than willing to be the rabbit, Jones dove to the bottom of turn two and took the lead from Gaunt on lap three. Once out front, Jones built a half a straightaway lead in just four laps. Steadily working his way forward, Kruseman passed Scott on the tenth circuit to put the Harlan Willis / WorkGate Networks No. 45 TCR into the third spot. Four laps later, Kruseman caught and passed Gaunt for second place, but was still some distance behind Jones.
Shortly after Jones had reached lapped for the first time, Stanfill's impressive SCRA debut came to an abrupt end after Sheridan pushed entering turn three leaving him nowhere to go but into the wall. Stanfill was not hurt in the subsequent flipped that brought out the red flag on lap 16. During the stoppage, Kruseman learned that Jones' right rear tire may have suffered as a result of the torrid pace he had been setting.
"We kind of had an unfair advantage," smiled Kruseman. "We knew on that red that Tony had blistered his right rear tire, and that was kind of in the back of my mind. Tony's fast when he gets in the lead, so I was hoping we'd get into lapped traffic pretty early.
Jones' crew couldn't change the tire without having to restart the race from the rear, so they poured water on the tire instead. Once racing resumed, Kruseman was content to stay with his strategy and wait for Jones to reach lapped traffic. Jones finally hit lapped traffic 18 laps from the finish.
To his credit, Jones made some beautiful moves while lapping cars. Despite later referring to Jones as "exciting in lapped traffic", Kruseman was game for the challenge and never faltered when it came to keeping pace with the leader. Jones was able to withstand a number of attempts from Kruseman until he bicycled on lap 40 giving "The Kruser" the lead.
Much like Jones did early in the race, Kruseman went on to pull away from the rest of the pack before taking yet another checkered flag. After the race, Kruseman rededicated his memorable season to team member Don Barnes, who passed away five days after the season opener in Phoenix.
Scott moved his Pace Electronics No. 83 TCR into the third spot on lap 22 and went on to hold that position for the remainder of the race. Mike Kirby started 12th and was able to drive the Alexander-Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5 Stinger to a fourth place finish. Richard Griffin made a late race charge and was able to give the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy it's 28th top-five finish of the year. Michael Hinrichsen posted an eleventh place finish which gave him more than enough points to edge Mike Spencer for the SCRA Rookie of the Year Award.