USPRO inaugural Thunder Valley summary

The inaugural race for USPRO Racing Series was held Saturday night at Thunder Valley Speedway. This is the first traveling series to use crate engines in template model bodies with an offset chassis. The initial race saw 12 cars making their way...

The inaugural race for USPRO Racing Series was held Saturday night at Thunder Valley Speedway. This is the first traveling series to use crate engines in template model bodies with an offset chassis. The initial race saw 12 cars making their way to the track. More cars are in the works and are expected to be ready soon.

The 50-lap feature was full of exciting racing even though there was a wide range of experience between the drivers. Mark Kortz is a 20-year veteran, while John Musser was making his first competitive start. Third place qualifier Mark Kortz drew the pole position for the race with Brent Hook to his outside. On the start, Kortz jumped into the lead, with Bob Varney following in his tire tracks with Hook and fast qualifier Mike Carter following closely behind.

The first caution flew on lap three for debris on the backstretch. On the restart, Kortz and Varney began battling for the top position with Varney taking the lead on lap seven. A lap later Carter moved into second and began pressuring him for the lead.

The second lead change happened on lap 13 as the field came upon lapped traffic. Varney took the high side around John Musser and Carter took the low side, with the trio running three wide through turn four. Carter came out with the lead and put several car lengths between himself and Varney over the next 10 laps.

The field broke into two groups. The lead group consisted of Carter, Varney, Steve Shlater Jr and Kortz. The next batch was lead by Hook and also included the two rookies of James Johnson and Bill Tomlinson along with Rick Everidge and rookie Shaun Whitney. The final caution came out on lap 31 of the 50 lap race when Johnson spun in turn two.

Fans probably didn^Òt know where to watch the final 19 laps as cars ran side-by-side and/or nose to tail. Lap after lap Varney pressured Carter for the lead, with Kortz running closely behind them. The final lead change happened on lap 45 when Carter^Òs car pushed wide and both Varney and Kortz were able to pass him. Varney held off Kortz by less than a car length with Carter closely behind, ending a very exciting first race for the series.

Final dramatics happened when top running rookie Bill Tomlinson, who was running fourth on the white flag lap, was tapped coming out of turn four on the final lap. He slid across the line backwards and into the frontstretch wall, finishing sixth.

<pre> USPRO Racing May 24, 2003 Race #1 Thunder Valley Speedway Jones, Mich., 3/8 mile high-banked D-shaped oval Laps Money Fin. Start Car Driver Sponsor completed Laps won Points 1 3 61 Bob Varney "Ford Racing Performance Parts -Roush Racing Taurus" 50 "$1,100" 122 2 1 113 Mark Kortz US Air Force Taurus 50 800 119 3 4 44 Mike Carter Champion Chevrolet Monte Carlo 50 700 117 4 2 17 Brent Hook Hook Racing Monte Carlo 50 600 109 5 6 92 Steve Shlater Jr Engineered Systems Inc. Ford Taurus 50 500 108 6 8 3 Bill Tomlinson (R) Camart Auto Sale Monte Carlo 50 450 102 7 6 15 James Johnson (R) Godwin Body Shop Monte Carlo 50 425 99 8 9 63 Rick Everidge Everidge Motor Sales Grand Prix 50 400 96 9 10 72 Shaun Whitney (R) Drettman Ranch Monte Carlo 49 375 93 10 11 57 Dave Peffers (R) Peffers Racing Monte Carlo 47 350 90 11 12 48 John Musser (R) A&T Towing Monte Carlo 10 325 88 12 7 56 Mike Simon Courtesy Motors Monte Carlo 3 315 86

Note: Top six starting positions determined by a blind draw by the top eight qualifiers; " Points include qualifying, feature and entry points." "Holley Fast Qualifier Award: Carter, 12.712 sec." Top Rookie: Carter "Lap Leaders: Kortz, 1-6; Varney, 7-12; Carter, 13-44; Varney, 45-50" Cautions: Two "Hard Charger Award: Varney and Tomlinson, 2 positions"

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Series Stock car
Drivers John James