Rosamond, CA. The sight and sound of over 20 ASC cars and Protrucks (PT) screaming down the front straightaway was enough to stop all pitside activity throughout Willow Springs Raceway on the weekend of February 8th and 9th. For weeks leading up...
Rosamond, CA. The sight and sound of over 20 ASC cars and Protrucks (PT) screaming down the front straightaway was enough to stop all pitside activity throughout Willow Springs Raceway on the weekend of February 8th and 9th. For weeks leading up to this first round of the 2003 ASC/PT Race Schedule, competitors and spectators alike had been anxiously waiting for the close ontrack battles that has become a trademark of this series. And judging by the reactions of those in the grandstands, they weren't disappointed.
American Stockcar Challenge Round 1
Saturday February 8th: Testing on Friday paid off for Arizona's Sundance Racing as two of their cars took the top podium spots in ASC. Ken Stinnett (Tucson, AZ- #43 ASC Sundance Racing Chevy Monte Carlo) easily had the ASC field covered and started on the pole with a qualifying time of 1:25:330. But early in the race, Donn Cross (#41 PT) who started on the outside front row, jumped into the lead and ran away from the pack. Cross appeared to have the race in the bag until a mid race spin enabled the hard charging Stinnett to retake the lead. Finishing second overall was Mike Kasser (#4 ASC-X Chevy Monte Carlo), followed by Jim Swartzbaugh (#57 PT) who won Protruck.
Elsewhere in the field, Bill Blauvelt (New Jersey- #44 RealRide.com Racing Chevy Monte Carlo) driving his first ASC race climbed from 16th to 11th until a steering component failure causing him to exit Turn One at nearly 100mph. While re-entering the track, the car suffered additional damage causing it to retire for the weekend, but not without first showing it's potential in only it's second ASC race.
Sunday February 9th: The great "Truck Massacre" took place as ProTrucks stomped on the ASC cars. Despite starting from the pole, Stinnett's tires corded early and by lap five, had fallen victim to Ed Fernandez (#00 PT). The ASC spec Goodyear tires seemed to be a problem as the cars slowly fell victim to the trucks which run on Hoosiers. The pack soon split into two seperate groups with the trucks in the first led by Fernandez, Mark Cross (#33 PT), Jim Swartzbaugh (#57 PT) and Don Cross (#41). The only car to break into this Protruck stranglehold was Al Balding Jr (#15X) in his ASC-X Ford Mustang.
Spectators were treated to an exciting show as the cars and trucks battled each other through every corner of the 2.5 mile road course. At mid-race, a very high speed incident at Turn Nine involving Nathan Swartzbaugh (#54 PT) had everybody holding their breath until the dust settled and he emerged unhurt, once again a testament to the safety of these tube-frame racers.
Leading in the ASC battle was Scott Rueschenberg (Mesa, AZ- #15 ASC Chevy Monte Carlo) followed by Steve Carvajal (Anthony, NM- #99 ASC Sundance Racing Chevy Monte Carlo), Nelson Garrison (AZ- #57 ASC-X Chevy Monte Carlo) and Manuel Gil Del Real (AZ- #27 ASC Ford Taurus) who were all busy in a pack battling tooth and nail throughout the entire race. A second behind, the Arnheiter brothers demonstrated sibling rivalry at it's best on the race track. Mike Arnheiter (Los Alamitos, CA- #03 ASC Buick Regal) spent most of the race hounding younger brother Dave (Los Alamitos, CA- #33 ASC Ford Thunderbird) until the second last lap when they came upon Stinnett's struggling car. Coming out of Turn Nine, the ASC cars drag raced three abreast into Turn One where the older Arnheiter was able to use momentum and traffic to emerge in front. As a final payback, younger brother Dave was reinstated in third as Mike was disqualified at the post-race impound scales. But perhaps the most telling sign of how close the racing was came at the checquered flag when almost all the cars finished on the same lap, still tightly bunched. In the end, it was Scott Rueschenberg (Mesa, AZ- #15 ASC Chevy Monte Carlo) who crossed the finish line first in ASC, with Steve Carvajal a close second. However, in post race impound, Rueschenberg was disqualified for running on unmarked tires, giving Carvajal his first ASC win.