Williams Goes For ...
Williams Goes For #100 Saturday at Manzanita
Defending Valvoline USAC/CRA Sprint Car Champion Rip Williams of Yorba Linda, Calif. aims for his 100th career Sprint car feature victory this Saturday night as the 2005 series debuts at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz.
Williams, who earned his initial driving title last year, scored three wins at Perris, Calif. and two at Ventura, Calif. on his way to the championship. His best finish in five starts at the 1/2-mile dirt Phoenix oval was seventh as the "K-Boys" accounted for four of the five feature victories.
Bud Kaeding, Cory Kruseman and Mike Kirby all scored 2004 Manzanita CRA wins, as well as Dave Darland, who won last year's USAC/CRA debut there. Kruseman won twice, including the "Sokola Classic," while Kaeding grabbed the "Western World Open" main event last November. Kirby won last year's "Hall of Fame Vintage Classic" at Manzy.
Kruseman is expected to be among top threats, concentrating on the USAC/CRA championship this season after finishing third behind Jay Drake and Kaeding in the 2004 Valvoline USAC National Sprint Car standings.
Several of USAC's National drivers are slated to be on hand for the Manzanita CRA opener, which coincides with the Jan. 29-30 "Copper World Classic" at Phoenix International Raceway, showcasing USAC's Weld Racing Silver Crown and National/Western Midget Car Series.
Williams might find his toughest challenges in the form of Phoenix drivers like Jeremy Sherman, Charles Davis, Jr., Casey Shuman, R.J. Johnson and Bob Ream, or Arizona drivers Eric Wilkins of El Mirage and Jerry Coons, Jr. of Tucson. Mike Leslie of Peoria, Alex Pruett of Carefree and Brandon Lane of Mesa are also entered.
In terms of CRA regulars, Williams has no farther to look for challenges than Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif., runner-up for the 2004 CRA title. Gardner won eight times last year, more than any other CRA driver, but his five Manzanita starts in 2004 produced only one podium finish, a third.
Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind., winner of the recent "Chili Bowl" Midget spectacular in Tulsa, Okla., is also expected to compete.
Qualifying is scheduled for 6 pm and racing will begin at 7. A 30-lap feature caps the action and tickets can be secured by calling (602) 276-7575.