Manxanita SCRA Sprint cars 96-02-01

SCRA sprint cars at Manzanita Speedway 2/1 After 2 months off it's great to be back racing again. I headed out to Phoenix Friday morning with the intent of getting there early enough to go watch the Outlaws run Friday night. Just as...

SCRA sprint cars at Manzanita Speedway 2/1

After 2 months off it's great to be back racing again. I headed out to Phoenix Friday morning with the intent of getting there early enough to go watch the Outlaws run Friday night. Just as I was nearing my destination after driving some 360 miles frome L.A. a Bronco in front of me (not OJ) let loose a rock and proceeded to crack the windshield on my dually. I hoped this wasn't an omen as to how the weekend would progress.

We watched a pretty good World of outlaws winged sprint car show Friday night, nobody could touch Sammy Swindell. Keith Kaufman got a ride to the hospital after he backed his car into the turn 3 fence hard and tore the whole rear end out of the car. Joe Gaerte was leading his heat race when he tore the rear end out of his car by clipping the left rear of a car that parked on the front straight. Johnny Herrera went through 4 engines in 2 nights. Jeff Swindell had to come from the back of his heat race to get a transfer to the main after he shredded a tire...... ummmm lesee, what else was going on?

Saturday morning we got up at 7 and proceeded to work on the car in the hotel parking lot. We needed to go buy and mount a couple of rear tires, set the chassis, and fit the new nerf bars. Richard Harvey from Stinger Chassis was bringing us the nerf bars, a torsion arm and a couple of radius rods that we needed. We had to bleed the brakes and perform some minor adjustments on squaring the rear end. After which we fit the new front torsion arm and set the front axle up, set caster, toe out, and lead. The 104" Hoosier tire I got from Arizona Race Mart measure out at 106", which really %#@$%ed up the stagger we wanted to run. I scampered back over to Arizona Race Mart to see if they had any 104" tires that would really roll out to 104"..... they had nothing as all were roughly the same. We had this same problem at the beginning of the season last year, the tires were a bit too large at the beginning of the season and towards the end they were smaller than what was marked. We got the stagger we wanted by buying another larger left rear tire.

With all the setup complete we arrived at the track at about 3:30 and had to wait for a couple of other trucks to clear out of the way so we could unload. There were 40 SCRA sprint cars and about 38 of the 360 sprint cars on hand. Brad Doty was rolling around the pits and stopped by for a little small talk, as well as Kenny Schrader. We rolled out for wheel packing, since the car was a bare chassis a week ago and the motor hadn't been fired in 2 months, I was merely hoping that the motor ran and nothing leaked or dropped off the car. Fortunately we had done our job as the only problems were the idle was too high and the ground had come off of the external mag coil (but was just laying against the block and completing the circuit anyway). With these 2 repairs complete we went out for hot laps. The car handled great, the only hinderance was the right front tire suddenly went flat on the last couple of laps.

We were towards the last to go out and qualify, but we still managed a 20.000 second lap, our best yet and good enough to qualify us 20th out of 40 cars. I don't feel too bad being in the middle as this was by far the fastest group of non-winged sprint cars I've ever seen. There were no rookies at this event. Even Tony Stewart qualified just a few cars ahead of us. I've raced with Tony for several years, he could win in a wheelbarrow. Tony, Rich Vogler, and Page Jones are/were probably the most talented and versatile natural drivers I've ever known (your opinion may differ, but this is MY article).

We were starting on the outside of the 2nd row in the 4th heat race. The prior 3 heat races had gone without a yellow flag and things were going very well. At the drop of the green flag Tom dove between Rodney Argo and Steve Venard and was in the lead and pulling away by turn 2. The car developed too much bite going into the corners and we kept losing ground but were able to make it up on the straights. On lap 4 the yellow flag came out and bunched everybody up again. On the restart Cory Kruseman gained a lot of ground and our car was starting to bite more into the corner. Cory got by and we were running 2nd. On the last lap just entering turn 3 the car really grabbed and this allowed 2 other cars to surround us. Coming off of turn 4 we just couldn't get hooked up again and finished 5th by about 1 foot. If we could have finished 4th we would have had a direct transfer to the main event but it looked like we were going to have to fight our way through the semi-main.

There were a lot of fast cars in the semi, any other time this whole field would be a main event. We were stuck on the inside 5th row. To make up for the bite we were getting I dropped the left side of the car 3/4 turn on the torsion bars and put on the harder compound right rear tire. When the green flag dropped it turned into a real dogfight. We went from 10th up to 7th (the top 6 transfer to the main) by lap 5 when the 51 car hooked the rear bumper and darn near turned the car around (it was just racing...) By the time the dust cleared we had moved back to 13th or 14th position. With only a few laps to go we were only able to get back up to 9th place. It was disappointing not to make it to the main event, but there were a LOT of fast cars that didn't make it either. We did real well, the car performed flawlessly and it all rolled back onto the trailer.

The main event was one of the best races I've seen in a long time. Cory Kruseman had the field covered by about 1/3 of a lap when his right rear tire self destructed with 2 laps to go. This setup a real spectacular finish, JJ Yeley won the show with an incredible passing job. He started the main event in the 16th position and was able to pick his way through the field. This was a major feat as Ron Shuman, Tony Stewart, Richard Griffin, etc. were all vying for the win. Except for Cory, you could have put a blanket over the top 10 cars during the whole race.

I've got a couple of things to do to the car before the next race, but we'll be ready for the season opener at Perris Speedway on Feb 22. Jon Robertson R&R Racing USAC Midget #42 SCRA Sprint Car #16

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Tony Stewart , Sammy Swindell , Cory Kruseman , Richard Griffin , Johnny Herrera , Jeff Swindell