scra: Manzanita: Race report

Sherman extends Manzy luck. PHOENIX, AZ, MARCH 15, 2002 - Since he began driving for Mark Priestley last fall, Jeremy Sherman is undefeated at Manzanita Speedway in NAPA Auto Parts / Auto Trader Magazines Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) ...

Sherman extends Manzy luck.

PHOENIX, AZ, MARCH 15, 2002 - Since he began driving for Mark Priestley last fall, Jeremy Sherman is undefeated at Manzanita Speedway in NAPA Auto Parts / Auto Trader Magazines Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) competition. That streak was extended Friday after a hard fought preliminary win during the first night of the Gary Sokola Classic.

Sherman's success in his last three Manzy starts has not been without an element of luck. His victory in the Western World Championships in November came at the expense of Bud Kaeding, who led from the start of that race until he hit the wall on the final lap. Friday's race was much different in that Sherman contended for the win from the beginning of the 20-lap race. Mike Kirby, not Kaeding, provided the drama on this night. After swapping the lead with Sherman several times, Kirby took control of the race and was less than two miles from victory when his night ended in a puff of smoke.

"Kirby was the fastest car and he was going to win the race. He just ran into some bad luck. There's been plenty of times that we've run into some bad luck like that," Sherman said. "His motor giving out gave us the race because Kirby had it won and we were just the guy running second that was there to get the win."

Sherman started on the outside of the front row next to defending SCRA Champion Cory Kruseman, who won the JE Pistons Dash. The initial start was less than ideal for Sherman after he skated wide exiting the fourth corner and dropped to fifth coming down to accept the green flag. Luck seemed to be on Sherman's side right from the start, because he was instantly bailed out by a red flag after the cars driven by John Scott, Charles Davis, Jr., and Michael Hinrichsen all flipped entering turn two. Strangely, Jerry Coons, Jr., who didn't tip over, was also involved and was the only one of the four drivers not to be able to make the restart.

"We slipped out there (on the start) and I thought oh boy its going to be a long 20 laps," Sherman confessed. "Once we got into rhythm we were pretty good. We were a little loose coming off (the turns), but we made do until we were able to make some adjustments during the red flags."

The Harlan Willis WorldGate Networks No. 1 TCR driven by Kruseman held the lead when Sherman's crew had another opportunity on lap four to make some adjustments to the Roy Miller Freightliners No. 7 Stealth. Damion Gardner was the cause for the pause after he hit the turn four wall and flipped. Gardner was not hurt. A scary situation was safely resolved on the restart after Sherman clipped Kruseman's left front tire just before receiving the green flag. With a pack of cars breathing down his neck, Kruseman did a marvelous job of maintaining control of his car, but would fall to fourth behind Sherman, Kirby and Jones.

After the race, a remorseful Sherman spoke of the incident. "If I had a mirror and I could have seen him, I would have lifted for him. He went to the middle on the restart and I went to the bottom, and I thought I got a lot better drive off the bottom than he did. About the time I moved up to the top groove I felt a little nudge there and that's not the way I like to race. It upsets me a little bit because I like to race clean. I told him that I was sorry and that hopefully we can do it cleaner next time."

Had Sherman had a mirror for the restart it would have been filled with Kirby. Coming down to complete the sixth lap, Kirby stayed low and edged Sherman for the lead at the flagstand. Sherman forced Kirby to stay low entering turn one and was able to lean on the cushion hard enough to take back the lead. Kirby continued to badger Sherman using the bottom groove in turns three and four. It eventually paid off on lap eleven when he took the lead on the front straight.

Sherman switched to the bottom on lap 13 and momentarily held the lead. Kirby immediately responded by powering his way back into the lead with the aid of the turn three cushion. Sherman gave Kirby a bump on the rear nerf bar on lap 15 just before pulling ahead of him in turn two. Kirby again had an answer for Sherman's challenges and regained the lead in turn four.

Just when Kirby was beginning to extend his lead, his motor suddenly developed a problem three laps from the finish. Sadly, it was not only the end of the race for Kirby, but the end of his weekend since he was running a borrowed engine from Mark Alexander.

From there, Sherman went on to pull away from Jones, Kruseman and Griffin to earn a comfortable victory. After his regular ride had motor trouble in hot laps, J.J. Yeley jumped into Tony Smiley's car and drove to a fifth place finish after starting 15th. As good as Yeley's performance was, Rip Williams' 17th to sixth place drive edged him for the KSE Products Hard Charger Award. In B-Main action, Rick Ziehl rode out a nasty looking flip in turn three. He was not hurt.

-scra-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers J.J. Yeley , Bud Kaeding , Cory Kruseman , Rick Ziehl , John Scott
Teams Williams