scra: Perris Auto Speedway race report 2001-08-11

Kruseman Wins Record 5th In A Row At Perris PERRIS, CA, August 11 -- Cory Kruseman became the first driver to win five consecutive Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main events at the Perris Auto Speedway. As Kruseman continues to lay claim...

Kruseman Wins Record 5th In A Row At Perris

PERRIS, CA, August 11 -- Cory Kruseman became the first driver to win five consecutive Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main events at the Perris Auto Speedway. As Kruseman continues to lay claim to being the new king of the PAS, Rip Williams, who has been revered as the man to beat at Perris since the track opened in 1996, wasn't about to let one of his records be broken without a fight.

It was four years ago (nearly to the day), that Kruseman out-dueled Williams who was vying for his fifth straight win. Williams did proceed to win the next three Perris events, which at the time served as some consolation. Saturday night, Williams now found himself playing the role of spoiler. Williams played his role well. In fact, he led Krusrman for the first 17 laps of the feature race until he tangled with a lapped car and spun.

"Luck play a large part in tonight's outcome because Rip was a bullet and I think he knew he could have won this race. Lapped traffic just went my way and not his," Kruseman said. "My guys did a fantastic job again tonight. The track was a lot different and we really weren't that comfortable all night, so we just hopped around trying to find a spot."

It was obvious that the pole would be the place to be for the start of the 30 lap main event since track conditions were drier than normal. Naturally, much emphases was placed on the JE Pistons Dash since the winner of that event earns the pole for the finale. Kruseman started on the pole for the six lap dash only to have Williams steal the win and the pole.

Kruseman started on the outside of Williams for the main event, but couldn't find enough traction exiting turn four to challenge for the lead heading into turn one. As it turned out, the initial start aborted after Tom Downing spun in turn two forcing a complete restart. Kruseman devised a strategy for the second restart. Unfortunately, Kruseman's plan through turn one caused him to push up the race track and drop to fourth place. Luckily for Kruseman, Marc Hart and Jordan Hermansader tangled before the end of the lap setting up another two abreast restart.

"It was tough out there coming off of (turn) four. Rip knew that, and wasn't going to give me any kind of an advantage. Luckily, we had three starts because I screwed the second one up. On the third one, I figured I was better off following him and running in second than screwing up again and going to fourth of fifth," Kruseman explained.

The third restart resulted in the first completed lap of the race as Williams drove across the line in first ahead of Kruseman. After being sidelined for two races due to a work related arm injury, Richard Griffin returned to action and ran third at the end of the first lap ahead of Rickie Gaunt, Steve Ostling and the Pace Electronic No. 83 TCR driven by John Scott .

With the first six cars all running the cushion, Williams reached lapped traffic for the first time in just nine laps. One lap later, Troy Rutherford, who started eleventh, pushed the Gardner Motorsports / Sander Engineering No. 4 Sled into the top-five. Back up front, Williams was faced with a heavy pack of lapped cars which allowed Kruseman and Griffin to close in by the 13th lap.

Williams made some nice moves in lapped traffic and increased his lead just before the midway point of the race after Kruseman nearly spun the Harlan Willis / WorldGate Networks No. 45 TCR in turn two. Kruseman quickly regrouped and had the Mike Nigh prepared machine in a position to pressure Williams for the lead in just two circuits.

Heading down the backstraight on lap 18, Williams dove down to the bottom of turn three trying to put rookie driver Ronnie Clark a lap down. Much to the surprise of Williams, Clark suddenly went low as well resulting in contact that sent both men sliding up the race track. Richard Griffin, Hart, Hermansader and Brain Venard were all left with nowhere to go and were also collected. Also involved was fourth place Gaunt, who, in "rim rider" fashion, drove the Alexander-Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5x Stinger to the Sander Engineering Fast Time Award in time trials. There were no injuries, but only Williams and Gaunt were able to return to action.

"Something I always try to remember when I'm in lapped cars is to look at the scoreboard," Kruseman said after the race. "It was only about lap 13 when Rip pulled away from me a bit, but I knew the second guy usually has a better opportunity to get through them guys. It's the last ten laps when you really have to push and that's what we did."

Even though lapped traffic was no longer a factor, Kruseman still pushed himself in the final ten laps and had built nearly a half a lap lead when he accepted the checkered flag for the eleventh time this season. Rutherford finished second ahead of Scott and Mike Kirby and won the TW Metals Hard Charger Award. Rodney Argo drove the Ford powered Don Argo / Decore Plating No. 19 Jon Boy to a fifth place finish. Despite the earlier mishap, Williams finished sixth.

Prior to the race, $7,860 was collected in the grandstands and the pit area for George Gervais who was critically injured on July 28th at Perris. Gervais remains unconscious in a Riverside hospital.

-PAS-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Cory Kruseman , Richard Griffin , Ronnie Clark , John Scott , Rip Williams , Troy Rutherford
Teams Williams