Bud Kaeding Wins $25K Oval Nationals Griffin Earns 2nd NWWC Title PERRIS, CA, November 3 - Twenty-one year-old Bud Kaeding became the sixth different driver in as many years to win the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply / Budweiser Oval Nationals.
Bud Kaeding Wins $25K Oval Nationals
Griffin Earns 2nd NWWC Title
PERRIS, CA, November 3 - Twenty-one year-old Bud Kaeding became the sixth different driver in as many years to win the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply / Budweiser Oval Nationals. The victory was worth $25,000 to Kaeding. Richard Griffin finished eighth in the race, which was good enough for him to win his second straight Non-Winged World Championship (NWWC) title.
One week ago, Kaeding led all but the final lap of the Western World Championships at Manzanita Speedway. His heartbreaking defeat came as a result of a front end failure that sent him hard into the turn one wall. Although Kaeding was extremely pleased with Saturday's 50 lap victory at the Perris Auto Speedway, he remained disappointed with last week's outcome.
"I wouldn't say this makes up for it, but it does kind help heal it," Kaeding said. "We won $25,000 tonight and we could have won $12,500 last week, but that's just the way it goes. We'll go back home now, do our homework, and try to start next year like we've end this one."
Driving the BK Racing / Kohler Faucets No. 29K Maxim, Kaeding started on the pole with his father, Brent Kaeding, to his outside. Dad showed his son that he still had a few lesson to learn and easily won the drag race to the green flag.
Danny Sheridan halted the race on lap eight after he flipped high in the air through the first turn. Sheridan was not hurt during an incident that also collected Tony Elliott and Gary Howard. Jerry Coons, Jr. and Rodney Argo bumped tires along the backstraight after the restart leaving Coons stopped on the track with a flat left rear tire. Brent held the lead for the restart, only to watch Bud drop his M&M Racing / Al's Roofing Supply No. 2M Maxim back to the second spot in turn two.
One lap later, Tracy Hines bicycled Andy Morales' "Tamale Wagon" in turn three. Hines rode up the wall, flipped and was hit by 1999 Oval Nationals Champion, Rickie Gaunt. A small fire broke out after the flip resulting in some anxious moments when Hines crawled from the car with one of his legs on fire. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished and it was reported that Hines did not suffer any serious burns. It was later feared, however, that Hines may have sustained a broken ankle in the accident.
With Bud now into lapped traffic, Tony Jones used one of his trademark PAS slide jobs to put the Mike Wall / Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply No. 37 Avenger ahead of Brent on lap 22. A pair of past Oval Nationals winners ran into problems two laps later. Much like Hines' accident, Argo biked and flipped in turn three leaving Rip Williams nowhere to go except into Argo. Williams returned for the restarted, but might have wished he hadn't after he flipped entering three on lap 29. Neither driver was hurt.
With no lapped cars between first and second place, Jones knew that the restart might present an opportunity for him to try another one of his slide jobs. Bud was more than aware of this since his crew chief is Jones' brother (Davey). Nevertheless, Jones was able to grab the lead on the restart with a big slider in turn one. Bud battled back and regained the lead in turn three.
"I'm just glad I survived a Tony Jones slide job," Kaeding laughed. "I spent all week listening to everything thing he was going to do and everything to watch out for. At the same time, it worked out in our favor because not everyone can warn you about it. Tony got by me and I saw that he had blistered his tires real early in the race. We put a harder tire on and were able to beat him down the straightaway."
Reminiscent of his Oval Nationals victory over Mike Kirby last year, Jones seemed content to wait for Bud to reach lapped traffic. Bud eventually reached the last running car ten laps from the finish. As it tuned out, lapped traffic benefited the leader more than it did Jones. Jones did, however, make up the ground that he had lost and was within striking distance when passed beneath the white flag. Bud was slowed for a split second by a slower car through turn two and it looked like Jones might have a shot at victory. That is, until the yellow flag waved for Gaunt, who stopped on the racing surface.
Reverting back to lap 48 on the restart, Bud powered away from Jones as the green flag flew. Jones was once again within striking distance as the white cloth appeared and tried one final turn one slide job for the win. Refusing to have victory snatched from his hands for the second week in a row, Bud looked like a seasoned veteran when he beat Jones to the cushion and drove on to reach starter Lee Jaskowiak's checkered flag first.
On the cool down lap, Bud was greeted with a loving wheel rub from his dad, who finished third. Once out the their respective mounts, father and son hugged on the front straight before joining Jones on the victory podium. Prior to the last restart, Cory Kruseman was in a position to win his second NWWC title. Griffin struggled for most of the race and was running tenth at the time. Unbelievably, the combination of Yeley passing Kruseman for fourth and Griffin moving up to an eighth place finish gave Griffin the title by just three points.
"Right from the start we didn't have a very good race car," Griffin said after winning the $10,000 bonus that goes with the NWWC Championship. "I'm a little bit disappointed because we had a good car on Thursday and was looking forward to tonight, but it just wasn't hooked up. We had a lot of chances under those reds to make it better and we never really helped it a whole lot. That last yellow came out and I knew what I had to do if I wanted to win it and I focused on that. Luckily, J.J. was able to get by Cory and we were able to pass two cars on the last two laps and pull off the Non-Winged World Championship again."
Second generation driver Mike Spencer, who's father won shared CRA Rookie of the Year honors with Buster Venard in 1976, won the Speedway Motors, Inc. / NWWC Rookie of the Year Award.