Jones / Coons Slide Their Way To Prelim Wins PERRIS, CA, November 2 - Tony Jones served notice that he is ready to defend his Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply / Budweiser Oval Nationals title. With six laps to go, Jones passed newly crowned...
Jones / Coons Slide Their Way To Prelim Wins
PERRIS, CA, November 2 - Tony Jones served notice that he is ready to defend his Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply / Budweiser Oval Nationals title. With six laps to go, Jones passed newly crowned Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) Champion Cory Kruseman and went on to win Friday's first 20 lap main event at the Perris Auto Speedway. While Jones raced from the 20th starting spot to a third place finish in the completely inverted 20 lap race that followed, Jerry Coons, Jr. drove his dad's Napa Auto Parts No. 12A Stealth to his second career Non-Winged World Championship (NWWC) victory after starting 14th.
In contrast to Thursday's racing, track conditions we much slicker on Friday which played right into the hands of Jones and the Mike Wall owned / Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply No. 37 Avenger. Revered by many as the best at executing the Perris slide job, Jones hopes that track conditions are similar for Saturday's $25,000 to win finale.
"It was a good race track tonight, hopefully it'll be the same type of track tomorrow tonight. If it is we'll have a lot of fun," Jones said in victory lane. "We're out here to take the money, but there's a lot of tough guys out here and we'll see what happens tomorrow night. Hopefully, we'll have some luck."
Jones started sixth in the first main event, but ran fourth at the end of the opening lap behind pole sitter Cory Kruseman, Charles Davis, Jr., and Troy Rutherford. Charlie Ekiss touched Brent Kaeding entering turn three on lap two and spun to a stop. Looking for a way to miss Ekiss, Jon Stanbrough touched wheels with Jeff Schildmeyer and flipped hard into the fence. Stanbrough was not hurt during the flip. Kaeding never stopped in the incident and eventually finished eighth.
Jones passed the Gardner Motorsports / Sander Engineering No. 4 Sled driven by Rutherford for third on the restart. Rutherford passed Jones back, only have Jones attempt a daring slide job where he split, and passed, Rutherford and Davis entering turn three on lap five. Jones nearly spun in front of Davis as he pulled off this pass, but Davis did a nice job to avoid Jones even though in cost him the third position to Rutherford.
By the eleventh circuit, Jones was glued to the tail tank of the Harlan Willis / WorldGate Networks No. 45 TCR. Kruseman effectively worked lapped traffic, but Jones was equally as good. Jones waited for a couple of laps and then took the lead on lap 15 after giving Kruseman one of his turn one sliders. Jones nearly spun for a second time in turn three one lap later, but was able to quickly get back up to speed and went on the win the race. Kruseman finished second ahead of Rutherford, Davis and John Scott.
Ekiss started on the pole for the second race and led the opening lap. As always with the bulk of the faster cars starting near the rear, the second 20 lap main was all about passing. Rookie Ronnie Clark took the lead on the second lap, as Jones and Kruseman sliced and diced their way forward. Kruseman tangled with Eric Rossi on lap four spinning the winged specialist to a stop in turn two. Scott also spun after contact with Rossi. Both cars were able to restart.
Still in the hunt for his second NWWC Championship, Kruseman had another close call in turn three after he and Danny Sheridan came together after the restart. Kruseman lost a couple of positions as a result of the incident, but managed to keep from spinning.
The caution flag was out with 12 laps to go and Jason Statler now in the lead. Jones ran eighth and Kruseman tenth at this point of the race. While most spectators were thinking that the restart would give Jones and Kruseman a chance to win, Coons had other ideas. Passing two cars on the restart, Coons moved into the third spot.
Two laps later, Coons passed the Carol Crossno / Pace Hallmark No. 37 TCR driven by Levi Jones. Coons moved into the lead coming down to complete the tenth lap as Jones simultaneously moved into fifth. Once out front, Coons was never challenged and went on to earn his first SCRA win at Perris.
"It's been about three years since I've been to this track and I absolutely love coming here. Racing back east, I don't get to come back here as often as I'd like. I've been hitting Bubby Jones up tonight asking him some questions. Tony doesn't know that," Coons laughed. "But, I want to thank him for some pointers."
Kaeding moved into the runner-up spot on lap eleven on was able to stay ahead of Tony Jones, Levi Jones and Kruseman. After the race, Kaeding was pleased to learn that he will be joining his son, Bud, on the front row for tomorrow's 50 lap championship race.
"These guys down here without the wing are really tough. This is something we get to come down and do once a year, and I'll tell you what, I've had more fun tonight than I've had all year racing with them wings on," said Kaeding, prior to being asked about his chances against his son. "He's been on a roll lately and has been really tough everywhere. We've got our work cut out for us, but we're just here to have a good time."
Tony Jones, Kruseman, Coons and Rutherford also earned direct transfers to tomorrow's A-Main. Rickie Gaunt finished sixth in both races, but fell one point shy of earning a direct transfer to Saturday's 50 lap ($25,000 to win) finale.