KRUSEMAN CONTROL AT PERRIS By Robert Mayson PERRIS, CA, July 14 -- Cory Kruseman passed Richard Griffin on the next to last lap to win Saturday night's 30 lap Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main event at the Perris Auto Speedway. The...
KRUSEMAN CONTROL AT PERRIS
By Robert Mayson
PERRIS, CA, July 14 -- Cory Kruseman passed Richard Griffin on the next to last lap to win Saturday night's 30 lap Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main event at the Perris Auto Speedway.
The word dominating is an understatement when it comes to describing Kruseman's PAS performances this season. Having now tasted victory seven times this year at Perris, Kruseman's latest win marked the 25th time in his SCRA career that he has driven into Perris' victory lane. On the brink of rewriting the SCRA record books, Kruseman now sits only six victories behind the "PAS Master" Rip Williams who has won a record 31 times at Perris.
Doing all the things that a driver needs to do to win a championship, Kruseman rebounded from his worst outing of the season one week ago to win the Sander Engineering Fast Time Award and his heat race before registering one of his most exciting wins of the year. In "dream season" fashion, Kruseman enjoyed a perfect 80 point night and extended his point lead over Griffin to 144 (1591 to 1447) with 20 races remaining on the SCRA schedule.
Tony Jones made his debut in the Lloyd Racing No. 34 Ellis and won his first JE Pistons Dash of the year to secure the pole for the main event. Jones seemed to have trouble coming off the fourth turn to accept the green flag and could only watch as Griffin and Kruseman beat him into turn one. The Moose Racing / Jan's Health Bar No. 92 Buckley driven by Danny Sheridan nipped Jones at the end of the lap for third as Williams ran in the fifth position.
Welcoming his new sponsor, Kruseman moved the Harlan Willis / WorldGate Networks No. 45 TCR ahead of Griffin on the second lap of the race. Looking strong, as well, Williams passed Jones for fourth on the same circuit. Showing no ill-effects of the compressed vertebrae that he sustained last week at Santa Maria Speedway, John Scott moved into fifth place on the third lap.
Williams searched hard for a way around Sheridan, who was driving different lines hoping to find one that would prevent Kruseman and Griffin from pulling away. Williams eventually put the Sharon Jory / Vista Paint No. 3 Gambler ahead of Sheridan on the seventh lap, but was now faced with the unenviable task of catching the two highest ranked SCRA drivers.
Nine laps into the race, Kruseman suddenly began running lower and, as it turned out, slower. Griffin quickly took advantage of the situation and moved the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy back into the lead one lap later. After the race, Kruseman couldn't explain what happened during this sequence, only that he just felt a "little uncomfortable" for a couple of laps.
"The race track was awesome all night long," Kruseman said. "There were such big holes getting into the turns that it kind of slowed the lap times down. It made everyone hunt for some race track and it wasn't just a momentum deal out there."
Shortly after being passed, Kruseman regained what little momentum there was to gather and was able to kept pace with Griffin as they reached slower traffic on lap 14. A couple of laps later, Williams and Sheridan closed in and had made it a four-way battle for the lead. Hank Winter abruptly slowed directly in front of Griffin on lap 19 and nearly caused the cars behind him to tangle. Everyone managed to avoid an incident, but Winter was unable to safely make his way off the racing surface, forcing officials to throw the only caution flag of the race.
Kruseman had a slight miscue on the restart, allowing the "Gasman" to open up a bigger lead than he enjoyed prior to the yellow flag. Williams pressured Kruseman for the next couple of laps only to have Sheridan sneak by him on lap 21.
With five laps to go and Kruseman was once again in a position to challenge him, Griffin started hugging the bottom of the track as if he was challenging Kruseman to pass him on the outside. Kruseman stuck a wheel under Griffin in turn one on lap 28, but the three-time SCRA champ was able to hold him back.
Griffin approached lapped traffic one lap later. With a slower car immediately in front of him, Griffin entered turn three and left the smallest of openings on the bottom. With the white flag nearly in sight, Kruseman seized what might have been his only chance to win the race and muscled his way under Griffin for the lead in turn four.
"Richard doesn't run the bottom that much, so it was kind of different seeing him there," Kruseman said after taking home his ninth SCRA win of the year. "Richard was definitely faster than us and I think the lapped cars kind of hurt him. When you're running second they can help you. When you're leading it's kind of a hindrance because the lapped cars move out of the way for the second place guy, which really helped me a bunch."
Williams passed Sheridan for third just before Kruseman made his race winning pass. Jones fought back from a slow start and finished fifth. Steve Ostling had problems in time trials and had to work his way from the C-Main just to get into a heat race. Starting 22nd, Ostling finished tenth to win the TW Metals Hard Charger Award