scra: Perris Speedway race report 2001-09-02

Griffin Wins Perris Thriller PERRIS, CA, September 2 -- Sunday night's 50 lap Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main event at the Perris Auto Speedway was simply incredible. Action packed throughout, the final few yards of the...

Griffin Wins Perris Thriller

PERRIS, CA, September 2 -- Sunday night's 50 lap Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main event at the Perris Auto Speedway was simply incredible. Action packed throughout, the final few yards of the race brought the crowd to their feet as the first three cars exited the final turn three abreast for the checkered flag.

Three-time SCRA Champion Richard Griffin only officially led one lap, but it was the lap that paid. Edging Rip Williams and Jarrett Chaney at the finish line, Griffin record eighth SCRA win of the year behind the wheel of the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy and will be credited with ending Cory Kruseman's Perris win streak.

"They're all exciting to win," Griffin said, even though he knew he had just won what was arguably the most exciting race ever run at Perris. "It's nice to win any race, but as much as we struggle here at Perris it's nice to win a 50 lapper. It's just nice for someone other than the 45 car to win."

Rickie Gaunt won his fourth JE Pistons Dash of the season to earn the pole position for the main event. At the drop of the green flag, Williams put the Sharon Jory / Vista Paint No. 3 Gambler into the lead from the outside of the front row and was followed back to the line by Gaunt, Troy Cline, Griffin and Sander Engineering Fast Time Award winner Charles Davis, Jr.

Right from the outset, the race was plagued by red flags. The first of which appeared on lap two for Mike English. Three other cars were also involved, but like all the accidents on this night, there were no injuries. The next red flag appeared on lap ten for Jack DeArmond, Jr. who flipped in turn four after tangling with Jordan Hermansader.

Looking for his seventh consecutive Perris win, Kruseman lined-up for the restart in the fifth position after starting tenth. Williams continued to set the pace once green flag racing resumed. Griffin relieved Gaunt of the runner-up spot on lap 14 after executing a beautiful crossover pass exiting turn two. Running the bottom, Gaunt fought with Griffin for second as a pack of cars continuously exchanged positions directly behind them.

In the blink of an eye, Kruseman opportunistically passed Cline and Gaunt on lap 29 to move into the third spot. One lap later, Chaney put the Martin Chaney / Stinger Chassis No 69 into the fourth position. Tony Jones started 14th and for most of the race was forced pass cars battling side-by-side for position. Finally breaking free, Jones moved into the fifth spot on lap 33.

Williams had enjoyed a comfortable lead for most of the races thanks in part to all of the passing behind him. Things changed with 15 laps remaining once Griffin and Kruseman caught the leader. Chaney and Jones also joined the lead pack to make it a five car fight up front. Just when things started to heat up, Bobby Graham had a right front wheel break free entering turn three. Graham's car subsequently dug into the racing surface and flipped. Like most everyone, Griffin immediately stopped on the front straight to observe the red flag. Strangely, Graham's wheel continued to roll through turn four and down the front straight before finally coming to a stop after striking Griffin's car. Fortunately for the "Gasman", his car sustain no damage.

The restart played out nice for Jones after Griffin and Kruseman nearly tangled entering turn one. Using the cushion, Jones darted around the outside of Kruseman in turn two and carried his momentum into turn three where he passed Griffin with a textbook slide job. Even though it was only his second time driving for Mike Wall, Jones was comfortable enough to pull off another turn three slide job to take the lead from Williams on the 40th lap. Sadly, Jones' night would end five laps later after hitting the turn one wall. After the accident, Jones reported that his car lost power entering the turn which sent him into the fence.

Chaney passed Kruseman on the restart for fourth and then quickly moved ahead the Pace Electronics No. 83 TCR driven by John Scott on lap 46. Later that same lap, Chaney moved ahead of Griffin for second place. Chaney appeared to be in the process of taking the lead on lap 48 when the red light flashed for Kruseman, who flipped exiting turn one after contact with another car. Troy Rutherford also flipped trying to avoid hitting Kruseman..

Looking for his first win of the season, Williams still held the lead once racing resumed as Griffin and Chaney traded second place. Williams accepted the white flag with Griffin pushing on his rear nerf bar. Chaney stayed low hoping to pass both cars, but it was be Griffin that found the drive exiting turn two. Splitting Williams and Chaney down the back straight, Griffin drove low in turn three and slid up to the turn four cushion as the leader. Williams dropped to the middle groove exiting turn four and raced three-wide with Griffin and Chaney for the lead. Finding the best forward bite, Griffin able to nip Williams and Chaney at the finish line.

"It all kind of transpired during the next to last lap. Griffin recalled. "I got a good run on Rip coming off of turn four and Rip was hanging coming off the corners trying to stay up front. Since he was hanging, I knew that I needed to concentrate on staying with him coming off of turn two. The lap before I had it planned out that I'd put a last lap slider on him and see what happens and it worked out just right. We came off (turn) two right with him, got a good run on him, and was able to slide up in front of him. I really didn't think we were going to have a chance to win with three or four laps to go because Chaney was running real good on the bottom and I figured he'd just stay there. I really didn't know how it was going to play out... I guess it was just our night."

Only a couple of feet back from the front trio, Scott finished fourth ahead of the Dwight Cheney / Anne & Billy Wilkerson No. 21J TCR driven by Cline. Danny Sheridan drove from 20th to sixth to win his sixth TW Metals Charger Award of the season.

-SCRA-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Tony Jones , Jack DeArmond , Cory Kruseman , Richard Griffin , Troy Cline , John Scott , Rip Williams , Mike English , Danny Sheridan
Teams Williams