scra: Santa Maria race report 2001-07-07

More Good Times For Griffin At Santa Maria SANTA MARIA, CA, July 7 -- Three-time defending Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) driving champion Richard Griffin won Saturday's 30 lap main event at the Santa Maria Speedway. In three SMS races ...

More Good Times For Griffin At Santa Maria

SANTA MARIA, CA, July 7 -- Three-time defending Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) driving champion Richard Griffin won Saturday's 30 lap main event at the Santa Maria Speedway. In three SMS races last season, Griffin never finished off the podium. Picking-up where he left off, "The Gasman" convincingly drove the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy to his third career SCRA win at Santa Maria.

"We've had some pretty good runs here," Griffin said of the facility where he notched his first SCRA win in 1996. "We won one here last year and ran well every time we came here. Tonight, we had a great race car right from the start and really didn't have to make a lot of changes."

Hometown favorite Danny Sheridan piloted the Tom & Lauri Sertich / Jan's Health Bar No. 92 Buckley to his first career JE Pistons Dash win, and much to the delight of the partisan crowd, shared the front row with Rodney Argo. Sheridan beat Argo off the fourth corner to accept the green flag and went on to lead Argo, Mike Kirby, Griffin and John Scott.

Argo pulled-off a beautiful crossover move on lap two to take the lead exiting the second turn. Sheridan kept pace with Argo until the first yellow flag of the race flew on lap four for Alex Grigoreas who came to a stop with front end damage in turn four. The yellow flag waved again one lap following the restart after contact between George Gervais and Larry Brown triggered a pileup that also consumed Marc Hart, Mark Nation, Troy Rutherford, Tom Stansberry. Rutherford, who started 20th, rejoined the fight and would later earn the TW Metals Hard Charger Award as a result of his eight place finish.

Argo's car appeared to develop handling problems after the restart which allowed Sheridan and Griffin to stay within striking distance. Griffin slipped by Sheridan on the seventh lap only to have a tangle between Jarrett Chaney, Mike English and Greg Porte negate his pass for second.

Agro skated wide exiting turn four on the ensuing restart giving Sheridan all the assistance he needed to take the lead. Argo battled hard to keep Griffin from overtaking him in turn four, but wound-up pushing so wide that he fell to sixth place before he could get back up to full speed. Argo's problems worsened on lap 12 after he came to a stop on the racing surface in turn two.

Sheridan elected to drop down to the bottom for the restart. Anticipating Sheridan's strategy, Griffin powered his way along the cushion and had the lead by the time he exited turn four.

"I was pretty confident that he was going to go down to the bottom on the restart," Griffin said. "Leading here, it's pretty hard to make yourself go to the top and leave the bottom open. I tested the turn one cushion during the yellow and knew that it was going to be good and that I'd be able to sail around him on the top."

Griffin reached lapped traffic at the midway point of the race. The red flag flew on lap 20 for fourth place Scott who hit the turn three wall and flipped. Scott, who won the last SCRA race at SMS, was struck by Porte as he flipped. After the accident Scott complained of some discomfort and was transported to a local hospital for further examination.

Griffin pulled away from Sheridan once racing resumed and reached lapped traffic again on lap 27. Just when it looked like Sheridan might be able to make up some ground on Griffin, the yellow flag flew once more for Stansberry who's hobbled car stopped on the front straight after contact with seventh place Cory Kruseman.

Kruseman's car also sustained damage from the contact. Although he tried to finish, Kruseman dropped out on the final lap of the race as Griffin was in the process of registering his seventh win of the season. Officially scored in 13th, Kruseman would lose 48 championship points to Griffin on this night. Still, Kruseman enjoys a 129 point lead over Griffin in his quest to become the first California driver to wear the SCRA crown.

"We look at points every week too," admitted Griffin. "We don't necessarily count everyone's points, but we damn sure know how many we earned and how many (Kruseman) has earned. We've still got a long way to go and we'll just keep plugging away at it."

Sheridan's runner-up finished equaled his best SCRA effort, which not surprisingly, also came at Santa Maria. Kirby drove the Mark Alexander-Brad Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5 Stinger to a third place finish ahead of the Sharon Jory / Vista Paint No. 3 Gambler driven by Rip Williams. Kirby's teammate Rickie Gaunt finished fifth. Seventh place Charles Davis, Jr. won the Sander Engineering Fast Time Award with his 13.605 second run in time trials.

-SCRA-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Cory Kruseman , Richard Griffin , John Scott , Rip Williams , Mike English , Troy Rutherford , Danny Sheridan
Teams Williams