scra: Santa Maria: Race report

SMS victory seemed familiar to Griffin. SANTA MARIA, CA, JUNE 15, 2002 - Sometimes if you go back to what you know, it'll take you back to where you belong. At least, that's what Richard Griffin would tell you following his 30-lap victory ...

SMS victory seemed familiar to Griffin.

SANTA MARIA, CA, JUNE 15, 2002 - Sometimes if you go back to what you know, it'll take you back to where you belong. At least, that's what Richard Griffin would tell you following his 30-lap victory Saturday at Santa Maria Speedway.

For most of the year, the Ron Chaffin owned Arizona Race Mart Team has tried a few different things when setting up their Jon Boy Chassis. Unfortunately, the end result has been a car that hasn't exactly fit Griffin's driving style. Going back to what they know, Crew Chief Bruce Bromme, Jr. gave Griffin a more familiar setup. The decision paid immediate dividends and Griffin left SMS with his first main event win of the season, the Sander Engineering Fast Time Award and the NAPA Auto Parts / Auto Trader Magazines SCRA point lead.

"We went back to the same stuff we were running last year, " Griffin said after collecting his 39th lifetime SCRA win. "We had a good car all night and I felt a ton more comfortable in the car and when you're comfortable you can drive that much harder."

Heading into the weekend, many felt that a visit to Santa Maria Speedway was just what Griffin needed. Having now won four of the last six SMS races, Griffin was able to end a 21 race winless skid that dated back to his last Santa Maria triumph in September.

Griffin started the main event in the second row behind Bobby Graham and Rip Williams. Even though Graham had just driven Carol Crossno / Pace Hallmark No. 38 TCR to his first career JE Pistons Dash win, Williams' experience proved to be too much for him on the start. The end of lap one saw Rickie Gaunt running third ahead of Griffin, Gary W. Howard and the Ferreira Dairy No. 87 Avenger driven by Tony Jones.

Five laps into the race, Griffin slipped by Gaunt in turn two. Remarkably, Williams reached lapped traffic on that same lap. Graham was also working lapped traffic when Griffin passed him on the seventh circuit. Once in second place, "The Gasman" quickly narrowed Williams' lead.

Just past the midway point, Williams and Griffin were faced with a pack of nine slower cars. Thanks to some calculated moves through lapped traffic, Williams had opened up a small advantage over Griffin when the yellow flag waved less than four laps from the finish for a turn four tangle involving Howard and Bobby Cody.

At the time of the yellow flag, Williams was in the process of trying to put Charles Davis, Jr. a lap down. Not reacting to the yellow light as quickly as Davis, Williams clipped Davis' right rear tire and was sent hard into the wall. Even though Williams' car flipped after hitting the wall, he was not hurt.

"Luck in racing is a big deal," Griffin candidly stated. "Last week, we got spun out in the main event and it wasn't anyone's fault, it was just bad luck--I think we got paid back tonight."

Griffin restarted the feature with two lapped cars between himself and second place Jones. To his credit, Jones made a valiant run at Griffin in the final laps, but his Johnny Vermeer / Bubby Jones owned machine would simply run out of time. Mike Kirby won the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award after driving the Brad & Nancy Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5 Stinger from tenth to finish third. Fourth place Graham added to his memorable night by posting his best SCRA finish. Gaunt kept the Alexander Trucking No. 4 Stinger/Okie near the front and was reward with a fifth place finish.

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Series Sprint
Drivers Tony Jones
Teams Williams