scra: Santa Maria Speedway race report 2001-08-18

SANTA MARIA, CA, August 18 -- John Scott made a triumphant return to the Santa Maria Speedway, winning his second Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main event of the season. When the SCRA last visited SMS, Scott was just ten laps from the ...

SANTA MARIA, CA, August 18 -- John Scott made a triumphant return to the Santa Maria Speedway, winning his second Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) main event of the season.

When the SCRA last visited SMS, Scott was just ten laps from the finish and running in the fourth position, when his car hit the wall and flipped. During the flip, Scott's car was struck by another car causing it to land flat on the belly-pan. Saturday's victory celebration was a welcomed contrast to the site of Scott being removed from his car on a backboard just 41 days ago.

"It feels real good to pull off a win after what happen here last time," Scott said, even though he was quick to downplay the severity of his injuries. "I messed my back up a little and had to go to the hospital. I fractured a couple vertebrae and was kind of bruised up, but it wasn't too bad."

Building a case for this year's iron-man award, Scott never missed a race while recuperating from his injuries and showed no signs of being intimated by the track that hurt him despite the lightening fast track conditions. Reminiscent of his other SMS win last October, Scott won the JE Pistons Dash and then proceeded to lead all 30 laps of the main event.

"We were fortunate to have great starting spots both times we won here and the track worked to our benefit tonight because it was so heavy. I think this is the only place we run where the track is faster on the last lap of the main event than it is when we qualify. It's insane out there," Scott laughed. "I mean, it's like being on a Tilt O' Whirl at the carnival. It's just brutal. The last three laps I had no room to breath because the car was never neutral and the centrifugal force was there all the time. I don't know what we were turning, but it was fast...really fast."

Since track conditions were so fast, Scott knew that it was imperative that he get his Pace Electronic No. 83 TCR out front at the drop of the green flag. SCRA's hottest driver, Cory Kruseman, knew this as well and was a bit premature on the initial start when he put the Harlan Willis / WorldGate Networks No. 45 TCR into the lead from the outside of the front row. Starter Lee Jaskowiak promptly disallowed the start giving Scott his rightful opportunity to pace the field.

Scott made the most of his second chance and beat Kruseman to the turn one cushion on the second start. Troy Rutherford ran third in the Gardner Motorsports / Sander Engineering No. 4 Sled at the end of the opening lap and was followed by Richard Griffin, Charles Davis, Jr. and Rickie Gaunt.

Scott had a half a straightaway lead when Rutherford muscled his way passed Kruseman in turn four on the fifth circuit. Three laps later, Scott reached lapped traffic for the first time. Scott was smooth and clean through lapped traffic. Still, Rutherford managed to pull within striking distance. In fact, the top-five cars were running nose-to-tail when the caution flag flew on lap 15 for former track champion Mark Nation who spun exiting turn four.

The restart left SCRA fans holding their breath again after problems in the middle of the field triggered an incident involving Lance Gremett and Danny Sheridan. Gremett was conscious and alert when taken to a local hospital as a precaution. Sheridan was also shaken, but able to walk off the cobwebs from flipping the Moose Racing entry for a third straight week.

Scott again took control of the race as the fog now began to roll in. The yellow flag flew for the second time on lap 20 after the Joe Morales / O'Reilly Chevrolet No. 94 Buckley driven by Davis tangled with sixth place Gaunt. Getting the worst of the altercation, Gaunt was left stopped in turn two. With a clear race track in front of him, Scott pulled away from Rutherford after the restart. Scott reached lapped traffic again on lap 27, but the yellow flag waved for the final time one lap later for SCRA rookie point leader Michael Hinrichsen, who's disabled car slid off the racing surface after contact with fellow rookie Mike Spencer.

Enjoying the luxury of no lapped cars to contend with, Scott smoothly went on to complete the remainder of the race without challenge from Rutherford. Ironically, Rutherford finished second at Santa Maria when Scott claimed his only other SMS win.

"That last yellow didn't hurt my feelings any after I saw a (lapped) car between myself and Troy on the board for the restart." Scott smiled. "Troy's got one of the cars that you can hear, and it's pretty distinctive. I could hear him back there, but I wasn't too worried because our car was pretty strong and we were good in the right parts of the race track."

After a fierce tussle for most of the race, Kruseman edged the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy driven by Griffin for the third spot. Davis was rewarded for his 13 hour tow from Arizona with his fourth top-five finish of the season


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Series Sprint
Drivers Cory Kruseman , Richard Griffin , John Scott , Mike Spencer , Troy Rutherford , Danny Sheridan