KIRBY TAMES THE THUNDERBOWL By Robert Mayson TULARE, CA, August 4 -- Round 25 of the Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) tour saw the wingless warriors make their annual pilgrimage to the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. Mike Kirby picked up his...
KIRBY TAMES THE THUNDERBOWL
By Robert Mayson
TULARE, CA, August 4 -- Round 25 of the Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) tour saw the wingless warriors make their annual pilgrimage to the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. Mike Kirby picked up his third win of the season. Even though he was officially credited with leading all 30 laps, Kirby lost the lead to Rip Williams on the final lap of the race only to retake the lead through the final set of corners.
"This is my first win here which is kind of nice because we've been running good lately and it's nice for my guys who work on the car," said Kirby, who earlier in the week won a figure 8 race at Ventura Raceway that he promoted. "It's been a real good week. I love figure 8 racing and I love this stuff too. I don't do this for the money or the glory, I just do it for the fun of it."
John Scott won his fifth JE Pistons Dash of the year and started on the pole with the Mark Alexander-Brad Geurin / Statewide Towing No. 5 Stinger driven by Kirby to his outside. Kirby inched ahead of Scott coming down to accept the green flag. The duo then ran even into the first turn before Kirby launched off the turn two cushion and grabbed the lead. Williams moved the Sharon Jory / Vista Paint No. 3 Gambler ahead of Scott exiting turn four on the opening lap as last year's Thunderbowl winner, Rickie Gaunt, ran fourth ahead of Danny Sheridan.
Using the same low line that Williams used to pass him, Scott put his Pace Electronics No. 83 TCR back into the second spot one lap later. Kirby rode the cushion and enjoyed a comfortable lead in the early stages of the race. Scott seemed to find the bottom of turns three and four to his liking and was in a position to challenge for the lead by the tenth circuit.
"My car was rolling real good on the top, it wasn't doubling up and it was getting off the corners good. Then, I went to the bottom, which was a little better for me when I was running by myself," Kirby explained. "The top was still good when I got to the lappers, so I figured I'd just roll around the top and finish this thing out. Unfortunately, things didn't work out like that."
Kirby reached the "lappers" 13 laps into the race and was almost instantly reeled in by Scott and Williams. Thanks to some aggressive, but calculated maneuvers, Kirby managed to free himself from the second and third place cars. Kirby's teammate, Gaunt, was not as fortunate in lapped traffic and brought out the yellow flag on the 19th lap after tangling with a slower car while running fourth.
Scott poked the nose of his car under Kirby in turn four on the restart lap, but Kirby was able to hold him back. Without hesitation, Kirby switched to the low groove in that end of the track on the following lap to prevent Scott from making another attempt at the lead. A few circuits later, Sheridan hooked the turn two cushion and slapped the wall. Sheridan managed to avoid stopping, but fell out of the top five.
With five laps to go and Williams now in a position to make it a three-way battle for the lead, Scott straddled the turn two cushion allowing the "Ripper" to move into second place. At the time, the pass on Scott seemed like it cost Williams any chance of winning the race because he was forced to drastically deviate from his racing line and lost several car lengths to Kirby.
Kirby appeared to be on his way to an easy victory until the red flag was thrown on the lap he was anticipating seeing the white flag. As it turned out, the red flag was for Sheridan and Bobby Graham who flipped in turn two. Neither driver was hurt in the accident.
With no lapped cars between himself and Williams, Kirby seemed to have a strategy for the lap 28 restart. By setting a somewhat slower than normal pace, Kirby forced Williams to check-up a little coming down for the green flag on the restart. Williams quickly regrouped and was glued to Kirby's rear nerf bar when they passed beneath the white flag.
Williams then darted down to the bottom of turn one and took the lead with a textbook slide job. Masterfully timed, Kirby pitched his car sideways on the cushion and used the banking to get a run off the bottom of turn. Racing wheel-to-wheel with Williams along the backstraight, Kirby used his inside position to force Williams up the race track in turn three. Smoothly hugging the infield berm, Kirby exited turn four with the lead and went on to take the checkered flag one car-length ahead of Williams.
"I knew it was coming because it was his only chance to win the race," Kirby said of Williams' turn one pass. "I drove her into turn one fairly easy so I could turn it the middle of the corner. I figured if I could get under him and push him to the middle (of the track) that I had a shot at it."
Scott finished third ahead of the Fischer Motorsports No. 29 / Watt Enterprises No. 29 Okie driven by Steve Ostling. Troy Cline's second race in Dwight Cheney's new TCR chassis resulted in a fifth place finish for the Anne & Billy Wilkerson sponsored car.
SCRA RACE #25 - THUNDERBOWL RACEWAY, TULARE, CA Date of Race: 08/04/01
SANDER ENGINEERING TIME TRIALS 1. Troy Rutherford, Ojai CA, Gardner, Jr 4 , 15.271 2. Cory Kruseman, Ventura CA, Willis 45 , 15.420 3. Larry Brown, Bakersfield CA, Brown 36 , 15.457 4. Rickie Gaunt, Torrance CA, M&B Racing 5X , 15.467 5. Danny Sheridan, Santa Maria CA, Sertich 92, 15.485 6. Steve Ostling, Corona CA, Fischer Mtrspts 29 , 15.496 7. John Scott, Hesperia CA, Scott Mtrsprts 83, 15.536 8. Mike Kirby, Lomita CA, M&B Racing 5 , 15.581 9. Tony Jones, Corona CA, Chaffin 50 , 15.632 10. Rip Williams, Yorba Linda CA, Jory 3 , 15.653 11. Michael Hinrichsen, (R) Lakeside CA, Lake Mtrsprts. 16 , 15.742 12. Greg DeCalres, Elk Grove CA, Hasebe 17, 15.761 13. Troy Cline, Santa Clarita CA, Cheney. 21J , 15.895 14. Mike English, Norwalk CA, Priestley 7 , 15.926 15. Jarrett Chaney, Clovis CA, Chaney 69 , 15.960 16. Brian Venard, Tustin CA, Venard. 47, 15.965 17. Mike Spencer, (R) Temecula CA, Engstrom 44 , 15.972 18. Marc Hart, Ventura CA, Hart 15, 16.000 19. Eric Rossi, Gilroy CA., Family Auto 98X , 16.027 20. Richard Harvey, Jr, Hanford CA, Becker 67 , 16.034 21. Jordan Hermansader, Long Beach CA., Pratt 12 , 16.049 22. Rodney Argo, Gardena CA, Argo 19 , 16.052 23. Ronnie Clark, (R) Tucson AZ, Winter 33 , 16.124 24. Lance Gremett, San Marcos CA, Gremett 85 , 16.176 25. Bobby Graham, Riverside CA, Silver State 14, 16.289 26. Adam Mitchell, Escondido CA, Mitchell 99 , 16.323 27. Jack DeArmond, Jr., Corona CA, DeArmond, Sr. 24, 16.337 28. Mark Nation, Los Olivos CA, Nation 3N , 16.493 29. Dan Hillberg, Whittier CA, Hillberg 82 , 16.949 30. Jimmy Gardner, (R) Garden Grove CA, Gardner Jr 96 , 17.235 31. Tom Stansberry, Bakersfield CA., Stansberry. 75T , 17.410 32. David Sprigg, Sacramento CA, Sprigg 44D , 18.281
HEDDMAN HEADERS HEAT 1 1. Tony Jones, 2. Danny Sheridan, 3. Troy Cline, 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Bobby Graham, 6. Jordan Hermansader, 7. Mike Spencer, 8. Dan Hillberg,
SHAVER ENGINES HEAT 2 1. Rodney Argo, 2. Rip Williams, 3. Cory Kruseman, 4. Adam Mitchell, 5. Mike English, 6. Steve Ostling, 7. Jimmy Gardner, 8. Marc Hart,
KSE PRODUCTS HEAT 3 1. Ronnie Clark, 2. Jarrett Chaney, 3. John Scott, 4. Eric Rossi, 5. Jack DeArmond, Jr., 6. Michael Hinrichsen, 7. Larry Brown, 8. Tom Stansberry,
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS HEAT 4 1. Lance Gremett, 2. Rickie Gaunt, 3. Mike Kirby, 4. Greg DeCaires, 5. Mark Nation, 6. Brian Venard, 7. Richard Harvey, Jr, 8. David Sprigg,
JE PISTONS DASH 1. John Scott. 2. Mike Kirby. 3. Danny Sheridan. 4. Rip Williams. 5. Rickie Gaunt. 6. Troy Rutherford. 7. Cory Kruseman. 8. Tony Jones.
JB ENTERPRISE B FEATURE 1. Steve Ostling. 2. Brian Venard, 3. Mike English. 4. Michael Hinrichsen. 5. Jordan Hermansader. 6. Bobby Graham. 7. Richard Harvey, Jr. 8. Mike Spencer. 9. Jack DeArmond, Jr. 10. Mark Nation. 11. Dan Hillberg. 12. Jimmy Gardner. 13. David Sprigg. 14. Larry Brown.
A FEATURE (30 Laps) 1. Mike Kirby. 2. Rip Williams. 3. John Scott. 4. Steve Ostling. 5. Troy Cline. 6. Cory Kruseman. 7. Troy Rutherford, 8. Eric Rossi. 9. Tony Jones. 10. Jarrett Chaney, 11. Greg DeCaires. 12. Michael Hinrichsen. 13. Rodney Argo. 14. Mike English. 15. Rickie Gaunt. 16. Jordan Hermansader, 17. Brian Venard, 18. Adam Mitchell. 19. Ronnie Clark. 20. Danny Sheridan. 21. Bobby Graham. 22. Lance Gremett. Laps Led: Kirby 1-30
<pre> Driver Point Standings as of: 08/04/01
CAR NAME HOMETOWN STARTS POINTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. 45 Cory Kruseman Ventura CA 25 1730 2. 50 Richard Griffin Silver City NM 23 1447 3. 5 Mike Kirby Lomita CA 25 1407 4. 4 Troy Rutherford Ojai CA 25 1398 5. 83 John Scott Hesperia CA 25 1208 6. 3 Rip Williams Yorba Linda CA 25 1130 7. 29 Steve Ostling Corona CA 25 1097 8. 5X Rickie Gaunt Torrance CA 25 1086 9. 7 Mike English Norwalk CA 24 1038 10. 94 Charles Davis, Jr Chandler AZ 24 895 11. 92 Danny Sheridan Santa Maria CA 25 885 12. 50 Tony Jones Corona CA 17 874 13. 2IJ Troy Cline Santa Clarita CA16 718 14. 19 Rodney Argo Gardena CA 18 571 15. 99 Adam Mitchell Escondido CA 24 514 16. 85 Lance Gremett San Marcos CA 25 447 17. 16 Michael Hinrichsen (R) Lakeside CA 25 428 18. 9 George Gervais Mira Loma CA 23 426 19. 12X Casey Shuman Tempe AZ 19 419 20. 17 Greg DeCaires Elk Grove CA 15 406