Team Arizona successfully defends against California invasion on home turf. Goodyear, AZ. On the weekend of April 12th and 13th 2003, the American Stockcar Challenge (ASC) and ProTrucks (PT) traveled to Arizona Motorsport Park (AMP) becoming the...
Team Arizona successfully defends against California invasion on home turf.
Goodyear, AZ. On the weekend of April 12th and 13th 2003, the American Stockcar Challenge (ASC) and ProTrucks (PT) traveled to Arizona Motorsport Park (AMP) becoming the first high profile series to run at this newly built facility. Twelve California teams made the tow to Arizona for Round Three of the "ASC/PT Wars". Despite the heavy onslaught from the California invasion, TEAM ARIZONA which fields the single largest roster of ASC drivers, defended themselves on home turf with an overall win on Sunday and an ASC win on Saturday.
With the track closed on Friday for private testing, few of the ASC/PT drivers had driven at this brand new facility. But this didn't seem to bother Ross Thompson (#99 ASC: TEAM ARIZONA) who qualified on the pole with a blistering 1:39.823. Before the green flag had even dropped, Saturday's race would prove to be one of the most exciting to date. As the cars lined up for pre-grid, TEAM ARIZONA mechanics were scrambling to get the cars of both Thompson and front row partner, Ken Stinnett (#43 ASC: TEAM ARIZONA) on the track. While the rest of the cars rolled out onto the track, neither Thompson nor Stinnett's cars were anywhere to be seen, leaving the ProTrucks led by Mark Cross (#33 PT: CROSS COMMUNITIES) to take up the top three starting positions. And like a scene in a Hollywood movie, both TEAM ARIZONA cars suddenly charged out of the gates chasing after the rest of the pack on it's warmup lap in the last second. Ironically, this was short lived as Thompson's transmission self destructed less than a lap later. And as if that wasn't enough drama, Ed Ochylski (#55 ASC: TEAM ARIZONA) suddenly coasted into the pits with a broken rear suspension. All these events taking place before the green flag had even dropped.
For what seemed like an eternity, spectators were forced to watch the pack follow the pace car around. But when the green flag finally dropped, they were immediately treated to even more excitement starting at Turn 2 when the 2nd and 3rd place ProTrucks of Donn Cross (#41 PT: MB AUTO) and Ed Fernandez (#00 PT: PACIFIC BUILDERS) tangled. When the rest of the pack emerged from the thick cloud of dust and flying body panels, it was Mark Cross in the lead with Justin Sallows (#106 ASC-X: REALRIDE.COM RACING) giving chase. Tim Wright (#7 PT: EAR GUARDS) was next, followed by ASC Series Points Leader Dave Arnheiter (#33 ASC: IDECO INC) and Manuel Gil del Real (#27 ASC: TEAM ARIZONA).
By mid race, Mark Cross had pulled out a commanding lead over the rest of the pack while Sallows dropped further back with handling woes. Meanwhile, Fernandez and Donn Cross had both rejoined the race and were moving back up the field, albeit with a few body panels missing. But it was the cars of Jim Swartzbaugh (#57 PT: NORTH SOUTH MACHINERY) and Stinnett working their way through the pack that caught everyone's attention.
With a few laps remaining, Swartzbaugh had taken over the lead with Fernandez following closely. A second behind, Donn Cross was nervously checking out the battle that was taking place in his mirrors between cousin Mark Cross and Tim Wright. Entering the final turns, Mark Cross spun allowing Stinnett, who had been patiently waiting behind this battle to slip by both trucks.
At the checkered flag, it was Swartzbaugh followed by Fernandez and Donn Cross. 4th and leading in ASC was Stinnett, followed by Wright and Mark Cross. Sallows finished 7th in the lone ASC-X car with Gil del Real and Arnheiter behind him. Franz Klarer (#27 PT: TEAM EDM), Jerry Bown (#22 ASC), and ASC rookie Tom Tabor (#02 ASC: GA-RACING-USA) rounded out the final three finishers. However, at post race impound, Gil del Real was found to be underweight and disqualified, while Donn Cross who was missing a few body panels made the minimum weight, but was seen keeping his fingers crossed as he was pushed onto the scales.
<pre> Saturday April 12th: 1) #57 PT Jim Swartzbaugh North South Machinery best lap: 1:41.581 2) #33 PT Mark Cross Cross Communities best lap: 1:42.681 3) #00 PT Ed Fernandez Pacific Builders best lap: 1:41.584 4) #43 ASC Ken Stinnett Team Arizona best lap: 1:42.461 5) #41 PT Donn Cross MB Auto best lap: 1:42.095 6) #7 PT Tim Wright Ear Guards best lap: 1:42.498 7) #33 ASC Dave Arnheiter Ideco Inc best lap: 1:43.623 8) #27 PT Franz Klarer Team EDM best lap: 1:45.172 9) #22 ASC Jerry Brown best lap: 1:45.678 10) #02 ASC Tom Taber GA Racing USA best lap: 1:45.828 (DNF) 11) #90 ASC Steve Carvajal Team Arizona best lap: 1:42.915 (DNF) No result: 1) #106 ASC-X Justin Sallows RealRide.com Racing best lap: 1:43.343 2) #27 ASC Manuel Gil del Real Team Arizona (DQ) 3) #99 ASC Ross Thompson Team Arizona (DNS) 4) #55 ASC Ed Ochylski Team Arizona (DNS) 5) #55 PT Chris Siedentop Gaylord's (DNS)