American Stockcars and ProTrucks storm California Speedway. California Speedway (Fontana, CA), March 8-9 2003. Every weekend, we turn on our televisions to the familiar sight of a pack of stockcars or race trucks racing around in circles at ...
American Stockcars and ProTrucks storm California Speedway.
California Speedway (Fontana, CA), March 8-9 2003. Every weekend, we turn on our televisions to the familiar sight of a pack of stockcars or race trucks racing around in circles at another super speedway. But on the weekend of March 8-9, spectators at California Speedway were treated to a slight variation of this theme. That's because it was Round Two for both the American Stockcar Challenge (ASC) and the ProTruck (PT) Series. Both these West Coast series run exclusively on road racing circuits, and at California Speedway the ASC/PT drivers ran the professional sportscar circuit which utilizes most of the speedway along with a twisty infield section.
SATURDAY March 8: Testing the previous day had already claimed a few victims with a crash (Mike Arnheiter, ASC#03 SEVENS ONLY) and mechanical problems (Steve Carvajal, ASC#90 TEAM ARIZONA), (Nick Joanides, ASC#87 TEAM ARIZONA). But by morning warmup, ASC driver Ken Stinnett (ASC#43 TEAM ARIZONA) was the man to beat by setting fastest lap times followed by qualifying on the pole. Jim Swartzbaugh (PT#57 NORTH SOUTH MACHINERY) led the ProTruck contingent and started next to Stinnett. And starting third was Donn Cross (PT#41 CROSS COMMUNITIES).
As the pack charged by the green flag, spectators were captivated by the ground shaking roar. A second behind, the two ASC-X cars running in Exhibition Class charged by. ASC competitors had hoped that the ProTrucks with their restricted gearing would be at a disadvantage down the long straightaways. However, their lighter weight and narrower width proved to be a greater asset and a few laps later, Mark Cross (PT#33 CROSS COMMUNITIES) had charged to the lead with his cousin Donn running a close second.
Holding third and leading in ASC was Stinnett, but all attention was turned towards an ASC-X car driven by Justin Sallows (ASC-X#06 REALRIDE.COM RACING) that was carving through the field very quickly. By mid race, Sallows had taken over the overall lead but repeated shortcuts through an infield chicane earned him a Stop And Go penalty. When he rejoined the race, both trucks had retaken the lead, holding off the ASC-X car to the checkered flag.
Finishing fourth overall and leading in ASC was Stinnett, followed by Dave Arnheiter (ASC#33 IDECO) and Manuel Gil del Real (ASC#27 TEAM ARIZONA). Ed Fernandez (PT#00 PACIFIC BUILDERS) finished 9th overall and third in ProTrucks.
But it was the battle for eighth overall (and fourth in ASC) that was perhaps the most exciting as returning ASC favorite Ed Ochylski (ASC#55 TEAM ARIZONA) and Bill Blauvelt (ASC#44 REALRIDE.COM RACING) traded positions lap after lap the entire 40 minute race. Ochylski eventually emerged ahead when Blauvelt hit a tire wall in the infield.
<pre> Finishing order ASC/PT race: California Speedway- 3/8/03 1) #33 PT Mark Cross. Best Lap: 1:47:442 2) #41 PT Donn Cross. Best Lap: 1:47.722 3) #06 ASC-X Justin Sallows. Best Lap: 1:45.667 4) #43 ASC Ken Stinnett. Best Lap: 1:46.628 5) #44 ASC Dave Arnheiter. Best Lap: 1:49.420 6) #27 ASC Manuel Gil del Real. Best Lap: 1:48.865 7) #4 ASC-X Mike Kasser. Best Lap: 1:49.481 8) #55 ASC Ed Ochylski. Best Lap: 1:51.042 9) #00 PT Edward Fernandez. Best Lap: 1:49.207 10) #7 PT Tim Wright. Best Lap: 1:52.288 11) #27 PT Franz Klarer. Best Lap: 1:51.218 12) #92 PT Nathan Swartzbaugh. Best Lap: 1:54.372 (DNF) 13) #25 PT Gary Fenn. Best Lap: 2:00.238 (DNF) 14) #44 ASC Bill Blauvelt. Best Lap: 1:49.940 (DNF) 15) #99 ASC Mike Carson. Best Lap: 1:48.832 (DNF) 16) #57 PT Jim Swartzbaugh. Best Lap: 1:48.756 (DNF) 17) #87 ASC Nick Joanides. (DNS) 18) #90 ASC Steve Carvajal. (DNS) 19) #03 ASC Mike Arnheiter. (DNS)
</pre> SUNDAY March 9: Team Arizona controlled the top three starting positions with Ken Stinnett (ASC#43 TEAM ARIZONA) on the pole, followed by Steve Carvajal (ASC#90 TEAM ARIZONA) and Mike Carson (ASC#99 TEAM ARIZONA). Starting in fourth and leading in ProTrucks was Jim Swartzbaugh (PT#57 NORTH SOUTH MACHINERY). But it was during qualifying that the fastest lap of the weekend (1:44.761) would be set by Justin Sallows (ASC-X#06 REALRIDE.COM RACING), though he would have to start from the back with the other ASC-X entries according to ASC rules.
Once again, the ASC/PT race was the weekend show stopper as the thunderous roar from the pack of V8's echoed off the grandstands. Many had come specifically to watch this race and they weren't disappointed. For the first few laps, Team Arizona clearly had this race under control. Then an early spin followed by a mechanical failure forced race leader Stinnett to retire. This left Carvajal and Carson leading the race, both of whom were on fresh tires after sitting out most of the previous day due to mechanical failures. Chasing the Arizona duo a second behind were ProTruck drivers Swartzbaugh and Donn Cross (PT#41 CROSS COMMUNITIES). A few seconds further back, Sallows was carving through the rest of the field, once again, the additional horsepower of his ASC-X car clearly showing an advantage on the long straightaways.
Meanwhile in the pack, a great battle was taking place for tenth between Dave Arnheiter (ASC#33 IDECO) and Manuel Gil del Real (ASC#27 TEAM ARIZONA) as each car seemed to be leading on every successive lap. Suddenly, a missed shift caused Arnheiter to spin his clutch forcing him to coast into the pits. A second behind, Bill Blauvelt (ASC#44 REALRIDE.COM RACING) was suffering from a cracked brake rotor while trying to chase Tim Wright (PT#7 EAR GUARDS) and hold off Franz Klarer (PT#27 TEAM EDM SHOP) at the same time.
When the checkered flag fell, it was Sallows crossing the line first. Following in second and leading in ASC was Carson, while Swartzbaugh led ProTrucks and rounded out the top three. Thirteen of the fifteen finishers were on the same lap, yet another testament to the effectiveness of this spec series' formula.
<pre> Finishing order ASC/PT race: California Speedway- 3/9/03 1) #06 ASC-X Justin Sallows. Best Lap: 1:45:430 2) #99 ASC Mike Carson. Best Lap: 1:46.341 3) #57 PT Jim Swartzbaugh. Best Lap: 1:46.978 4) #41 PT Donn Cross. Best Lap: 1:47.727 5) #90 ASC Steve Carvajal. Best Lap: 1:47.011 6) #33 PT Mark Cross. Best Lap: 1:47.533 7) #4 ASC-X Mike Kasser. Best Lap: 1:48.234 8) #55 ASC Ed Ochylski. Best Lap: 1:48.924 9) #00 PT Edward Fernandez. Best Lap: 1:47.980 10) #27 ASC Manuel Gil del Real. Best Lap: 1:49.090 11) #7 PT Tim Wright. Best Lap: 1:49.049 12) #44 ASC Bill Blauvelt. Best Lap: 1:50.429 13) #27 PT Franz Klarer. Best Lap: 1:49.962 14) #9 PT Nathan Swartzbaugh. Best Lap: 1:51.317 15) #25 PT Gary Fenn. Best Lap: 2:02.018 16) #33 ASC David Arnheiter. Best Lap: 1:48.310 (DNF) 17) #43 ASC Ken Stinnett. Best Lap: 1:47.401 18) #87 ASC Nick Joanides. (DNS) 19) #03 ASC Mike Arnheiter. (DNS)
</pre> ABOUT ASC: The formula for ASC is very simple. Take a late model stockcar, add a GM ZZ4 crate motor, spec Goodyear tires and head for the track. ProTrucks are equally simple using the same powerplant on a race truck chassis. The main objective behind the series is to offer a venue where smaller budget teams can run these types of cars on road courses. And based on past results, it seems to be a successful combination. The 2001 and 2002 champion Dave Brown won both seasons on the same powerplant with little more than an oil change between events. And while the cars have significantly less power than a typical NASCAR SouthWest Tour car, lap times have only been about two seconds slower on most tracks. "That's because the cars are lighter and the overall package is very well balanced" says Doug Davis, one of the founders of the ASC series and owner of URACEIT.com a stockcar racing school in Northern California. To attract new drivers, ASC officials also allow cars from other series to run without complying to ASC spec in Exhibition (ASC-X) class, though their finishes don't count towards championship points. So far, drivers from a large variety of backgrounds have come to the series. The ASC/PT grid is made up of drivers from series such as: ASA, Winston West, FIA, SCCA, NASCAR's SouthWest and Northwest Tour, Porsche and Viper club racing, and even karting. For spectators, the combination makes for some of the closest racing around as most cars typically finish on the same lap in the 40 minute races. For more information about ASC, visit the official website at: ascracing.com