KRUSEMAN GRABS CRA WIN AT PAS PERRIS, CALIF., March 4, 2006 --Cory Kruseman, Ventura, Calif., started fifth in Glenn Crossno's Agromin Soil ...
KRUSEMAN GRABS CRA WIN AT PAS
PERRIS, CALIF., March 4, 2006 --Cory Kruseman, Ventura, Calif., started fifth in Glenn Crossno's Agromin Soil #38 Bullet and went on to grab his first USAC/CRA win of the young season Saturday night at the Perris Auto Speedway.
"My guys did a great job and they had the Bullet car right on the money tonight. It's been a good year for us so far," Kruseman said after his 30-lap triumph. "We went down to Florida and won, and there have just been a lot of good things that have happened for us this year. Auto racing is an up and down business, and we're up right now. Hopefully, our down isn't too far down."
For the second race in a row, Bobby Cody, Costa Mesa, Calif., found himself sharing the front row with an Illinois driver. This time it was Matt Neeley of Robinson, Ill., driving the Ishii Farms #71G Eagle, who promptly took the lead at the drop of the green flag.
Josh Ford (Camarillo, Calif.) ran third at the end of the opening lap ahead of Kruseman. Ford moved his BerryXpress.com #73 TCR past Cody and into the runner-up spot on the second circuit, with Kruseman falling into third. One lap later, Kruseman moved ahead of Ford and into the second position.
Damion Gardner, Concord, Calif., thrilled the fans on lap six as he wheeled his Ron Chaffin / Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply #50 Eagle by Cody along the back straight. Earlier in the evening, Gardner once again worked his magic in qualifying, turning the fastest lap for the third time in as many races this season. By night's end, Gardner's run in time trials would give him a one-point edge over Kruseman in the series point standings. Kruseman took the lead from Neeley along the back straight on the seventh lap. With less than a third of the race completed, and Gardner now up to second place, it was apparent that another showdown between "The Kruser" and "The Demon" was imminent.
David Cardey's lap eleven spin was the only caution period of the race, which also gave Gardner his first opportunity to challenge for the lead. Gardner seemed content to follow Kruseman after the restart, perhaps waiting for lapped traffic to take his shot at the lead.
Kruseman reached lapped traffic on lap 21, with Gardner poised to take advantage of the slightest mistake. As if he had a rearview mirror, Kruseman aggressively attacked lapped traffic and opened-up some distance between himself and Gardner.
"The scoreboard tells you who is behind you, and sometimes the people behind you don't mind taking a few chances," Kruseman later explained. "Tonight, all the lappers seemed to want to run the groove that I was in, so there were a lot of slide-jobs and moving people. Luckily, we didn't bang off of anybody and everything was clean."
Everything seemed to be going Kruseman's way until he was faced with a pair of cars running side-by-side with two laps to go. In the process of passing the slower cars, Kruseman pushed up the race track. This allowed Gardner to pull back to within striking distance.
With the exception of the one restart, Kruseman and Gardner were the closest together they had been the entire race as they flew past the white flag. Heading into the final set of corners, Kruseman elected to follow a slower car onto the turn three cushion. It turned out to be a wise decision since Gardner was unable to find the traction he needed on the bottom.
"There were two or three lapped cars that I ran up on and it killed my momentum and broke my stride. It's also the time when the guy behind me may be building some momentum," recalled Kruseman. "I ran 20 of the 30 laps on the top and I knew what to expect. I just wanted to make sure that I hit my marks and we'd see what happens."
Neeley finished third ahead of Ford and the Hal Engstrom / Spenco Machine #44 TCR driven by Mike Spencer (Temecula, Calif.). In addition to his runner-up finish, Gardner's drive from the eighth starting spot earned him Hard Charger honors for the race.