JONES EYES SATURDAY'S CRA OPENER AT THE PAS If anyone knows exactly what it takes to win races at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, it would be Tony Jones. The Norco, Calif. native won eight times in 2006 ...
JONES EYES SATURDAY'S CRA OPENER AT THE PAS
If anyone knows exactly what it takes to win races at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, it would be Tony Jones.
The Norco, Calif. native won eight times in 2006 USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series competition -- all at Perris -- in finishing third in series points. On Saturday, he'll begin his quest toward winning more features and possibly a championship as the series kicks off its 41-race schedule at The PAS.
Jones is one of more than a handful of drivers who could become the next CRA champion after the last two series champions have turned their attention elsewhere. Defending series champion Cory Kruseman will miss the season opener at Perris as he is racing Midgets in New Zealand. The 2005 series champion, Damion Gardner, has bolted to the Midwest to compete in the National Sprint Car Series. Between the two, Kruseman and Gardner earned 13 of the 38 feature wins in 2006.
Jones ended the 2006 season as one of the hottest drivers in series competition, but will have to fight to maintain that momentum. One of his top threats will be Mike Spencer of Temecula, Calif., who has switched from his ride to run the No. 50 Ron Chaffin owned entry. Chaffin's team, which prepared a car for Gardner, has the most fast qualifying times and feature victories since the USAC/CRA series began in 2004.
Danny Sheridan, the 2006 CRA "Most Popular Driver," returns to competition after placing fifth in series competition last year. He won once at Perris.
Glenn Crossno, the defending car owner champion, will increase his team's chances of repeating as champions as he will field two cars in 2007. One will be piloted by reigning USAC National Sprint Car Series "Rookie of the Year" Scotty Weir, while the other driver will be David Cardey, still looking for his first CRA feature triumph.
In addition, 2004 champion Rip Williams is expected to be on hand to challenge for the championship and feature victories with the Jory Racing squad. Rickie Gaunt will compete for Nadine Keller's team for the first time fulltime.
Though not in the cockpit, Kruseman will be represented as a car owner on Saturday. His recently developed team, which also acts as a driver development program, will be on hand when hot laps begin. Drivers Michael Trimble, Alex Schutte and Jake Vail make up the team.