Spencer Remains on top with Perris Auto Speedway Victory
by Stephanie Odom on April 4, 2011
Mike Spencer won Saturday's AMSOIL USAC/CRA race remaining undefeated this season with three victories.
The AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Cars returned to Perris Auto Speedway Saturday night for their third round of competition with the California Lightning Sprints on the score card as well. Going into the event Temecula’s Mike Spencer was undefeated in the 410 non-winged series winning the Sokola Shootout at Perris earlier in the season and the inaugural race last weekend at Victorville Raceway Park.
The twenty-nine year old engineer and three time series champion started off the night on the right foot qualifying second to Gavilan Hills David Cardey. Cardey set a lap time of 16.791 around the Southern California half mile.
In heat race action “The Cadillac” Cody Williams held off a charging Cardey, who came from a sixth place starting position to finish second. While one Williams finished strong Rip Williams went up in smoke coming to an abrupt stop on the front stretch while running third place and ended his night.
Santa Maria’s Danny “Showtime” Sheridan jumped to the front in the second heat race until the low budget team of Greg Alexander moved his way into the lead. Spencer marched forward sliding under Sheridan for second place and closed in on Alexander with the duo battling back and forth for the lead. Alexander held him off in the end with Spencer and Sheridan in the top three.
Kittle Motorsports Danny "Showtime" Sheridan from Santa Maria.
The third and final heat race would see Yorba Linda’s Matt Mitchell picking up the victory. Behind him was Greg Bragg and Ronnie Gardner battling back and forth. Gardner took the lead when the green flag dropped but would fall back to third place.
Austin Williams and Ricky Gaunt set the pace for the thirty lap feature event. Gaunt is the 1999 Oval Nationals Champion and 2004 SCRA Champion and moved into the lead from the outside pole with series points leader Mike Spencer moving his way forward making a pass underneath Greg Alexander coming out of turn four.
Ronnie Gardner battled back and forth for the second place position with Austin Williams until Spencer blasted past them for the second place position running against the wall through turn two on lap seven. Two laps later, here came Spencer! He took over the lead from Gaunt taking over the inside line through turn two. It was smooth sailing from there with Spencer remaining undefeated in USAC/CRA action extending his points lead.
The "Silver Bullet" driven be Nic Faas. Faas was unable to compete in the nights action after losing a motor in hot laps.
Behind him the battle wasn’t over and remained extremely heated. Gardner and Austin Williams battled back and forth for the the third place position until Gardner blew a right rear tire on the front stretch sending him into the turn one wall and ending his night. Spencer, Austin Williams, Gaunt, Matt Mitchell and David Cardey sat in the top five for the restart.
When racing resumed Greg Alexander moved his way forward battling with Austin Williams until the yellow flag came out again for Austin Williams who made his way to the pits with mechanical issues and left parts of the car on the track. Austin’s DNF moved Alexander into the top five.
Racing resumed with eleven laps remaining. “Showtime” Danny Sheridan made a move into seventh place past Richard VanderWeerd and began to move his way forward until the red flag came out for the first and only roll over the night with former California Lightning Sprint driver Bobby Bender going up and over in turn one. The car set fire however a leaking coolant line came to the rescue putting the flames out before they caused harm. Bender was able to walk away from the incident without injury.
Bobby Bender made the move up from the California Lightning Sprints. Unfortunately his night ended with all four tires off the ground.
When the green flag dropped with twelve laps to go the battles became heated with Sheridan moving into fifth place and Cardey making a pass below Matt Mitchell for third place. Mitchell didn’t let him fly by easily however and made a pass back coming out of turn two. Cardey battled back on the bottom through the backstretch and turns three and four. With seven laps remaining the battle remained trading places back and forth. Spencer got in trouble with lapped traffic cutting his lead in half. Regaining his composure through turn two he was able to straighten out and stretch his lead out once again.
Spencer crossed the checkered flag first uncontested for this third AMSOIL USAC/CRA victory of the season. Behind him was Blake Miller, David Cardey, Matt Mitchell and Richard VanderWeerd. Greg Alexander and Danny Sheridan were battling for the fifth and sixth place position on the final lap until a lapped car took them out in turn four taking away their top ten runs.
Randy Waitman piloted his machine to a sixteenth place finish in the night’s feature event.
“Coming to the white we (Sheridan) were running fifth from the back due to a flat left rear tire on lap 14. Went through one and two and got a good run down the back straight with Greg Alexander behind we came up on a lap car that entered the middle of turn three opening the bottom and top. I went to the bottom, Greg went to the top. The lapped car got completely sideways parking it and driving down into us finishing both the fifth and sixth place cars due to lack of knowledge to the move over flag,” stated Sheridan in a post race interview with One Dirt.
While Sheridan wasn’t full of smiles Spencer was. “The season has been our second best start ever. We’ve been good and getting a lot of breaks. Our car has been fast and everything seems to be falling into place,” said Spencer. Spencer plans on running a full season with the USAC/CRA as well as some of the bigger shows at Ventura Raceway. The Midwest may see Spencer in action for the Indiana Sprint week.
Rip Williams is one of top drivers of Southern California with an impressive resume. Williams ride went up in smoke and came to a stop in heat race action.
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE RESULTS: April 2, 2011 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. David Cardey, 59, Cardey-16.791; 2. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-16.812; 3. Blake Miller, 7, Priestley-16.887; 4. Richard VanderWeerd, 10, VanderWeerd-16.895; 5. Greg Alexander, 23, Bellegante-16.902; 6. Ronnie Gardner, 93, Gardner-17.008; 7. Rickie Gaunt, 66, Miller-17.026; 8. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-17.063; 9. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-17.073, 10. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-17.277; 11. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle-17.295; 12. Greg Bragg, 92, Sertich-17.300; 13. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-17.369; 14. David Bezio, 37D, Bezio-17.549; 15. Jace VanderWeerd, 88, VanderWeerd-17.597; 16. Randy Waitman, 69, Waitman-17.735; 17. Tom Grunkemeyer, 36, Springstead-18.505; 18. Jerry Welton, 62, Welton-18.637; 19. Bobby Bender, 11B, Bender-19.541; 20. Gary Potter, 62JR, Welton-19.688; 21. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. C. Williams, 2. Cardey, 3. Gaunt, 4. R. VanderWeed, 5. Bender, 6. Waitman, 7. R. Williams. NT.
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Alexander, 2. Spencer, 3. Sheridan, 4. Bezio, 5. A. Williams, 6. Grunkemeyer, 7. Potter. NT.
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Mitchell, 2. Bragg, 3. Gardner, 4. Miller, 5. J. VanderWeerd, 6. Welton. NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Blake Miller, 3. David Cardey, 4. Matt Mitchell, 5. Richard VanderWeerd, 6. David Bezio, 7. Greg Bragg, 8. Jace VanderWeerd, 9. Danny Sheridan, 10. Greg Alexander, 11. Tom Grunkemeyer, 12. Rickie Gaunt, 13. Cody Williams, 14. Bobby Bender, 15. Austin Williams, 16. Ronnie Gardner, 17. Gary Potter, 18. Jerry Welton, 19. Randy Waitman, 20. Rip Williams. NT.
**Bender flipped during the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-9 Gaunt. Laps 10-30 Spencer.
NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: May 7th – Hanford, CA – Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway