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RACING SCENE - (PAS Sprint Cars)

RACING SCENE - (PAS Sprint Cars)
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On Saturday, October 20 Perris Auto Speedway presented an appetizer for the November 8-10 high-dollar 23rd annual Budweiser PAS Oval Nationals presented by All Coast Construction. The $131,000+ event offers 410 cu. in. non-wing sprint car competitors both USAC national and regional USAC-CRA championship points. The 40-lap main event November 10 will pay the first three finishers $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000. It will pay at least $1,000 to all feature starters.

The final pre-Oval Nationals sprint car race served as a tuneup race for 21 local and three visiting drivers—Justin Grant, Thomas Meseraull, and Isaac Chapple, who all came from Indiana to compete. Grant and Meseraull raced in Arizona-based sprinters. Chapple raced his own USAC National No. 52.

Grant flew west after winning a sprint car feature Friday, October 19 in Kokomo, Indiana. After his PAS race in the No. 19s Reinbold-Underwood sprint car he flew to the Midwest and raced the next night in the No. 17BC midget in a 41-car field. The event was the annual Jason Leffler Memorial at the Wayne County fifth-mile. Grant raced to fourth place in the Leffler feature. It was his third race in three nights in three different states and his main event finishes were P1, 1 and 4.

Grant dominated the October 20 feature in the Reinbold-Underwood No. 19s as he did on June 23 when he won a USAC-CRA 30-lap PAS feature. He was even more dominant October 20 when he set fastest qualifying time in a 24-car field. He started sixth and won his second PAS feature by leading laps 9-30. He won by 50-yards over five-time USAC-CRA champion Damion Gardner. Grant quickly ran away from Gardner following a lap 22 yellow flag. If he wins the Oval National feature he will score a three-peat or hat-trick that will be tough for any non-USAC-CRA regular to match.

Remarkably, Grant said he will drive a different sprint car at the PAS Oval Nationals three-night event. He will drive his usual UASAC National Sprint Series No. 4 TOPP Chevy in which he won two late September USAC National features in Indiana at Gas City and Lawrenceburg.

Whoever gets to drive the two No. 19 Reinbold-Underwood cars in the Oval Nationals will get a proven winner. USAC National Midget point leader Logan Seavey and USAC National Sprint impressive rookie Jason Mc Dougal, from Oklahoma, will drive the two No. 19 sprinters at PAS. McDougal, a protege of 2017 Oval Nationals winner Kevin Thomas, Jr., won his first USAC National Sprint feature September 14 in the No. 71P at the Terre Haute, Indiana half-mile. Seavey and Mc Dougal will be first-time PAS racers.

The October 20 PAS event started with a somber moment. At 7:00 pm, R. J. Johnson drove the No. 92 Sertich Chevy sprinter on two slow laps and then took two hot laps in memory of the late Mike Boat, 48, of Phoenix. The former sprint car driver at Manzanita Speedway and on the USAC West Coast 360 sprint car circuit succumbed to a heart attack in bed as he slept Sunday, October 7.

The younger brother of Indy 500 driver, sprint and midget champion Billy Boat is survived by his two adult daughters and an extended family. Mike drove his own No.74 Chevy sprinter and had a victory and other top five 360 sprint finishes during 2002, his best USAC season. He also won a USAC Arizona-New Mexico 360 championship.

PAS PA announcer Scott Daloisio also informed the large crowd on October 20 that the So Cal sprint car community also lost three other members recently. They were:

   > Bob Evans, 78, the 1966 CRA rookie of the year and nine-time CRA sprint car main event winner during the 1960s-70s. He raced out of Long Beach. He won his first CRA main on 7/15/67 in the Bob Lewis No. 50 at Reno. Victory two came 7/5/69 at Speedway 605-Irwindale in the Don Peabody No. 28. He won his third through ninth features driving for Ruth and Ken Kasenberg—4/4/70 at Ascot, 8/29 at Speedway 605-Irwindale, and 10/9 in the Ascot 50. Win six came 5/18/74 at Ascot. His next two triumphs came in June, 1974—6/l at Ascot and 6/8 at Manzanita in Phoenix. His ninth win came at Ascot 6/28/75 driving for the Kasenberg team. His best CRA driver points finishes were: 7th (1969), 3rd (1970), 9th (1974), and 11th (1975).

   > Leanne Scheetz, 79, succumbed in Idaho Monday, October 15 from complications after heart surgery. The widow of award winning sprint car mechanic and former PAS track preparer Ray Scheetz, who died in 2013. Leanne moved in 2016 to Idaho to be closer to her children and grandchildren.

   > Vickie Flanders – the wife of long-time auto racing and speedway bike announcer Bruce Flanders, the original PAS announcer from 1996-98, Irwindale Speedway 1999-2017, plus the Long Beach GP from 1975-present. Vickie died unexpectedly October 17 while sleeping at home in San Bernardino. She was the daughter of CRA sprint car owner/driver Jay East, who passed away in May 2014, and his wife Donna. Survivors include Bruce, son Mike, and daughter Megan.

CHP officer Jeff Dyer, 35, was back driving Cal Smith's No. 39 Chevy October 20. He now has completed almost two years as a CHP patrol officer. He said he has received one pay raise. The former Victorville resident expects to buy a home in Indio. He works the afternoon shift from 1:30 to 11 pm in either a one-main or two-man cruiser. He patrols I-10, and highway 86 plus county roads. He said he stops a lot of speeders. Prior to his CHP career Dyer was a demolitions expert as a US Army sergeant. He served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. On October 20 at PAS he emerged unhurt from a flip during his heat race.

The 2018 PAS Senior Sprint champion is car builder/owner/driver John Aden, 45, of Apple Valley. He accomplished the rare feat of winning every 2018 PAS Seniors race. He started fourth and led the final ten laps of a 20-lap feature October 20. Two PAS Young Guns tagged the seniors feature field in a combined main event with separate points.

Aden became the seventh different PAS Seniors champion in eight years of the race for trophies-only series. Champions have been: Bill Badger (2011), Bruce Douglass (2012 & 14), Rick Hendrix (2013), Chris Wakim (2015), Eddie Tafoya, Sr. (2016), Richard McCormick (2017), and now Aden.

The 2018 PAS Young Guns (ages 14-25) field was only three cars October 20. One car expired after lap 1 of a six-lap heat. So the remaining two young gun drivers were able to get five additional laps beyond their usual 15 lap distance. YG No. 5H driver Blade Hildebrand, from Yucca Valley, was absent October 20 because he was racing with Robby Gordon's Super Truck Series in Australia, where he has one podium finish with the group.

Eddie Tafoya, Jr., 21, won his fourth PAS YG main event by finishing sixth overall and first in class. The other YG, Amanda Roberson, 30, started in row five and finished eighth. She won the only YG heat and the YG main event last month driving a Tony Everhart-owned, Dave Ellis-built sprinter. She looked smooth all night and raced all 20 laps without being lapped by Aden.

Tafoya, Jr. drove the No. 51T, a 2010 777 chassis built by John Aden. It has a restricted 410 cu. in. Chevy for the YG series. Tafoya, Jr. said he plans to remove the restrictor plate and race as a 2019 USAC-CRA rookie of the year contender. As PAS YG champion he will join other YG champions who moved up to race in the USAC-CRA Series. YG champions Logan Williams, (2013), Trent Williams (2014), and George Morris (2015) did so.

YG champions Courtney Crone (2016) and Hannah Mayhew (2017) are advancing their racing careers as well. Other Young Gun veterans who raced in USAC-CRA are: Parker Coulston, Matt McCarthy, Gary Marshall, Jr., 26, and Joel Rayborne, 16.

PODIUM QUOTES: Top three USAC-CRA feature finishers stopped at the finish line as usual for interviews with infield PA announcer Chris Holt. Winner Grant thanked spectators for attending. He said, “The track had a big cushion to bang against tonight. It wasn't an easy one out there. I wasn't sure how it would shake out. I was a bit worried I'd get hung up in traffic. Restarts, especially with Damion behind you, had me worried. He's pretty crafty.”

Runner-up Gardner stated, “Yeah, it was a good night. Three times he's (Grant) come out and beat me. We were running him down until the last caution but lost him after that. He ran the top better than us. We want to win them all. We know we have to go to work for the Oval Nationals.”

Third place Meseraull passed point leader Brody Roa on the inside at turn four on the final lap. He thanked his No. 77M car owner Bill Michaels and the big bucks motor and the great fan turnout. He added, “The track was really rad tonight. It's not like me to run the bottom. I started on pole and lost spots, but regained some of them before the end.”

JOHN JORY: Long-time 410 sprint car owner John Jory, of Villa Park, celebrated his 80th birthday recently. A surprise birthday party Saturday, September 23 from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, took place at a banquet room in Orange according to his long-time friend Dave Massingham, of Whittier. Jack, as he is known in racing, and Dave raced off-road motorcycles and raced in SCORE Baja and other desert races in their younger years.

ck's sprint car passion came after helping sprint car teams in the pits by scraping mud. He bought a car and backed Knoxville, Iowa NSCHoF inductee Rip Williams, the 2004 USAC-CRA champion. Then he added sprint cars for Rip's three sons out of his own pocket. The respected car owner deserves to join Rip in the NSCHoF. John Jory Corp. is a large drywall business located in Orange County. Rip and his three racing sons, Cody, 29, Austin, 28, and Logan, 22, have all raced for Jory and his wife Sharon. They are family. Rip's scissor-lifts business in Anaheim operates from the same large building as Jory's racing team.

Jack's wife Sharon arranged his 80th surprise birthday party. She paid all expenses for an additional surprise. She brought all four of their children, two sons and two daughters, plus 10 or 12 grandchildren from their homes in Oregon, North Carolina, Napa Valley and Corona to Jack's party. The Rip Williams clan and many others enjoyed the party as well.

A. J. Bender, subbing for the usual driver Danny Faria, Jr., drove Dwight Cheney's No. 42 Maxim for the first time October 20. He started 16th and finished 13th with 21 of 23 starters RAF (running at finish) and 15 drivers on the lead lap. Faria will be back in the Cheney 42 for the Oval Nationals.

Faria was absent October 20 because he raced at the 25th annual 50-lap Trophy Cup for winged 360 cu. in. sprint cars at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare. The three-day event attracted 88 entrants and paid a record $197,975 this year. Faria's No. 67v did not make Saturday's 24-car feature that paid $5,000 to start. Jac Haudenschild, age 60, placed fifth but was the high-point driver and won $25,000 in a Rico Abreu backup No. 24R.