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American Stockcar / Protruck Race Series Attacks Willow Springs International Raceway “The Fastest Road In the West”
The temperature soared into the hundreds, along with the average speed of the leaders, this weekend as the American Stockcars and the Protrucks battled the brutal heat and each other for a great weekend of racing. Once again, the car count climbed to 21 cars on the starting grid with 13 stockcars and 8 ProTrucks. There were several drivers returning to the series and a couple of newcomers. The series saw the return of Scott Rueschenberg, who holds the track record for the American Stockcars and Protrucks of 1:25.6, set in February of 2003, along with returning driver Nelson Garrison from Phoenix. Nelson recently purchased Steve Hoke’s beautiful ASC – X car, and sold his old car to Don Uhlir, who joined us for his first race in the series. Also racing with the series for the first time was Don Blizzard with his PT – X truck. An “X” designation means that the vehicle is close enough to the series rules to race the event, but may have a motor, or other parts, that do not comply with the series specifications, and therefore would not compete in the points battle with the ASC/ PT competitors. The list of the weekend’s competitors were:

Don Swartzbaugh PT
Nelson Garrison ASC – X
Alan Huston ASC
Tim “Doc” Wright PT
Brian Colodny ASC
Scott Rueschenberg ASC – X
Jim Swartzbaugh PT
Manuel Gil Del Real ASC
Ken Stinnett PT
Dave Arnheiter ASC
Donn Cross PT
Scott Ivie ASC
Ed Ochylski ASC
Don Uhlir ASC
Nathan Swartzbaugh PT
Ray Hampton ASC
Mike Arnheiter ASC
Steve Carvajal ASC
Chris Evans ASC
Franz Klarer PT
Bob Blizzard PT – X

Friday was a practice day with open practice from 8:00am until 6:00pm. This gave the participants a lot of opportunity to experiment with various set up changes to make the cars faster. It also gave teams time to test qualifying set ups and race set up configurations. WSIR has been a track that has not favored the one set of tires per weekend rule utilized by ASC, especially in the 100+ degree heat. Friday’s temperature only reached the mid 90’s, however the track temps in the afternoon still were over 125 degrees. ASC allowed competitors to change two tires on Sunday for a maximum of 6 tires for the weekend. In previous events held at WSIR, the trucks ruled the Sunday race, with the cars’ times falling off dramatically during the race due to tire fade. This change allowed the stockcars to hold their own against the Protrucks, with Chris Evans’ ASC car winning both races.

Saturday morning’s practice and qualifying went smoothly. Nelson Garrison in the ASC – X, # 4 car set the fast time, 1:25.991, followed By Steve Carvajal, setting the ASC fast time at 1:26.093, followed by Scott Ivie, Chris Evans, Donn Cross, (PT Fast time, 1:27:317), Ed Ochylski, Manuel Gil Del Real, Dave Arnheiter, Jim Swartzbaugh, and Ken Stinnett making up the top ten.

The green flag dropped on the race and everyone made it through turn one unscathed. Carvajal started on the outside pole, but was dropped to forth when the inside line freight trained through on turns one and two. Scott Ivie got a great start and took the lead on from the pole sitter, Nelson Garrison. Chris Evans followed Ivie into turn one in front of Donn Cross. By turn five, the front group was joined by Jim and Nathan Swartzbaugh, Ed Ochylski, Manuel Gil del Real, and Dave Arnheiter. Chris Evans’ #96 car was perfectly set up to get the throttle down and keep it down exiting turn five pretty much until turn one, with a slight lift and brake through turn nine. This allowed him to take the lead from Nelson after a few laps and get ahead. Ivie and Carvajal were leading the others after a battle with Donn Cross’ # 41 Protruck when the Swartzbaughs attacked. Jim passed the other ASC cars and pressured Carvajal relentlessly until he was able to get around him, leaving only Ivie ahead. Garrison had fuel problems, possibly due to the heat, and was forced to pull off the track. Jim Swartzbaugh passed Ivie in turn two and was attempting to reel in Evans to take the lead. On lap seven, Carvajal had electrical problems with the main ignition switch, which caused the motor to shut off at the apex of turn five. The others pounced on this opportunity and raced on by while he flicked the switch to restart the engine. Ochylski, Gil del Real, (who had been battling viciously in turn two last time around), Donn Cross, and Dave Arnheiter rocketed by. Carvajal was able to catch the end of the pack and keep racing, by alternating shifting and maintaining pressure on the ignition switch with the right hand.

Meanwhile back at the front, with the lead cars only 8 seconds away, lapped traffic caused a wreck involving Nathan Swartzbaugh, Scott Ivie, and Tim “Doc” Wright. Swartzbaugh and Ivie got together, spinning Ivie, who collected Wright, exiting turn two. Nathan made it to the top of the hill before his truck spun off course without the hood and grillwork, taking the # 7 and # 57 Protrucks out of the race. Ivie would later be black flagged for dragging what appeared to be body panels, but turned out to be the hood belonging to the # 57 truck. Carvajal passed Arnheiter and Cross on lap 11 and was closing on Gil del Real and Ochylski. An attempted pass on Gil del Real in turn three resulted in contact, which spun Gil del Real. Ochylski was able to retain second place for ASC. After a review of the incident involving Gil del Real and Carvajal, Carvajal was relegated back to the position behind Gil del Real.

Time was too short for Jim Swartzbaugh to catch Chris Evans, who had pulled a 15 second lead from the others while they battled early in the race. Final results for the race were:

      1. Chris Evans
      2. Jim Swartzbaugh
      3. Ed Ochylski

      1. Chris Evans
      2. Ed Ochylski
      3. Dave Arnheiter

      1. Jim Swartzbaugh
      2. Donn Cross
      3. Ken Stinnett

Sunday was an absolute scorcher of a day with the temperature in rising into the triple digits. The track temp was 145 degrees at race time. Scott Ivie crushed the previous fast time for ASC in qualifying with a blistering time of 1:24.730, at an average speed of 106.220. This was 9/10ths of a second faster than the previous record set in February 2003 on a much cooler day. Bob Blizzard must have figured the set up out on his PT – X truck, taking the next fastest time and improving 3.5 seconds over Saturday’s qualifying time. Chris Evans, Steve Carvajal, Ed Ochylski, Dave Arnheiter, Jim Swartzbaugh, Mike Arnheiter, Ken Stinnett, and Donn Cross made up the fastest ten times, separated by mere split seconds.

The race started with Blizzard beating everyone into turn one, followed by, Ivie, Evans, and Carvajal. The pace was fast as the top four tried to pull away from the pack, but never were able to stretch more than a 6 second gap from the next group, composed of Ochylski, Gil Del Real, Nathan Swartzbaugh, Donn Cross, and Jim Swartzbaugh. Evans, once again, had the # 96 ASC Chevrolet dialed in well and was able to pass Ivie in turn nine on lap two. Ivie chased him, stuck to the bumper for the next four laps, but eventually Evans put Blizzard between them. Evans car worked so well through turns one, two, five, eight and nine, that he was able to slowly get a 4 second lead on Blizzard by lap 15 and a 15 second lead on Carvajal, who passed Ivie on lap 10 for second in ASC. Ivie was able to hold off constant charges by Ochylski to retain third for ASC. Manuel Gil del Real fought off Nathan Swartzbaugh and Donn Cross to put the stockcars firmly in charge of Sunday’s race. The race had only two cars making contact, that being Don Swartzbaugh and Alan Huston, which turned Swartzbaugh. Chris Evans set the fastest lap of the race, with a time of 1:27.546. The next three cars, Blizzard, Ivie, and Carvajal all turned in lap times less than 3/10ths slower. The results of Sunday’s race were:

       1. Chris Evans – ASC
       2. Bob Blizzard – PT – X
       3. Steve Carvajal – ASC
      1. Chris Evans
      2. Steve Carvajal
      3. Scott Ivie

      1. Nathan Swartzbaugh
      2. Donn Cross
      3. Jim Swartzbaugh

The racing in the American Stock Challenge and ProTruck series provides some of the closest and best in the west! The was only one car lapped the entire weekend, with the rest of the cars staying on the lead lap and 15 of the 19 starters on Sunday, (ironically, both of the ASC – X cars were forced to retire with mechanical problems…), staying within 48 seconds of the leader.

The series will take a one-month break to give the crews time to rest before resuming racing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California on September 11 and 12. This event should prove to be a real great event with even more cars and drivers participating. The Northern California stock car stalwarts, GT America, will be bringing their cars to join us to give the group an estimated 30 plus cars for the field. This should be one of the best events of the year, with three different types of cars battling for the bragging rights of which series rules the West! Don’t miss it!

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