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MOTOR RACING / BRYAN RODGERS

Racers Get Big Results in Midwest

August 09, 1996|BRYAN RODGERS

Scott Hansen is a Western States Midget driver, but the impact of his racing experience in the Midwest has been anything but small.

The Simi Valley resident is in the middle of a three-week tour during which he will compete in nearly 25 races in seven states.

Tonight, Hansen will be at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City for the Western States feature event.

"It comes down to seat time, and this is an excellent chance to get some and people can notice me," Hansen said by phone.

"It's hard to ask for rides and sponsorship [in the Midwest] if they don't know what you can do."

So far Hansen, a rookie Midget driver who turned 33 on Thursday, has made the leap from Three-Quarter Midgets.

Hansen, last season's TQ-series Western States champion, is fourth in the Midget points standings and a virtual lock to earn rookie-of-the-year honors.

He is among three regional drivers who have raced in the Midwest in the past month. Jay Drake, a Val Verde resident, and Corey Kruseman of Ventura entered the same races.

Hansen started his cross-country trek with a fourth-place finish in the Mid-Summer Nationals at Lincoln, Neb. He was in third on the last lap until Drake passed him on the inside. Drake finished third.

Hansen added a sixth-place finish in another race in Lincoln that earned him the hard charger award. He started 22nd in the 40-lap main.

"It was nice to get that award," Hansen said. "It shows someone noticed our work."

After Nebraska, the three area drivers headed to Sioux Falls, S.D., which could just have easily been called Scott Falls, according to Hansen.

"Things started out fine; we qualified seventh out of 35 cars," Hansen said. "But then the car just started acting up.

"We didn't even finish our heat race."

Besides tonight's race, Hansen will run in Odessa, Mo., on Saturday and then cap off his trip with a series of races in Illinois and Wisconsin the following week.

"We came out here to make it to each main event and try and stay out of trouble," Hansen said. "I believe we have done that."

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A pair of top-three finishes have propelled Drake to the leader position in the Midget point standings.

Drake posted a second-place finish at Belleville, Kan., and took third place in Sioux Falls. He currently leads Billy Boat of Phoenix by seven points.

*

Kruseman was hospitalized Saturday after his car flipped during a heat race at Belleville.

His vehicle sailed over the cushion restraint, but Kruseman suffered no serious injuries.

*

Kern County Raceway is hosting its third slate of races Saturday since implementing major changes to its program.

In June, track owner Ron Hall announced that several divisions at the quarter-mile oval would be discontinued immediately and races would be run every other week.

Divisions eliminated included the Sportsman, I-4 modifieds and Fox Stock.

Kern County anticipated a large influx of drivers from Saugus Speedway, which closed last year. The Street Stock class benefited with 30 or more cars running regularly at Kern County.

But an average of only six cars competed in the Sportsman division. The majority of the Saugus drivers headed to Mesa Marin in Bakersfield or quit racing altogether.

Many drivers who committed to the I-4 modified class have not finished building their vehicles, prompting the cancellation of the division. The track has plans to bring the division back next year.

The Fox Stock class, which was started for women, was scrapped because of a lack of drivers.

Simi Valley's Steve Nickolai, who was leading the Sportsman class, feels betrayed by the track.

"After what happened to us at Saugus, I didn't want to see this again," he said.

"I feel like I wasted my money and time. Had I known this was going to be the case I could have run for a possible points championship somewhere else."

North Hollywood driver Dana Rea, who has raced at Kern County for two seasons, said he agrees with the direction the track is heading even though it left some drivers out in the cold.

"The crowds have quadrupled since the change and the track facilities have been upgraded. I plan on stepping up to a higher class next year.

"I know the drivers who had their classes cut are disappointed but the [track] was in a no-win situation."

*

Simi Valley driver Tommy Fry Jr. will seek his fourth consecutive Late Model feature victory at Mesa Marin on Saturday. . . . Street Stock drivers Jeff Drummen of Northridge and T.K. Karvasek of Reseda return after their engines failed inspections at Mesa Marin two weeks ago. . . . Tina Verdun posted her first feature victory of the season in a Pony Stock race at Ventura Raceway last week. She is tied with William Kruft for the points lead with 720.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

AUTO RACING

Mesa Marin Raceway

Points Standings

Through Friday

Late Models

1. Dick Shepherd, Bakersfield: 692

2. Sean Woodside, Saugus: 687

3. Charles Utts, Camarillo: 550

4. Tom Fry, Simi Valley: 540

5. Mike Duncan, Bakersfield: 507

6. Donnie Davis, Valencia: 469

7. Kevin Vernon, Bakersfield: 432

8. Tim Huddleston, Agoura: 417

9. Jason Small, Bakersfield: 377

10. J.R. Jones, Bakersfield: 364

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