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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | DIGEST

Ventura Raceway Opening With New Twists

March 04, 2000|DARIN ESPER

In 1994, Ventura Raceway became the first track on the West Coast to feature International Motor Contest Assn. 360 sprint cars.

This season, which begins tonight, the raceway is dropping the IMCA sanction and its $800 engine-claiming rule and will act as its own sanctioning body for 360 cars.

According to Cliff Morgan, raceway general manager, the decision by promoter Jim Naylor has already paid off with an increase in entries for the popular series.

"We have 38 cars registered already and there are 10 or 15 more out there that I know of that are coming in," Morgan said.

"We averaged 23 cars per night last year, and I'm sure we'll average between 25-30 this year. You might see nights with counts as high as 40 cars this year."

Kevin Kierce of Reseda will not defend his track championship, having moved up to the United States Auto Club sprint car series. Kierce will return to the one-quarter-mile dirt oval at the Ventura Fairgrounds on nights the USAC series does not race.

According to Morgan, top-five finishers Chris Wakim of Simi Valley, Jimmy Crawford of Ventura, Greg Taylor of Ojai and Steve Conrad of Agua Dulce will be back.

Morgan said the primary reason for Naylor's move to self-sanctioning was to continue points-paying racing past the first week of September, although dropping the IMCA sanction allowed the raceway to make other changes.

Main events include 20 cars, starting order will be determined by a pea-pick instead of points standings and purses have been increased to $1,000 for first place from $800.

All cars are equipped with ASCS gaskets on the intake manifold in an attempt to equalize competition between the high-dollar and low-dollar operations.

"Cars have tested out there with it, and it doesn't seem to affect performance," Morgan said. "I don't think anybody in the stands will notice because they're still lightning fast."

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