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SPRINT CAR RACING

Restart in Closing Laps Paves Way for Gaunt's Perris Win

July 05, 2002|Tony Solorzano

PERRIS, Calif. — Torrance's Rickie Gaunt took advantage of a late-lap crash to steal the 30-lap Sprint Car Racing Assn. feature race in front of a capacity crowd of 7,000 at the Perris Auto Speedway's seventh annual Fourth of July show.

"I was trying to stay on that thing as much as possible, it was bucking like a bronco out there," Gaunt said on the victory stand. "This thing was running so fast, I thought it would have to be chained up."

Gaunt, who had started the race in the 17th position, got by the leader, Richard Griffin, on Turn 3 and held off Garden Grove's Tony Jones and rookie Damion Gardner for the victory.

Griffin was in third place on Lap 26 when the top two drivers, Cory Kruseman and Rip Williams, spun each other on Turn 1, bringing out a yellow flag and allowing Griffin to take the lead. However, on the restart, Gaunt slid under Griffin on Turn 3 and pulled away.

At the start of the race, Torrance's Mike Kirby held an early lead, but soon was caught by Kruseman on Lap 5. Kruseman looked uncatchable, despite a red-flag stop on Lap 17 that reset the field. But Williams, the all-time feature winner at Perris, caught him on Lap 26.

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