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Locals racing in California Karts

Roger Diez

Although there’s no local racing going on right now, a number of Carson City racers have been making the trek over the hill to Red Bluff, Calif., for the Outlaw Kart winter series there.

In the most recent Red Bluff outing, Tommy Purcell had the best finish, qualifying fifth out of 29 karts in the 125cc class. He then ran second to Napa, Calif. driver Richard Bailey for the rest of the evening as the pair pulled away from the field in the trophy dash, heat race, and A Main. The duo ran just inches apart the entire A Main, but Purcell couldn’t find a way by and had to settle for runner-up spot.

Purcell’s little sister Jennifer led eight laps of her Box Stock heat race after qualifying 12th, but was passed two laps from the checker and finished second. She slipped from 12th to 15th in the A main after getting loose a couple of times. Fellow Box Stock driver Mackena Bell finished 11th in the A main after taking third in her heat.

Five Carson City drivers competed in the Beginner Box Stock class, with Jay Primm setting the fast qualifying time in the 32-kart field. Primm went on to take second in the trophy dash, third in his heat, first in the B main and fourth in the A main. Kellcy Bell was the only other Carson driver to make the A main, finishing eighth after winning her heat race.

The Price kids, Shelby and Caleb, seemed to like the number seven. Shelby finished seventh in her heat and in the C main, while Caleb also finished seventh in his heat before marching through the Mains. He took third in the D main, fourth in the C main, but his 11th finishing spot in the B Main wasn’t quite good enough for a transfer to the A Main. Tanner Thorson, the least experienced of the Carson crew, finished eighth in both his heat race and the D main.

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Jimmy Vasser, Former CART champion whose career I’ve followed for almost 20 years, is the latest of the CART contingent to try his hand at NASCAR racing. Vasser tested earlier in the week, on the second day of testing for the Busch Series “odd” teams at Daytona International Speedway. Vasser has some International Race of Champion experience at Daytona, and put it to good use, putting in a fast lap at 184.158 miles per hour. The Busch cars, normally a couple of hundred horsepower down from their Winston Cup counterparts, have a more level playing field at Daytona, due to the power-robbing restrictor plates the Cup cars must run.

Vasser may have gotten a boost in speed and spirits when he got the news that he has been confirmed as one of the drivers for Stefan Johansson’s American Spirit CART team. Vasser still plans to run 10-12 Busch races for Todd Braun, starting with the preliminary to the Daytona 500 next month.

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Last week I mentioned the possibility of Toyota joining the Winston Cup ranks, possibly by 2007. Well, if it happens, the NASCAR-spec Camrys may be running on some different tracks than we’ll see this season. NASCAR president Bill France made comments to the press last week that raised the possibility of a shift from some of the older, traditional NASCAR tracks to some newer facilities in larger market areas.

NASCAR has to tread carefully in this area, however, in order to avoid anti-trust scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department. The relationship between NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), which are both controlled by the France family, has come under fire from owners of other tracks, notably Bruton Smith of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. One lawsuit has already been filed on the matter, and we can expect more.

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A few weeks back we mentioned here that BAM Racing was hoping that Ken Schrader’s presence on the team would attract sponsors. Well, its strategy worked. It was announced last week that 1-800-CALL ATT will sponsor BAM Racing’s No. 49 Dodge as primary sponsor for six Winston Cup races and as an associate sponsor for the remainder of the 36-race season. Ken is a true racer and one of the genuinely nice guys in the sport, and it would sure be nice to see him get a win this year.

Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal motorsports columnist. He can be reached at Racytalker@aol.com