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Old 08-15-2003, 09:24 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2003
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AI West report

Round Five of the American Iron West Championship Series took place at Reno-Fernley Raceway in Fernley, Nevada on August 9 & 10, 2003. The track is part of a newly constructed venue that includes everything from drag racing to a firing range and the racers were sampling a 1.5 mile section of what will soon be an over 2.5 mile track. The heat was again a factor for the teams to overcome, as was the 4500-foot elevation. Many competitors reported fueling problems over the weekend resulting from these two challenging variables. Competitors for the weekend included J.R. Smith (Camaro), Neil Hershorin (Mustang), Christine Knight (Camaro), John Lindsey (Mustang), Tim Nichols (Mustang), Vageli Karas (Mustang), Dwain Dement (Mustang), Guy Cunningham (Mustang), Bruce Griggs (Mustang), Kevin Chambers (Mustang), Bill Daffron (Mustang), Ross Murray (Mustang), Terry Buch (Mustang) and Paul Mashouf (Mustang).

Saturday practice saw the TCP entry of Terry Buch develop problems when a rocker arm let go and shot a pushrod through the valve cover of the #34 car. Neil Hershorin also retired after an off-course shunt broke some pieces in his front suspension and ended his weekend early. Saturday’s qualifying saw Bruce Griggs take the AIX pole over John Lindsey by less than .3 seconds. The AI pole belonged to Guy Cunningham just behind the two AIX front-runners. Saturday’s race started with a “who’s gonna lift first” charge into the first turn with Lindsey and Griggs inches apart. Griggs secured the lead and Lindsey fell in behind to bide his time until a pass was possible. In AI, a tight pack including Kevin Chambers, Guy Cunningham, and Vageli Karas set up just behind the AIX leaders and settled into a great battle. Unfortunately, contact between Cunningham and Paul Mashouf dropped Cunningham to third position at the finish, with Chambers in first and Karas securing second. The AIX battle continued until the last three laps when Lindsey began to experience vapor lock problems that chopped his power and left him watching Griggs thunder off into the distance. Lindsey still managed to hold off a late charge from third place finisher Bill Daffron and secure second place while Griggs took the win.

Sunday’s qualifying saw the triumphant return of Ross Murray piloting Bill Daffron’s #27 Galpin Ford entry. Murray streaked out to take the AIX and overall pole with Tim Nichols and Bruce Griggs just behind. The AI pole again belonged to Guy Cunningham. The race again began with a charge into the first turn that saw the front three emerge with Murray in front followed by Nichols and then Griggs. Murray shot out to a thin two second lead on Nichols and Griggs while the AI competitors again duked it out just behind. After a few laps, Griggs set Nichols up for a pass and managed to squeeze by to take second position. Griggs and Nichols continued dicing just behind Murray until fuel problems slowed Murray enough for the Nichols and Griggs to close on his bumper. The final turn saw all three cars separated by no more than ten feet as the checker dropped with Murray in first, Griggs in second, and Nichols in third. The AI result saw Guy Cunningham pass Kevin Chambers for the lead with Christine Knight securing her first AI podium finish coming home in third. Vageli Karas was sidelined again by engine trouble, which gave him a front row seat for the race and a fourth place finish.

The next round for the Series will take place at Thunderhill Park on September 6 & 7, 2003. Both classes are too close to call, so expect more fierce competition and photo finishes.
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