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Motor Racing : Jones Is Tough Driver to Catch at Ascot Park

Drivers of California Racing Assn. sprint cars will get another chance Saturday night to do something that has proved to be extremely difficult lately--keeping up with one of the Joneses.

The Jones in this case is veteran Bubby Jones, who will be seeking his fourth straight victory at Ascot Park, where the program will be the first in the three-event Budweiser American Series.

Besides competing for the regular purse, drivers will be out to amass points for the Budweiser series, which will reward the top five drivers in main and semi-feature events. Other series races will be run in July and August.

Since taking over the ride in Alex Morales’ Tamale Wagon the week after the season opener at Ascot, Jones, 45, of Glen Avon, has posted five wins on the half-mile dirt oval at 182nd and Vermont.

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His latest victory last Saturday night moved his 78-year-old car owner into the top spot in the CRA car owners’ standings. Morales has 1,643 points to 1,618 for Jack Gardner, who furnishes the cars for current CRA point leader Brad Noffsinger of Huntington Beach. If Jones can hold the lead the rest of the season, Morales will win his seventh owners’ title, but his first since Rick Goudy won for him in 1978.

Noffsinger finished second to Jones for the second week in a row last Saturday, but he had to do it the hard way. When his usual Gardner mount, No. 96, developed mechanical trouble after qualifying, Noffsinger had to switch to the other Gardner machine, No. 93, usually driven by rookie Clark Drake. He won the semi-feature to get into the feature then successfully battled Mike Sweeney for the runner-up slot.

Sweeney, who replaced the retired Dean Thompson in the Bruce Bromme machine, has a host of high finishes this season but has yet to reach the winner’s circle, something Bromme has done more often than any other car owner in CRA history. His cars have 123 victories, including 103 by Thompson, which is tops for CRA drivers.

Bromme’s lead is only eight over Morales, however. Jones’ 71 victories in CRA are second to Thompson, who has moved into sixth spot in the drivers’ standings, behind Noffsinger, Sweeney, defending CRA champion Eddie Wirth, Rip Williams and Jimmy Oskie.

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MOTORCYCLES--Last week was such a profitable one for speedway motorcycle racer Bobby Schwartz that he has decided to extend his vacation from British Speedway League competition for another week. Last week, Schwartz swept the local circuit, winning the scratch main events at Ventura, San Bernardino, South Bay Speedway and Costa Mesa on successive nights. In addition to the regular racing at South Bay Speedway tonight, about 50 cars from the Cruisin’ 50s car club will be on hand for an exhibition during intermission at the track next to Ascot Park. . . . Brothers Kelly and Shawn Moran will be competing Sunday in West Germany in the World Best Pairs competition, and then will return to the U.S. next week to prepare for the American Final, opening round in the qualifying for the World Championships. Their first stop will be Inland Speedway in San Bernardino where they will compete in a match race. . . . The Morans, along with Schwartz, will be in the 16-rider field for the American qualifier at Long Beach Veterans Stadium June 21.

STOCK CARS--Ron Meyer of Lake Elsinore will try for his seventh victory in eight starts Sunday night in the Curb Motorsports Winston series at Ascot Park. Also on the Father’s Day program is a chain race on the Figure 8 course, where teams of two cars, hooked by a 20-foot chain will compete. . . . Modifieds, NASCAR sportsman, mini-stocks and Figure 8 machines all will be in action Saturday night at Saugus Speedway. . . . Mark Meech, Mike Hagerman and Mark Morris will continue their battle for the point lead Saturday night when the NASCAR Winston series for super stocks continues at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon. . . . Tim Richmond, denied his first victory of the season when he was edged by Darrell Waltrip in a drag race to the finish line at Riverside in the Budweiser 400, finally got his victory last Sunday in the Miller 500 at Pocono. In that one, Richmond, Rick Hendrick and teammate Geoff Bodine led 161 of the 200 laps in their Chevies.

SPRINT CARS--While most Southland sprint drivers are content to stay home and race at Ascot Park, one, Lee James of Northridge, will make his weekly trek to Northern California, where he will defend his lead in the winged sprint car series at Baylands Raceway Park in Fremont. James, who prefers the cars with wings, finished fourth in last weekend’s Summer Nationals at Baylands after problems forced him to start 16th. World of Outlaws performers Ron Shuman and Jimmy Sills finished 1-2 with Lealand McSpadden third, also after starting at the rear of the pack.

POWERBOAT RACING--The twice-delayed season opener for the Pacific Offshore Power Boat Racing Assn. will be held Sunday with more than 30 of the nation’s fastest offshore racers expected to compete. The race will start off the Belmont breakwater in Long Beach and run South to Newport Beach, then return. Leading entries include 1985 high-point champion Roberta Gill of Montclair, World Offshore champion Bob Nordskog of Van Nuys, Tom Hayes of Pasadena, Bob Howard of Oakland and Rick Bowling of Castro Valley. The start is scheduled for 10 a.m.

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VINTAGE CARS--The Palm Springs Airport Commission has approved the use of a portion of its facility for the Palm Springs Vintage Automobile Festival Nov. 28-30. Downtown Palm Springs was host to a 1985 vintage car weekend that brought such motor racing legends as Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Stirling Moss, Innes Ireland, Rodger Ward, Sam Hanks and Parnelli Jones to the desert for an event attended by thousands. The newly proposed 1.1-mile circuit will be adjacent to the airport. “Since last year’s event was such a success, we now want to take the process one step further and make the operation more efficient and professional,” said race coordinator Connie Pettit. “By moving to the airport, we can give the drivers the type of circuit that will be reminiscent of the old days of racing at Palm Springs Airport.”


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