Motor Racing / Pat Ray : Rookie Driver Cary Faas Sprints to Front of the Pack

Most race drivers starting out dream of the day when they can challenge the hotdogs.

For many, it never happens.

But for rookie sprint car driver Cary Faas, it happened last Saturday night at Ascot Park--and it was all he expected.

The 26-year-old driver, a third generation member of the famed racing family from Yorba Linda, ran in his first trophy dash, scored his first victory and finished 12th in the main event after starting last. A pretty good night for a guy who figured it was "about his 18th" time in a sprint car.

Faas, an owner-driver who does most of his own work on the car, said his quick improvement probably can be traced to a combination of factors.

"First, I am getting more confident with the car," he said. "It's a new Gambler and I am learning how to set it up. Although I have been around these things all my life, my dad would never let me even fire one up, so I've had to learn the feel of the car. It's getting easier. Now I can tell when the car is hooking up to the track.

"Another big assist has come from Ron Shuman, who had taken a lot of time to show me things that make getting 'round a lot quicker.

"But the best thing about the whole deal is getting a chance to race with the fastest drivers."

"It is just amazing how easily they do things. . . . It seemed to me that even though the trophy dash is only three laps, it was easier for me to stay with them just by being able to watch so closely what they do to go fast.

"In my heat race, I found out that it isn't so easy running in traffic when you are alone and as a result I failed to transfer to the main event."

Although Faas is a rookie--and rookies are supposed to start at the back--officials of the California Racing Assn. allowed him to start the semi-main from the pole position. He more than repaid their faith by leading most of the 12 laps and winning.

In the main event, though, he had to go to the rear of the 20-car field instead of starting in the third row, where his qualifying time would have put him.

That allowed point leader Jerry Meyer to start on the outside of the front row instead of in the fifth row where the ninth-fastest qualifier normally starts.

"I had some of the guys like Shuman, Brad Noffsinger and Rip Williams, who are chasing Meyer in the standings, rooting for me to start where I qualified, but the officials wouldn't budge," Faas said.

In the 30-lap feature that was won by Lealand McSpadden, Faas advanced steadily through the field and at one point was running ninth. Problems in the final laps, though, cost him three positions.

"Maybe I was getting tired and also my tires were going bad, but I made a couple of poor choices in the last few laps and it cost me several positions," he said. "I just hope I can continue to improve. The better you do, the better you want to do."

He still has several goals, chief among them getting rid of his yellow rookie flag.

"That is up to the officials," he said. "But maybe the fact they let me start in the front of the semi-main means I am getting close. I hope so."

He is also looking forward to running with a wing on his sprint car and racing on pavement.

"If I can come up with the money for the wing, I would like to try it when the World of Outlaws comes to Ascot in late September," he said. "And for sure, I want to try the pavement at Mesa Marin."

The races at Mesa Marin, the swift Bakersfield half-mile oval, have been added to the CRA schedule as non-points events Nov. 26 and Dec. 3. They will be the first races on asphalt for CRA since 1978.

STOCK CARS--El Cajon Speedway will feature sportsman, street, pony and bomber stocks Saturday night in what will be the 900th program since the track opened in July of 1961. . . . A 40-lap sportsman feature tops Saturday night's program at Saugus Speedway. Hobby stock oval and Figure 8 races and jalopy races are on the program, in addition to the last-Saturday-of-the-month destruction derby.

Jim Pettit II of Seaside, Calif., the leader in the NASCAR Pacific Coast Region standings, will try for a second victory at Ascot Park in Sunday night's double-point races. A big pile-up last Sunday that sidelined Ron Meyer and Fred Estrada, the 1-2 point men, as well as Tony Zaffino and Chris Laney made it much easier for Pettit, who held off Marcus Mallet for the victory. Also on the Ascot program are bombers, Figure 8s and hobby cars.

Point leader Dan Press of Frazier Park will try for a record three straight victories at the same track when the NASCAR Southwest Tour invades the quarter-mile paved oval at Stockton's 99 Speedway Saturday night for a 100-lapper. The next Saturday, the tour will be at San Bernardino's Orange Show Stadium.

SPEEDWAY MOTORCYCLES--Phil Collins, a fugitive from the British Speedway League, hopes to continue his hot streak at South Bay Speedway tonight. Last week, Collins won his fifth straight scratch main event and his eighth of the season. His top challengers include Bobby Schwartz, Billy Hamill, Steve Lucero and Mike Faria. . . . Most of the same cast will compete at Orange County Fairgrounds on Friday night and at Speedway USA in Victorville on Saturday.

MOTOCROSS--Fans of Camel Supercross racing will select the winner of a new award named for the late Mickey Thompson. Thompson was a moving force in the rejuvenation of supercross racing in the 1980s. . . . The ninth and final round in the Dodge Truck CMC Summer Series will be held Sunday at Carlsbad Raceway in Carlsbad, Calif. . . . CMC will also hold its regular Friday night program at Ascot.

MIDGETS--Robby Flock and Sleepy Tripp will continue their battle for the lead in the United States Auto Club's Western States Series Saturday night when they headline the field at Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale. Flock has a 36-point margin over defending champion Tripp. Page Jones, youngest son of Parnelli Jones, will try for a second victory in the companion TQ midget feature. Jones scored his first USAC win at the recent Mid-State fair at Paso Robles.

KARTS--The third annual LaVerne Grand Prix street races will be held Saturday and Sunday on a half-mile street course in LaVerne. Although all classes will compete, a special highlight will be the 125cc "gearbox shifter" karts capable of speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h. on the street course.

DRAG RACING--The first Jet Car Nationals, featuring 10 of the West Coast's finest jet-powered dragsters, will be held Saturday night at Bakersfield Raceway. Expected to compete are Jerry Segal, Joe Gonzales, Joe Douthit and Doug Brown. Also on the program will be a full complement of sportsman cars.

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