By TJ Buffenbarger
7/30/99: California visitor Cory Kruseman swept the Summer Celebration special at the Gas City I-69 Speedway on Friday night to take the $2,500 first price in Dave Ellis built race car. Even though Kruseman set quick time, won his heat race, and won the feature, “the Kruser” earned by winner a thrilling battle with Bill Rose and Terry Pletch in the closing stages. Rose and Kruseman banged wheels the last three laps diving high and low all around the excellently prepared surface in a battle that made the crowd go wild. Even with degrees in the upper 90’s up until 7:00 p.m., the track was in superb condition with absolutely no dust.
“The top was better in three and four, and I didn’t think anyone would try it. I heard the bottom was the way to get around here, and when you are in the lead you don’t have anything to gage off of. We had that last yellow, and Dave (Cory’s Crew Chief) signaled that everyone was on the bottom.” Said Kruseman after the feature. “Pretty soon here came Billy Rose up on the top. Billy comes to California and we have raced hard together. I know he isn’t going to crash me as long as you don’t crash him. I pushed him as hard as he pushed me. He came over and was the first one to congratulate me”.
Corey Smith and Mark Clark were on the front row for the 30-Lap Summer Celebration main event. Clark jumped into the lead at the start, but behind him Smith and Jason Robbins were battling for second. From third on back Robbie Rice, Mike Mann, Ande Possman, Rose, and Kruseman were all battling in a pack for third position. Possman and Kruseman were on the high side and worked there way quickly into the top five. A couple of laps later, Possman dropped back through the field.
By lap four Mann was fourth and Kruseman was in fifth joining Clark and Smith for the race for second. Mann was around the bottom with Smith up top racing for second just a lap later. Behind them Robbie Rice and Kruseman were side by side for fifth. Kruseman and Mann broke free and swapped second position several times in the next few laps before catching Clark. While Mann and Clark battling for the lead on lap 13, Kruseman dove across the racetrack to the bottom and went from first to third. Just after that Mann went into second position on lap 16 John Snepp spun on the backstretch right in front of the leaders. Only Robbie Rice made contact with Snepp. Rice was able to continue while Snepp’s night was finished.
During the restart Terry Pletch was making a move through the field with Bill Rose. Pletch moved into the fifth position after the restart and started chasing down the leaders. On lap 17 Rose and Pletch were side by side racing for fourth, with Rose moved by Pletch one lap later and started to work on the leaders. Clark and Mann made contact on lap 17 with Mann doing a 360 in the middle of the track. Shortly after Corey Smith spun on the front stretch and brought out the caution.
This set up a seven-lap shootout with Kruseman, Rose, and Pletch. Rose and Kruseman were side by side right away racing for the lead. Rose held the lead on lap 26 and began to open up some daylight on second place. Then while going down the backstretch Rose got too high and slipped. Kruseman pounced on Rose for the lead, with Pletch also looking for second position. Then it was Pletch and Kruseman racing into turn one for the lead, but Rose was not going to give up and went to the top to shoot back into the lead.
With the great battle going for the lead, the other driver catching attention was Possman. After dropping back Possman’s tire came in and moved through the field. With five laps to go Ande got around Clark to move into fourth, but didn’t quite have enough time to catch the lead battle.
With two laps to go Rose and Kruseman were side by side swapping the high and low side of the racetrack. As they came down the backstretch, Rose and Kruseman made contact and were heading towards the wall. Both drivers were in full control as they raced into turn one on the white flag lap. Both cars were side by side as they dove for the bottom and locked wheels. Rose got a little sideways out of two and allowed Kruseman to take the victory over Rose, Pletch, Possman, and Mark Clark.
Kruseman set quick time with a lap of 13.415 seconds around the ¼ mile oval at Gas City. Kruseman, Tony Plough, Mann, and Clark won the heat races, while Richard Ott won the B-Main event. Next week the Sprint Cars, UMP Modifieds, and Street Stocks return to the Gas City I-69 Speedway.