Story By: STEVEN OVENS / CRSA – SODUS, NY – Three races are in the books for the 2022 Super Gen Products CRSA Sprints season and there have been three different point leaders. Billy VanInwegen, Jeff Trombley and Jordan Hutton have captured the checkered flag at Weedsport, Fonda and Outlaw respectively.
At the end of 25 laps at Outlaw Speedway Friday night, Hutton out of Hannibal, NY found himself saluting the crowd from his top wing in victory lane. His team left the track with the point lead for the first time in his young career.
Hutton is in just his second season with the CRSA Sprints but is the perfect example of what the CRSA tour can do for a budding driver’s career. Hutton started off fresh in 2021, earning Newcomer of the Year honors for CRSA and Rookie of the Year honors at Land of Legends Raceway.
2022 plans called for a full-on assault of the CRSA Sprints tour plus select 360 sprint car shows. The 305 was the perfect feeder system to trying out some races with the “big boys” of the Patriot Sprint Tour and Empire Super Sprints. Hutton says that the 360 shows have helped his game in the 305 car.
“The 360 races have really taught me a lot about how the air affects the car’s handling,” said Hutton Wednesday evening while preparing for the weekend’s events.
“Coming back to the 305, it slows things down and I can now make moves that I wasn’t capable of making last year.”
Hutton says there’s been multiple reasons for their hot start to 2022 and looked ahead to a challenge that Land of Legends Raceway will pose on Saturday.
“I think we’ve just doubled down on working hard in the shop during the week with our maintenance program. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been keeping my nose clean in these first three races on the tour. I need to do that again this week at Land of Legends. After winning Outlaw we have to start no better than twelfth Saturday night so we have to be smart. We love the fans there, it’s going to be a great show.”
While one of the CRSA young guns is focusing on the big picture, another is focused on the right here, right now. Whatever is going to get him to Victory Lane the fastest. For the last two weekly sanctioned races in a row at Paul Cole’s Land of Legends Raceway, Ethan Gray has been so close to Victory Lane he could taste it.
Two second place finishes in a row to Bobby Parrow and Darryl Ruggles were separated by an off week at LOLR and a CRSA Sprints stop at Fonda Speedway. One wild flip later, the “Mullet Bullet” was looking at a trashed frame and later found damage to the internal parts of the engine as well.
The team had another chassis, the first one Gray drove to start his career in 2020. But with engine trouble, Gray was almost certain he was out for Land of Legends’ weekly show last weekend. That was, until he arrived back at the shop after being a spectator at Outlaw. Gray’s team had done the necessary repairs to the No. 17E and the Mullet would ride again Saturday.
Gray took the race lead from Dan Craun and was poised for his first career victory at a track he has grown up to love. Two late race restarts exploited Gray’s gear choice and would see veteran Darryl Ruggles race away to his 44th career LOLR win. Another second place run for Gray was more proof that his team is coming into their own in their third year.
“Honestly the big difference this year has been my communication with my dad,” noted the Manchester, NY pilot.
“Dad has been taking my notes and working on a setup I can drive hard with and maintain speed throughout a run. We’ve played with a bunch of adjustments on the car and it is all working right now.”
Gray mentioned that it’s been a whole team effort.
“It’s a credit to my mom and dad helping me to be able to do this, to all of our help in the shop and at the track, our fans in the drive-in area and all of our sponsor support this season. Without any of those pieces we aren’t where we are right now.”
Hutton and Gray are both in search of their first victories at the Land of Legends Raceway this Saturday night in Round 4 for the CRSA Sprints, paying $1,000-to-win. LOLR has been good to first-time CRSA winners with five different drivers getting their first in Canandaigua, NY- Alysha Bay (2018), Erik Karlsen (2019), Johnny Kolosek (2019), Bobby Parrow (2021) and Jason Whipple (2021).