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Spec Racer Fords to Duel in Pikes Peak Sequel

18 September 1998

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - The Spec Racer Ford Pro Series returns to Pikes Peak International Raceway for the second time this season during the Children's Hospital Grand Prix, Sept. 27. The Saturday, Sept. 27, 28-lap, 60.30-mile SFRPS will be televised on Speedvision network Monday, Oct. 12, at 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

As the SFRPS season enters the home stretch with two races remaining, three-time defending Drivers Champion Warren Stilwell, in the No. 28 Stilwell Racing SRF, has mirrors full of the No. 22 Mattress City Racing SRF of John Strickler. In his first season of SFRPS competition, Strickler has been relentless in his pursuit of Stilwell all season long, and has out-dueled Stilwell once this season to score his first career SFRPS victory on the streets of Grand Rapids.

Stilwell carries a three-point edge over Strickler (79 to 76) into the Round Six event after edging Strickler on the oval at PPIR, Aug. 15, and then at Watkins Glen by a combined total margin of victory of 0.846-second, with both races recording the all-time SFRPS record for closest finishes at each respective venue.

"I know that my destiny is in my own hands at Pikes Peak, but I will still keep an eye on John (Strickler)," said Stilwell. "I need to concentrate on the things that I know I can do well, and not allow myself to panic. Focus will be the key, because I'm sure that the nerves will be in high gear."

Hoping to play the role of spoiler will be a host Denver-area drivers, led by last year's PPIR race winner Joe Bunton, as well as Johnny Santo Spirito, in the No. 19 Spirito Racing SRF. Santo Spirito, of Denver, Colo., posted a career-best finish at Topeka in the season opener and has shown he can run with the leaders at several of the events. Bunton, looking to redeem himself after an early crash on the oval in August, is eager to defend his title in the No. 11 Southwestern Racing SRF.

"John has improved dramatically, and I know that he and Stilwell are in a close battle, but I don't plan on giving ground to anyone," said Bunton. "After crashing on the oval, I have something to prove. I am really looking forward to the race. My goal is to repeat last year's performance with a pole and a win. It will be a challenge and any number of people could win."

Other Colorado drivers competing at Pikes Peak include La Rue Motorsports' Robert Funk of Denver and Nikki LaRue of Erie, Steve Stansfield of Ft. Collins and David Rhyne of Denver.