|Date: 5/5/2009 10:56:25 PM|
Fun Run Turns to Victory for Jessica Anderson
By Dino Oberto ….. “Keeping Track”
Berwick’s Jessica Anderson has been busy putting her time each Saturday night at Selinsgrove Speedway where she competes as a rookie in the 358 sprint car division.
When the 17-year old Berwick High school senior decided to tag along and race with her older sister Amanda last Friday evening at Selinsgrove Raceway Park, an inner 1/5-mile oval used for micro sprints and go-karts, her intent was to just go out and have some fun.
It turned out that her night was much more than pleasurable as she took a surprising victory in the main event, the 270cc micro sprints. It marked her first time winning in the track’s top class. She had won four races in the junior micro class but this was of much more significance, racing against the more experienced drivers from the A-division.
“It felt really good knowing that I can go out there and beat all those guys,” said Anderson who was making just her first micro sprint start of the season.
By luck of the draw Anderson started from the pole and proceeded to stay out front for all 25-laps. Despite the prime starting spot it was no cakewalk as she had none other than defending champ and current point leader Ken Duke hot on her trail.
On the third circuit, Duke passed Gene Burd for the runner up position and reeled in Anderson. Late in the race Todd Hoover stormed into third and made it a three-car battle at the front of the pack. A caution with five laps to go set up a close chase to the finish but she held her ground en route to scoring the popular win.
“I knew Ken Duke was behind me the entire time and he was trying to get around me but I ended up holding him off and it was pretty exciting,” said Anderson. “We didn’t have to adjust anything. The car was set up perfectly.”
Duke and company won’t have to worry about her making a return visit anytime soon. She’ll be racing the sprint car every week and jump back into the micro only when her sister opts to compete.
“I’m definitely concentrating on the 358 (sprint car) more. With the 270 (micro) it’s just for having a little fun.”
Considering this is her first full season of sprint car racing, her efforts thus far have been satisfactory.
“I still have a lot to learn and I want to keep learning. I’m not doing too badly. It’s a lot more fun and exciting than the micro. So far I qualified and finished every race this year.
“I think each week I learn something new and different,” said Anderson.
“I’m going for Rookie of the Year or least trying to. As long as nothing goes wrong with the car we’ll be there every week.”
Anderson is not just the driver. She has gained a huge amount of mechanical knowledge about the car. Over the winter she worked side-by-side with her father, veteran racer Charlie Anderson, preparing and learning about all its intricacies.
“Every week he shows me something new about maintaining it. He teaches me the mechanics which is something I want to learn more about because I’d like to be able to set my own car up and at least have a better understanding,” said Anderson.
“He’s very helpful to have around with all of his experience and knowledge.”
Anderson is also part of a racing heritage. Her late grandfather was John Crawford, Sr., one of the most recognized sprint and stock car drivers known throughout the region.
“I remember a lot about him but unfortunately I never got to see him race which is kind of disappointing. I sometimes feel I’m part of a legacy and hopefully someday I’ll be able to pass that on,” she said.
Anderson loves the bigger tracks such as Selinsgrove and others. Late last season she went to Hagerstown Speedway and qualified for a 50-lap event. She would love a chance to race at the famed Williams Grove Speedway but right now dad feels she’s not quite ready for there.
Her focus will be to improve and strive for good finishes.
“I think a win might be kind of a ways off just yet. I’m going to work on getting top tens. Each week it seems like the more I learn the more confident I get."
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