WIN or lose tonight, Dubbo driver Jeremy Cross is living his dream.
The 29-year-old enters the final round of the Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria series at Premier Speedway with a 38-point lead. While he wants to claim the $10,000 prize for the series champion, he knows with just 61 points separating three drivers, anything is possible.
Cross and his crew have built a new car for tonight’s grand final, unhappy with his performances in the penultimate round at Avalon two weeks ago when he struggled with the set up and missed the A main, slicing his lead.
“We decided to stop banging our heads together,” Cross said.
“We have nothing to lose, the last one wasn’t working.”
Cross, who raced go-karts from age seven until venturing into speedway when he was 17, races sprintcars to relax away from work as a cabinetmaker.
His business partner Brett Graham is his crew chief and together with his father Frank, they don’t mind hitting the road to travel 13 hours to Warrnambool to race, even though they could race closer to home.
Cross said he had no aspirations beyond the SRA series.
“This is me, this is my life,” he said.
“It couldn’t get any better.
“At the end of the day I turn 30 this year. Me and my crew chief Brett started a cabinetry business two years ago and we are hoping to build it up.”
But their aim is to keep a balance between work and pleasure and the SRA series allows that.
“It’s always been a dream to race sprintcars and now we are doing it.
“It’s all enjoyable. After a solid week of work building cabinets, it’s good to get into the truck and unwind while you are driving and have a chat with my dad and Brett.”
Cross, who used to race at Sydney, said his decision to pursue the SRA series across Victoria and Mount Gambier had been worthwhile, experiencing a wider variety of tracks and a mix of talented young drivers and more experienced racers.
“By far I think it’s the best domestic series in Australia,” he said.
“I’m pretty confident in saying that. It’s the best season we’ve had bar the first one. Because we do travel, you feel more appreciated down here. The officials in the SRA make you feel at home and the crowd are always happy to see new faces.”
Cross is one of 51 drivers fighting for a spot in tonight’s A main. If he can do that, he could be close to sealing the series. But with drivers able to collect as many as 400 points across the night, he knows his lead is tenuous. Melbourne’s Brett Milburn is 38 points behind while Tasmanian Shaun Dobson, driving the Warrnambool-owned Droste Motorsport car, is a further 23 behind.
With 10 points between each place in the final, there will be little room for error. Complicating the race for the series crown is the inclusion of a number of star drivers not in contention. Former Australian champ James McFadden, two-time Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic champion Steven Lines and Warrnambool hot shot Jamie Veal signing up, Premier Speedway general manager David Mills is expecting a hot battle.
Mills said the quality field would put on an exciting show, regardless of the fight for the points.
Racing starts at 5.30pm and the program includes a 40-lap street stocks feature that will see the race broken into two 20-lappers, with the second run in the opposite direction.