In the old west, duelers didn't show up to a gun fight with identical pistols. You find the weapon that fits you and meet in the thoroughfare for battle.
The weapons of choice for Scott Rueschenberg and Ron Norman are Rueschenberg's Ford Crate D347 engine and a Chevrolet 604 crate for Norman.
Rueschenberg, driver and owner of JUSTPASTU Racing, and Norman, the team's co-driver, have had success for years at Tucson Raceway Park. Rueschenberg won a pair of 2008 championships there -- the Whelen All American State Car Championship and Track Championship -- and Norman is a five-time NASCAR Track Champion himself at Tucson.
Now their ability to channel that past success and win at the 150 ASA Phakisa Challenge on Saturday could send them to the far end of the world.
The winner of Saturday's race -- gates open at 1 p.m. -- takes home $5,000 and an expenses-paid opportunity to race at the ASA Transcontinental Series Inaugural Free State 500K at Phakisa Freeway in Welkom, Free State, South Africa later this month. The 10-year-old Phakisa Freeway features a 1.5-mile oval track, the design of which was based on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"That would be amazing for everybody," Rueschenberg said of a chance to compete at Phakisa Freeway, "from the publicity we get for our sponsors and ourselves, and to help our resume. Just to be able to go to Africa and race, I've never been to that continent, so I think it would be phenomenal."
Rueschenberg said the surface at TRP should be perfect for the JPU Racing vehicles Saturday. Winning at TRP isn't about packing in as much horsepower as possible, it's about handling and maneuvering the track's 3/8 mile, which he expects will be a strength for JPU Racing.
"We really did a lot of testing and a lot of time to get this Project Blue Oval car dialed in," Rueschenberg said. "This being my home track, having run so many laps there, I feel confident."
The JPU team's crates will have them to running with a weight break, a 150-pound differential. The crate engines help make the sport more exciting, Rueschenberg said, because of the quickness and agility that the lighter cars have.
"I think it makes for parity, running side by side because there aren't a lot of distinctive advantages for horsepower," Rueschenberg said. "I think it makes it pretty unique and the fans get a good show because any time cars can run side by side, that's exciting."
Rueschenberg will be running the same Project Blue Oval car he ran when the team picked up two wins and six top-five finishes in 2009 and seven wins in 2008, with their Lefthander chassis and body from 5 Star Bodies. Norman will run another Rueschenberg car, a Chevrolet Impala with a body from 5 Star, but with a Port City chassis. There will be a new look for spectators -- new graphics sponsor Cortez Signs gives them a fresh look for 2010 -- but fans will recognize the cars' distinctive driving style.
Meeting the team's goals this year -- including winning in Tucson this weekend, finishing on the podium at the NASCAR All American Showdown at Irwindale Speedway in California, and recording six wins in USLMA and NASCAR All American Series this year -- will help display new their sponsor, Fat Yard, Inc.
It all starts Saturday in the 150 ASA Phakisa Challenge, where the quick-draw skills of Rueschenberg and Norman will be tested in Tucson.