O'Reilly All Stars Finalize 2007 Season with Awards Ceremony
ROSSBURG, OH (1-5-08) The O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions closed the books on the 2007 season by honoring two-time series champion Greg Wilson and the rest of the Top 10 drivers at the Eldora Ballroom at Eldora Speedway. The event was once again held in succession with the Eldora Speedway stocks and modifieds awards ceremony as well as the Sunoco ALMS late model series. Over 700 fans, employees, drivers, team members, and family members were in attendance for the large scale event. Tony Stewart was ill and was not able to attend the event, but Larry Boos did a fantastic job with the master of ceremonies duties all by himself this year. A good time was had by all, and another successful event at Eldora Speedway is now in the history books.
Starting out the evening for the All Stars, series president Guy Webb announced that he will be releasing the schedule very soon and expects to have near 50 races in 2008. "We've got a lot of good guys coming to race with us next year," said Webb, "and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised. We've got some great drivers from PA coming and we've got about 5 Rookie of the Year candidates. We'll be visiting a few new tracks and of course we'll be spending considerable time in this area." He went on to say, "Ohio Speedweek will see a few minor changes and we're bringing back our Thunder Through the Plains with a new twist. We'll have several announcements coming out over the next few weeks that I think will bring back some old fans and possibly even create some new ones. I'm excited about our future."
The awards presentation began with 10th Place Dean Jacobs along with car owner Dave Jessup taking the stage. Dean only ran a partial schedule in 2007, but his consistent finishes and exciting runs to the front of the field landed him in the 10th spot as he passed Bill Rose in season points at the Hoosier Fall Classic. "I need to get Dave a win here at Eldora Speedway next year," said Jacobs. "We'll be pushing real hard to do that here, and everywhere." Dean has made the commitment to run the full 2008 schedule. He went on to say, "Dave puts together a really nice race car. I've got the easy part -- I just drive it."
In 9th place was Rookie of the Year contender, Craig Mintz. Craig suffered several mechanical failures throughout the season and missed a number of races when his father was injured in a motorcycle accident. "I grew up looking up to these guys who run with the All Stars and now I am competing with them," said Mintz. "They're a great group of guys. I'm proud to wear the logo and proud to be an All Star member. A lot of people don't know what it means to be part of this group. It's something that I look forward to and I'm looking forward to 2008."
Then 8th place Dale Blaney took the stage. Blaney nearly became $50,000 richer during Ohio Speedweek but came up just shy of winning 4 of the 7 events which would have given him the bonus money. "We had a chance at it and I guess that's all you can ask for, but things didn't work out that well, but just having the chance made it pretty exciting," said Blaney. "We don't go up and down the road with a big truck and trailer, but every time I set foot in the car I know I have a chance of winning and that's all I can ask for." Car owner George Fisher has retired from his job and will have the George Fisher Racing #2 on the road full time with the All Stars in 2008. "We're going to try to give Greg a run for the money in '08," said Blaney. "He won it for the second time in a row now, so hopefully two is enough."
Next up was 7th place finisher Brian Ellenberger who made his return full time to the All Stars in 2007. "It was a lot of fun getting back with this series," said Ellenberger. "Even as a competitor it was great watching Greg and Danny compete for the championship. We're looking forward to coming back again in 2008 and we're shooting for a Top 5 in points next year."
In 6th place was Brock Mayes who missed the early races in Florida as he was competing in Australia. He picked up his first All Star win at Attica and the rest of his season was filled with highs and lows. "We had an up and down season," said Mayes, "and we're hoping to improve things for next year. We're looking forward to coming back."
Paul May took the 5th place honors and had one somewhat controversial win during Ohio Speedweek. As the video highlights prompted Larry Boos to ask "Why do they call you 'The May-niac'?", May responded by saying, "I'm pretty sure the video explained all of that." After Boos noted his improvement as a driver over the years May went on to say, "I owe all the credit to my mom & dad who put a lot of time and money into this. We're having a lot of fun and we spend a lot of time together as a family." There will be an addition to that family soon as Paul and Melissa are expecting a baby girl.
Brandon Martin finished out the season in 4th place in his second year of All Star competition. Brandon had a strong run at the end of the season and will carry that momentum into 2008. "First I want to congratulate Greg on the championship and Danny on winning the owner's points," said Martin. "We got off to a bad start at the beginning of the year, but we got things turned around during Speedweek. I proved to myself and my team that we could run up front and pass some cars. My goal now is to win races and run up front consistently. We're getting ready for next year." Martin was also the recipient of a new set of All Pro heads from Bob Williams who gave the Top 5 drivers a shot at them by random drawing.
All Star Rookie of the Year, Brian Paulus, took home the 3rd place trophy. "Last year the most sensible thing for us to do was to run with the All Stars being that we relocated here to Ohio," said Paulus. "These teams are great to race with and they don't get as much credit as I think they should. I want to thank Guy Webb and the All Star organization. This $10,000 Rookie of the Year check will buy a lot of diapers for my new baby girl." Paulus went on to say later, "We had a really good season and racing Greg and Danny was a blast. Brandon, Brock, Paul, and all the way back through -- it's a really good group of racers." Paulus has been with the same car owner for 15 years and commented, "It says a lot to stay together for that many years. It's a great family and we've had a lot of crew guys come and go and we've made a lot of friends through this deal."
Danny Smith, who came up just two points short of his first All Star Championship, was the 2007 runner up -- and due to the fact that Wilson was forced to drive a team car after crashing at Waynesfield, Smith walked away with the Owner's Championship. Smith's crew chief, Kale, also picked up the Crew Chief of the Year award earlier in the night. Smith jokingly said as he came to the stage to accept his award, "I was sitting back there thinking -- the car owner won the championship, the mechanic won the Crew Chief of the Year, so it looks like we better find a driver!" Larry Boos asked Danny why he never slows down to which he responded, "I'm surrounded by great people. I come from a great family in racing and racing is my life. All these people out here are not only race fans, but they're my race family. I couldn't have done it without all their help." Smith made it known that he intends to take a year off from the All Stars in 2008 and run with the Outlaws. "It's going to be touch and go and it'll take a lot of money, but that's our plan right now. If we can make it the whole year we'll do that and if not we'll be back here. It's not a problem for me to come back to the All Stars."
Greg Wilson made his second consecutive appearance on the Eldora stage in the top spot -- this time as a repeat champion of the All Star series. It wasn't easy in 2007 after losing the points lead to Smith early on and then clawing his way back to the top. The whole season was a nail biter as Wilson and Smith kept the points chase close week in and week out. It all came down to the final laps of the final race at Lawrenceburg's Hoosier Fall Classic. Wilson pulled out the Championship win by just two points over Smith when the dust finally settled. "It was pretty nerve racking," said Wilson. "I want to thank Guy Webb and the All Star organization and the guys we race with night in and night out. We're a pretty tight family." Wilson then said, "I want to thank Danny. It's truly an honor to race for a championship against you. Thanks for being a good friend, too." Wilson thanked his car owner by saying, "I feel like I let Verl down. I should have got him another Car Owner's championship. He puts forth so much time and effort into this deal. He and his fiance, Sabrina, give me all the stuff that it takes to do this. It's an honor to drive for him and to be his friend. I appreciate everything he does for me."
Congratulations Greg and Danny on a fantastic 2007 All Star season!
The All Stars will kick off the 2008 racing season at North Florida Speedway in Lake City, FL on February 1st and 2nd. The All Stars then continue their trek through Florida by moving over to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL on February 5th, 6th, and 7th.