ASCoT: Short Track Nationals preview

O'Reilly Short Track Nationals -- The Time is Near! LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 22, 2007) -- It's just a matter of a couple of short days now, the final few hours, and the final weekend of October is upon us. You know, that weekend when all ...

O'Reilly Short Track Nationals -- The Time is Near!

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 22, 2007) -- It's just a matter of a couple of short days now, the final few hours, and the final weekend of October is upon us. You know, that weekend when all roads seemingly lead to Little Rock, Arkansas. The weekend when the collective eyes of the entire Sprint Car racing community shifts to "The Natural State's" capital city.

And the added beauty of it is, at least for those who have planned accordingly, it's a long weekend. It's one that fires to life on Thursday when the first official green flag flies upon the 20th edition of I-30 Speedway's O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.

With the entry count already in record territory at 105 with more entries still trickling in every day, it's doubtful that a tougher, more competitive cast of characters has ever been assembled in one place for a 360-ci Sprint Car event, one that will serve as the final event of the year for the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National series.

And following three full nights of the most intense Sprint Car racing imaginable atop I-30 Speedway's high-banked, red clay, 0x00bc-mile oval, including two full preliminary events on Thursday and Friday followed by Saturday night's STN championship finale, we'll finally know the answer to the most frequently-asked question in recent weeks, or even months.

We'll know the exact identity of the next Short Track Nationals king. We'll know who rides out of Little Rock $20,000 wealthier with a Saturday night triumph. We'll know if the loot goes to New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, California or one of the other 21 states represented among the star-studded field. Or maybe, just maybe, the winner's bounty will stay within the Arkansas state lines for just the third time in event history.

And just to make things more interesting this time around, as if that was really necessary to begin with, the winner could leave I-30 Speedway with more than $45,000. That's right, the top three from the Thursday and Friday preliminary feature events will square off in the Pack's Dash for Cash for the opportunity to be presented the COMP Cams Challenge.

Just witnessing who will become eligible for the added money will be spectacular enough on Thursday and Friday nights. After all, simply getting locked into the $2,000-to-start finale through preliminary night action is virtually priceless. Those studly six won't have to battle amongst the remaining 100 or so combatants for the final 14 positions to the STN championship finale on Saturday night.

And as those other 100 or so battle through heats, last chance races and qualifiers on Saturday in a popular version of the Sprint Bandits format, the six drivers already locked in will square off in the Pack's Dash for Cash, a Dash that has historically held more than its fair share of dicey moments. This year will be no different, as there is that added impetus to finish in front, for that is where the opportunity at a $45,000 payday is to be found. Simply accepting the challenge and going to the tail of the field assured that driver of an extra $1,000 regardless of finishing position. Pull off the unthinkable, come from the tail and win it all, and the winner's share balloons to a whopping $45,000.

The entry list already reads like a "Who's Who of Sprint Car Racing" with the likes of Gary Wright, Daryn Pittman, Shane Stewart, Dale Blaney, Terry Gray, Garry Lee Maier, Tim Shaffer, Lucas Wolfe, Greg Wilson, Brian Brown, Travis Rilat, Wayne Johnson, Jake Peters, local legend Tim Crawley and defending STN champion Jason Johnson among an endless list of lead-footed chargers seeking the STN crown.

And the field keeps getting stouter with each passing day.

Over the weekend, car owner Donnie Cooper confirmed that World of Outlaws ace Paul McMahan will indeed pilot the potent #01 entry. McMahan is only undefeated at I-30 Speedway, winning both his qualifying feature and the STN finale in 2002, the only time he has ever competed at I-30 Speedway. McMahan gave Cooper the first of his two victories as a car owner, with Tim Montgomery wheeling Cooper's No. 01 to victory lane in 2005. Only Bobby Sparks, with back-to-back STN wins with Wayne Johnson and Tim Crawley in 1997 and 1998, can match Cooper with STN victories as a car owner.

With McMahan officially in the field, the number of past STN winners vying for another big score is now eight, with others past winners including Gary Wright (2004, 2003, 1999 and 1995), Jason Johnson (2006), Tim Montgomery (2005), Jason Sides (2001), Tim Crawley (1998), Wayne Johnson (1997) and Terry Gray (1994).

Also entering over the weekend were the likes of Missouri's Jesse Hockett, who provided some of the most memorable moments of the 2006 STN with a dramatic daytime run on a smoldering right rear tire, Michigan's Dain Naida, a former Sprint on Dirt titleist, Ohio's Ron Blair, Nebraska's Stu Snyder, Oklahoma's Foster Landon (the likely 2007 O'Reilly ASCoT Rookie of the Year) and Joe Wood, Jr., and the local father-son combo of Rick and Zach Pringle, with Zach reigning as 2007 I-30 Speedway track champion.

Pertinent Short Track Nationals Information:

What: 20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.

Where: I-30 Speedway (Little Rock, AR). I-30 Speedway is located seven miles southwest of Little Rock off I-30 Exit 126 (Alexander).

When: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 25-27, 2007. $20,000 to win the STN finale on October 27, with $2,000 to start the STN championship feature. Race time is 7:30 p.m. each night. Rain date is November 1-3. Test 'N Tune session on Wednesday night, October 24.

Past Winners: Jason Johnson (2006), Tim Montgomery (2005), Gary Wright (2004, 2003, 1999 and 1995), Paul McMahan (2002), Jason Sides (2001), Mike Ward (2000), Tim Crawley (1998), Wayne Johnson (1997), Pete Butler (1996), Terry Gray (1994), John Gerloff (1993), Steve Kinser (1991, '89 and '88) and Sammy Swindell (1990). 1992 finale was rained out.

Prolific 2007 Feature Winners: Jason Johnson 19, Tim Crawley 16, Brian Brown 14, Shane Stewart 14, Gary Wright 14, Dale Blaney 13, Terry Gray 12, Dustin Daggett 10, Wayne Johnson 10, Lucas Wolfe 10, Jerrod Hull 9, Garry Lee Maier 7, Daryn Pittman 7, Kevin Ramey 7.

Past STN Championship Feature Starts Among Entered Drivers (Since 1993): Gary Wright 13, Tim Crawley 12, Wayne Johnson 10, Terry Gray 10, Garry Lee Maier 9, Lewis Jenkins, Jr. 8, Dale Howard 7, Jan Howard 6, Tim Montgomery 6, Travis Rilat 5, Jason Sides 5, Darren Stewart 5, Shane Stewart 5, Jesse Hockett 4, Garry Bell 3, Brian Brown 3, Jason Johnson 3, A.G. Rains 3, Kevin Ramey 3, Marshall Skinner 3, Nick Smith 3, Ernie Ainsworth 2, Zach Chappell 2, Jerrod Hull 2, Wade Oliver 2, Daryn Pittman 2, Dale Blaney 1, Claud Estes 1, Cody Gardner 1, Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1, Danny Jennings 1, Paul McMahan 1, Jake Peters 1, Eric Schrock 1, Robbie Standridge 1, Raymond Stull 1, Steven Tiner 1, Kenneth Walker 1

The Series: This year's edition of the Short Track Nationals will be the season-ending event for the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National series. The 16th year of competition for the American Sprint Car Series will culminate with the champion, to be determined at the Short Track Nationals, receiving $50,000.

Current top ten in ASCS National points: 1. Gary Wright (Hooks, TX) 4,280, 2. Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, OK) 4,212, 3. Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA) 4,176, 4. Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) 3,976, 5. Foster Landon (Collinsville, OK) 3,477, 6. Darren Stewart (Bixby, OK) 2,697, 7. Nick Smith (Broken Arrow, OK) 2,290, 8. Eric Baldaccini (Keller, TX) 1,851, 9. Andy Shouse (Oklahoma City, OK) 1,740, 10. Kenneth Walker (Sapulpa, OK) 1,723.

The Format: A version of the popular Sprint Bandits format of heats and qualifying races will be in place for all three nights of competition. Each night, Heat Races will be aligned according to the pre-race draw, with the passing points system in effect.

Approximately half of the STN entrants will battle through Thursday's qualifying program, with the other half racing through Friday night's qualifying program. Those not locked in after the first two nights (top three from each night) will race through a full card of Heats, Last Chance Races and Qualifying Races on Saturday night to fill out the October 27 STN championship finale.

Each qualifying night, the top 32 in passing points from Heat Race competition will be inverted in four Qualifying Races with the balance of each Qualifying Race lined straight up with 33rd in points on back filling out rows five and beyond. The top twenty in combined finishing/passing points from the Heats and Qualifying Races will set each preliminary night's feature lineup. The top three feature finishers from each qualifying feature are locked into Saturday's main event.

With six cars locked into Saturday's $20,000-to-win, $2,000-to-start main event, the top twelve drivers in combined passing points from Saturday's Heats, Qualifiers and Last Chance Races will fill positions seven through eighteen. The final two slots of the STN finale will be awarded to the two remaining drivers that have accumulated the most points through Heat, Qualifying, Last Chance and Feature racing action over their qualifying night and Saturday night.

Drivers must compete in either Thursday's prelim or Friday's prelim to be eligible for passing points on Saturday.The Dash will be aligned by a pill draw conducted in "Cheater's Day" fashion. Thursday's winning driver will draw the first pill then give that pill to the driver of his choice. Friday's winner will draw the second pill and give that pill to one of the remaining drivers, and so on until the lineup is determined.

The COMP Cams Challenge: The drivers finishing first and second in the Dash will have the option to take the COMP Cams Challenge, with the first-place finisher getting first option. Any driver accepting the challenge will start at the tail of the field and has the opportunity to pocket an extra $25,000 by racing from the tail to win the race.

The Huggins Bonus: The race winner can also collect an additional $1,000 from Huggins Cams if a Huggins Cams decal is displayed on the car.

The Trade Show: This year's rendition of the Short Track Nationals will also include the Third Annual Short Track Nationals Trade Show & Midway. Fans, drivers & crews will have the opportunity to visit vendor displays, which will be open each day. The deadline for guaranteed vendor space is Monday, October 22.

The Tickets: Advance tickets are on sale through Wednesday, October 24, no advance sales after that. Those ordering in advance by credit card receive a discount, with all three nights just $45. Two-day advance tickets are available as well at the same price as day of show. Day of show cash prices are $15 on Thursday and Friday and $27 on Saturday. To order tickets in advance or for more information, call the track at 501-455-4567.

For more information regarding the 20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires, contact I-30 Speedway at 501-455-4567.

-credit: ascs

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Series Sprint
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Darren Stewart , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Brian Brown , Daryn Pittman , Jason Sides , Paul McMahan , Shane Stewart , Travis Rilat , Lucas Wolf , Jesse Hockett , Greg Wil , Nick Smith , Danny Jennings , Wayne Johnson , Kevin Ramey , Tim Crawley , Jason Johnson , Andy Shouse