ASCoT: South Dakota doubleheader preview

O'Reilly ASCoT: Wright's Lead Shrinks to 20 Points TULSA, Okla. (June 23, 2008) -- With the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour set for a pair of events in South Dakota this week, Gary Wright's advantage in the series $50,000 ...

O'Reilly ASCoT: Wright's Lead Shrinks to 20 Points

TULSA, Okla. (June 23, 2008) -- With the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour set for a pair of events in South Dakota this week, Gary Wright's advantage in the series $50,000 championship points chase has dwindled to a mere 20 points over Louisiana's Jason Johnson.

And "The Ragin' Cajun" has to be licking his chops, as the series takes to a pair of tracks at which he swept to victory lane last year.

On Tuesday night, the series invades I-90 Speedway in Hartford, SD. Then on Saturday night, it's on to Huron's Dakota State Fair Speedway. The O'Reilly ASCoT National forces will be bolstered at both events by the ASCS Northern Plains Regional contenders.

After collecting his series-best fifth win of the season this past Saturday night at Iowa's Knoxville Raceway, Johnson has closed to within 20 points of the four-time and reigning series champion. It's the closest Johnson has been to "The Texan" since leaving Florida's East Bay Raceway Park with a $10,000 triumph in his hip pocket and a one-point deficit.

Johnson fell behind on the opening night of the Devil's Bowl Spring Nationals in Texas on March 14 when he had to use a provisional starting position for the main event. While he still raced to seventh-place that night to keep his string of top-ten feature finishes in tact, he only received the 75 non-qualifier points and fell 72 points behind Wright.

Since that time, Johnson has clawed back into the thick of the title chase, posting wins in Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway Spring Nationals finale (March 22), at Missouri's Lucas Oil Speedway (April 19) and at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, TX, (May 10) before Saturday's Knoxville score. No other driver has posted more than one series victory thus far in 2008.

Meanwhile, Wright has made it difficult for anybody to close much ground by finishing among the top ten in all 14 series feature events thus far in 2008. However, a ninth-place run at Knoxville coupled with Johnson's win saw Wright's lead shrink from 38 points to 20.

One saving grace for Wright on Saturday night was Wayne Johnson's misfortune. While Jason Johnson closed the gap, Oklahoma-native Wayne Johnson nearly did the same as well. But rather than close some ground with his first win of the season, a blown engine while leading cost Wayne Johnson more valuable points as he fell to 68 points off the lead pace in third.

Wright and the unrelated pair of Johnson's will be joined by a host of tough full-time travelers including past series champions Zach Chappell of Talala, OK, and Garry Lee Maier of Cimarron, KS. Chappell and Maier are currently ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in series points.

Also ready for the South Dakota double dip is 2006 series Rookie of the Year Nick Smith of Broken Arrow, OK, along with current leading Rookie of the Year contender Eric Baldaccini of Keller, TX. Also joining in will be fellow Rookie contenders Kenneth Walker of Sapulpa, OK, and 17-year-old Kathryne Minter of Bedford, TX, along with 18-year-old Jack Dover of Springfield, NE.

Fargo's Wade Nygaard captured the opening night of action for the ASCS Northern Plains Region last weekend at Fargo's Red River Valley Speedway, making a late move around defending series champion Lee Grosz of Harwood, ND.

The Series:O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour (ASCoT)

When & Where:
Tuesday night, June 24 -- I-90 Speedway at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday night, June 28 -- Dakota State Fair Speedway at 7:00 p.m.

Track Information:
I-90 Speedway (Hartford, SD) -- 3/8-mile, high-banked dirt oval located three miles west of Hartford on SR 38. For more information, contact the track at 605-528-6380.

Dakota State Fair Speedway (Huron, SD) -- 3/8-mile, semi-banked dirt oval located just south of US 14 on the northwest edge of Huron. For more information, contact the track at 605-352-4848.

Current O'Reilly ASCoT Points (After 14 of 42 Nights):

Drivers:Top Fifteen: 1. Gary Wright (Hooks, TX) 1,681, 2. Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA) 1,661, 3. Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, OK) 1,613, 4. Zach Chappell (Talala, OK) 1,543, 5. Garry Lee Maier (Cimarron, KS) 1,486, 6. Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) 1,364, 7. Eric Baldaccini (Keller, TX) 1,297, 8. Nick Smith (Broken Arrow, OK) 1,245, 9. Kenneth Walker (Sapulpa, OK) 1,211, 10. Jack Dover (Springfield, NE) 1,114, 11. Gary Taylor (Sapulpa, OK) 1,042, 12. Kathryne Minter (Bedford, TX) 1,008, 13. Jason Sides (Bartlett, TN) 1,002, 14. Chris Tarrant (Greenville, TX) 861, 15. Aaron Berryhill (Broken Arrow, OK) 845.

Owners:Top Fifteen: 1. Wright-Cooper Motorsports 9 / 01 -- 1,681, 2. Lanny Row 41 -- 1,661, 3. Mike Hammers 94 -- 1,613, 4. David Chappell 50z -- 1,543, 5. Scott Brown 11x -- 1,486, 6. Travis Rilat 29 -- 1,364, 7. Harry Baldaccini B4 -- 1,297, 8. Kip Smith 15s -- 1,245, 9. Sandra Walker 2 -- 1,211, 10. Bobby Sparks 91 -- 1,207, 11. Lori Dover 53 -- 1,114, 12. Mike Eubanks 5* - 1,042, 13. Tracy Minter 13 -- 1,008, 14. Sides Motorsports 7s -- 1,002, 15. Aaron Berryhill 97 -- 920.

The O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National series is currently slated for 42 nights of racing action at 22 different tracks throughout a dozen different states, with more than $1,000,000 in purse money and point fund to be distributed during the 2008 season.

The nation's most prominent Sprint Car sanctioning body with a dozen different Regions throughout the United States in addition to the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National series, the American Sprint Car Series' (ASCS) 17th year of activity will include approximately 250 nights of racing at more than 100 different race tracks throughout 28 different states and Canada.

Additional information regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.

-credit: ascs

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Series Sprint
Drivers Scott Brown , Aaron Berryhill , Jason Sides , Travis Rilat , Nick Smith , Wayne Johnson , Gary Taylor , Chris Tarrant , Jason Johnson