SAN FELIPE PUEBLO, N.M. (July 2, 2004) -- Darren Stewart scored his first O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and Classic Trailers feature triumph of the season in impressive fashion...
SAN FELIPE PUEBLO, N.M. (July 2, 2004) -- Darren Stewart scored his first O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and Classic Trailers feature triumph of the season in impressive fashion by wiring the field in Friday night's 20-lap preliminary feature at Hollywood Hills Speedway.
While Stewart raced to his fifth career ASCS National Tour victory with a comfortable 4.357-second advantage aboard the Ostrich-powered Sparks Construction No. 91 Eagle, the battle for the runner-up slot was intense as four drivers diced for the position. Gary Wright emerged from the tussle to claim the runner-up slot and the series point lead, with Toby Brown and Jason Martin securing the final two transfer positions to Saturday night's main event.
After charging from fifth to win the second heat race, Stewart led the field to the green flag with Rick Ziehl alongside. Stewart jumped into the early lead, opening up a six car-length edge on the opening round as Rickey Hood advanced from fifth to second in front of Martin and Wright.
Running the high line through turns one and two and the bottom through three and four, Stewart gradually distanced himself from Hood and Martin, with Brown overtaking Wright for fourth on the seventh round.J
As Stewart encountered traffic at the midway point, he held nearly a straightaway advantage. Lapped traffic did little to deter Stewart's rapid pace over the last half of the race, as he took the checkered flag comfortably ahead of the field, completing the non-stop 20-lap affair in just 5 minutes and 39.903 seconds.
There was nothing comfortable about the next four positions however, as Hood, Martin, Brown and Wright battled tooth-and-nail for position.
Martin overtook Hood for second on the 12th round, with Brown and Wright racing past Hood two laps later.
Wright battled past Brown for third on the 17th round, then took the runner-up slot from Martin the next time around. As the quartet battled through heavy lapped traffic, Wright slipped away on the final lap to secure second.
Hood briefly relegated Brown to fifth in the final rounds, only to have Brown make a last lap charge to regain the position from Hood then nip Martin at the line for the show position, marking his best outing of the season. Martin settled for fourth, with Hood rounding out the top five.
Less then seven-tenths of a second separated Brown, Martin and Hood at the stripe.
After surrendering the fifth starting slot with mechanical problems, Garry Lee Maier restarted at the tail and charged all the way to sixth.
Travis Rilat, who suffered a broken front end in heat race action, earned the race's Hard Charger award by advancing from 15th to claim seventh after a convincing B Feature victory. Patrick Bourke, Ziehl and John Stroud, Jr., completed the top ten.
Keith Rauch took over the ASCS Rocky Mountain Region points lead by finishing twelfth.
Wright, Stewart and Nick Haygood topped heat race action for the 28-car field, with Rilat overtaking Bud Goodwin on the third round en route to winning the 12-lap B Main. Goodwin took a wild ride in turn three on the ninth round of the B Feature. While Goodwin's mount was heavily damaged, he walked away unscathed.
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Jason Martin, 3. Joe McCarthy, 4. Patrick Bourke, 5. Zach Chappell, 6. Bud Goodwin, 7. Natalie Sather, 8. Geoff Dodge, 9. Jace Pennetta, 10. Leroy Apodaca.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. Darren Stewart, 2. Rick Ziehl, 3. Rickey Hood, 4. Jeremy Sheaffer, 5. Eric Miller, 6. Mike Thigpen, 7. John Jacob, 8. Jake Pierson. DNS: Jimmy Taylor.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. Nick Haygood, 2. Garry Lee Maier, 3. Toby Brown, 4. John Stroud, Jr., 5. Keith Rauch, 6. Greg Schaefer, 7. Travis Rilat, 8. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 9. Scott Milan.
B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. Eric Miller, 3. Jake Pierson, 4. John Jacob, 5. Geoff Dodge, 6. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 7. Natalie Sather, 8. Jace Pennetta, 9. Scott Milan, 10. Mike Thigpen, 11. Bud Goodwin, 12. Leroy Apodaca, 13. Jimmy Taylor. DNS: Greg Schaefer.
A Feature (20 Laps): 1. Darren Stewart, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Toby Brown, 4. Jason Martin, 5. Rickey Hood, 6. Garry Lee Maier, 7. Travis Rilat, 8. Patrick Bourke, 9. Rick Ziehl, 10. John Stroud, Jr., 11. Nick Haygood, 12. Keith Rauch, 13. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 14. Joe McCarthy, 15. Jeremy Sheaffer, 16. Jake Pierson, 17. Eric Miller, 18. Zach Chappell, 19. John Jacob, 20. Geoff Dodge.
O'Reilly ASCS National Tour Points (Top Fifteen): 1. Gary Wright 1,842, 2. Travis Rilat 1,834, 3. Darren Stewart 1,776, 4. Zach Chappell 1,756, 5. Garry Lee Maier 1,736, 6. Toby Brown 1,553, 7. A.G. Rains 1,474, 8. Jimmy Taylor 1,353, 9. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1,279, 10. Natalie Sather 1,180, 11. Cody Branchcomb 1,032, 12. Chuck Swenson 944, 13. Shane Stewart 820, 14. Tony Bruce, Jr. 775, 15. Jason Martin 672.
ASCS Rocky Mountain Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Keith Rauch 940, 2. Jake Pierson 918, 3. Eric Miller 916, 4. Jeremy Sheaffer 866, 5. Jace Pennetta 856, 6. Geoff Dodge 847, 7. Mike Dreiling 806, 8. Randi Miller 770, 9. Greg Schaefer 732, 10. Scott Milan 726.