NCRA: Season opener preview

O'Reilly/NCRA Sprints to Open this Weekend TOPEKA, Kan. (May 4, 2005) -- The O'Reilly/NCRA 360 Sprint Car division, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires, opens its 2005 season with a Mothers' Day weekend doubleheader. On Saturday, May 7,...

O'Reilly/NCRA Sprints to Open this Weekend

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 4, 2005) -- The O'Reilly/NCRA 360 Sprint Car division, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires, opens its 2005 season with a Mothers' Day weekend doubleheader.

On Saturday, May 7, the winged warriors roll on to the 3/8-mile track at the Jetmore Motorplex, south of Jetmore, Kan. They'll follow that up with a Sunday date at 81 Speedway in Park City, Kan., also a 3/8-mile oval, located just north of Wichita.

Mike Woodruff, of Satanta, Kan., is back to defend his 2004 championship. Last season he won six of the 12 features and dethroned Jetmore's Steve King, the reigning two-time champion. It was Woodruff's first O'Reilly/NCRA 360 Winged Sprint Car title to go along with his 2003 NCRA non-winged crown.

"We weren't dead set on running for the title last year," Woodruff said. "Our goal was to show up and try to win races."

Win is something Mike did with regularity last year. He opened the season with a win at Jetmore and also took the checker there on July 3 as well. All in all, Woodruff averaged a top three finish in each A feature during 2004.

"About halfway through the season we began to think about the championship, and everything just fell into place," he said.

King finished second in the championship hunt and collected back-to-back feature wins in July, including the prestigious Hutchinson Nationals.

Derek Drown, of Amarillo, Texas, was third in points last year with a pair of feature wins.

With a change to the larger wing (10 square feet larger) Woodruff thinks he'll be hard pressed to repeat this year.

"That's a huge difference (the larger wing)," he said. "It creates considerably more down force and increases the cornering speed, which I'm not used to."

According to Mike, fellow NCRA competitors such as King, Drown, Garry Lee Maier, C.J. Johnson and Mike Peters all have considerable experience running the larger ASCS wing. That's an advantage Woodruff thinks will prove to be a big equalizer as this group are all veterans on the NCRA circuit.

"We've never run with the big wing before so that'll take away all my secrets," he laughed.

Mike's also caught wind of some big names from Oklahoma coming up to run at least the first few races of the year. When you combine a Sooner contingent with the above-mentioned NCRA veterans -- King, Drown and Johnson finished 2-3-4 last year in points while Maier is the leader in all time career NCRA 360 sprints wins -- it should be even tougher for Woodruff to repeat in 2005.

"With the new rules and the additional stiff competition, it should make for some pretty good racing, especially to start the season," he said.

For more information about these events, you can contact the Jetmore Motorplex at (620) 357-8886 or 81 Speedway at (316) 755-1781.

-ncra-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Mike Woodruff , C.J. Johnson