Stewart Fends Off Wright in O'Reilly ASCS OKC Go OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 24, 2005) -- "Man, that ol' guy is good!" Darren Stewart exclaimed as he climbed out of his sprint car following Friday night's 25-lap O'Reilly American ...
Stewart Fends Off Wright in O'Reilly ASCS OKC Go
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 24, 2005) -- "Man, that ol' guy is good!" Darren Stewart exclaimed as he climbed out of his sprint car following Friday night's 25-lap O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores feature at State Fair Speedway.
But on this night, the 22-year-old Stewart proved to be better, as he fought off Gary Wright's persistent challenges to notch his third series victory of the season aboard the Ostrich-powered Sparks Construction/RESM Transport No. 91 Eagle and tenth of his career, closing to within just 30 markers of The Texan in the series championship points race.
"I kept seeing him up top, but I figured he just wanted my racetrack," Stewart commented afterward. "We were so good on the bottom, I wasn't gonna give that up. It's just good to finally win one here in Oklahoma City, we've finished second here a bunch of times it seems like."
Sam Hafertepe, Jr., and Jimmy Taylor led the feature field to the green flag, with Danny Jennings and Stewart in the second row. But when Taylor looped his mount in turn two on the second attempt to start the race, Stewart assumed the front row outside starting slot.
Stewart then outgunned Hafertepe for the early point and weathered several early cautions before the action intensified. By the fifth round, seventh-starting Wright had ridden the high line through turns one and two up to second and had his sights set on Stewart, with Jennings on his heels in third.
Wright pulled alongside the leader exiting turn two on the seventh round, but Stewart fought off the bid and scampered away to an eight car-length edge. Wright stalked Stewart over the ensuing rounds while also keeping Jennings at bay for second.
In the final ten rounds, Wright turned up the pressure on Stewart as he pursued O'Reilly ASCS National Tour career victory number 96. Using the high groove through turns one and two, Wright briefly surged ahead of Stewart while exiting turn two on the 18th round. Stewart held strong however to maintain command as the pair raced through turns three and four.
With Stewart working the low line masterfully, Wright made several more bids from the top shelf in turns one and two over the next several circuits before Stewart slipped away to a half-dozen car-length advantage on the 23rd round.
Wright tried to mount one last charge, but Stewart raced under the checkered flag with a four car-length cushion. Wright settled for second, just in front of Jennings who claimed a close third. Hafertepe picked up his second top-five finish in as many runs by crossing the stripe fourth, just ahead of ninth-starter Kevin Ramey.
Zach Chappell snared sixth, with American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region point leader Sean McClelland racing from 14th to seventh. Leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Tony Bruce, Jr., posted an eighth-place finish in front of fellow Liberal, KS, racer Jason Martin. Andy Shouse advanced from 18th to complete the top ten.
While Stewart closed to within 30 points of Wright in the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour points race, Jennings narrowed the gap on McClelland in the ASCS Sooner Region point chase to just eight markers.
Hafertepe, Chappell, Abe Sherwood, Jennings and Stewart topped heat race action for the 35-car field, with Larry Neighbors and Cody Branchcomb winning the twin 12-lap "B" Mains.
Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Jake Martens' night ended early when he climbed a wheel entering turn one on the opening round of the evening's second heat race and went for a wild end-over-end ride. Martens was uninjured.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. Jimmy Taylor, 3. Kerry McAlister, 4. Cody Branchcomb, 5. Andy Shouse, 6. Derek Cottrell, 7. Dara Morrow.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Zach Chappell, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Preston Peebles II, 4. Nick Smith, 5. Lee Sowell, 6. David Lee Lambert, 7. Jake Martens.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. Abe Sherwood, 2. Jason Martin, 3. Robert Sellers, 4. J.P. Bailey, 5. Dex Eaton, 6. Brian McClelland, 7. Mitchell Gosey.
Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. Danny Jennings, 2. Kevin Ramey, 3. Tony Bruce, Jr., 4. Travis Scott, 5. Foster Landon, 6. Earnest Jennings, 7. James Fabian.
Fifth Heat (8 Laps): 1. Darren Stewart, 2. Gary Owens, 3. Sean McClelland, 4. Larry Neighbors, 5. Toby Brown, 6. Gavin Punch, 7. Josh Close.
First B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Larry Neighbors, 2. Kerry McAlister, 3. Robert Sellers, 4. Toby Brown, 5. Dex Eaton, 6. J.P. Bailey, 7. Derek Cottrell, 8. Josh Close, 9. Brian McClelland, 10. Dara Morrow, 11. Mitchell Gosey.
Second B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Cody Branchcomb, 2. Andy Shouse, 3. Foster Landon, 4. Travis Scott, 5. Lee Sowell, 6. Gavin Punch, 7. Earnest Jennings, 8. David Lee Lambert, 9. James Fabian. DNS: Jake Martens.
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. Darren Stewart, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Danny Jennings, 4. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 5. Kevin Ramey, 6. Zach Chappell, 7. Sean McClelland, 8. Tony Bruce, Jr., 9. Jason Martin, 10. Andy Shouse, 11. Toby Brown, 12. Nick Smith, 13. Cody Branchcomb, 14. Kerry McAlister, 15. Preston Peebles II, 16. Jimmy Taylor, 17. Abe Sherwood, 18. Robert Sellers, 19. Gary Owens, 20. Larry Neighbors, 21. Brian McClelland, 22. Foster Landon.
O'Reilly ASCS National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Points (Top Ten): 1. Gary Wright 2,400, 2. Darren Stewart 2,370, 3. Tony Bruce, Jr., 2,133, 4. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 2,109, 5. Jan Howard 1,851, 6. Jake Martens 1,849, 7. Toby Brown 1,807, 8. Jimmy Taylor 1,468, 9. Lee Sowell 1,423, 10. A.G. Rains 1,391.
American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Sean McClelland 1,306, 2. Danny Jennings 1,298, 3. Cody Branchcomb 1,234, 4. Kerry McAlister 1,144, 5. Preston Peebles II 1,129, 6. Brian McClelland 1,103, 7. Foster Landon 1,023, 8. J.P. Bailey 845, 9. Derek Cottrell 831, 10. Jason Martin 826.