MURFREESBORO, Ark. (August 23, 2003) - After swapping the lead with Travis Rilat at the midway point of Saturday night's non-stop 25-lap feature at Southwest Arkansas Super Speedway, Gary Wright fought off a host of challengers to post his twelfth...
MURFREESBORO, Ark. (August 23, 2003) - After swapping the lead with Travis Rilat at the midway point of Saturday night's non-stop 25-lap feature at Southwest Arkansas Super Speedway, Gary Wright fought off a host of challengers to post his twelfth O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers feature triumph of the season.
"It was tough tonight," stated Wright in victory lane. "We cut the left front tire early in the race and had to fight that all the way, then traffic got really tough. I got bottled up a little bit and Travis got by. Lucky for us, the same thing happened to him a couple of laps later and we were able to get back in front and stay there," Wright continued as the right rear tire on his mount deflated in victory lane.
After battling past leader Kevin Battles on the white flag lap to win the evening's third heat race, Wright led the feature field to the green flag with Rilat alongside. Wright grabbed the early lead, with Rilat, fifth-starter A.G. Rains, Darren Stewart and Tim Crawley giving chase.
Wright paced the early rounds, opening up a six car-length advantage over Rilat until lapped traffic came into play on the ninth circuit. Rilat quickly reeled in Wright as traffic slowed the pace, with the quintet of Rains, Stewart, Crawley, Zach Chappell and Kevin Ramey bunching up behind the lead duo.
Rilat challenged for the point on the tenth round, then gained the advantage in turns three and four one lap later. Not to be denied his 73rd career ASCS National Tour triumph, Wright returned the favor two rounds later and fought off Rilat and company to the checkered flag.
Wright drove the Salina-powered Southwest Express/The Shop/Richwood Construction Maxim to a two car-length victory over Rilat at the line, with Rains snaring the show position. Crawley slipped past Stewart on the 18th lap and held fourth to the line, with Stewart rounding out the top five.
Ramey claimed sixth, with Zach Chappell in seventh. Battles, subbing for Robert Sellers in Jim Bailey's mount, posted a strong eighth place showing, with Toby Brown earning the race's Hard Charger award by racing from 14th to claim ninth. Greg Rilat completed the top ten.
Heat race victories were claimed by Crawley, Travis Rilat and Wright.
Rilat escaped the night with a slim 32 point lead over Chappell in the season-long points championship battle. Stewart is just 34 points out of the lead, while Wright is only 36 markers behind Rilat entering next weekend's Louisiana double at Champion Park Speedway on Saturday night and Fast Trax Motorplex on Sunday night.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. Tim Crawley, 2. Kevin Ramey, 3. A.G. Rains, 4. George White, 5. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 6. Jimmy Taylor.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. Darren Stewart, 3. Rick Ziehl, 4. Justin Sturch, 5. Greg Rilat, 6. James Shoun.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Zach Chappell, 3. Kevin Battles, 4. Cody Branchcomb, 5. Toby Brown, 6. Stephen Chevallier.
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Travis Rilat, 3. A.G. Rains, 4. Tim Crawley, 5. Darren Stewart, 6. Kevin Ramey, 7. Zach Chappell, 8. Kevin Battles, 9. Toby Brown, 10. Greg Rilat, 11. Jimmy Taylor, 12. Justin Sturch, 13. Cody Branchcomb, 14. George White, 15. Stephen Chevallier, 16. James Shoun, 17. Rick Ziehl, 18. Sam Hafertepe, Jr.
O'Reilly ASCS Points (Top Ten): 1. Travis Rilat 4,332, 2. Zach Chappell 4,300, 3. Darren Stewart 4,298, 4. Gary Wright 4,296, 5. Cody Branchcomb 4,058, 6. Toby Brown 3,873, 7. Shane Stewart 2,212, 8. Jimmy Taylor 1,913, 9. Rick Behr 1,893, 10. Tim Crawley 1,846.