Rilat Roars to O'Reilly ASCS Triumph in Texarkana TEXARKANA, Ark. (April 30, 2004) -- Defending series champion Travis Rilat of Forney, TX, dazzled a packed house in Friday night's 30-lap feature at 67 Texarkana Speedway, racing to...
Rilat Roars to O'Reilly ASCS Triumph in Texarkana
TEXARKANA, Ark. (April 30, 2004) -- Defending series champion Travis Rilat of Forney, TX, dazzled a packed house in Friday night's 30-lap feature at 67 Texarkana Speedway, racing to his first O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers feature triumph of the season in wire-to-wire fashion.
Current series point leader Gary Wright was poised to challenge Rilat for the lead in lapped traffic when a late caution appeared. Rilat checked out when action resumed however, racing to nearly a half straightway victory aboard the Motor Mike-powered No. 29 F&J Construction/Haulmark Trailers Maxim over the final rounds.
While Rilat gridded third, it was high school senior Cody Branchcomb who led the feature field to the initial green flag after racing from seventh to score a dramatic last corner pass to win the second of four heat races for the stout 33-car field. Front row outside starter Garry Lee Maier, who made a late pass of Wright to win the fourth heat, outgunned Branchcomb at the drop of the green, only to have the start negated when Branchcomb looped his machine in turn four. Branchcomb would restart at the tail.
Rilat assumed the pole position on the second attempt to start the race, which was quickly red-flagged when second row outside starter Jan Howard tagged the frontstretch wall and flipped wildly more than half the length of the straightaway, with Toby Brown and Chuck Swenson both being collected in the melee. While the mounts of Howard and Brown both suffered extensive damage, there were no injuries. Swenson rejoined the chase after quick repairs.
The third attempt to start the race proved to be the charm, with Rilat snaring the lead in the opening two corners, while Darren Stewart quickly overtook Maier for second. Setting the tone for the remainder of the race, Maier returned the favor by regaining second from Stewart on the fourth round.
Rilat set the pace in the early rounds with Maier, Stewart and Wright engaged in an enthralling battle for second just several car-lengths behind the leader. Wright battled past Stewart for third on the ninth round, then overtook Maier for second on the 13th circuit, moments before the caution flew for Zach Chappell, who spun in turn four after advancing to seventh from his 17th-starting slot.
Wright stayed within three car lengths of Rilat when action resumed, with Maier and Stewart swapping third position repeatedly. Wright had closed to Rilat's rear bumper as the leaders approached lapped traffic on the 20th round and was poised to challenge for the point when the caution flew with 22 laps in the books for Ray Allen Kulhanek's wild slide down the frontstretch.
The race's final stoppage, for top-ten runner Jimmy Taylor who suffered a broken steering linkage, set up a five-lap dash to the checkered flag. Rilat was up to the challenge, slipping away from Wright in the final rounds and scoring his tenth career ASCS National victory by nearly a half straightaway at the stripe.
Wright maintained a two-point advantage over Rilat in the points chase with his runner-up finish, while Stewart claimed the show position from Maier for keeps on the 26th round. Maier edged Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Sam Hafertepe, Jr., at the line for fourth. Hafertepe's career best fifth-place ASCS National Tour finish capped Hard Charger efforts after starting 15th.
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores ASCS Gulf South Region contender Greg Rilat claimed sixth, while Chappell charged through the field again after his mid-race spin to snare seventh. A.G. Rains crossed the stripe in eighth, with Branchcomb battling back to salvage a ninth-place finish. Jerry Bell came from 16th to complete the top ten.
Travis Rilat, Branchcomb, Stewart and Maier topped heat race action, with Chappell taking the checkered flag in the 12-lap B Feature.
The B Feature was interrupted after two rounds for a wild frontstretch tangle involving Chris Sweeney and Brandon Berryman. Both drivers were uninjured but done for the night.
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. A.G. Rains, 3. Jan Howard, 4. Toby Brown, 5. Rod Craddock, 6. Brandon Berryman, 7. Todd Johnson, 8. Randy McKinney, 9. David Forbis.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. Cody Branchcomb, 2. Brandon Corn, 3. Jimmy Taylor, 4. Scottie McDonald, 5. Brad Stokes, 6. Larry Howery, 7. Ray Allen Kulhanek, 8. Greg Coleman.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. Darren Stewart, 2. Greg Rilat, 3. Rick Behr, 4. Chuck Swenson, 5. Stephen Chevallier, 6. Zach Chappell, 7. Richard Cordray, 8. Eric Payne.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. Garry Lee Maier, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 4. Jerry Bell, 5. Chris Sweeney, 6. Richard Holt, 7. Natalie Sather, 8. Terry Parrish.
B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Zach Chappell, 2. Stephen Chevallier, 3. Ray Allen Kulhanek, 4. Todd Johnson, 5. Brad Stokes, 6. Richard Holt, 7. Natalie Sather, 8. Randy McKinney, 9. Greg Coleman, 10. David Forbis, 11. Larry Howery, 12. Rod Craddock, 13. Chris Sweeney, 14. Brandon Berryman.JDNS: Richard Cordray, Eric Payne, Terry Parrish.
A Feature (30 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Darren Stewart, 4. Garry Lee Maier, 5. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 6. Greg Rilat, 7. Zach Chappell, 8. A.G. Rains, 9. Cody Branchcomb, 10. Jerry Bell, 11. Scottie McDonald, 12. Todd Johnson, 13. Ray Allen Kulhanek, 14. Brandon Corn, 15. Stephen Chevallier, 16. Jimmy Taylor, 17. Rick Behr, 18. Chuck Swenson, 19. Jan Howard, 20. Toby Brown.
O'Reilly ASCS National Tour Points (Top Ten): 1. Gary Wright 296, 2. Travis Rilat 294, 3. Garry Lee Maier 280, 4. Darren Stewart 274, 5. Zach Chappell 272, 6. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 262, 7. Cody Branchcomb 260, 8. A.G. Rains 254, 9. Jan Howard 246, 10. Toby Brown 234.
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores ASCS Gulf South Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Todd Johnson 426, 2. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 418, 3. (tie) Greg Rilat and Scottie McDonald 412, 5. (tie) Jerry Bell and Ray Allen Kulhanek 410, 7. Chris Sweeney 398, 8. Brad Stokes 390, 9. Brandon Berryman 376, 10. Brandon Corn 349.