Thursday's Top Twenty 2005-08-25

American Sprint Car Series -- Special Thursday Edition of TTT! TULSA, Okla. (August 25, 2005) -- It's not Tuesday, but after a two-week hiatus it's time to do some catching up with a special TTT edition, this one being of a "Thursday's ...

American Sprint Car Series -- Special Thursday Edition of TTT!

TULSA, Okla. (August 25, 2005) -- It's not Tuesday, but after a two-week hiatus it's time to do some catching up with a special TTT edition, this one being of a "Thursday's Top Twenty" variety. While containing the traditional random items of interest and/or disinterest from recent American Sprint Car Series activity, this edition also has a topless twist with gems from the Sprint Bandits TNT swing as well.

After an extended red flag, TTT fires back off...

1. "I'm Getting Tired of this Sh...!" -- So commented Lincoln, Nebraska's Billy Alley as he pounded his steering wheel in frustration way back when the marathon stretch of 16 scheduled races in 18 days kicked off at NRP's I-80 Speedway on Wednesday night, August 3. Alley and Brian Brown had just treated the crowd to an entertaining battle, with Brown getting the best of Alley for the third straight time in ASCS action. This one marked Brown's first career O'Reilly ASCS National Tour victory.

2. Turning the Tables -- Alley got his revenge two nights later with the big money on the line in Iowa when he fought off Brown and then Gary Wright to win Knoxville's ASCS 360 Nationals for the second year in a row. Once again, the triumph was worth $10,000 and some valuable airtime on Speed Channel, a luxury that not even the 410 guys got to enjoy.

In case you missed the previous broadcast, Knoxville's ASCS 360 Nationals is scheduled to re-air on Speed tonight at Midnight eastern time, 11:00 p.m. CDT.

3. TNT! -- With the former NWWC "no mas", Emmett Hahn stepped forward and sanctioned the August wingless tour under the Sprint Bandits banner. Five nights of racing throughout Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas attracted 69 cars, with 13 drivers taking in all five events, as rain washed out the Lakeside prelim. A spicy blend of West Coast and Midwest wingless aces along with some accomplished winged shoes going topless for the week made for some excellent racing and pleased promoters. Look for more of the same in 2006.

Those making all five events included Levi Jones, Jon Stanbrough, Bud Kaeding, Dave Darland, Dickie Gaines, Justin Marvel, Brad Sweet, Charles Davis, Jr., John Scott, Travis Rilat, Tyler Spath, Mike Martin and Zach Chappell. Competing in four-of-five were Steve Ostling, Casey Shuman and Tony Everhart.

4. Kid Dyno-Mite! - Levi Jones of Olney, IL, practically turned the inaugural O'Reilly Sprint Bandits Tour 'N Topless swing into his own personal benefit. Levi served notice by winning the opener at Osky on August 9, an Ultimate Challenge worth $30,000. Levi then reeled off three more wins at I-80, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Only a caution that negated his lap 23 pass of Bud Kaeding in the $10,000 to win Lakeside finale prevented a five-race sweep. Levi and car owner Scott Benic still collected nearly $50,000 over the course of the five-race series.

5. Reeling it In -- Eric Miller is on the verge of shaking the bridesmaid role he's been saddled with the last several years with the ASCS Rocky Mountain Region. After third-place rankings in '01 and '02, Miller finished second in points in '03 and '04.

But after his second win of the season this past Saturday night at Sweetwater Speedway in Rock Springs, WY, Miller has stretched his point lead to 40 points over Gary Taylor and Jake Pierson. Only four more races remain for Miller and the No. 4 team.

6. 118 for 360's -- A record 118 entries from throughout the country turned out for Knoxville's 360 Nationals on August 4 and 5.

The podium had an ASCS flavor to it, with Midwest Region reps Billy Alley and Brian Brown finishing first and third, with defending National Tour champion and current point leader Gary Wright finishing second.

Another lap or two, and Wright very likely could have snared his second 360 Nationals title. A late caution diminished his chances. "With those right rear tires they made us run up there, I'd spin the right rear for a full lap before it finally hooked up. Once it hooked up it was okay, but by the time I got going on that last restart it was too late."

7. Chico Traveler -- The road from Chico, California to Oskaloosa, Greenwood, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Kansas City is a long one. Especially when you go down that road with empty pockets. It didn't stop 17-year-old Tyler Spath and crew though, as they made all five legs of Sprint Bandits TNT, getting from one race to the next by cashing each evening's winnings at the first opportunity.

Ranked fourth in SCRA's non-wing 360 points in California, Spath made his 410-ci debut at Oskaloosa and later commented before Lakeside's finale that "I'm having the best time of my life." He went on to post his strongest finish of the week by running sixth in the main event. The sixth-place check surely helped make the drive back to Chico that much more enjoyable.

The Spath team also helped a fellow California traveler stay on the road. El Cajon shoe Tony Everhart damaged a brand new engine beyond repair during I-80 action. Spath and company came to the rescue, loaning a 360 to Everhart so that he could finish out the week.

8. Smoke Sighting -- A winner of five of the past eight NASCAR Nextel Cup events, Tony Stewart still took the time to run the Tuesday, August 9, Sprint Bandits opener at Oskaloosa, IA. Stewart ran among the top ten half the way before taking it to the infield to check out the relatively subdued Tuesday festivities.

9. Triple Visioni -- The Indiana-based Trucker's 24-Hour Road Service team fielded three separate No. 10 entries over the course of the week of TNT. Jon Stanbrough drove the primary car to a second-place ranking in TNT points, with top-five runs at I-80, Tulsa and Lakeside.

Lincoln, Nebraska's Don Droud, Jr., drove the #10x at I-80 and Lakeside, while Bill Rose piloted the #10T at Oskaloosa and Lakeside.

Three, virtually identical black No. 10 sprint cars definitely helped keep the scorers on their toes.

10. Roll Out the Red Carpet -- Marc Olson and the staff at Kansas City's Lakeside Speedway would have to rank among the most hospitable in the nation. After torrential rains washed out Friday's prelim, Olson and company offered up a free bar-b-que lunch to Sprint Bandits race teams, officials, etc., on Saturday afternoon. They even let this scribe in, definite proof of going above and beyond the call.

Even announcer Tony Bokhoven, enlisted for the night's duties, was able to make his way to the announcer's booth hassle-free.

11. One of Those Nights -- For much of the week, Dickie Gaines was one of the few to make Levi Jones sweat. Dickie swapped the lead with Levi at I-80, then led the opening rounds at Oklahoma City. The finale at Lakeside turned into a rough one though for the 2004 Ultimate Challenge winner.

After swapping engines following heat and qualifying race action, Dickie brought out a red flag on a lap 23 restart when he took a hard ride into the turn two fencing. While a significant chunk of fencing was wiped out, Dickie was fortunate to walk away with little more than a hand injury. Dickie ended up fifth in TNT points behind Jones, Stanbrough, Lakeside winner Bud Kaeding and Dave Darland.

12. Gear Up for September -- Believe it or not, September is among the busiest months of the year for the American Sprint Car Series.

Nineteen nights of racing are on the September slate, with seven events over Labor Day weekend alone. Lake Ozark Speedway's Nationals for the National Tour headline the Labor Day slate, with Sooner, Gulf South and Rocky Mountain Regions in action throughout Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas.

13. Golf Cart Mayhem -- Those golf carts can be tricky machines, just ask former ASCS champ Wayne Johnson.Now among the leading weekly contenders at Knoxville Raceway, Johnson somehow injured his shoulder in a golf cart mishap just a night before Knoxville's 360 Nationals. Which conveniently opened the door for Danny Wood, who came to town minus a ride after the final engine in his regular ride burned out at I-80 Speedway the night before. Wood made the most of the unexpected opportunity, putting the Fatt-Fro entry into the main event then racing from 19th to claim ninth.

14. "Did Lanny sell a few more tickets?" -- He had been unconscious for a few minutes, so the question from Rodger Eckhardt came as a relief.

When the Sprint Bandits announced the Tour 'N Topless swing early in the year, veteran racer Eckhardt was among the first to sign up for duty. After getting through a scintillating I-80 event, Eckhardt and Sean Walden tangled in Oklahoma City qualifying race action. While Walden barrel-rolled repeatedly off the turn three and four embankment, Eckhardt went end-over-end in violent fashion, coming to rest in turn three with throttle wide open.

Eckhardt was unconscious for several minutes. As he eventually came around and recognized Emmett Hahn and Tommie Estes, Jr., among others around him, he asked about Lanny's ticket sales in true Egghead fashion. After a night in an Oklahoma City hospital, Eckhardt returned to his Tulsa home the next morning.

15. Casey at the Wheel -- With the Lakeside Speedway TNT finale dubbed the Ron Shuman classic, Casey Shuman was determined to be a Bandit for a week.

After the Osky opener, Casey looted his Indy bank account and set sail for I-80 with the Barnhill Motorsports entry. With ride-shopping Jonathan Vennard spinning the wrenches, a cut tire in the heat didn't seem all that bad after a blown engine in qualifying race action.

After mulling it over, the dejected pair opted to stick with the tour and made the trek to Oklahoma City, where a deal was struck early in the day to utilize Sean Walden's 360 for the rest of the week. When Walden went for yet another bone-jarring ride that night, Walden called it quits for the week and offered the 410 to Shuman.Following an encounter with the Tulsa wall on Thursday night, Shuman wrapped up the week with his strongest outing by finishing seventh in the Ron Shuman classic.

16. Setting the Standards -- Nebraska Raceway Park's I-80 Speedway is proving to be quite the competitive Sprint Car track. Brian Brown and Billy Alley traded slide jobs repeatedly in another entertaining winged battle at I-80 on August 3. And as good as that race was, it almost paled in comparison to the TNT event on August 15.

The top five under a blanket, then a dozen cars within ten car-lengths or so, with three and four-wide racing the norm. A fan's delight and a scorer's nightmare.

And to top the evening off, stunning trophy girls greet the victor and make for much improved victory lane pics.17. Shaking the Monkey -- A night after missing the show in Beaumont, TX, Lane Whittington shook the monkey off his back by scoring his first career ASCS feature win the next night.

Entering this past weekend ranked third in Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Gulf South Region points, Whittington missed just his second feature of the year Friday night at Motorama Speedway. The Denham Springs, LA, shoe bounced back in strong fashion at Houston Raceway Park on Saturday night, denying series point leader Ray Allen Kulhanek his sixth win of the season in an unusual race that had only four cars on the lead lap when the checkered flag flew.

18. Another New Winner -- Whittington became the twelfth driver this season to win a first career ASCS feature. A couple of weeks earlier, South Dakota's Dusty Zomer became the eleventh by topping the first of two Knoxville 360 Nationals prelims. Zomer was greeted in victory lane by a vocal crowd after what was considered by many to be a less-than-ideal slide job on Loren Langerud.

With 67 ASCS feature events in the books thus far in 2005, 31 different drivers have scored at least one feature victory. A total of 449 drivers have competed in at least one ASCS event so far this season.

19. Bud with an "F" -- When Bud Kaeding drew in for the Sprint Bandits TNT event at I-80 Speedway, he was asked to add a letter to his number "29" since the number "29" of Travis Rilat had already drawn in. Bud arbitrarily opted for "F", leaving one to wonder what may have been racing through his mind at that moment.

Tagged with the number "29F" for the balance of the week, Bud finished a close second at I-80 and fourth at Tulsa, with front-end damage ending his Oklahoma City run. As he drew in before Saturday's Lakeside finale, Bud kidded official Donnie Eveland that "I'm coming after you if this number doesn't work out."

Eveland was safe, as Bud parlayed that draw into a front row feature starting position then went on to capture the $10,000 victory, although Lakeside's unique pedal car seemed to be of much more interest to the driver of the No. 29F.

20. Rookie Watch -- Mississippi Rookie contender Lee Sowell surprised many by turning the fastest lap among 118 entries in Thursday's Knoxville 360 Nationals hot lap session. Unfortunately, hot lap sessions don't pay.

Tony Bruce, Jr., qualified for the Thursday feature of Knoxville's 410 Nationals before the rain came and washed it away. With engine woes, Tony was informed that since Thursday ultimately got washed out, he can retain rookie status for next year's 410 Nationals.

After competing in both the 360 Nationals and TOC along with Bruce and Sowell, Jake Martens wrenched Jeremy Campbell into the 410 Nationals "A" Feature.

Ever wondered if a "911" call can be traced directly to a specific motel room? If this question has haunted you, rest assured that the answer would be "Yes". This little bit of info is courtesy a Kansas City guest that wasted little time paging local law enforcement with a botched attempt to log on to the internet from the motel room.

Fortunately, these officers of the Overland Park P.D. were in a pleasant mood that night, otherwise attempts to sell one another down the river would have surely ensued.We'll wrap up this mega-edition of TTT for now. Notes, comments, questions, suggestions and random requests are welcome as always at ascsed@aol.com.

Until next week, any information you may desire regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.

-ascs/lw-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Tony Stewart , Dave Darland , Bud Kaeding , Jonathan Vennard , Levi Jones , Mike Martin , Jon Stanbrough , Brian Brown , Travis Rilat , John Scott , Bill Rose , Brad Sweet , Wayne Johnson , Casey Shuman , Gary Taylor , Ray Allen Kulhanek