American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten TULSA, Okla. (September 6, 2005) -- Not to worry, as Tuesday's Top Ten is back at full force for another round this week.JAs per tradition, TTT consists of ten random items of ...
American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten
TULSA, Okla. (September 6, 2005) -- Not to worry, as Tuesday's Top Ten is back at full force for another round this week.JAs per tradition, TTT consists of ten random items of disinterest gleaned from this past weekend's American Sprint Car Series racing action.JAnd, as always, assembled in no particular order to boot.
Let's hoof it.
1. Cars, Cars and More Cars -- The American Sprint Car Series put up numbers over the weekend than any other sprint car sanction would struggle to match. A total of 126 drivers competed in one of four Saturday night events throughout Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana, with 102 entries in action in Sunday night's three events.
Setting the standard over the weekend was the O'Reilly National Tour's Lake Ozark Speedway 360 Nationals in Eldon, MO, with 51 entries on Saturday and 50 on Sunday. A total of 54 different drivers took in at least one night at Lake Ozark.
2. Launch Pad -- With four wins in recent weekly competition at Lake Ozark Speedway, Jesse "the Rocket" Hockett carried that momentum into the weekend.
Hockett chased down early leader Gary Wright in Saturday's prelim to take the lead on lap twelve. Wright fought back, with the pair wheel-to-wheel on several occasions before Hockett escaped Wright's grasp in the closing laps. An enthused bunch indeed, as Hockett's cousin and crew chief Daniel explained that, "It's not very often you get to beat Wright in a race like that."
Hockett checked out early and was never headed en route to winning Sunday's Lake Ozark final, doubling his previous ASCS National Tour victory output. Hockett's lone previous ASCS win came during prelim action at Sedalia's State Fairgrounds in September 2003. With the wins, Hockett became the twelfth different driver to make it to victory lane through 29 National Tour features thus far in '05.
Hockett will use up a portion of his weekend winnings to make repairs to his second car, which was piloted by Billy Alley Sunday night. A night after scoring his first career Knoxville 410 win, Alley was an early casualty when he flipped in turn three. In all probability, Alley will secure the inaugural ASCS Midwest Region title this Friday night at US 36 Raceway in Cameron, MO, where he is slated to drive Mark Burch's No. 1m entry.
3. I'll See Your Sweep -- Not to be outdone by the Rocket, Forney boy Travis Rilat opted for a weekend of ASCS Gulf South action in Louisiana. After an April 15 Gulf South score, Rilat's National points chase was sidetracked for a brief stint on the WoO trail.
Back in ASCS action to attempt salvage efforts of a disappointing season, Travis scored his second win of the season by dominating Saturday night's Gulf South go at Thunder Valley Speedway in Union Hill.JTravis completed his own weekend sweep by winning the next night at Fast Trax Speedway in Chatham, in the process denying his father Greg Rilat what could have been his first win of the season.
4. Wheels Off -- Sunday night at Lake Ozark Speedway, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., spent a few moments at the turn three and four fence watching a 305 sprint heat race. He quickly came to the conclusion that, "These guys look kinda outta control, this may not be a good place to watch from." A front wheel whizzed by Sam's head moments later when one of the cars got into the turn three wall. Fortunately, the errant wheel bounced harmlessly off Eric Jobe's right rear tire in the pit area, missing all pedestrians.
The errant wheel foreshadowed Sam's later fate.
After starting on the pole, Sam had his heat race well in hand until the final lap, when a right rear wheel broke in turn two and sent his right rear bouncing down the backstretch. Sam kept it on all three remaining wheels and rather than the feature starting position he could have had, later was forced to use a provisional to start the feature in his 41st ASCS start of the year.
Natalie Sather appeared to be the benefactor of Sam's misfortune, as she inherited the lead. But when she got loose off turn four approaching the white flag, second-runner Eric Schrock tagged her and finished the job. Schrock was soundly booed by the packed house for doing exactly what any of 48 other drivers on hand would have done in that position.
5. Ridin' Along -- While Nick Smith won the August 27 ASCS Sooner Region event at Tulsa Speedway, Sooner point leader and fifth-place finisher Sean McClelland seemed to be in the doghouse. Good friends earlier in the year, Sean and Danny Jennings banged wheels under a caution period after the latter took offense to a McClelland pass, while brother Brian McClelland reportedly tossed a steering wheel at Sean after a later incident. "He didn't really throw it at me, he might have tried but I think he hit himself with it and then it just landed in front of him," Sean later explained.
Experiencing the finger pointing that somehow comes with winning "too many" races, Sean had said that he might "Just ride around these last few races," so as not to rock the Sooner boat to excess.
Ride along. Yeah right. Sean rode right along to his fifth ASCS Sooner Region feature win of the year by reeling in race-long leader Andy Shouse in the final laps at Ada's Oklahoma Sports Park on Saturday night.
Now with a 54-point lead over Jennings with just Lawton and Cowtown events remaining on the schedule, Sean has enjoyed a career year. In 18 ASCS starts in 2005, Sean has tallied five wins, twelve top-fives and 16 top-tens.
Meanwhile, the so-called "rough driving" saddle has been shifted to Jennings' back after turn four contact on the final lap while battling for fourth sent Gary Owens into the wall. As it usually does, that saddle will likely shift to another back next time out.
6. A Rare Spectacle -- To witness a Gary Wright "DNF" is a rare sight, particularly in recent years. En route to last year's title, Wright's only "DNF" of the season came when he flipped down the Riverside Speedway front stretch on September 11.
Entering the weekend's Lake Ozark Speedway 360 Nationals, Wright had a 100% finish rate by crossing underneath the checkered flag in all 26 features. Wright ran that to 27 with a runner-up showing on Saturday night.
When sparks started coming off the left front of Wright's car six laps into Sunday's feature, it was a sign that something was about to give. While the sparks came off a failed left front brake, the heat eventually forced the steering arm to give way and sent Wright into the turn three wall in head-on fashion at full speed on the eleventh lap.
Just like the King of the 410's (Kinser for the novice readers), when Wright wrecks, it's never an easy one. Wright climbed from the wreckage after several moments and surveyed the damage. The Texan explained that, "I about pulled out a lap earlier, I knew something was about to break."
With the "DNF", Wright's record run of 16 consecutive top-five finishes in ASCS National Tour action came to a halt. The last time Wright had finished outside the top five was during COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek action at Tulsa Speedway on June 7. Wright finished sixth on that night.
7. The Liberal Connection -- While best known for pancake races down the city streets and housing the "Wizard of Oz" museum, there must be something in the water around the sleepy town of Liberal, Kansas that generates racers.
A true Nomad, Liberal's Jason Martin added his second ASCS Rocky Mountain Region win of the season in Saturday's series debut at Oberlin (KS) Speedway to a previous ASCS National/Sooner win at Cowtown, along with wins with two other sanctioning groups.
Trying to match Hockett and Rilat step for step, Martin made a run for a Rocky Mountain Region weekend sweep on Sunday night at Thomas County Speedway in Colby, KS, only to be denied by veteran shoe Dennis Park, who also happens to be a Liberal-ite.
The third Liberal racer of much undisputed fame and notoriety is recently-turned-21-year-old Tony Bruce, Jr. The leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender on the ASCS National Tour, Tony solidified leading Rookie status and his third-place ranking in National points with a pair of ninth-place runs at Lake Ozark Speedway.HP holds a healthy lead in the Rookie chase over Fairview, OK, racer Jake Martens, who has overcome a mid-season spate of bad luck to climb back up to sixth in points. Martens has closed to within 40 points of fifth-place man Toby Brown, who had a LOS weekend he'd prefer to get lost in most memories.
8. Gassin' It -- Starting inside the second row of Saturday night's Lake Ozark Speedway, Darren Stewart was chomping at the bit and ready to chase down his fourth ASCS win of the season.
Stewart's race ended before it ever got started though.
As the field got in formation after the three-wide salute, Stewart came to a stop on the bottom side of turn three with the most unusual of problems. His throttle pedal had literally broken off under his heavy right foot. That's what we Triple-T'ers call "Standin' On It!"
It could have been worse though. Had the pedal broken just moments later at the drop of the green, one gruff ol' crew chief surmised that, "He would have had a car right up his ass."
9. Lending a Hand -- The racing community is always ready to step forward in times of need. And with the havoc Hurricane Katrina wreaked upon New Orleans and Mississippi's Gulf Coast, this was one of those times.
Drivers made their way through the stands during both nights at Lake Ozark Speedway, collecting nearly $2,300 for Hurricane relief over the course of the weekend.
Meanwhile, the ASCS Gulf South Region drivers passed the helmets during the Louisiana double as well, collecting a total of $1,450. A portion of the Gulf South proceeds will be directed toward occasional Gulf South competitor Shane Morgan, whose Biloxi, MS, home and shop was leveled by the storm.
10. The Spectrum -- Just 15 years old, Hunter Schuerenberg of Sikeston, MO, continues to make impressive strides. After scoring his first Sprint Car feature win in recent weekly action at I-30, Hunter posted his first career top-ten finish in ASCS National Tour competition by finishing sixth in Saturday's Lake Ozark prelim. Hunter's luck took a bad turn on Sunday night, as he was collected in an early incident and forced pitside.
At the other end of the age spectrum, 70-something-year-old Earnest Jennings of Norman, OK, has climbed into the top ten in ASCS Sooner Region points with steady finishes over the course of the season.
10a. Bonus: Cracking the Top Ten -- No hard and fast rules here, so we can add another.
A tip of the hat to Norman, OK, teen Koby Barksdale and Stamps, AR, racer Josh Lofton is in order, as both drivers posted first career top-ten feature finishes in ASCS competition over the weekend.
Barksdale finished ninth in Saturday's Sooner Region outing at Oklahoma Sports Park, while Lofton claimed tenth in Sunday night's Fast Trax Gulf South run.
Hoping your Labor Day was not too laborious, this week's edition of Tuesday's Top Ten has taken the checkered flag. As always, ridicule, scathing comments, questions, etc., are always welcome at email@example.com.
Until next week, any information you may desire regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.