Tunica race report

Stewart Snares Five Grand with O'Reilly ASCS Tunica Triumph TUNICA, MS (October 4, 2003) - Shane Stewart foiled Garry Lee Maier's victory bid by dashing into the lead as the white flag flew en route to winning Saturday night's 25-lap O'Reilly ...

Stewart Snares Five Grand with O'Reilly ASCS Tunica Triumph

TUNICA, MS (October 4, 2003) - Shane Stewart foiled Garry Lee Maier's victory bid by dashing into the lead as the white flag flew en route to winning Saturday night's 25-lap O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour feature presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers at Delta Bowl Speedway. Stewart's eighth series victory of the season was worth $5,000.

"I really didn't think I could get him, Garry was really fast," Stewart commented afterwards. "I ran high early and he was getting away, then I went to the bottom and I still couldn't quite keep up. He got a little loose a couple of times coming off of two late in the race and that was enough for us to get the run we needed."

After racing from seventh to finish second behind Maier in the evening's opening heat race for the competitive 36-car field, Stewart led the feature field to the green flag with Maier alongside. Maier jumped into the early lead, with Stewart, Gary Wright, Travis Rilat and Cody Branchcomb in tow.

As Maier fought off Stewart's advances, the opening ten rounds were interrupted by a pair of red flags, the first for Toby Brown's turn four tumble after contact with another car with just four laps in the books. Six rounds later, Clint Garner climbed the frontstretch wall with his right rear tire and slammed violently through the first turn guardrail. Both drivers were uninjured.

After the lap ten stoppage, only one more round was completed when Ernie Ainsworth slowed on the front chute with a blown engine. At the same time, current series point leader Travis Rilat, who had surrendered the fourth position to Branchcomb on the seventh circuit, limped to the pit area with a broken right rear torsion stop. Rilat's crew made quick repairs and he rejoined the race at the tail of the field.

As the race resumed, Stewart made a bid for the lead, pulling alongside Maier in turn four on the 12th lap. The former series champion, seeking his first series triumph of the season, fought off the challenge and continued to set the pace aboard the Lubbock Wrecker Service/Carter-Maxwell Goodyear Eagle over the ensuing rounds.

Maier held a five car-length advantage over Stewart and Wright until he got loose exiting turn two on the 22nd round. Stewart closed on the leader's bumper and when Maier slipped again off turn two the next time around, Stewart dove to the low side through turns three and four and led by inches as the duo took the white flag.

Stewart secured the lead through the first two corners on the final round and raced to the checkered flag victorious aboard Scott Chilcutt's Wesmar-powered Visit Australia "Down & Dirty Down Under Tour" Maxim. Wright slipped by Maier on the final round to snare the runner-up position, with Maier settling for the show position.

Branchcomb finished a strong fourth, with Terry McCarl rounding out the top five. Mike Ward claimed sixth, while Jan Howard advanced ten positions to claim seventh after starting 17th. Dale Howard was eighth, with Zach Chappell earning the race's Hard Charger award by coming from 20th to ninth. Terry Gray completed the top ten.

Maier, Wright, Larry Ball, Jr., Branchcomb and Rilat topped heat race action, with Gray and Ainsworth winning the twin 12-lap B Features. In just his third sprint car start, Buster Dickerson flipped without injury after contact on the eighth round of the first B Main.

With his runner-up showing, Wright closed to within 34 points of Rilat in the championship points chase with just the two-night Devil's Bowl Speedway Winter Nationals remaining on October 17-18.

Results:

First Heat (8 Laps): 1. Garry Lee Maier, 2. Shane Stewart, 3. Toby Brown, 4. Ernie Ainsworth, 5. Sonny Sayre, 6. Buster Dickerson, 7. Lee Sowell. DNS: Jimmy Taylor.

Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 3. Marshall Skinner, 4. Jan Howard, 5. Zach Chappell, 6. Kenny Adams, 7. Darren Stewart.

Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. Larry Ball, Jr., 2. Mike Ward, 3. Terry McCarl, 4. Kenny Coke, 5. Raymond Stull, 6. Greg Merritt, 7. Scott Bolden.

Fourth Heat (8 Laps):  1. Cody Branchcomb, 2. Dale Howard, 3. Derek Drown, 4.
Clint Garner, 5. Bryce Vowan, 6. Josh Baker.  DNS: Tim Crawley.

Fifth Heat (8 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. Eddie Gallagher, 3. A.G. Rains, 4. Terry Gray, 5. Corey Bailey, 6. Don Droud, Jr., 7. Wade Oliver.

First B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Terry Gray, 2. Jan Howard, 3. Marshall Skinner, 4. Raymond Stull, 5. Corey Bailey, 6. Sonny Sayre, 7. Greg Merritt, 8. Scott Bolden, 9. Buster Dickerson, 10. Lee Sowell, 11. Jimmy Taylor.

Second B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Ernie Ainsworth, 2. Clint Garner, 3. Zach Chappell, 4. Don Droud, Jr., 5. Kenny Adams, 6. Darren Stewart, 7. Kenny Coke, 8. Bryce Vowan, 9. Josh Baker, 10. Wade Oliver. DNS: Tim Crawley.

A Feature (25 Laps): 1. Shane Stewart, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Garry Lee Maier, 4. Cody Branchcomb, 5. Terry McCarl, 6. Mike Ward, 7. Jan Howard, 8. Dale Howard, 9. Zach Chappell, 10. Terry Gray, 11. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 12. Derek Drown, 13. Travis Rilat, 14. A.G. Rains, 15. Marshall Skinner, 16. Tim Crawley, 17. Ernie Ainsworth, 18. Clint Garner, 19. Toby Brown, 20. Jimmy Taylor, 21. Larry Ball, Jr., 22. Eddie Gallagher.

O'Reilly ASCS National Points (Top Fifteen): 1. Travis Rilat 5,434, 2. Gary Wright 5,400, 3. Zach Chappell 5,354, 4. Darren Stewart 5,157, 5. Cody Branchcomb 4,964, 6. Toby Brown 4,758, 7. Shane Stewart 2,958, 8. Jimmy Taylor 2,726, 9. Tim Crawley 2,601, 10. Rick Behr 2,241, 11. A.G. Rains 1,883, 12. Matt Clevenger 1,837, 13. Nick Smith 1,790, 14. Kevin Ramey 1,768, 15. Jason Martin 1,639, 16. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 1,471, 17. Dale Howard 1,447, 18. Derek Drown 1,413, 19. Garry Lee Maier 1,378, 20. Jan Howard 1,341.

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Series Sprint
Drivers Darren Stewart , Buster Dickerson , Cody Branchcomb , Shane Stewart , Travis Rilat , Kenny Adams , Nick Smith , Kevin Ramey , Tim Crawley