VETERAN WARD SHOOTS DOWN YOUNG GUN STENHOUSE IN COLUMBUS, MS O'REILLY USCS RACE COLUMBUS, MS - Veteran Mike Ward of Memphis, TN picked up his second O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series win of the season Saturday night at...
VETERAN WARD SHOOTS DOWN YOUNG GUN STENHOUSE IN COLUMBUS, MS O'REILLY USCS RACE
COLUMBUS, MS - Veteran Mike Ward of Memphis, TN picked up his second O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series win of the season Saturday night at Columbus Speedway by out-shooting SpeedMart Young Gun 17-year-old Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Olive Branch, MS in the 30-lap feature race.
Officially at the start-finish line where the leaders are scored, it showed Stenhouse led the first 11 laps in the Fast Effects J&J/Dynotech, and Ward led laps 12 through 30 in the AMC Maxim/McCarver. In between, though, Ward and Stenhouse swapped the lead back and forth several times.
The lead duo raced that way for 30 laps, keeping the packed house on their feet for the entire race. Ward took the win with Stenhouse a close second. Stenhouse was the SpeedMart Young Gun of the Race.
The defending and four-time O'Reilly USCS National Champion Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN showed that he was back in title-contending form in his second night out, after missing three races because of injuries received in a testing crash on May 24. Gray started his Goodson Farms/Wendy's Maxim/Wesmar 13th and finished third to earn the Huggins Cams Hard Charger of the Race Award.
The youngest SpeedMart Young Gun in the race, 15-year-old Hunter Schuerenberg continued to impress, as he started his Minor's Harley-Davidson Maxim/Foxco 12th and took the fourth spot. Garry Bell of Memphis, TN rounded out the top five in the FSR Maxim/Dynotech.
Ernie Ainsworth of Bartlett, TN was the highest finishing of four drivers in the top ten that had to come back from early race spins. Ainsworth finished sixth in the H Enterprises Eagle/Dickens after spinning on lap three. Marshall Skinner was seventh in the Parts Plus Maxim/Ott after spinning on lap eight.
Kenny Adams of Malabar, FL spun on lap ten, but came back in the Goodson Farms Shaw/Ott to finish eighth. Mike McElya of Bartlett, TN was ninth in the Pyles Paving J/Sikes, and Danny Martin Jr. of Sarasota, FL came back from a lap nine spin to finish tenth in the Martin Structures, Inc. Schnee/ZRE.
While Ward and Stenhouse raced side-by-side during the first third of the race, their duel was interrupted six times, as those who dared to get close enough to watch, spun out on the hard-slick, but very racy 3/8-mile high-banked clay oval.
Ainsworth was the first to go around on lap three while trying to advance from his eighth starting spot. Eric White of Horn Lake, MS spun his Slobuilt Racing Engines Gambler on the restart. The field stayed green until lap eight when Matt Tiffany of Daytona Beach, FL spun his Independent Printing Shaw/Ott while running tenth.
On the restart, Skinner was running third when he spun coming off the fourth turn. That moved Martin up to the third spot until he spun in turn two on lap nine. The next driver up to the third spot was Adams, who spun coming off the fourth turn on lap ten. The race went clean and green the rest of the way.
Bell and Gray must not have thought the third spot was jinxed, as after the restart, they raced as hard as Stenhouse and Ward raced for the lead. The battled for third changed hands between Bell and Gray three times before Gray held on to the position from lap 13 to the checkered flag.
Ward got the advantage on Stenhouse for the final ten laps of the race using lapped traffic to his advantage. The victory was the 11th O'Reilly USCS career win for Ward, and his second series win at Columbus Speedway.
Adams won the six-lap Air Flow Research Power Dash, and the Engler Machine and Tool first ten-lap heat race. Ainsworth won the ButlerBuilt second ten-lap heat race, and Skinner won the Koolbeans Trophies third ten-lap heat race.
Stenhouse now has an eight-point lead over Adams in the O'Reilly USCS Mid-South Thunder Tour point standings after the first five races. The next O'Reilly USCS Mid-South Thunder Tour points race will be on June 25 at Milan Speedway in Milan, TN.
The next O'Reilly USCS National Outlaw Thunder points races will also be a pair of Southern Thunder Tour regional points races at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, AL on June 11, and at Rome Speedway in Rome, GA on June 12.