Rich history continues in sunshine state

PENDLETON, Ind. (March 9, 2004) -- Since first competing at Lakeland, Fla., in February of 1996, the ASA National Tour began to establish its history in one of America's strongest states for stock car racing. ASA will make its 10th appearance in...

PENDLETON, Ind. (March 9, 2004) -- Since first competing at Lakeland, Fla., in February of 1996, the ASA National Tour began to establish its history in one of America's strongest states for stock car racing. ASA will make its 10th appearance in the Sunshine State with the SK Hand Tool 200 at USA International Speedway on Saturday, March 27.

Seven-time ASA National Champion Mike Eddy won the initial event at Florida's Premier Short Track. A prime time television audience saw Eddy pass pole sitter Scott Hansen on the 268th circuit and then dominate the final 33 laps. Eddy was followed by Brad Loney, two-time ASA National Champion Gary St. Amant and 1996 ASA National Champion Tony Raines.

Returning to Florida in May of 1997, ASA made its debut at the .50-mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola. Mike Garvey overcame a major challenge after getting penalized in post-qualifying inspection. This forced him to start on the tail of the 33-car starting field. After passing Hansen on the 246th lap, Garvey finished .241-seconds ahead of two-time ASA titlist Kevin Cywinski to win the race.

The tight .375-mile track of Desoto Speedway hosted ASA in March of 1999 with the year's eventual National Champion Tim Sauter celebrating his initial victory. The Necedah, Wis., native got around Rick Beebe with two laps remaining and fended off a late-race challenge from Garvey.

After a four-year absence, ASA made its return to USA Int'l Speedway. The historic race saw the introduction of a first-ever use of fuel-injected engines in a major national touring stock car series and combined them with BFGoodrich Radial Tires. Two-time ASA National Champion Gary St. Amant picked up the victory, finishing ahead of Cywinski and Tim Sauter.

St. Augustine Speedway was the scene of the 2001 ASA season opener on the night before the Daytona 500. A fierce battle ensued on the .50-mile oval between Joey Clanton and Johnny Sauter. 2002 National Champion Clanton prevailed, winning the second event of his career.

2001 saw a third appearance at USA Int'l Speedway with Garvey grabbing the victory. Three-time National Champion Butch Miller and Toby Porter were the other podium finishers.

At the 2002 opener, Clanton bagged his second consecutive victory in Florida. The Stockbridge, Ga., ace led the final 158 circuits, finishing 2.549 seconds in front of Cywinski at USA International Speedway. Gary St. Amant crossed the line in third.

Continuing his Florida hot streak, Clanton won at Five Flags Speedway on May 5, 2002. The race-winning pass came against Travis Kittleson of Merritt Island and then he led to a finish of 1.001 seconds in front of rookie hot shot David Stremme.

In the most recent ASA event in Florida, three-time ASA National Champion Butch Miller won at USA International Speedway in March of 2003 after passing eventual series titlist Kevin Cywinski on lap 193.

Cywinski finished in second position with rookie Reed Sorenson in third. Florida's Scott Lagasse Jr. produced a career best fourth with Travis Kittleson grabbing fifth-place honors.

Billing itself the largest and most modern special events short track in the southeastern United States," USA International Speedway encompasses a number of special events for a variety of touring series, as well as weekly racing shows. The track is often referred to as paperclip-like, with two long straight-a-ways and tight turns. MUSCO TV lighting, aluminum grandstand seating, plenty of free and convenient parking and free camping for self contained RVs are just some of the amenities greeting fans.

ASA returns to USA International Speedway for SK Hand Tool 200 on Saturday, March 27, with the first of two practice sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. Pole qualifying is set for 12:30 p.m. with the fan autograph session scheduled for 6. The SK Hand Tool 200 goes green at 8 p.m. (local)

Advance Tickets are available through the ASA office at a cost of $23 for admission. For additional information, contact the ASA ticket line at 1-888-ASA-1020.

The American Speed Association is based in Pendleton, Ind., and has offered stock car racing programs since 1968, including the ASA National Tour, ASA Late Model Series and ASA Member Track programs. For additional information, visit asaracing.com.

- www.asaracing.com -

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Series Stock car
Drivers Tony Raines , Tim Sauter , Johnny Sauter , Scott Lagasse Jr. , David Stremme , Joey Clanton , Reed Sorenson , Butch Miller , Mike Garvey , Travis Kittleson , Scott Hansen