Indianapolis, Ind. (March 5, 2003)-With rule changes taking effect in 2003, the Sportsman 2 division is experiencing a year in which many drivers are taking advantage of the new engine changes. In an effort to reduce the cost to compete in the...
Indianapolis, Ind. (March 5, 2003)-With rule changes taking effect in 2003, the Sportsman 2 division is experiencing a year in which many drivers are taking advantage of the new engine changes.
In an effort to reduce the cost to compete in the division and create competition, Championship Off Road Racing spent the last couple of years conferring with drivers and sponsors to get an idea of what would work best for all parties. In 2003, the Sportsman 2 engine block will have a maximum of 410 cubic inches. Both the engine block and engine heads will be made of cast iron.
Most of the drivers agree that the new rule changes will level out the competition in the division.
"I think the rule changes are going to revive the division," said Sportsman 2 rookie Ross Hoek. "We should see some really good racing this year. It will be interesting to see how big an advantage the tube chassis is with the lower horsepower. Hopefully the frame trucks are still competitive."
"The competition is going to be better and some of the cost will go down," said Ken Hallgren, who is building a new truck for 2003. "We are very excited about building a new truck. We are putting our six seasons of experience into this truck and looking forward to coming out of the box strong at the first race in Dresser," Hallgren said.
Twelve drivers have either reserved vehicle numbers or applied for a license nearly two months before the 2003 CORR Lucas Oil Series begins. Six drivers qualified for year-end bonus money in 2002, competing the entire season.
"It (the rule changes) should level out the competition," said Don Williams. "You will always have trucks that run better than others, but it should be closer racing. It (the rule changes) will bring the cost down somewhat."
With defending champion Tommy Bradley moving to the Pro-2 division, many drivers will seek the 2003 Sportsman 2 championship. 2001 champion Mike Oberg will return in his Dynomax Chevrolet. Ross Hoek and Don Williams will move up from the Stock division.
"I realized that I really didn't belong in a Stock truck any longer," said Hoek. "The new engine rules in Sportsman 2 will also make it easier starting this year since everyone in the class is starting over with their engine program."
For Hoek (4 wins in 38 career Stock starts), Superlift Suspensions will return as his primary sponsor. Drive Train Specialites, Royal Purple, and Jeff's Bronco Graveyard will be back as well for the off-road veteran.
"Our team is built around having many smaller sponsors who are the best at what they do. All of their knowledge and years of racing experience are being built into our new truck," said Hoek.
Don Williams (2 wins in 38 Stock starts) will join Hoek as a rookie in the Sportsman 2 division. Jasper Engines will return as Williams' primary sponsor for his 2003 Ford F-150. Hallgren, who has 39 career Sportsman 2 starts, is coming back to race full time for the 2003 season. Brian Hinman (6 Sportsman 2 starts) is planning to compete in all 12 rounds this year, along with Adam Daffner, who recently purchased Tommy Bradley's old truck.
The new racers and rule changes will keep the Sportsman 2 veterans on edge as the season begins.
Mike Oberg (9 wins in 39 S-2 starts) will try to regain the Sportsman 2 title in 2003. Dan Baudoux finished second in 2002 and has 12 career Sportsman 2 wins. Ben Wandahsega announced that he would be representing Northern Lights Bingo and Casino and the Indian Springs Lodge. His truck will look similar to John Greaves' and Jeff Kincaid's red and black colors.
"We've made a few changes to the truck, mainly springs," said Wandahsega. "Our engineer says it will make us better in the corners, both entry and exits. By making these changes, it should help us reach our goal, to be the 2003 Sportsman 2 champion," he said.
Wandahsega agreed that the new rule changes would help the division. "I think the new rules will tighten up the competition this year. There shouldn't be one guy running away with every race. As far as costs? We'll see," he said.
Jason Janusz had his best season as a Sportsman 2 driver in 2002, finishing 5th overall with five top-five finishes in 12 starts. Mike Savage (1 career Sportsman 2 win in 35 career starts), Gordon Zima (21 career starts) and Bob Gersmehl (17 career starts) will also compete in 2003, adding to the list of the 12 drivers ready to run for the title in the 2003 CORR Lucas Oil Series.