ALLSTAR: 2001 season review

Young Lions Emerge on All Star Sprint Tour -- Kenny Jacobs Gets Championship PONCE INLET, FL - The 2001 season for the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars will go down in the record books as the year of the "young lions" with several ...

Young Lions Emerge on All Star Sprint Tour -- Kenny Jacobs Gets Championship

PONCE INLET, FL - The 2001 season for the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars will go down in the record books as the year of the "young lions" with several up-and-coming drivers making names for themselves on the 46 race tour. But at the end of the season, which stretched from Feb. to September, it was the cagey veteran Kenny Jacobs who rode home with his fourth consecutive series championship, passing Chad Kemenah for the points lead during the final race of the season at Eldora Speedway.

Six drivers won their first career All Star features during the 2001 campaign which saw events at 24 tracks in 10 states. Leading the list of four youngsters who won features was Benton Ridge, Ohio's Greg Wilson atop the list with five feature wins in Bob Hampshire's No. 63 Maxim. Rob Chaney, campaigning out of Wooster, OH, scored a pair of wins aboard Stan Courtad's No. 9x, with Louisiana's Jason Johnson (Jack Elden No. 22) and Texan Travis Rilat (Chris Archer U2) each capturing their first series wins. Veterans Don Droud, Jr. and Mike Wagner, in his first full year on the All Star tour, also garnered their first career series wins.

It was an uphill battle all season long for Jacobs, who scored his first win of the year at Sharon Speedway in May, but did not visit victory lane again until going on a hot streak in August, winning three races in-a-row at Eldora, Thunder Hill (KS) and Sedalia (MO). He rounded out the month with a popular win at Attica Raceway Park and by finishing second in the final race at Eldora after Kemenah crashed and finished 19th. Jacobs wrapped up the title by 16 points, driving the No. 6 Maxim, with Kriner engines under the hood, co-owned by himself and Tom Honecker.

"At around the time of Ohio Speedweek, we switched from running Goodyears to Hoosiers. The Hoosier tire just has a more successful compound right now," Jacobs explained after the season ended. "We really reached our peak when Maxim built this new car for us. I've never driven a better-feeling, faster car in my career," Jacobs concluded.

Jacobs had seven runner-up finishes and scored 29 top tens, setting fast time nine times, winning 11 heats and nine Dashes along with a pair of B Main victories.

Kemenah scored a pair of wins in the Jimmy Harble UUI-sponsored No. 15k. Kemenah used a Gambler Chassis early in the season, and then brought out an Eagle Chassis near the end of the season. Kemenah's first win came at Eldora in April, and he won two weeks later at Fremont Speedway, both with Kistler power under the hood. He also recorded 29 top ten finishes, set quick time twice and won three Dashes and a heat race.

Veteran Danny Smith, from Danville, IN ended up third in the standings with a pair of wins as he christened victory lane at the all-new Jetmore (KS) Motoplex for the first All Star show there and also recorded the Attica Ambush win on Labor Day evening. His victories came in the John Baker Excavating Maxim and he showed 30 top tens, one quick time, six heat wins and a pair of Dash Victories.

Ohio Speedweek champion Dean Jacobs finished fourth in the points with feature wins at Cannonball (OH) Speedway and 81 Speedway in Wichita, KS. He scored the biggest win of his career at Lawrenceburg (IN), earning $10,000 for the Hoosier Fall Classic win in Rick Daugherty's No. 7. He logged 27 top tens, two quick times, seven Dash wins, eight heat race checkereds and a lone B Main win.

Wilson ended up fifth in the final points with Rilat sixth. Rilat captured the KSE Racing Products Rookie-of-the-Year title, edging Wagner and Johnson for the honor. Wilson had 22 top tens, four quick times and five heat race wins to go along with a Dash win, while Rilat had 20 top tens, four Dash wins and eight heat race victories.

Rodney Duncan was seventh and captured a Fremont win in June behind the wheel of Al Harrison's No. 22. He amassed 19 top ten finishes to go along with four heat race wins and a Dash win. Eighth in the standings was Wagner, who drove his own No. 55, ahead of Johnson, who split time between Lanny Row's No. 41 and the Elden machine. Wagner won four heat races with nine top ten finishes while Johnson dropped off the tour after Labor Day and recorded 22 top ten finishes.

Chaney and Barry Ruble, in his second full All Star season in his own No. 63r, finished in a tie for the tenth spot. Ruble qualified for 11 feature events during the season and Chaney finished in the top ten 15 times along with five heat wins, three quick times and a Dash win.

In owner points, the Jacobs-Honecker team was first, with Jim Harble next followed by John Baker, Rick Daugherty, Bob Hampshire and Chris Archer. Jack Elden^Òs No. 22 was seventh in owner points with Dean Jacobs, Jason Johnson and Rob Chaney splitting duties, with the Harrison Trucking team in eighth followed by Mike Wagner and Ruble.

Other highlights for the season included two first-ever events, The All Star-NCRA Eastern Challenge tour and the inaugural 1200 pound Knoxville Nationals. In the Eastern Challenge, the NCRA Drivers came to Ohio and Pa. to challenge the All Stars. Lance Dewease won the first two Keystone State events at Bedford Speedway and Lincoln Speedway with D. Jacobs snaring the Cannonball (OH) event and Chaney pocketing $7,000 in the "Night The Stars Come Out" event at Chillicothe, Ohio's K-C Raceway. The tour finale at Tri-City (PA) Speedway saw Wilson in victory lane. At Knoxville, Droud and Kasey Kahne recorded preliminary event wins in the event co-sanctioned by NCRA and the Interstate Racing Association (IRA) and it was Droud capturing Saturday's $12,000 to win final.

The 19th annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek saw six nights of action with the Wednesday show falling to Mother Nature. The Attica opener went to Byron Reed, with Rilat taking round two at Wayne County. Mark Keegan scored a popular hometown win at Fremont, and Greg Hodnett scored at Sharon Speedway Thursday. Wilson won the Friday Limaland round, worth $6,000 and it was Reed coming back big to grab the big $10,000 prize in the Portsmouth Raceway Park final.

In other big money events during the season, Wright scored in the $25,000 East Bay Winternationals finale in February and Danny Lasoski pocketed the $7,000 Volusia Speedway Park grand finale. Todd Shaffer scored the Labor Day weekend Sharon Nationals preliminary win, with Hodnett coming back to capture the Sharon Nationals $10,000 final.

Other feature winners during the season were Joey Saldana (2 at East Bay and 1 at Volusia), Dale Blaney (Volusia), Craig Dollansky (Volusia) and Steve Siegel in the spring Lincoln race.

The season wrapped up September 29 at Eldora Speedway with the 10-lap $10,000 purse Haulmark Shootout, and it was K. Jacobs capping off his season in grand style with a flag-to-flag Shootout win.

This was the second season for the All Star 1200 pound minimum weight rule, and this rule played in the outcome of three feature events, with apparent first place finishers being disqualified in the spring Eldora race, the 1200 pound Knoxville Nationals final and the Sharon Nationals.

Unfortunately, the season hit a low in the August show at Eldora when Beaumont, Texas veteran John Bankston died following a crash in the feature event.

Sponsor support throughout the season came from TW Metals and Haulmark Trailers as corporate sponsors, K-T Equipment Rental, JB Enterprise Racing Products, Crown Battery and Engler Machine & Tool as heat race sponsors, Georgia Marketing & Promotions as the C Main sponsor with Haulmark the Dash sponsor. An additional 37 sponsors provided cash and product awards to All Star teams.

The All Stars start their 2002 season in Florida Feb. 7-10 at Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville) and February 13-16 at East Bay Raceway (Gibsonton), paying $26,000 to win on Saturday's final night.

All Star Sprint Final Driver Points 2001:
1. Kenny Jacobs 3332
2. Chad Kemenah 3316
3. Danny Smith, 3231
4. Dean Jacobs, 3185
5. Greg Wilson, 3169
6. Travis Rilat, 3046
7. Rodney Duncan, 2844
8. Mike Wagner 2674
9. Jason Johnson 2267
10. Barry Ruble & Rob Chaney 2106 (tie)
12. Jerrod Hull 1966
13. Kelly Kinser 1878
14. Byron Reed 1774
15. Brian Ellenberger 1396
16. Jim Dayton 832
17. Ed Lynch, Jr. 677
18. Phil Gressman 542
19. Butch Schroeder & Kevin Huntley 450 (tie)


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Series Sprint
Drivers Danny Lasoski , Kasey Kahne , Craig Dollansky , Kenny Jacobs , Dean Jacobs , Joey Saldana , Travis Rilat , Greg Wil , John Baker , Chad Kemenah , Jason Johnson