ASCoT: East Bay preview

O'Reilly ASCoT Opens Season at East Bay Next Week! TULSA, Okla. (January 21, 2008) -- The 2008 Sprint Car racing season officially fires to life in little more than a week when the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National Series takes...

O'Reilly ASCoT Opens Season at East Bay Next Week!

TULSA, Okla. (January 21, 2008) -- The 2008 Sprint Car racing season officially fires to life in little more than a week when the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National Series takes to East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL, to kick off the 32nd Annual Winter Nationals.

Following a Wednesday night, January 30, practice session, the series takes to the semi-banked, 1/3-mile clay oval for the 10th Annual "King of the 360's" Nationals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (January 31 through February 2), with the February 2 Ronald Laney Memorial offering up $10,000 to win.

The opening leg of 360-ci Sprint Car racing's Triple Crown, which also includes Knoxville's 360 Nationals in August and I-30 Speedway's Short Track Nationals in October, features three full nights of racing action.

All entries will compete over all three nights, with the top six point earners over Thursday and Friday's preliminary action locked into Saturday nights' main event. The balance of the field will start from scratch to fill out Saturday night's championship feature event.

Gary Wright of Hooks, TX, kicked off the 2007 season by becoming the first repeat winner in East Bay's "King of the 360's" event history, besting a stellar field of 75 entries from 20 different states as well as Canada in the annual lidlifter.

Wright went on to post a dozen more ASCS National feature wins, running his career total to a series best 119 National triumphs, en route to capturing a fourth consecutive O'Reilly ASCS National championship.

Wright will be on hand in Florida aboard Donnie Cooper's No. 01 entry. Wright is expected to split time between Cooper's No. 01 and his own No. 9 over the course of the season as he chases down a fifth consecutive ASCS crown, which will once again be worth $50,000 in 2008.

Several of Wright's top challengers from last season will be back in an effort to dethrone "The Texan", including past ASCS National champions Wayne Johnson and Travis Rilat along with two-time runner-up Jason Johnson.

Louisiana's Jason Johnson, "The Ragin' Cajun", makes the return from Australia after nipping Oklahoma City-native Wayne Johnson for runner-up honors last year. Rilat, the 2003 ASCS National champion and past East Bay preliminary feature winner, finished fourth in last year's final points behind 2000 National champion W. Johnson.

Olive Branch, MS, car owner Bobby Sparks will have Nebraska's Don Droud, Jr., aboard his familiar No. 91 entry for the East Bay event. No decision has been made regarding who will pilot his machine over the balance of the season.

Also set to make his return for a bid at another ASCS National championship is Talala, Oklahoma's Zach Chappell. Chappell snared his initial ASCS crown in 2001 at just 19 years of age.

In addition to Wright, other past "King of the 360's" Nationals winners at East Bay include Terry McCarl (2006), Chad Kemenah (2005), Sport Allen (2003), Jason Sides (2002), Jeff Shepard (2001) and Ronald Laney (2000). Wright won the inaugural edition in 1999.

Practice for the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National series at East Bay Raceway Park's Winter Nationals will be next Wednesday, January 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., with racing action to follow at approximately 7:00 p.m. on each of the following three nights.

East Bay Raceway Park is located off I-75 Exit 250, then two miles west, then 1.2 miles north on US 41, then right 1.3 miles on Old US 41 to Burts Road. For more information, contact the track at 813-677-7223.

-credit: ascs

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Jason Sides , Travis Rilat , Wayne Johnson , Chad Kemenah , Jason Johnson