ASCoT: East Bay preview

O'Reilly ASCoT Championship Chase Fires Off This Weekend - A Look at the Title Contenders! TULSA, Okla. (January 22, 2007) - The chase for the $50,000 O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National championship gets under way in rousing...

O'Reilly ASCoT Championship Chase Fires Off This Weekend - A Look at the Title Contenders!

TULSA, Okla. (January 22, 2007) - The chase for the $50,000 O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National championship gets under way in rousing fashion with this weekend's Ninth Annual "King of the 360's" Nationals in the opening segment of East Bay Raceway Park's 31st Annual Winter Nationals in Tampa, FL.

After Wednesday night's open practice session, which runs from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., two full cards of preliminary action including heat races, a dash, "B" Mains and an "A" Main on both Thursday and Friday night set the stage for Saturday night's $10,000-to-win Sixth Annual Ronald Laney Memorial atop the semi-banked, 1/3-mile dirt oval.

Among a stellar field of approximately 70 entries, the following each hope to break out of the gate quickly in pursuit of ASCS National championship honors:

#9 Gary Wright (Hooks, TX) - No retirement for Wright, as he's back to make a run at a fourth consecutive ASCS National championship. A winner of just two National events in 2006, look for "The Texan" to come out with guns ablazin'.

#41 Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA) - "The Ragin' Cajun" isn't spotting anyone any points this year. After missing the East Bay opener last year, Johnson reeled off win after win and closed to within 30 points of Wright by year's end. This time, Johnson is back in time after earning runner-up honors in World Series of Sprintcar points "Down Under".

#75 Jesse Hockett (Warsaw, MO) - Netted third in points in his 2006 Rookie campaign. Wavering between ASCS National Tour action or a full wingless slate, "The Rocket" is worth the price of admission alone and can contend for the crown.

#15s Nick Smith (Broken Arrow, OK) - Contended for 2006 honors much of the way before settling for fourth in points and the Brodix Rookie of the Year award. With a year of experience on the road behind him now, the 23-year-old should be even better in 2007.

#29 Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) - Can contend for a second ASCS National championship, after taking the crown in 2003, if he can secure enough sponsorship to keep him running up and down the road all year.

#1 Sean McClelland (Collinsville, OK) - If the Oklahoma racer can match his National pattern with his Sooner Region pattern (tie for third in Rookie season of 2004 followed by strong championship drive in 2005), McClelland can surprise some people this year after a solid ranking of sixth in his 2006 National Tour rookie campaign.

#91 Darren Stewart (Bixby, OK) - Plagued by a litany of bad luck in 2006, the 2005 National runner-up should bounce back in strong fashion.

#12 Trey Robb (Newcastle, OK) - With a year of invaluable National Tour experience under his belt, odds are good that the 14-year-old will become the youngest feature winner in series' history at some point during 2007.

#15 Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX) - Ranked among the top ten in National points over each of the past three years, the 21-year-old will try to parlay the 2006 ASCS Sooner Region title into 2007 National honors.

#44J Abe Sherwood (Tulsa, OK) - A racquet ball backhand smash from Aaron Berryhill cut Sherwood's 2006 Rookie effort with the National Tour a couple of races short, but Abe is back for another run at it.

#11x Garry Lee Maier (Cimarron, KS) - The first ASCS National champion in 1992, the Kansas shoe jumps back on the National trail in pursuit of another championship after waxing the NCRA ranks the past two seasons.

#83s Larry Neighbors (Oklahoma City, OK) - The ASCS National Tour runner-up in 2001, "The Villain" joins forces with car owner Roger Leesekamp in a run for the money.

#57 Chris Schmelzle (Victoria, BC, Canada) - The Canadian Flyer throws his hat into the ring for Brodix Rookie of the Year honors and can garner long-tow award honors at virtually every event on the nearly 50-night schedule.

While each of these drivers will try to kick off the 2007 O'Reilly ASCoT National series on the right foot, a multitude of other strong contenders will be in action at the season-opening event at East Bay Raceway Park including defending race winner Terry McCarl (Altoona, IA), Missouri's Danny Lasoski (teamed with Donnie Cooper), Florida's Kenny Adams and Danny Martin, Jr., Indiana's Danny Smith, Pennsylvania's Lance Dewease and Tim Shaffer, Tennessee's Jason Sides and Terry Gray, Ohio's Chad Kemenah and reigning ASCS Northern Plains Region champion Chuck Swenson of Watertown, SD.

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.

The O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National slate will consist of approximately 50 nights of racing at nearly 30 different tracks throughout the nation in 2007.

The 2007 season will mark the 16th year of sanctioning Sprint Car racing for the American Sprint Car Series, with the series set to sanction more than 225 nights of racing at approximately 100 different race tracks throughout at least 30 different states and Canada.

-credit: www.ascsracing.com

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Series Sprint
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Darren Stewart , Danny Lasoski , Larry Neighbors , Aaron Berryhill , Jason Sides , Travis Rilat , Jesse Hockett , Kenny Adams , Nick Smith , Jason Johnson , Sean McClelland