I-30 Speedway's Short Track Nationals Thursday Opener is All Wright! LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 23, 2008) -- Only one driver has cracked Short Track Nationals victory lane on more than one occasion since 1993. And that driver, Gary Wright, ...
I-30 Speedway's Short Track Nationals Thursday Opener is All Wright!
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 23, 2008) -- Only one driver has cracked Short Track Nationals victory lane on more than one occasion since 1993. And that driver, Gary Wright, initiated his pursuit of a fifth STN crown by winning Thursday night's 25-lap preliminary feature event atop I-30 Speedway's high-banked, 0x00bc-mile clay oval.
The four-time O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National champion battled past Tony Bruce, Jr., for keeps on the 14th round en route to capturing his fifth series win of the season aboard the Wesmar-powered Richwood Construction/Whiteco Commercial Funding No. 9 Maxim on the opening night of the 21st Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
"The Texan" flashed underneath the checkered flag a half dozen car-lengths ahead of Kansas shoe Bruce, with Oklahoma native Wayne Johnson taking the third and final lock-in position to Saturday night's $15,000-to-win, $2,100-to-start STN championship main event.
"It's tough just to make the feature at this race with this field of cars, so it's good to be locked in," Wright commented after his first STN preliminary victory since 2003.
Vying for his first Short Track Nationals crown since 2004 after previous wins in 2003, 1999 and 1994, Wright landed on the pole of Thursday night's feature after a late move around Dustin Morgan and Justin Melton for second in qualifying race action to go along with a lap-five race-winning pass of Joey Moughan in heat race competition.
But, even starting from the pole, Wright had his hands full with front row outside starter Tony Bruce, Jr., who motored into the lead on the third circuit after Wright had gunned into the initial lead.
Out in front, Bruce moved the Kistler-powered Best Well Service No. 18 Maxim to the low side to keep Wright at bay. When lapped traffic came into play after ten rounds though, Bruce had a choice to make. And, when he moved up the track soon after, Wright was there to take quick advantage.
"I knew when he got to traffic that he'd have to decide to go either high or low and that would give me a chance," Wright explained.
And when Bruce went high as the leaders worked on a trio of lapped cars, Wright swooped to the low side to recapture the lead on the 14th lap, later commenting that, "The bottom of the track was the place to be tonight."
A lap after moving back into the top spot, Wright found open track with a pair of lapped cars separating himself from Bruce when ASCS Gulf South champion Brandon Berryman came to a stop in turn four with driveline woes, cutting short his top ten run.
After a final caution with 19 laps in the books, Wright found Bruce and Wayne Johnson on his tail tank as the lapped cars had been shuffled back. It made no difference though, as Wright was able to slip away while Bruce and Johnson battled for runner-up honors.
Bruce ultimately claimed the runner-up spot behind Wright, with 1997 STN champion Johnson taking the show position in Mike and Tim Hammers' Fisher-powered H&H Enterprises No. 94 Maxim.
Missouri's Tommy Worley, Jr., enjoyed a strong STN debut by driving Doc Sloan's No. a12 entry to a fourth-place finish, with past I-30 Speedway champion Lewis Jenkins, Jr., rounding out the top five on his home turf.
Tennessee's Terry Gray, the 1994 Short Track Nationals winner, climbed from 13th to sixth, with Oklahoma's Dustin Morgan in seventh. Missouri's Jesse Hockett was eighth, with fellow Show-Me state shoe Jonathan Cornell charging from 19th to ninth. Derek Hagar picked off a half-dozen positions to complete the top ten.
Kenneth Walker, Gray, Bruce, Johnson, Wright and Hockett topped heat race action for Thursday night's 46-car field, with Johnny Miller, Garry Bell, Paul Sides and Berryman winning the 12-lap Qualifying races.
The second half of the 21st Annual Short Track Nationals field, expected to reach a total count of approximately 90 competitors, will take to I-30 Speedway for a full card of racing action on Friday night, with the green flag set to fly at 7:30 p.m. Friday's top three finishers will join Wright, Bruce and Johnson in Saturday's Pack's Dash for Cash, with the balance starting over on Saturday night in the battle to fill out Saturday's 40-lap STN championship main event.
21st Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Thursday Night Results:
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 2. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 3. 9-Justin Sturch, 4. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 5. 81au-Gavin Punch, 6. 29a-Jason Botsford, 7. 11m-Brandon Moseley, 8. 5k-Jerry Kamer.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 10-Terry Gray, 2. 71T-Channin Tankersley, 3. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr., 4. 29T-Travis Rilat, 5. 31-Brandon Berryman, 6. 4J-Jamie Passmore, 7. 74e-Claud Estes, 8. 51J-Jimmy Brooks.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 16-Dewayne Prince, 3. 26-Marshall Skinner, 4. 9x-Lane Whittington, 5. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 32-Garry Bell, 7. 13-Kathryne Minter, 8. 93b-Bob Schaeffer.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 94J-Wayne Johnson, 2. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 3. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 4. 1g-Cody Gardner, 5. 5*-Gary Taylor, 6. 3m-Mark Shirshekan, 7. 18-Lorne Wofford, 8. 71s-Jake Simmons.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 9w-Gary Wright, 2. 55b-Joey Moughan, 3. 1p-Curtis Evans, 4. 8x-Chris Williams, 5. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 6. 94-Cody Branchcomb, 7. 86F-Josh Fisher.
Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 75-Jesse Hockett, 2. 87k-Kent Buckley, 3. 11J-Justin Melton, 4. 11J-Justin Melton, 5. 7s-Paul Sides, 6. 14T-Tyler Brown, 7. 2m-Bryce Vowan.
Qualifying Races -- Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into "A" Main; Balance of 20-car Feature Field comprised of Top 16 Overall Points Accumulated Through Heats & Qualifiers (Feature Lined up according to total points)
First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 64J-Johnny Miller, 2. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr., 3. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr., 4. 26-Marshall Skinner, 5. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 10-Terry Gray, 7. 9-Justin Sturch, 8. 4J-Jamie Passmore, 9. 86J-Josh Fisher, 10. 71s-Jake Simmons, 11. 5*-Gary Taylor. DNS: 11m-Brandon Moseley.
Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 32-Garry Bell, 2. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 3. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 4. 94J-Wayne Johnson, 5. 9x-Lane Whittington, 6. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 7. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 8. 74e-Claud Estes, 9. 3m-Mark Shirshekan, 10. 71T-Channin Tankersley, 11. 2m-Bryce Vowan. DNS: 5k-Jerry Kamer.
Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 7s-Paul Sides, 2. 1p-Curtis Evans, 3. 1g-Cody Gardner, 4. 29T-Travis Rilat, 5. 75-Jesse Hockett, 6. 55b-Joey Moughan, 7. 94-Cody Branchcomb, 8. 81au-Gavin Punch, 9. 51J-Jimmy Brooks, 10. 13-Kathryne Minter, 11. 87k-Kent Buckley.
Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 31-Brandon Berryman, 2. 9w-Gary Wright, 3. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 4. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 5. 11j-Justin Melton, 6. 29a-Jason Botsford, 7. 18c-John Carney, Jr., 8. 16-Dewayne Prince, 9. 14T-Tyler Brown, 10. 8x-Chris Williams, 11. 93b-Bob Schaeffer.
"A" Feature -- Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night's $15,000 to win STN Finale.
A Feature (25 Laps -- Starting position in parentheses): 1. 9w-Gary Wright (1), 2. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr. (2), 3. 94j-Wayne Johnson (3), 4. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr. (5), 5. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr. (6), 6. 10-Terry Gray (13), 7. 93m-Dustin Morgan (4), 8. 75-Jesse Hockett (10), 9. 28-Jonathan Cornell (19), 10. 9jr-Derek Hagar (16), 11. 32-Garry Bell (14), 12. 2w-Kenneth Walker (17), 13. 29T-Travis Rilat (9), 14. 7s-Paul Sides (15), 15. 55b-Joey Moughan (20), 16. 26-Marshall Skinner (11), 17. 1p-Curtis Evans (7), 18. 64J-Johnny Miller (8), 19. 31-Brandon Berryman (12), 20. 11j-Justin Melton (21), 21. 1g-Cody Gardner (18).