Tony Bruce, Jr., Snares $15K in 21st Annual Short Track Nationals Finale! LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 25, 2008) -- Tim Crawley's heartbreak proved to be a windfall for Tony Bruce, Jr., in Saturday night's 21st Annual O'Reilly Short Track...
Tony Bruce, Jr., Snares $15K in 21st Annual Short Track Nationals Finale!
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 25, 2008) -- Tim Crawley's heartbreak proved to be a windfall for Tony Bruce, Jr., in Saturday night's 21st Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires 40-lap championship feature event atop I-30 Speedway's high-banked, 0x00bc-mile clay oval.
The 24-year-old Liberal, KS, racer assumed the lead when Crawley cut a tire less than ten laps away from the checkered flag and then paced the final eight circuits to post the biggest triumph of his young career before a standing-room-only crowd at the Arkansas oval.
"We caught a lucky break with that one, but you've gotta be in position to take advantage of those breaks and we were there," Bruce explained afterward.
Whether or not Bruce would compete in Saturday's STN finale was an item in question until he locked himself into the feature field with a runner-up finish behind Gary Wright in Thursday night's preliminary feature.
"We probably wouldn't have been able to stay for tonight if we hadn't finished in the top three on our qualifying night," Bruce explained. "It's so tough just to make the feature here, one little thing can keep you out of the show. Everything has to fall just right and things fell just right for us this weekend."
The 2008 STN champion overcame some Thursday night adversity just to make Saturday's feature after a qualifying race tangle with past event winner Terry Gray. "That could have ruined us for the entire weekend, luckily we didn't break anything and were able to move far enough forward to save it."
Bruce ultimately took Saturday night's checkered flag just several car-lengths ahead of Gary Wright, who was making a bid for an unprecedented fifth Short Track Nationals championship. Instead, Bruce became the event's 15th different victor as "The Texan" remains the only driver to capture multiple STN top honors since 1993.
For much of the way however, it appeared that Tim Crawley would join Wright among the elite ranks of STN lore by capturing a second event win after taking the top position ten years earlier in 1998.
After Wayne Johnson was goaded into accepting the COMP Cams Gambler's Challenge, Crawley shuffled to the front row outside aboard Mike Ward's No. 88 Boater Sports Maxim alongside pole sitter Bruce. And, much as he did in Friday night's preliminary feature event, Crawley wasted little time checking out on the stellar field as he tried desperately to shake the demons that have haunted him in recent renditions of the Short Track Nationals.
Those demons ultimately proved more difficult to shake than the rest of this year's 95-car STN field, although it didn't seem that way in the early stages when Crawley had amassed nearly a straightaway advantage over Bruce and the battling duo of Brian Brown and Wright by the fifth lap.Into lapped traffic after just eight circuits, Crawley was clearly on a mission for victory lane.
Working through traffic comfortably aside from a near run-in with the lapped machine of Tommy Worley, Jr., on the 24th round, the three-time ASCS National champion all but had a second STN victory within his sights only to have disaster strike on the 31st lap when a cut right rear tire forced him to a stop in turn one.
The culprit; an errant bolt that had punctured Crawley's right rear tire.
"It happened quick, I felt it (the right rear) roll under in one corner and then it was flat," a disappointed Crawley explained. "There were 20 other cars out there that could have picked up that bolt, but it had to be me," Crawley concluded of the brake caliper bolt that cost him nearly $13,000 and made him an easy choice for the ARP Wings Hard Luck award.
Bruce assumed the lead on the restart and, following the race's second and final caution for Wayne Johnson's turn three spin that set up a five-lap dash to the checkered flag, never faltered on the low side in his charge to the checkered flag aboard the Kistler-powered Best Well Service No. 18 Maxim.
Aside from a fleet Crawley, Bruce's only other concern appeared to be some smoke that briefly billowed from his powerplant a handful of laps into the 40-lapper. "Every time this engine smokes a little bit we seem to win, so I knew we were good to go when I saw smoke."
After battling past Brian Brown soon after the midway point, Wright finished among the top-ten for the 15th time in 15 STN tries since 1993 with a runner-up finish in the Wesmar-powered Richwood Construction/Whiteco Commercial Funding No. 9 Maxim, just several car-lengths short of a fifth STN crown.
Missouri's Brown claimed the show position in the Wesmar-powered Super Clean No. 21 Maxim to finish among the top four for the third time in the last four renditions of the Short Track Nationals.
After accumulating the most points among the 86 combatants that vied for the 14 spots to join the six locked-in drivers, Pennsylvania's Tim Shaffer snared a fourth-place finish in Doc Sloan's No. d12 entry, with Missouri's Danny Lasoski starting fifth and finishing fifth in Donnie Cooper's No. 1 machine.
Terry Gray claimed sixth, with fellow Memphis-area shoe Jeff Swindell snaring seventh in his first STN championship main event since a fifth-place run in the Pack No. 4a in 1991.
Ohio's Greg Wilson earned the Kear's Speed Shop Hard Charger award by racing from 14th to eighth, with Missouri's Jesse Hockett and Ohio's Dale Blaney completing the top ten.
Nick Smith extended his streak of STN championship main events to five in a row, second only to father-in-law Wright's current streak of seven, with a 12th place run behind Eagle Raceway champ Mike Boston, who made the cut for his first STN finale.
Crawley returned after surrendering the lead to salvage a 13th place finish.
Oklahoma's Brady Bacon earned Sprint Car Exchange STN Rookie of the Year honors by finishing 14th in the finale, edging 17th-place finishing Worley for the award.
After advancing from sixth to finish second in the Pack's Dash for Cash, Wayne Johnson was presented with the option of accepting the COMP Cams Gambler's Challenge after Dash winner Bruce declined the offer of a possible $5,000 bonus.
"If you'll make it $10,000, I'll do it," the Oklahoma City native barked into the microphone. And I-30 Speedway track promoter Tracey Clay was quick to take up Johnson on the offer, upping the ante to a possible $10,000 bonus on top of the posted $15,000 winner's share.
Johnson accepted the COMP Cams Gambler's Challenge and, faced with the prospect of drawing a card that would start him from fourth, sixth, eighth or tenth, the 1997 STN champion drew the ten card to start the feature from the fifth row outside.
With a potential $25,000 payday on the line for Johnson, he was up to sixth when Crawley was stricken down by Lady Luck and then spun just five laps short of the checkered flag while dicing for fourth with Tim Shaffer. Suffering a flat right front tire, Johnson retired to the pit area and was credited with a 19th-place finish.
Louisiana's Jason Johnson secured his first career O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National championship over the course of the weekend, with the $50,000 championship perhaps softening the blow of missing the cut for the STN championship feature for the first time since 2004.
Boston, Aaron Reutzel, Shaffer, Garry Bell, Jason Johnson, Justin Melton, Zach Chappell, Nick Smith and Garry Lee Maier won Saturday night's heat races. Kolt Walker, Lee Sowell, Curtis Evans and Eric Sandage topped Last Chance action, with Shaffer, Hockett, Wilson and Paul Sides winning the qualifying races.
ASCS Southwest Region points runner-up Shawn Sander climbed a wheel after a caution flew in the night's third heat race and got upside down off the third turn. Uninjured, Sander was the second and final flip victim of the weekend.
Eric Sandage, the only other driver to get upside down over the course of the weekend with a Friday night tumble, was presented with the Inaugural Josh Howard Determination Award courtesy of Smiley's and COMP Cams.
Oklahoma City's Joe Wood, Jr., was awarded a free entry to Cowtown Speedway's November Sprit Shootout as Saturday night's first non-qualifier, with Mississippi's Kenny Coke awarded a nose wing courtesy of Pro Lite as the night's second non-qualifier.
21st Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Championship Finale Results:
Locked in from Preliminary Features: 9w-Gary Wright, 88-Tim Crawley, 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr., 21b-Brian Brown, 94j-Wayne Johnson, 1-Danny Lasoski.
Heat Races -- Top 40 in Finishing/Passing Points to Four Qualifying Races (32 inverted); Balance of Field to Four Last Chance Races.
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 51b-Mike Boston, 2. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 3. 29T-Travis Rilat, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 74e-Claud Estes, 6. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 7. 44-Ronny Howard, 8. 31-Brandon Berryman, 9. 39-Marvin Lough, 10. 8-Jeff Wingate.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 87a-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 58-Wade Oliver, 3. 17w-Brad Welborn, 4. w20-Greg Wilson, 5. 1p-Curtis Evans, 6. 0-Chris Morgan, 7. 3d-Rickey Hood, 8. 14T-Tyler Brown, 9. 64J-Johnny Miller, 10. 93b-Bob Schaeffer.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. d12-Tim Shaffer, 2. 10-Terry Gray, 3. 55b-Joey Moughan, 4. 7s-Paul Sides, 5. 40-Ernie Ainsworth, 6. 71T-Channin Tankersley, 7. 38-Rick Pringle, 8. k9-Troy Manteufel, 9. 9x-Lane Whittington, 10. 48-Shawn Sander.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 32-Garry Bell, 2. 18c-John Carney, Jr., 3. 24w-Kenny Coke, 4. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 5. 8x-Chris Williams, 6. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 7. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 8. 5*-Gary Taylor, 9. 13-Kathryne Minter, 10. 7w-Wade Human.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 41j-Jason Johnson, 2. 12-Jeff Swindell, 3. 75-Jesse Hockett, 4. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 5. 1g-Cody Gardner, 6. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 7. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr., 8. 91-Tim Montgomery, 9. 5-Eric Lutz, 10. 69h-Larry Howery.
Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 11j-Justin Melton, 2. 11m-Brandon Moseley, 3. 51j-Jimmy Brooks, 4. 81au-Gavin Punch, 5. 71s-Jake Simmons, 6. 9T-Justin Sturch, 7. 85-Jerry Bell, 8. 16-Dewayne Prince, 9. 87k-Kent Buckley.
Seventh Heat (10 Laps): 1. 50z-Zach Chappell, 2. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 3. 6b-Dale Blaney, 4. 53-Jack Dover, 5. 26-Marshall Skinner, 6. 94-Cody Branchcomb, 7. 29h-Lyle Howey III, 8. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 9. b4-Eric Baldaccini.
Eighth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 15s-Nick Smith, 2. 41k-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 3. 01-Jeremy Newkirk, 4. 95-Matt Covington, 5. 3m-Mark Shirshekan, 6. 3a-A.G. Rains, 7. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 8. 1x-Chad Pitts, 9. 65-Jordan Goldesberry.
Ninth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 11x-Garry Lee Maier, 2. 87b-Brian McClelland, 3. 6T-Tim Sites, 4. 45k-Kolt Walker, 5. 51s-Lee Sowell, 6. 41x-Eric Sandage, 7. 86-Josh Fisher, 8. 67-Joey Boyd, 9. 29a-Jason Botsford.
Last Chance Races -- Top 4 Finishers to tail of the Four Qualifying Races.
First Last Chance Race (8 Laps): 1. 45k-Kolt Walker, 2. 91-Tim Montgomery, 3. 9J-Justin Sturch, 4. 86-Josh Fisher, 5. 5-Eric Lutz, 6. 67-Joey Boyd, 7. 39-Marvin Lough, 8. 8-Jeff Wingate, 9. 69h-Larry Howery, 10. 71s-Jake Simmons, 11. 71T-Channin Tankersley. DNS: 85-Jerry Bell.
Second Last Chance Race (8 Laps): 1. 51s-Lee Sowell, 2. 3d-Rickey Hood, 3. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 4. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 5. 64J-Johnny Miller, 6. 29h-Lyle Howey III, 7. 44-Ronny Howard, 8. 14T-Tyler Brown, 9. 93b-Bob Schaeffer, 10. 16-Dewayne Prince, 11. 74e-Claud Estes. DNS: 87-Kent Buckley.
Third Last Chance Race (8 Laps): 1. 1p-Curtis Evans, 2. 40-Ernie Ainsworth, 3. 94-Cody Branchcomb, 4. 38-Rick Pringle, 5. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 6. 17b-Ryan Bickett. DNS: 3a-A.G. Rains, k9-Troy Manteufel, 9x-Lane Whittington, 65-Jordan Goldesberry, 48-Shawn Sander.
Fourth Last Chance Race (8 Laps): 1. 41x-Eric Sandage, 2. 0-Chris Morgan, 3. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr., 4. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 5. 5*-Gary Taylor, 6. 29a-Jason Botsford, 7. 1x-Chadd Pitts, 8. 31-Brandon Berryman, 9. 7w-Wade Human, 10. 13-Kathryne Minter, 11. 8x-Chris Williams.
Pack's Dash for Cash -- Finishing Order Determines Front Three Rows of "A" Feature.
Pack's Dash for Cash (6 Laps -- Starting position in parentheses): 1. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr. (1) [$500], 2. 94-Wayne Johnson (6) [$250], 3. 88-Tim Crawley (3) [$150], 4. 9-Gary Wright (4) [$100], 5. 21-Brian Brown (2) [$100], 6. 1-Danny Lasoski (5) [$100].
Qualifying Races -- Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into "A" Main; Top 8 Additional Point Earners Advance to "A" Main (Rows 4-9 Lined up according to Saturday Night points)
First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. d12-Tim Shaffer, 2. 12-Jeff Swindell, 3. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 4. 01-Jeremy Newkirk, 5. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 6. 29T-Travis Rilat, 7. 53-Jack Dover, 8. 41k-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 9. 9j-Justin Sturch, 10. 11j-Justin Melton, 11. 91-Tim Montgomery, 12. 87a-Aaron Reutzel, 13. 86-Josh Fisher, 14. 45k-Kolt Walker.
Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 75-Jesse Hockett, 2. 10-Terry Gray, 3. 6T-Tim Sites, 4. 87b-Brian McClelland, 5. 41j-Jason Johnson, 6. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 7. 58-Wade Oliver, 8. 1g-Cody Gardner, 9. 26-Marshall Skinner, 10. 50z-Zach Chappell, 11. 51s-Lee Sowell, 12. 3d-Rickey Hood, 13. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 14. 11m-Brandon Moseley.
Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. w20-Greg Wilson, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 51b-Mike Boston, 4. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 5. 6b-Dale Blaney, 6. 3m-Mark Shirshekan, 7. 17w-Brad Welborn, 8. 1p-Curtis Evans, 9. 94-Cody Branchcomb, 10. 32-Garry Bell, 11. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 12. 51j-Jimmy Brooks, 13. 38-Rick Pringle, 14. 40-Ernie Ainsworth.
Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 7s-Paul Sides, 2. 55b-Joey Moughan, 3. 24w-Kenny Coke, 4. 15s-Nick Smith, 5. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 6. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr., 7. 18c-John Carney, Jr., 8. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 9. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 10. 95-Matt Covington, 11. 11x-Garry Lee Maier, 12. 0-Chris Morgan, 13. 41x-Eric Sandage, 14. 81au-Gavin Punch.
Tenth row of "A" Feature comprised of top two point earners over their points accumulated through Qualifying and Saturday night action that haven't already qualified: Dustin Morgan, Tommy Worley, Jr.
I-30 Speedway Track Champion Provisional (21st Starting Position): yj-Justin Sturch.
21st Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Championship "A" Feature:
A Feature (40 Laps -- Starting position in parentheses): 1. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr. (1) [$15,000], 2. 9w-Gary Wright (3) [$10,000], 3. 21b-Brian Brown (4) [$7,500], 4. d12-Tim Shaffer (6) [$5,000], 5. 1-Danny Lasoski (5) [$2,500], 6. 10-Terry Gray (7) [$2,400], 7. 12-Jeff Swindell (8) [$2,350], 8. w20-Greg Wilson (14) [$2,300], 9. 75-Jesse Hockett (12) [$2,275], 10. 6b-Dale Blaney (13) [$2,250], 11. 51b-Mike Boston (9) [$2,225], 12. 15s-Nick Smith (11) [$2,200], 13. 88-Tim Crawley (2) [$2,175], 14. 99-Brady Bacon (17) [$2,150], 15. 9j-Justin Sturch (21) [$2,125], 16. 21T-Tommy Bryant (15) [$2,100], 17. a12-Tommy Worley, Jr. (20) [$2,100], 18. 7s-Paul Sides (16) [$2,100], 19. 94j-Wayne Johnson (10) [$4,100], 20. 55b-Joey Moughan (18) [$2,100], 21. 93m-Dustin Morgan (19) [$2,100].
Note: Wayne Johnson's feature earnings included a $2,000 bonus for accepting the COMP Cams Gambler's Challenge.
Lap Leaders: Tim Crawley 1-31, Tony Bruce, Jr. 32-40.
Final 2008 O'Reilly ASCoT Points (Top Fifteen): 1. Jason Johnson 3,943, 2. Gary Wright 3,876, 3. Wayne Johnson 3,765, 4. Zach Chappell 3,656, 5. Garry Lee Maier 3,431, 6. Eric Baldaccini 3,285, 7. Nick Smith 3,165, 8. Kenneth Walker 2,958, 9. Travis Rilat 2,897, 10. Gary Taylor 2,715, 11. Kathryne Minter 2,410, 12. Jack Dover 2,389, 13. Matt Covington 1,829, 14. Brian Brown 1,721, 15. Kevin Ramey 1,609.