ASCoT: Wythe, Saluda preview

O'Reilly ASCoT -- On the Road to Virginia TULSA, Okla. (May 23, 2006) -- A talent-laden group of drivers are ready to hit the road, blazing a trail to Virginia for this weekend's O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour ...

O'Reilly ASCoT -- On the Road to Virginia

TULSA, Okla. (May 23, 2006) -- A talent-laden group of drivers are ready to hit the road, blazing a trail to Virginia for this weekend's O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National events at Wythe Raceway in Wytheville on Friday night and then Saluda's Virginia Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

Fourteen full-time ASCS National Tour competitors are expected to make the journey for a pivotal weekend in series points. They will be joined by approximately 15 Heintz Performance ASCS Southern Tour competitors along with another half dozen or so competitors on each night, setting up a field of approximately 35 entries per night for a full program of heat races, qualifying races and "B" Mains leading up to each night's "A" Main event.

A quick look at the 14 ASCS National Tour travelers, in numerical order, is in order:

#1 Sean McClelland (Collinsville, OK) b^0x0013 After a rough start in Florida, the 2005 American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region champion has ranked among the hottest drivers in the nation. A rookie contender on the ASCS National Tour, McClelland has climbed to tenth in points and scored his first career National Tour win at Houston Raceway Park on March 11. In his "down-time", Sean has racked up three wins in ASCS Sooner Region competition and once again sits atop the Sooner point charts.

#9 Gary Wright (Hooks, TX) b^0x0013 Although shut out of victory lane through the opening eight ASCS National Tour features of '05, "The Texan" has been consistent enough to climb into the point lead, albeit by the narrowest of margins. Wright has finished among the top ten in seven of eight features and has posted five consecutive top-five runs in National competition. Wright did pick up his first win of the season while in ASCS Mid-South Regional action at Swinging Bridge Raceway in Jackson, MS, on April 14. Overall, Wright has one win in 12 ASCS feature starts this season compared to four wins in his initial 12 starts of 2005. Wright will start his 102nd consecutive ASCS National Tour feature event at Wythe Raceway on Friday, transcending Zach Chappell's current standard of 101.

#12 Trey Robb (Newcastle, OK) m The recently turned 14-year-old, on May 11, has climbed to 13th in ASCS National points by making the cut for the last four feature events in loaded fields of 36, 55, 55 and 30. The talented Rookie contender has been gaining valuable seat time in recent ASCS Sooner Region competition, scoring a fourth place finish at Lawton Speedway on April 22 then topping that with a third-place showing at Mid-America Speedway in South Coffeyville, OK, on May 13.

#15 Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX) m The 2005 ASCS National Tour's Most Improved Driver, the 20-year-old looks to break into the top ten this weekend after shaking off the effects of a slow start.JHafertepe scored his first National top ten by racing from 17th to seventh at Missouri's Poplar Bluff Speedway on April 28. Hafertepe competed in more ASCS events than anybody else in 2005 by taking in 50 nights of action and is on the pace to do the same this year with 15 starts already in the books. Hafertepe has a pair of ASCS Sooner Region wins to his credit, including the season opener at Cowtown Speedway on April 8 and then at Mid-America Speedway on May 13.

#15s Nick Smith (Broken Arrow, OK) m The 22-year-old has looked like anything but a "Rookie" by finishing among the top ten in seven of eight National Tour feature events thus far in '06. Last year's COMP Cams Newcomer of the Year, Smith's Rookie of the Year effort is quickly evolving into a championship campaign, as he sits just one point behind Gary Wright after scoring his first National Tour win at Poplar Bluff Speedway.

c18 Tony Bruce, Jr. (Liberal, KS) m Last year's ASCS National Tour Rookie of the Year, the 21-year-old picked up his first career feature win during the May 14 ASCS Rocky Mountain Region event at WaKeeney Speedway in WaKeeney, KS.

#29 Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) m The 2003 ASCS National champion kicked off the 2006 season with an opening night win at Florida's East Bay Raceway Park and has finished among the top five in five of eight National Tour features. Rilat goes to Virginia ranked third in points, just 32 points off Wright's lead pace. Rilat has also scored a pair of ASCS Gulf South Region feature wins.

#41 Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA) m Making up for lost time has been the "Racin' Cajun's" mission thus far in 2006. After missing East Bay Raceway Park's "King of the 360's" season opening event for the ASCS National Tour, Johnson has posted five consecutive podium finishes in National Tour action including a weekend sweep at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway on March 24 and 25. In the process, Johnson has climbed to seventh in points and is less than 100 markers out of the lead. Johnson has also scored three ASCS Gulf South Region wins to run his ASCS win total for '06 to a series' best five. Johnson will surrender the Gulf South points lead this weekend.

#44J Abe Sherwood (Tulsa, OK) m The Rookie of the Year contender qualified for the Devil's Bowl "A" Main on March 17 in Mesquite, TX, only to have the feature events postponed by rain to June 24. In eleven overall ASCS starts this season, Abe's top outing was a ninth place run in the ASCS Gulf South Region opener at Houston Raceway Park.

#46 Jan Howard (Byhalia, MS) m On the cusp of the top ten, Jan makes his way to Virginia just 13 points outside the top ten. And with Tim Montgomery and Zach Chappell both expected to miss the Virginia double,an is poised to snare one of the two opening positions in the top ten.JJan has posted a pair of top ten finishes in a half dozen ASCS National Tour feature starts this season, including a sixth place showing in the Oklahoma City finale on March 25.

#75 Jesse Hockett (Warsaw, MO) m Another of the leading Rookie of the Year contenders, "The Rocket" has proven himself to be a strong contender by posting a handful of top ten feature finishes through the opening eight events of the season. Currently ranked fifth, 22-year-old Hockett served early notice by blasting to victory lane at Baton Rouge Raceway on March 10 and will try to drive the only touring DRC chassis to victory lane again this weekend.

#85 Dustin Daggett (Portland, MI) m The two-time Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt champion has taken to the road for the first time this season and makes his way to Virginia ranked 14th in points. The team has corrected early problems in the powerplant department and Daggett diced with Gary Wright for several laps at Poplar Bluff, injecting some confidence into the 23-year-old racer. Benefiting from the rugged ASCS National Tour competition, Daggett has posted a pair of wins in other series during National Tour downtime.

#91 Darren Stewart (Bixby, OK) m The 2005 ASCS National Tour runner-up, Stewart enters the weekend ranked sixth. Darren has four top ten feature runs to his credit, though he hasn't cracked the top five since East Bay's "King of the 360's" finale on January 28. With a weekly feature win at Little Rock's I-30 Speedway to his credit, Stewart has excelled in ASCS Mid-South Region action by finishing among the top four in all four feature events to take the early Mid-South point lead.

#94 Jerrod Hull (Sikeston, MO) m Hull has been a model of consistency in his Rookie of the Year campaign on the ASCS National Tour, making the cut for every feature since the January 26 season opener at East Bay to climb to eighth in points. A set of eighth place runs are his top showings, taking eighth in the second East Bay prelim as well as at Oklahoma City and Poplar Bluff. The National Tour competition has kept Hull sharp elsewhere, as he has piled up a half dozen feature wins in other action.

These 14 O'Reilly ASCoT contenders will be joined by approximately 20 additional hotshoes on both Friday and Saturday night in Virginia.

Friday's action at Wythe Raceway fires off at 7:30 p.m., with Saturday's card at Virginia Motor Speedway going green at 7:00 p.m.

Wythe Raceway is southwest of Wytheville, VA, on I-81 to Exit 60, then 0.1 mile north on frontage road, then 1.5 miles east. For more information, contact the track at 276-223-9804 or on race day at 276-686-4261.

Virginia Motor Speedway is located nine miles north of Saluda, VA, on US 17. For more information, contact the track at 804-758-1867.

In its 15th year of sanctioning Sprint Car racing in the United States, the American Sprint Car Series will present approximately 180 nights of racing at nearly 100 tracks throughout 27 different states and Canada in 2006 including the National Tour and its Regional Tours (Gulf South, Mid-South, Midwest, Northern Plains, Patriot Sprint Group, Rocky Mountain, Sooner, Southern and Sprints on Dirt).

Additional information regarding the American Sprint Car Series and the ASCS Patriot Sprint Group is available at www.ascsracing.com.

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Series Sprint
Drivers Darren Stewart , Travis Rilat , Jesse Hockett , Nick Smith , Jason Johnson , Sean McClelland