Lucas Oil Sprint Cars Fire Off in California!
TULSA, Okla. (February 8, 2011) -- After a relatively short off-season, the Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National series lifts the lid on the 2011 campaign in new territory with the series initial pair of events in the State of California.
Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway hosts the series season opener on Wednesday night, February 9, with Hanford's Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway set for Lucas Oil Sprint Car action on Saturday night, February 12.
Once the initial pair of California events are logged into the record books, the Lucas Oil Sprint Cars move on to Tucson's USA Raceway for the Fifth Annual Copper on Dirt the following weekend, February 18-19. The Copper on Dirt will also include open competition Midgets, Late Models and Modifieds.
New Territory -- Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway and Hanford's Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway will both host Lucas Oil ASCS National competition for the first time this week. With 606 ASCS National feature events logged into the books at 113 different tracks since 1993, Thunderbowl will become the 114th track to host the series with Kings the 115th. With this week's events, California will become the 27th different state to host an ASCS National event.
Early Opener -- While the February 9 season opener at Tulare may seem like an early one, the ASCS National series has opened its season on an earlier date on four different occasions with January starts in Florida in 1997, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The earliest opener was a 2007 Gary Wright victory on January 25.
Opening Night Stars -- In 18 previous ASCS National season openers (the inaugural season of ASCS competition in 1992 didn't include a defined National Tour), only three drivers have topped multiple season openers. Four-time series champ Gary Wright has opened three seasons in victory lane (2000, 2004 and 2007) with Zach Chappell going back-to-back on 2002-2003 opening nights and Garry Lee Maier also doubling up (1995 and 1998).
Other opening night winners over the years include Mike Ward (1993), Tim Crawley (1994), Jason Sides (1996), Lee Scrape (1997), Terry Gray (1999), Larry Neighbors (2001), Danny Jennings (2005), Travis Rilat (2006), Kenny Adams (2008), Shane Stewart (2009) and Sammy Swindell (2010).
On only four occasions has the opening-night winner gone on to win the series championship, although it has happened twice in the past five years. Opening night winners that ultimately claimed the crown include Tim Crawley (1994), Gary Wright (2004 and 2007) and Shane Stewart (2009).
Streak -- Reigning Lucas Oil Sprint Car champion Jason Johnson carries the longest active streak of consecutive events competed in at 144 in a row, last missing the 2006 season opener. That streak will end tomorrow, as "The Ragin' Cajun" tries to give Aussie car owner Alan Haynes the World Series SprintCar title "Down Under".
King of California Kyle Larson will fill the JJR No. 41 entry for the California events with the driver for USA Raceway's Copper on Dirt to be determined before Johnson rejoins the tour at the Devil's Bowl Spring Nationals in Mesquite, TX, on March 25-26.
Jack Dover is next on the current list at 61 events in a row, but is not expected for California. Tim Crawley and Tony Bruce, Jr., both riding stretches of 55 National events in a row competed-in, will likely lay claim to the active streak after this week's events.
Gary Wright, ready for the road again, holds the all-time series record of 228 consecutive events competed in from May of 2003 to June of 2010.
30 and Counting -- Fresh off a runner-up Lucas Oil Sprint Car ranking of second in 2010, recently-turned 21-year-old Brady Bacon carries a series best active stretch of 30 feature starts in a row into this week's California action. The young gun has a way to go before he can match Gary Wright's series record of 200 feature starts in a row from June of 2003 to August of 2009.
Past Champs -- Four past Lucas Oil ASCS National champions are expected for this week's competition including four-time kingpin Gary Wright (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007), three-time champ Tim Crawley (2002, 1999 and 1994), Shane Stewart (2009) and Zach Chappell (2001). As previously noted, two-time champ Jason Johnson will be represented in the car owner ranks as well for the early events.
Rookies -- Washington's Logan Forler will have some competition for Brodix Rookie of the Year honors, as past ASCS Gulf South champ Aaron Reutzel of Clute, TX, and Millington, TN, shoe Justin Carver are also set to vie for top Rookie honors.
Road Ready -- A pair of accomplished Sprint Car shoes will also tackle the Lucas Oil ASCS National trail in 2011, as New Mexico's Johnny Herrera and Memphis' Jeff Swindell return to the road. Herrera combines JHR No. 45x forces with Harold Main, while Swindell takes Roush/Yates Ford power on the National trail for the first time.
Back at It -- Washington's Seth Bergman is set for another tour of National duty after Northwest Regional action and the Grays Harbor Raceway track championship in 2010. A full-time Lucas Oil Sprint Car contender in 2009, Bergman will base operations out of Oklahoma this season.
Also set for his sophomore season of Lucas Oil ASCS National action is Tulsa's Dustin Morgan, who ranked 13th in his rookie campaign of 2010.
Home Defense -- California has long been noted as a hotbed of Sprint Car racing and a number of Golden State drivers will try to keep the Lucas Oil ASCS National contenders away from the top step of the podium this week. A sampling of top Cali shoes expected includes reigning Lucas Oil ASCS Rookie of the Year Kyle Hirst, Tim Kaeding, Tommy Tarlton, Bud Kaeding, Andy Forsberg, Andy Gregg, Willie Croft, Mason Moore and Steven Tiner among others.
Under the Lights -- Both of this week's events at Tulare and Hanford will be under the lights of the VERSUS Network cameras, as will both nights of USA Raceway's Copper on Dirt next weekend. The Thunderbowl event will air at 6:00 p.m. EST on April 16, with the Kings Speedway card airing one week later (April 23) at 6:00 p.m. EST as well.
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters
When & Where:
Wednesday night, February 9 at 6:00 p.m. -- Thunderbowl Raceway
Saturday night, February 12 -- Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway
Thunderbowl Raceway (Tulare, CA) -- 1/3-mile, high-banked clay oval located off SR 99 to Exit 86, then 0.5 miles west on Bardsley Avenue to gate 14. Track phone: 559-688-0909.
Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway (Hanford, CA) -- 3/8-mile, high-banked clay oval located south of SR 198 on 10th Avenue to the Fairgrounds. Track phone: 559-584-7223.
Lucas Oil ASCS Thunderbowl Raceway & Kings Speedway History:
The February 9 event at Thunderbowl Raceway and the February 12 card at Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway will mark the first Lucas Oil ASCS National events to ever be contested within the Golden State. With the Thunderbowl and Kings events, California will become the 27th different state to host an ASCS National event since the series inception in 1992. Both Thunderbowl Raceway and Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway will be staples on the newly-formed ASCS Southern California Region.