Auto Tire and Parts Racepark Benton, Mo. Saturday Apr. 13, 2002 Kite was flying but gets cut Short in the end. Opening night for the 2002 season at Auto Tire and Parts Racepark found some familiar names from the 2001 season in victory lane.
Auto Tire and Parts Racepark
Saturday Apr. 13, 2002
Kite was flying but gets cut Short in the end.
Opening night for the 2002 season at Auto Tire and Parts Racepark found some familiar names from the 2001 season in victory lane. Steve Short picked up another KFVS 12 Winged Sprint victory with Billy Hopkins scoring the Miller Lite Modifieds win and Cline Myers Jr. held onto the Pure Street checkers.
Indy car ace Jimmy Kite was looking to earn a win with a rare appearance on the dirt. Kite, still hoping to land a ride in the Indy Racing League for the 2002 season, was driving a Winged Sprint car owned by Joe Reddick. Kite will have to wait another time as Steve Short made the pass for the lead on 13th lap and dominated the remainder of the race.
Limited Sprint car ace Bryce Vowan started on the pole for the KFVS 12 Winged Sprint car event after winning the first heat race. Kite started on the outside of the first row after winning the second heat.
After two attempts to take the green flag, Kite was able to grab the lead on the start. Despite suffering through five caution flag periods Kite was able to maintain the lead for 12 circuits.
Vowan held on to second for two laps until Short moved around him for the position. Short began to close in on the leader.
After the caution was brought out on the 12th lap for Sonny Sayre who slowed on the track the field was bunched up once again.
Short held back on the restart sizing up a hard run on the leader. The move paid off as Short bolted around Kite.
Daron Clayton moved up from his seventh starting spot into third and eventually moved after Kite for second.
Clayton made several attempts to close in on Short but in the remaining laps could not come move closer as Short pulled away.
Kenny Conran moved up from his 15th starting position to finish fourth, Kite was just in front of him in third. Todd Rowland battled a ill-handling car for 25 laps finishing fifth after starting tenth.
The Miller Open-Wheel Modifieds event saw it rain on two drivers parade, with a third driver coming out smelling like a rose.
Danny Sissom and Terry Johnson shared the front-row starting positions. Johnson jumped out to the lead at the start of the race with Sissom hanging on closely. Terry Baker and Pat Davidson enjoyed the third and fourth positions.
Johnson maintained the lead for the next ten laps, enduring three caution flag, which would not stop his pace. Sometime before the 11th lap Johnson's left rear tire began going flat allowing Sissom to make the pass.
The caution flag waved on the 13th lap when Johnson's car came to a stop on the backstretch. During the caution period Sissom began to experience problems with his machine.
Billy Hopkins, who started seventh, moved his way through the field and inherited the lead after running third since the fourth lap after Baker and Davidson both suffered mechanical and tire failure.
Before the green flag waved the dark clouds that were hovering the speedway all day finally opened up and began to drizzle. Hopkins led the green/white/checkered final laps for his first win in an Miller Lite Open-Wheel Modified.
Nathan Higgins charged from sixth to finish second. Davidson battled back from a flat tire to end his night in third. Last years Rookie-of-the-year, Matt James, finished fourth and Leo Kiefer closed the night in fifth.
Cline Myers Jr. ended the 2001 racing season with the Pure Street Championship; and returned for the 2002 season in championship style. Myers held off a hard charging Mike Burnett to pick the opening night feature win.
Derek Despain jumped out to the lead on the start of the race with Myers Jr. and Burnett in tow. Despain and Myers Jr. checked out, leaving the field almost a full straight-away behind them.
On the eighth circuit Despain started to encounter heavy lapped traffic. The leader fell victim to the lapped traffic, colliding with backmarkers.
Myers Jr. inherited the lead being challenged briefly by Burnett in the final seven laps. David Shepard charged through the field to finish a strong third with Matt Naeger and Rusty Golightly coming from far back in the field to finish fourth and fifth.
The Motorsport Unlimited Cruiser event was rained out and will be run next week.