LEBANON, Mo. (May 24, 2003) - Gary Wright took center stage as the O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers made its first ever stop at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, slipping...
LEBANON, Mo. (May 24, 2003) - Gary Wright took center stage as the O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers made its first ever stop at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, slipping past Cody Branchcomb on the fourth round then racing to his second ASCS National Tour triumph of the season in Saturday night's 25-lap feature.
After coming from fourth to win the evening's opening heat race, seventeen year-old Branchcomb, last year's ASCS Brodix Rookie of the Year, led the feature field to the green flag with A.G. Rains alongside. Branchcomb jumped into the early lead, with third-starting Wright slipping around Rains for second on the second round.
Wright quickly moved up to challenge Branchcomb for the point, and made what proved to be the race-winning pass on the high side exiting turn two on the fourth round. Branchcomb nearly matched Wright's pace through the first half of the race, as Wright gradually established an eight car-length lead, with Rains and Travis Rilat pursuing the lead duo.
Wright's pace aboard the Salina-powered Southwest Express/The Shop/Richwood Construction Maxim was interrupted after fourteen rounds when Rilat shredded a right rear tire exiting turn four. Under the ensuing caution, Rains surrendered the third position with a cut right rear tire as well.
Wright took off on the restart, slipping away from the field and racing to the checkered flag unchallenged as Branchcomb's tire sealed over on the caution. Branchcomb and Nick Smith battled for the runner-up slot for several rounds before Smith snared the position on the 19th round.
Smith posted his best career ASCS National finish by crossing the stripe second, holding off third-place finisher Zach Chappell at the line. Branchcomb settled for a strong fourth place run, with Darren Stewart earning the race's Hard Charger award by coming from 16th to round out the top five.
Rick Behr posted his second consecutive sixth place finish, with Randy Martin, Robert Sellers, 15th-starter Toby Brown and Rodger Eckhardt completing the top ten.
Branchcomb and Rilat topped heat race action atop the well-prepared high-banked three-eighths mile clay oval.
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Nick Smith, 3. Zach Chappell, 4. Cody Branchcomb, 5. Darren Stewart, 6. Rick Behr, 7. Randy Martin, 8. Robert Sellers, 9. Toby Brown, 10. Rodger Eckhardt, 11. Cliff Morton, 12. Terry Henry, 13. A.G. Rains, 14. Chris Partin, 15. Travis Rilat, 16. Ted Adams.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. Cody Branchcomb, 2. A.G. Rains, 3. Gary Wright, 4. Nick Smith, 5. Chris Partin, 6. Randy Martin, 7. Ted Adams. DNS: Darren Stewart.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. Robert Sellers, 3. Zach Chappell, 4. Rick Behr, 5. Cliff Morton, 6. Rodger Eckhardt, 7. Terry Henry, 8. Toby Brown.
O'Reilly ASCS Points (Top Ten): 1. Darren Stewart 1,428, 2. Travis Rilat 1,396, 3. Zach Chappell 1,360, 4. Cody Branchcomb 1,326, 5. (tie) Toby Brown and Gary Wright 1,292, 7. Rick Behr 1,060, 8. Shane Stewart 818, 9. Tim Crawley 688, 10. Tina Creswell 628.