Delta Bowl race report

Wright Rolls in O'Reilly ASCS Opener at Delta Bowl TUNICA, Miss. (March 27, 2004) -- It was a familiar face in victory lane as the O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United ...

Wright Rolls in O'Reilly ASCS Opener at Delta Bowl

TUNICA, Miss. (March 27, 2004) -- It was a familiar face in victory lane as the O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers kicked off the 2004 championship chase, with Gary Wright notching his 77th career ASCS victory in Saturday night's 20-lap feature at Delta Bowl Speedway.

Wright slipped around Dale Howard to take command on the third round, then piloted the Salina-powered Southwest Express/The Shop/Richwood Construction Maxim to the checkered flag in front of Mike Ward and Travis Rilat.

"The track started taking a lot of rubber right after we took the lead, so I knew as long as I kept it on the bottom nobody would be able to get by," Wright commented afterward. "We're gonna try to get the ASCS championship this year, so this is a good way to start."

Wright earned the pole position for the feature by virtue of racing from seventh to second in the evening's second heat race. However, it was front row outside starter Howard who jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag. After Howard paced the opening round, Wright slipped underneath Howard in turn two, only to have the move negated when seventh-starter Darren Stewart spun in turn four.

Howard led for one more round after the restart before Wright blasted back into the lead on the third lap. Sixth-starter Ward took advantage of the restart as well, charging past Marshall Skinner and Garry Lee Maier to advance to fourth behind Wright, Howard and Rilat. By the fourth round, Ward had dashed around Rilat and Howard to take over second.

Although Ward was on the move, Wright gradually began to stretch his advantage to a half straightaway until lapped traffic came into play on the ninth round. With traffic slowing Wright's pace, Ward and Rilat were reeling in the leader when the caution flew at the race's midway point for Wayne Johnson, who rolled to a halt in turn four with rear end problems.

The race's final caution flew one round later when South Dakota's Chuck Swenson looped his machine in turn one.

Back under way, Wright once again slipped away from his pursuers. Wright encountered lapped traffic again on the 17th round, giving Ward and Rilat one last chance to steal the victory. Wright was up to the task though, slipping around a pair of lapped machines to secure the triumph.

Ward, in the first outing of his 25th year of racing, held off Rilat for the runner-up slot, with Howard and Skinner rounding out the top five. Maier held off Zach Chappell for sixth, with Jan Howard racing from 14th to claim eighth. Derek Drown scored a ninth place finish, while Stewart rebounded from his early spin to round out the top ten.

Cody Branchcomb turned in the night's best passing performance by advancing from 18th to eleventh at the line.

Skinner, Rilat, Dale Howard and Ward each claimed heat race victories for the 31-car field, while A.G. Rains charged from deep in the field to overtake Branchcomb on the eighth round of the 12-lap B Main.

The 12-lap B Feature was marred by a violent third turn tangle on the third lap, when Sonny Sayre collided with Scott Bolden's flipping machine. Emergency crews worked to extricate Sayre from his machine for more than half an hour before Sayre was life-flighted from the speedway. Updates regarding Sayre's condition were not yet available at press time.

Results:

First Heat (8 Laps): 1. Marshall Skinner, 2. Zach Chappell, 3. Raymond Stull, 4. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 5. Sonny Sayre, 6. D.J. Masner, 7. A.G. Rains, 8. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Travis Rilat, 2. Gary Wright, 3. Jan Howard, 4. Dusty Zomer, 5. Cody Branchcomb, 6. Kelly Angelette, 7. Tony Bruce, Jr., 8. Josh Baker.

Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. Dale Howard, 2. Derek Drown, 3. Garry Lee Maier, 4. Toby Brown, 5. Steven Tiner, 6. Rex Combs, 7. Natalie Sather, 8. Andy Goin.

Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. Mike Ward, 2. Darren Stewart, 3. Wayne Johnson, 4. Chuck Swenson, 5. Jimmy Taylor, 6. Josh Howard, 7. Scott Bolden.

B Feature (12 Laps): 1. A.G. Rains, 2. Cody Branchcomb, 3. Kelly Angelette, 4. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 5. Jimmy Taylor, 6. Tony Bruce, Jr., 7. Natalie Sather, 8. Andy Goin, 9. Josh Baker, 10. Josh Howard, 11. Scott Bolden, 12. Sonny Sayre, 13. Rex Combs, 14. D.J. Masner. Disqualified: Steven Tiner.

A Feature (20 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Mike Ward, 3. Travis Rilat, 4. Dale Howard, 5. Marshall Skinner, 6. Garry Lee Maier, 7. Zach Chappell, 8. Jan Howard, 9. Derek Drown, 10. Darren Stewart, 11. Cody Branchcomb, 12. Raymond Stull, 13. Toby Brown, 14. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 15. A.G. Rains, 16. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 17. Kelly Angelette, 18. Dusty Zomer, 19. Chuck Swenson, 20. Wayne Johnson, 21. Jimmy Taylor.

O'Reilly ASCS National Tour Points (Top Ten): 1. Gary Wright 150, 2. Mike Ward 146, 3. Travis Rilat 144, 4. Dale Howard 142, 5. Marshall Skinner 140, 6. Garry Lee Maier 138, 7. Zach Chappell 136, 8. Jan Howard 134, 9. Derek Drown 132, 10. Darren Stewart 130.

-ascs-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Darren Stewart , Cody Branchcomb , Travis Rilat , Wayne Johnson