Delta Bowl season opener preview

O'Reilly ASCS Championship Chase Kicks off Saturday at Delta Bowl TULSA, Okla. (March 22, 2004) -- A strong field of cars is expected this Saturday night at Delta Bowl Speedway in Tunica, MS, as pursuit of the 2004 O'Reilly American Sprint Car...

O'Reilly ASCS Championship Chase Kicks off Saturday at Delta Bowl

TULSA, Okla. (March 22, 2004) -- A strong field of cars is expected this Saturday night at Delta Bowl Speedway in Tunica, MS, as pursuit of the 2004 O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour championship presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers gets under way.

Three past series champions will be among the stellar field, including defending champion Travis Rilat of Forney, TX, who edged fellow Texan Gary Wright by a mere 12 points in 2003 to win the closest points race in series history.

This year's championship battle should be just as exciting, with the series initial champion in 1992, Garry Lee Maier of Cimarron, KS,and 2001 kingpin Zach Chappell of Talala, OK, among the leading pre-season contenders for the 2004 crown.

A number of other worthy adversaries will be contending for O'Reilly ASCS championship honors in 2004 as well, including Cody Branchcomb of Sapulpa, OK, who followed up Brodix Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 with Most Improved Driver honors and a fifth place ranking in points last year.

Carthage, MO, shoe Toby Brown, who has finished no lower than sixth in points each of the past three seasons, will once again follow the entire tour in search of the championship, as will 2003 COMP Cams Newcomer of the Year Jimmy Taylor of Oklahoma City.

Former ASCS Rookie of the Year Jan Howard, from Byhalia, MS, is expected to chase the 2004 crown, with this year's impressive rookie crop consisting of A.G. Rains (West Memphis, AR), Tony Bruce, Jr., (Liberal, KS), Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX), who finished third in ASCS Gulf South Region points in 2003, and Natalie Sather (Fargo, ND), who is teamed with veteran crew chief Kenny Woodruff in her ASCS rookie campaign.

After a strong fourth place finish in points and Rookie of the Year honors in 2003, Darren Stewart will also be back in action aboard the Bobby Sparks'-owned machine for the vast majority of the 2004 ASCS National Tour.

Other top guns expected for this Saturday night's action atop the high-banked, one-third mile gumbo oval include Memphis area hotshoes Eddie Gallagher, Mike Ward, Dale Howard, Marshall Skinner, Wade Oliver, Ernie Ainsworth, Raymond Stull and 2003 National 360 Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Approximately 40 cars are expected for Saturday night's action at Delta Bowl Speedway, which is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Delta Bowl Speedway is located 15 miles south of Tunica, MS, one mile north of State Road 4 on State Road 3. For more information, contact the track at 901-351-3245.

The 2004 O'Reilly Auto Parts American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers features approximately 40 nights of racing at nearly 20 different tracks throughout Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. 280 drivers competed in at least one O'Reilly ASCS National Tour event in 2003.

Additonal information regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.

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