Baldaccini Bags First ASCS Win with Gulf South Score at HRP! BAYTOWN, Texas (May 16, 2009) -- Eric Baldaccini captured his first career American Sprint Car Series feature win by racing to victory lane in Saturday night's 25-lap ASCS...
Baldaccini Bags First ASCS Win with Gulf South Score at HRP!
BAYTOWN, Texas (May 16, 2009) -- Eric Baldaccini captured his first career American Sprint Car Series feature win by racing to victory lane in Saturday night's 25-lap ASCS Gulf South main event before a standing-room-only crowd at Houston Raceway Park.
The 2008 Brodix Rookie of the Year with the Lucas Oil ASCS National series withstood a lap 18 challenge from Gary Wright en route to posting the $3,000 victory over a field of 40 entries.
"Wow, this is such a relief," the 21-year-old Keller, TX, racer exclaimed after the triumph. "This is awesome, it's great to finally win one of these."
Baldaccini finally snared that elusive first checkered flag in front of Jason Johnson, who battled past Wright in the final stages. Wright settled for third, with Paul McMahan and two-time ASCS Gulf South champion Brandon Berryman rounding out the top five.
And, even though Baldaccini led all the way from the pole starting position aboard his father's Smiley's Racing Products No. 4 Maxim, he still had to earn it by surviving an exchange with four-time ASCS National champion Gary Wright just seven laps shy of the checkered flag.
"When he slid me, I didn't think there was any way he could make it stick," Baldaccini explained. "Actually, that was the best thing that could of happened to me. I had to make a run to get back by him getting into one and that's when I found the rubber. That made all the difference."
Starting from the pole, Baldaccini outgunned 17-year-old Trey Robb for the point at the drop of the green flag, with Travis Rilat quickly moving into second as Wright raced from ninth to third in the opening three rounds.
Lapped traffic became a factor in short order when Rilat tangled with a lapped machine entering turn one and spun to a stop with race-ending front end damage. Under the caution period, Robb retired to the pit area as well with mechanical woes.
After a turn four scramble one lap later for Ray Allen Kulhanek and Jimmy Brooks, Baldaccini set sail with Wright, Johnson, 15th-starter McMahan and 11th-starter Brady Bacon in tow. And when lapped traffic again came into play at the midway point, Wright moved in for the kill.
Looking high and then low, Wright was challenging Baldaccini for the lead on the 13th circuit when Brooks looped it in turn three with the frontrunners scrambling to avoid further carnage as the yellow lights flickered.
In another handful of laps, the leaders were back in traffic and Wright dove into turn three and slid across the track to momentarily take the lead away from Baldaccini on the 18th round. But, Baldaccini crossed back underneath exiting turn four and beat Wright down the frontstretch and into turn one.
Inadvertently finding the rubber in turns one and two, Baldaccini checked out in the final handful of laps to secure the win as reigning Lucas Oil ASCS National champion Jason Johnson battled past Wright for runner-up honors.
After picking off nine positions in the opening six circuits, McMahan held fourth the rest of the way. Berryman raced back around Bacon over the final half of the race to round out the top five. Bacon was sixth, while James McNeil earned Hard Charger efforts by racing from 23rd to seventh. Jerry Bell was eighth, Channin Tankersley rebounded from an early visit to the work area for ninth and current series points leader Aaron Reutzel completed the top ten.
Baldaccini, Tommy Bryant, Robb, Bell and Wright topped heat race action, with Darryl Wills and Kulhanek winning the twin "B" Mains.
American Sprint Car Series Gulf South Region Results from Houston Raceway Park:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 2. 29-Travis Rilat, 3. 3d-Paul McMahan, 4. 93-Chris Sweeney, 5. 21-Blake Roberts, 6. 15T-Travis Elliott, 7. 52-Roger Oakes. DNS: 10-Larry Hartwell.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 2. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 3. 31-Brandon Berryman, 4. 09-Timmy Thrash, 5. 19-Klint Angelette, 6. 30x-Bean Elliott, 7. 02-Brandon Corn, 8. 20-Terry Monroe.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 12-Trey Robb, 2. 14e-Justin Spoerl, 3. 51-Jimmy Brooks, 4. 23-Darryl Wills, 5. 30-Scottie McDonald, 6. 80-James McNeil, 7. 49-Ty Johnson, 8. 5s-Jack Spencer.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 85-Jerry Bell, 2. 12x-Rick Behr, 3. 1b-Kent Lewis, Jr., 4. 3-Gary Watson, 5. 4x-Michael Miller, 6. 69-Larry Howery, 7. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr., 8. 22L-Kent Lewis, Sr.
Heat Five (8 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 41-Jason Johnson, 4. 5-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 5. 71-Channin Tankersley, 6. 35-Greg Rilat, 7. 13-Kathryne Minter, 8. d20-David Noker.
First "B" Feature (12 Laps): 1. 23-Darry Wills, 2. 30x-Bean Elliott, 3. 80-James McNeil, 4. 52-Roger Oakes, 5. 20-Terry Monroe, 6. 13-Kathryne Minter, 7. 49-Ty Johnson, 8. 19-Klint Angelette, 9. 15T-Travis Elliott, 10. 09-Timmy Thrash. DNS: 10-Larry Hartwell.
Second "B" Feature (12 Laps): 1. 5-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 2. 35-Greg Rilat, 3. 93-Chris Sweeney, 4. d20-David Noker, 5. 30-Scottie McDonald, 6. 69-Larry Howery, 7. 02-Brandon Corn, 8. 5s-Jack Spencer, 9. 21-Blake Roberts, 10. 22L-Kent Lewis, Sr., 11. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr.
"A" Feature (25 Laps): 1. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 2. 41-Jason Johnson, 3. 9x-Gary Wright, 4. 3d-Paul McMahan, 5. 31-Brandon Berryman, 6. 99-Brady Bacon, 7. 80-James McNeil, 8. 85-Jerry Bell, 9. 71-Channin Tankersley, 10. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 11. 35-Greg Rilat, 12. 5-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 13. 4x-Michael Miller, 14. 21-Tommy Bryant, 15. 30x-Bean Elliott, 16. 3-Gary Watson, 17. 23-Darryl Wills, 18. 51-Jimmy Brooks, 19. 12x-Rick Behr, 20. 93-Chris Sweeney, 21. 29-Travis Rilat, 22. 12-Trey Robb, 23. 1b-Kent Lewis, Jr., 24. 14e-Justin Spoerl.
ASCS Gulf South Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Aaron Reutzel 816, 2. Eric Baldaccini 808, 3. Jason Johnson 801, 4. Brandon Berryman 792, 5. Channin Tankersley 786, 6. Tommy Bryant 784, 7. Ray Allen Kulhanek 763, 8. Jimmy Brooks 734, 9. Kent Lewis, Jr. 707, 10. Brandon Corn 679.