Memphis race report

It's Rilat by inches in O'Reilly ASCS thriller at MMP. MEMPHIS, Tenn. (April 26, 2003) - Neither a broken front wing nor a dramatic last lap charge from Zach Chappell could prevent Travis Rilat from winning Saturday night's 30-lap O'Reilly ...

It's Rilat by inches in O'Reilly ASCS thriller at MMP.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (April 26, 2003) - Neither a broken front wing nor a dramatic last lap charge from Zach Chappell could prevent Travis Rilat from winning Saturday night's 30-lap O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour feature event presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers at Memphis Motorsports Park.

After taking command on the sixth round, Rilat appeared to have things in hand until the 20th round when the front mounts on the nose wing broke, leaving the nose wing flailing in the breeze, obstructing Rilat's view and slowing his pace somewhat. Chappell and Gary Wright both quickly moved in to challenge for the victory, but Chappell's last lap bid for the lead came up mere inches short at the finish line.

After topping the second of five heats for the 37-car field, current MMP point leader Paul Sides led the field to the green flag with Rilat alongside. Sides got the jump on the start, immediately moving to the cushion as Rilat ducked to the low side. Sides paced the field the opening five rounds as Rilat applied heavy pressure with Wright, Chappell and Terry Gray in tow.

Rilat's persistent challenges on the low side paid dividends as he took command exiting the fourth turn on the sixth round, with Sides then relinquishing the second spot to Wright three rounds later. As Wright pressured Rilat for the point over the ensuing laps, Chappell made his way into third by the time the caution flew after thirteen rounds for a turn four spin by Toby Brown.

With Rilat leading the way on the restart, Chappell immediately battled past Wright for second and set his sights on the leader. Rilat gradually established a six car-length lead however, until his nose wing woes developed on the 20th round, allowing Chappell and Wright to quickly close the gap.

With Wright nipping at his heels, Chappell pulled alongside Rilat on several occasions over the final six circuits as lapped traffic came into play. Rilat worked traffic masterfully however, successfully keeping Chappell and Wright at bay. Chappell made a last gasp effort on the high side on the final round, pulling alongside the leader as the duo raced off the final corner. Rilat managed to hold on and streaked underneath the checkered flag to score his first ASCS National Tour victory of the season by the narrowest of margins in the Snyder-powered F&J Construction/Haulmark Trailers Eagle.

Chappell's runner-up showing put the 2001 ASCS National champion atop the early season point charts, while Wright crossed the stripe less than two car lengths behind the lead duo. Gray notched a strong fourth place finish, while Sides outdueled Marshall Skinner over the latter portion of the race to round out the top five.

Skinner was sixth, while Darren Stewart earned the race's Hard Charger award by coming from 13th to finish seventh. Jeff Buckner claimed eighth, with Eddie Gallagher and Cody Branchcomb completing the top ten.

Gray, Sides, Rilat, Dale Howard and Buckner topped heat race action for the strong field, with Mike Ward and Mike Trent earning victory honors in the twin 12-lap B Features.

-ascs-

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Series Sprint
Drivers Darren Stewart , Cody Branchcomb , Travis Rilat