National series Wheatland preview

Lucas Oil Sprint Cars Set for the "Diamond of Dirt Tracks" Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (September 21, 2009) -- With the series $60,000 championship hanging in the balance, the Lucas Oil Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters kick off...

Lucas Oil Sprint Cars Set for the "Diamond of Dirt Tracks"

Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (September 21, 2009) -- With the series $60,000 championship hanging in the balance, the Lucas Oil Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters kick off the stretch drive to the title by storming into Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO, this Saturday night.

Locking horns with the Missouri-based Winged Outlaw Warriors, a hearty throng of competitors is expected to converge upon the "Diamond of Dirt Tracks" for the tenth and final Lucas Oil Sprint Car event of 2009 that will recorded for later broadcast on the VERSUS Network.

With the Lucas Oil Sprint Cars averaging 52.7 entries per race night, the cream has ultimately risen to the top with Louisiana's Jason Johnson and Oklahoma's Shane Stewart entrenching themselves as the leading championship contenders.

"The Ragin' Cajun" carries a slim 26-point edge over Stewart into Saturday's card, an advantage that can be wiped away with one simple miscue. As many as 42 points can be gained or lost if both drivers make the main event, while a swing of 75 points would be possible if one driver were unable to make it to the main event for some reason.

Johnson has been on both ends of that spectrum in past Lucas Oil Speedway appearances, watching a possible title escape his grasp when a failed bleeder valve resulted in a 19th-place finish after leading in 2006 and then picking off the third of eleven series wins en route to the 2008 title.

While Johnson has reeled off four ASCS Regional wins since the Lucas Oil Sprint Cars last saw action at Knoxville in August, Stewart collected the $9,000 winner's share in this past weekend's Canadian Sprint Car Nationals at Ohsweken, ON.

Stewart will be one of a handful of drivers among the top 15 in Lucas Oil Sprint Car points making his first appearance at the "Diamond of Dirt Tracks" along with Tim Crawley, Danny Wood and rookie contenders Chad Corken and Darren Long.

Sitting third in points and 64 points off the lead pace is four-time series champion Gary Wright, who has collected 125 career Lucas Oil Sprint Car feature wins. Needing miscues from both Johnson and Stewart down the stretch for a shot at a fifth title, "The Texan" looks to begin a new streak of feature starts after his record stretch of 200 feature starts in a row was snapped at Knoxville.

Travis Rilat of Forney, TX, enters the night another 75 points back in fourth and will try to become just the third driver in Lucas Oil Sprint Car history to reach the 300 feature-start plateau. Rilat enters Saturday with 299 career National feature starts, a level only reached thus far by Gary Wright and Garry Lee Maier.

Three-time series champ Tim Crawley of Benton, AR, has climbed to fifth in points after a slow start, with Nebraska Cup winner Tony Bruce, Jr., leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Paul McMahan, three-time series runner-up Danny Wood, 19-year-old rookie contender Jack Dover and Missouri's Jesse Hockett rounding out the current top ten.

Others vying for their slice of the $250,000 points fund that will be divvied up among the top 15 include Sean McClelland, Kenneth Walker, Chad Corken, Darren Long and Gavin Punch. Twelfth-ranked Gary Taylor's Saturday status is uncertain at this time, as his regular Sparks No. 91 has been parked for the short-term.

A red-hot Josh Fisher of Smithton, MO, leads the Winged Outlaw Warrior forces into the card. Riding a wave of three consecutive WOW wins, Fisher holds nearly a 200-point advantage over Austin Alumbaugh and Rusty Potter as he looks to put the finishing touches on his first series championship on Saturday night.

As per the norm with Lucas Oil Sprint Car events contested in Missouri with WOW, either the standard 105x16.0-15 Medium Hoosier or the Hoosier SC-25 will be permitted on the right rear.

The Series: Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters

When & Where: Saturday night, September 26 -- Lucas Oil Speedway at 7:00 p.m.

Track Information: Lucas Oil Speedway (Wheatland, MO) -- 3/8-mile semi-banked clay oval located 0.2 miles south of US 54 of SR 83. Track phone: 417-282-5984.

-credit: ascs

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Series Sprint
Drivers Paul McMahan , Shane Stewart , Travis Rilat , Josh Fisher , Jesse Hockett , Gary Taylor , Tim Crawley , Jason Johnson , Sean McClelland