HUTCHINSON, KS (July 31, 2004) - A 47-year family quest for a Hutchinson Nationals championship is over as Steve King ran away from the field to win the O'Reilly/NCRA 360 Sprint series race. For the King family, Steve's win was long ...
HUTCHINSON, KS (July 31, 2004) - A 47-year family quest for a Hutchinson Nationals championship is over as Steve King ran away from the field to win the O'Reilly/NCRA 360 Sprint series race.
For the King family, Steve's win was long overdue.
"I've been coming here 12 years and my dad's been coming her 35 years and this is the first time we've won.
King wanted this one.
He won his heat and snagged the pole position for the feature but he certainly had some fast company at the front of the grid. Starting with Shane Howard on the outside first row, his best starting spot to date in the series. J.D. Johnson and series leader Mike Woodruff started on the second row, with C.J. Johnson and Derek Drown, second in points, on row three.
But King showed them all why he's the two-time defending series champion as he roared into the lead at the green and never looked back. Slipping into line behind him through turn one were Howard, Drown, Woodruff and J.D. Johnson.
An incident in turn two on the second lap bunched everyone for the restart. But it didn't matter to King as he again quickly moved out and away from the others, building a huge lead.
"We had our car dialed in pretty right," King said in an understatement.
Drown passed Howard for second on lap six. Woodruff and C.J. Johnson also got by Howard the next lap, moving into third and fourth, respectively.
The only thing that slowed King was the lapped traffic he began to encounter on the ninth lap.
"They were all stacked up and pretty hard to pass," he said, "but we just took our time and got through a couple of them and then we come up with the read and that saved us.
Drown was able to close the gap a bit as they navigated through the back markers. But Derek couldn't get close enough to make a battle of it.
Howard's misfortune continued as he rolled his car off the turn three wall on lap 12, bringing out a red flag. For the leader, it was a blessing in disguise as he had been running most of the race with red-hot brake rotors.
"We were about to run out of brakes at the end; that red really saved us," King said. "It got our brakes cooled off so we could go back and run the thing fast."
The brakes were the only thing that cooled off for King as he again quickly pulled away from everyone on the restart. He ran the remaining laps relatively unchallenged. Drown was able to get close on the final lap but not able to make a charge at King.
Drown held off Woodruff to finish second, with Mike in third. Rounding out the top 10 were C.J. Johnson, Jon Freeman, Jake Martens, A.J. Selenke, Abe Sherwood, J.D. Johnson and Allan Unruh.
Having the pole was a definite plus for King.
"Starting up there is a world of difference here because it's really hard to pass here," he said.
It was King's second win of the season, the other coming Tuesday night at Belleville. Those two wins moved King into a tie for second place with Jon Johnson on the all time NCRA 360 sprint car career victory chart.
But he'll remember this win much more because of the nationals.
"It feels really good, it's been a long time coming," he said.
Travis Adams won the B feature from the pole.
-Randy Fisher, guest writer