O'Reilly/NCRA Divisions Highlight 49th Annual Hutchinson Nationals This Weekend TOPEKA, Kan. (Aug. 3, 2005) -- The 49th Hutchinson Nationals kicks off this weekend, highlighted by the three divisions of the O'Reilly/National Championship Racing...
O'Reilly/NCRA Divisions Highlight 49th Annual Hutchinson Nationals This Weekend
TOPEKA, Kan. (Aug. 3, 2005) -- The 49th Hutchinson Nationals kicks off this weekend, highlighted by the three divisions of the O'Reilly/National Championship Racing Association, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires. The three-day show starts on Thursday, Aug. 4, and concludes on Saturday, Aug. 6.
The modified series will run qualifying heats on Thursday and Friday, with consolation and feature races on Saturday. The other two series will each run a complete, one day show. The late models take to the big half-mile track on Friday, while the 360 sprint cars invade the Kansas State Fairgrounds on Saturday.
The modified hot shoes haven't run since July 3 so they're eager to put on a great show once again for the fans. This year is the 20th modified race in the history of the Hutch Nationals and last year's winner, Brian Powers, is trying to become only the second driver to post back-to-back wins. There have been only three drivers to record more than one win in the modified division.
Two of the many drivers looking to keep that from happening will be Chad Wheeler and Brian Franz, currently 1-2 in the points. They have held the top two spots in one combination or another all season, accounting for five wins in the six events run so far this year.
Wheeler, of Muskogee, Okla., won both races opening weekend back in April while Franz (Newton, Kan.) is looking for his third straight season championship, put together back-to-back wins at 81 Speedway, his home track. Wheeler retook the points lead on July 3 by winning at the famed Belleville High Banks.
1997 Hutch Nationals winner Marc Robe (Wichita, Kan.) nabbed the other series victory this year, at Belleville in June, and is third in points. Wheeler, Franz and Robe have each recorded four top five finishes this year. A pair of Wichita drivers round out the top five - Greg Stephens, the 2001 Hutch Nationals winner, is fourth while Powers sits fifth.
This year marks the 30th season of late models at the Nationals, as they returned in 2004 after a two-year hiatus. Dean Moore took home the late model checker last year. Hailing from Grand Junction, he became the first driver from the Rocky Mountain state to do so.
NCRA late model rookie Johnny Bone Jr. (Pea Ridge, Ark.) continues to lead both the rookie standings and overall standings after 11 races. He's still searching for his first series win.
Someone who didn't search at all for that first season win was Kelly Boen, who captured the season opener at Mid-Nebraska Speedway. It was the first of Boen's four wins this year as the Henderson, Colo., driver is second in points.
Rounding out the top five in points are Steve Kosiski (Papillion, Neb.), Mike Conkwright (Manhattan, Kan.) and Al Purkey (Coffeyville, Kan.).
Purkey is the defending series champion and the 2001 Hutch Nationals winner. He began the season only two victories behind the late Larry Phillips on the all time NCRA list but is still looking for his first of the season.
Wichita's Delbert Smith is sixth in points and the only other Hutch Nationals winner in the top 10. Smith took the coveted checked back in 1985 and 1993.
This year's 360 sprint car season has seen the successful return of Garry Lee Maier after an absence of 10 years. Maier (Cimarron, Kan.) is running the full NCRA schedule and doing it in style. He has four wins, including the last two races, and has opened up a comfortable lead in the standings over runner-up C.J. Johnson.
Maier is the 1991 NCRA 360 sprint car season champion and the all time feature winner with 49 in his career. Three of those wins came at the Hutch Nationals -- 1990 through 1992.
Johnson (Quinter, Kan.) is tied with Maier for the most Nationals wins in 360 sprints. Johnson recorded his Hutch titles in 2000 and 2002-2003, but has yet to take the checker first this season.
Rookie sensation Preston Peebles II is from Lubbock, Texas, and sits third overall with four top fives and eight top 10s to his credit.
Steve King is fourth in points and is a two-time series champion. From Jetmore, Kan., King took the checker at last year's Hutch Nationals. He's looking for his second win of this season, after a victory in the opener before his home town fans at Jetmore.
Dennis Park (Liberal, Kan.), the 2001 Hutch Nationals champion, rounds out the top five in points.
All the exciting racing action, including the support classes, begins at 7:30 p.m. each evening at the historic Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kan. For more information contact either the NCRA office at (316) 755-1781 or the Fairgrounds office at (620) 669-3600.