Local Driver Wins Opener of O'Reilly/NCRA Sprint Cars JETMORE, Kan. (May 7, 2005) -- Racing fans in southwest Kansas really enjoy watching the sprint cars run at the Jetmore Motorplex, south of the Jetmore, Kan. Saturday they were partying in...
Local Driver Wins Opener of O'Reilly/NCRA Sprint Cars
JETMORE, Kan. (May 7, 2005) -- Racing fans in southwest Kansas really enjoy watching the sprint cars run at the Jetmore Motorplex, south of the Jetmore, Kan.
Saturday they were partying in the pits after watching local driver Steve King take the checker on opening night in the 2005 O'Reilly/NCRA Sprint Car Series, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires. Thirty-one cars were on hand for the event.
"This is something else," said King, the 2002-03 series champion, amongst the revelry afterwards. "It's pretty good to win here at home, especially the first night out in the NCRA season."
"I'm really excited; I hope the fans enjoyed it because it was a heck of a race."
The "heck of a race" King referred to was the battle between himself and C.J. Johnson -- another local favorite, judging from the fan contingent around his trailer afterwards.
After the heats King was third in passing points while Johnson was only sixth, but both found the new pole dash format to their liking as they put themselves on the first row for the A feature.
King won the first dash to nab the inside spot while Johnson used a dramatic pass off of turn four to nip the venerable Garry Lee Maier by less than a car length at the checker for the outside front row spot.
Johnson used a little more of that momentum to power around King on the high side to begin the feature. C.J. moved in front coming onto the backstretch of the first lap and slowly built his lead over King in second.
"I guess the pole wasn't a great starting spot tonight," King said. "He (C.J.) got a run on me on the outside and was driving off."
Maier held third early followed by Mike Peters in fourth. Derek Drown worked his way up to fifth on the second lap.
Johnson had the racecar in cruise control until encountering back markers on lap seven. Coming through turn three, he got stuck behind a couple of slower cars with nowhere to go. That was all the break King would need this night as he put his racecar on the low side and moved by Johnson for the lead.
"C.J. tried to go around them on the top and I dove in underneath," King said. "I had to go where he didn't but it was just the right spot - just a lucky guess."
"It's always harder when you're leading and hit lapped traffic," Johnson said. "Even when he (King) got around me I don't know that I had anything for him any way."
For most of the remaining laps in the 30-lap feature, King usually had at least one lapped car between himself and Johnson. But with six laps to go, Johnson cleared the last of the lapped cars and had only King directly in front of him. By then King had built a lead of about half-a-straightaway and Johnson just couldn't move up.
"At that point I think we were both going about the same speed," Johnson said. "He was going to have to mess up for me to catch him."
King didn't mess up and brought it home for his first win of the season with Johnson finishing second. It was King's 17th NCRA career feature win. He trails only Maier, with 45 wins, on the all time list.
Lapped traffic prevented Maier from moving up as he maintained a distant third, several lapped cars behind Johnson, to the end. Peters held on to fourth place with Jason Martin in fifth.
Defending series champion Mike Woodruff won both events at Jetmore last season but is still adjusting to the new, larger wing required by the NCRA this year. He battled through the B feature, started 11th and finishing sixth. From 16th in the A, he finished eighth.
"We're still going to be adjusting a little bit but the level of competition has gone up so much," Woodruff said. " Other things we've been doing aren't working so we're going to have to change our thoughts on everything.
King believes he caught some good breaks tonight which is just part of the sport.
"It's all in the program," he said, "you got to catch everything right or you're not going to win."
For Saturday night at least, Steve King caught everything right --
In other action, Jon Freeman won the B feature, followed by Dwight Schroeder and Gary Taylor.
Winners of the Cherokee Casino and Resort heat races were Peters, Shane Bangerter, Maier and A.J. Selenke.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 1 (8 laps):
1. Mike Peters, Wichita, Kan.; 2. Steve King, Jetmore, Kan.; 3. C.J. Johnson, Quinter, Kan; 4. Gary Taylor, Wheat Ridge, Colo.; 5. Dennis Park, Liberal, Kan.; 6. Mike Woodruff, Satanta, Kan.; 7. J.D. Johnson, Utica, Kan.; 8. Shane Howard, Hutchinson, Kan.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 2 (8 laps):
1. Shane Bangerter, Dodge City, Kan.; 2. Brian Herbert, Dodge City, Kan.; 3. Abe Sherwood, Tulsa, Okla.; 4. Scott Lehman, Hutchinson, Kan.; 5. Kent Kantor, Tulsa, Okla.; 6. Kirby Wanger, Fort Supply, Okla. (DNF); 7. Luke Cranston, Ness City, Kan. (DNF); 8. Randi Miller, Rapid City, S.D. (DNF).
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 3 (8 laps):
1. Garry Lee Maier, Cimarron, Kan.; 2. Derek Drown, Amarillo, Texas; 3. Jon Freeman, Salina, Kan.; 4. Preston Peebles, Lubbock Texas; 5. Gavin Punch, Collinsville, Okla.; 6. Allan Unruh, Valley Center, Kan.; 7. Jake Pierson, Bellvue, Colo.; 8. Andy Shouse, Oklahoma City.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 4 (8 laps):
1. A.J. Selenke, Wichita, Kan.; 2. Keith Rauch, Thornton, Colo.; 3. Jason Martin, Liberal, Kan.; 4. Dwight Schroeder, Moundridge, Kan.; 5. Kerry McAllister, Mustang, Okla.; 6. Travis Adams, Oklahoma City; 7. Geoff Dodge, Colorado Springs, Colo. (DNS).
Pole Dash 1 (5 laps):
1. King; 2. Selenke; 3. Rauch; 4. Herbert; 5. Bangerter.
Pole Dash 2 (5 laps):
1. C.J. Johnson; 2. Maier; 3. Peters; 4. Drown; 5. Martin.
B feature (15 laps):
1. Freeman; 2. Schroeder; 3. Taylor; 4. Sherwood; 5. McAllister; 6. Woodruff; 7. Peebles; 8. Lehman; 9. Park; 10. Cranston; 11. Wanger; 12. J.D. Johnson; 13. Shouse; 14. Miller; 15. Unruh; 16. Pierson; 17. Howard; 18. Kantor; 19. Punch; 20. Adams; 21. Dodge.
A feature (30 laps):
1. King; 2. C.J. Johnson; 3. Maier; 4. Peters; 5. Martin; 6. Drown; 7. Peebles; 8. Woodruff; 9. Selenke; 10. Rauch; 11. Freeman; 12. Taylor; 13. Park; 14. Herbert; 15. Sherwood; 16. Schroeder; 17. Cranston; 18. McAllister; 19. Lehman; 20. Wanger.