LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 23, 2003) - Shane Stewart proved to be the class of the field in Thursday night's 16th Annual Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires preliminary feature at I-30 Speedway, leading all 25 laps to lock himself...
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 23, 2003) - Shane Stewart proved to be the class of the field in Thursday night's 16th Annual Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires preliminary feature at I-30 Speedway, leading all 25 laps to lock himself into Saturday night's $15,000-to-win STN finale.
Following a red flag with six laps to go, Stewart fought off a bid from Tim Montgomery, who battled for second with Cody Branchcomb most of the way, to seal the victory aboard Scott Chilcutt's Wesmar-powered Visit Australia "Down & Dirty Down Under Tour" Maxim. Montgomery snared the second and final transfer position to Saturday night's main event.
After topping the second heat race, Stewart led Thursday's feature field to the green flag with Montgomery alongside. Stewart jumped into the early lead, with third-starter Branchcomb racing ahead of Montgomery by the time the caution flew with five rounds complete for a turn two tangle that eliminated Ronny Howard and Richard Herring.
Stewart took off on the restart, leaving Branchcomb and Montgomery to fight it out for second. With Branchcomb on the low side and Montgomery on the cushion, Branchcomb maintained a slight advantage until the ninth round, when Montgomery edged into second.
Lapped traffic on the 12th round did little to deter Stewart's pace, as he sliced through traffic until the caution flew after 16 laps for a turn one tangle involving Jan Howard and Mike Ward, who were battling for fourth.
Four lapped cars separated Stewart from Montgomery and Branchcomb on the restart. Stewart set sail once again, while Branchcomb battled back ahead of Montgomery before a brief stoppage two laps later with 18 laps in the books. Montgomery charged back into second before the red flag flew on the 19th round for Paul Sides' turn two tumble. Sides was shaken but otherwise uninjured.
With just one car between Stewart and Montgomery on the restart, Montgomery made quick work of the lapped machine and tried to mount a charge on the high side. Stewart was up to the task and streaked to the checkered flag with a comfortable lead over Montgomery.
Seventeen-year-old Branchcomb posted an impressive third place finish, with eighth-starter Nick Smith in fourth. Garry Bell raced from 16th to round out the top five, while Ward recovered from the early incident to claim sixth. Completing the top ten were 18th-starter Chuck Swenson, Marshall Skinner, Joey Montgomery and 19th-starter Greg Rilat.
Josh Howard, Stewart, Tim Montgomery, Branchcomb and Jan Howard claimed topped heat race action in Thursday night's 39-car field, with Raymond Stull and Bell claiming the twin 12-lap B Feature wins.
John Carney II flipped on the fourth round of the opening heat race. Carney was able to return for B Main action only to be involved in another tangle.
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. Josh Howard, 2. Nick Smith, 3. Gregg Bakker, 4. Ronny Howard, 5. Scott Bolden, 6. Greg Merritt, 7. Eric Schrock, 8. John Carney II.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. Shane Stewart, 2. Paul Sides, 3. Mike Ward, 4. Jesse Hockett, 5. Garry Bell, 6. Kenny Coke, 7. Sonny Sayre, 8. Corey Bailey.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. Tim Montgomery, 2. Marshall Skinner, 3. Claud Estes, 4. Richard Herring, 5. Christi Passmore, 6. Ryan Jamison, 7. Zach Pringle, 8. Clint Garner.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. Cody Branchcomb, 2. Micah Schliemann, 3. Raymond Stull, 4. Joe Young, 5. Greg Rilat, 6. Chuck Swenson, 7. Travis Rilat.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. Jan Howard, 2. Joey Montgomery, 3. A.G. Rains, 4. Justin Sturch, 5. Jason Martin, 6. Don Droud, Jr., 7. Joe Bustillos. Disqualified: Jerry Kamer (failed to report to the scales after finishing fourth).
First B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Raymond Stull, 2. Justin Sturch, 3. Richard Herring, 4. Ryan Jamison, 5. Jason Martin, 6. Don Droud, Jr., 7. Joe Young, 8. Clint Garner, 9. Zach Pringle, 10. Greg Merritt, 11. John Carney II, 12. Jerry Kamer, 13. Jesse Hockett.
Second B Feature (15 Laps): 1. Garry Bell, 2. Chuck Swenson, 3. Greg Rilat, 4. A.G. Rains, 5. Eric Schrock, 6. Christi Passmore, 7. Kenny Coke, 8. Corey Bailey, 9. Scott Bolden, 10. Sonny Sayre, 11. Joe Bustillos. DNS: Travis Rilat.
A Feature (25 Laps - Starting Position in Parenthesis): 1. 4m-Shane Stewart (1), 2. 4-Tim Montgomery (2), 3. 94-Cody Branchcomb (3), 4. 15s-Nick Smith (8), 5. 32-Garry Bell (16), 6. 88-Mike Ward (9), 7. X-Chuck Swenson (18), 8. 26-Marshall Skinner (11), 9. 21c-Joey Montgomery (5), 10. 35-Greg Rilat (19), 11. 9m-Micah Schliemann (12), 12. 11x-Gregg Bakker (13), 13. Josh Howard (6), 14. 11J-Paul Sides (10), 15. 74e-Claud Estes (4), 16. 46-Jan Howard (7), 17. 44-Ronny Howard (14), 18. 10-Richard Herring (17), 19. 4t-Justin Sturch (15). DNS: 21-Raymond Stull.