Sooner Region 2003 review

Ramey Rules Sooner Region TULSA, Okla. (December 4, 2003) - Fort Worth, TX, shoe Kevin Ramey burst on to the American Sprint Car Series Sooner Region scene in dramatic style in 2003, charging to victory lane in five of thirteen events and...

Ramey Rules Sooner Region

TULSA, Okla. (December 4, 2003) - Fort Worth, TX, shoe Kevin Ramey burst on to the American Sprint Car Series Sooner Region scene in dramatic style in 2003, charging to victory lane in five of thirteen events and heading a trio of Lone Star State drivers that finished among the top four in final ASCS Sooner Region points.

After two consecutive years in which the ASCS Sooner Region ranked among the nation's most competitive series, with multiple drivers battling for the crown to the final checkered flag each season, the former Devil's Bowl Speedway champion embarked upon the 2003 season focused upon snaring the Sooner Region title aboard the Wells-powered Harvill Industries Eagle. And Ramey didn't disappoint, displaying a degree of dominance heretofore unseen in Sooner Region action.

Ramey served early notice by topping a loaded field of competitors in the ASCS Sooner Region opener at Creek County Speedway in Sapulpa, OK, on March 22, ultimately racing to the championship with a 108 point cushion over 2002 ASCS Sooner Region champion Danny Jennings.

>From Norman, OK, Jennings overcame early season ill fortune to claim second in points, but was unable to mount a serious challenge to Ramey's championship drive. After finishing fourth in Sooner Region points in his inaugural ASCS campaign in 2002, Amarillo's Derek Drown continued to improve throughout the season, scoring his first career ASCS victory en route to a third place finish in points.

Ramey's teammate, Brian Harvill of Irving, TX, claimed a fourth place finish in the final 2003 ASCS Sooner Region points rundown, giving Texas drivers three of the top four positions. Robert Sellers of Mustang, OK, rounded out the top five.

Oklahoma City's James Shoun recorded his third ASCS Sooner Region top ten points finish in as many years by finishing sixth, with Tulsa's Roy Larkin in seventh. Broken Arrow, OK, driver Nick Smith was eighth in points despite missing three events, with the leading lady of the Sooner Region, Stephanie Chappell of Talala, OK, in ninth. Travis Scott of Washington, OK, completed the top ten.

The 2003 ASCS Sooner Region trail consisted of 13 events at seven different tracks, including Oklahoma ovals at State Fair Speedway (Oklahoma City), Creek County Speedway (Sapulpa), Lawton Speedway, 412 Speedway Park (West Siloam Springs) and Ada's Oklahoma Sports Park, along with Missouri's Joplin 66 Speedway and Mesquite, TX, speedplant Devil's Bowl Speedway. 109 different drivers competed in at least one ASCS Sooner Region event in 2003.

The 2003 ASCS Sooner Region in a nutshell is as follows:

In keeping with tradition, the green flag unfurled upon the 2003 ASCS Sooner Region season at Creek County Speedway in Sapulpa, OK, with 38 drivers from Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Louisiana convening to sling the first clay of the year.

After reeling off three straight wins to cap the Sooner Region title in 2002, Jennings threatened to check out early until rear end woes sent him to the infield. Sellers then led much of the way until a checkered-flag lap scramble in which Ramey battled into the lead while Sellers flipped after contact with the backstretch wall. Ramey took the checkers, with Sean McClelland a close second in his ASCS debut. Nebraska's Billy Alley dodged several incidents to finish third after starting 15th, while Travis Rilat charged from the tail to claim fourth.

Next up on the Sooner Region agenda was Ada's Oklahoma Sports Park on April 26, where Larry Neighbors needed only eight laps to charge from his tenth starting slot into a lead he would never relinquish. After starting 15th, Ramey sliced through the field and took over second on the 18th round, falling eight car lengths short of Neighbors at the line. Lance Blevins' lone start of the year resulted in a third place finish, with Sellers and Rawdy Hull rounding out the top five.

The ASCS Sooner Region made the first of three stops at Lawton Speedway on May 3, with Ramey racing into the lead from his sixth starting slot in just six laps en route to victory lane. Travis Scott chased Ramey to the line, with Harvill, Marcus Jackson and Stephanie Chappell in tow.

The Sooner Region joined forces with the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and United Trailers at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway on May 9. With perilous weather bearing down upon the speedway, Jennings beat Neighbors to the line for third to claim top finishing Sooner Region honors, with Ramey and Sellers in sixth and eighth, respectively.

The next night, May 10, was a landmark night for the ASCS, as the series shed its wings for the first time in its history. National Tour invader Travis Rilat stole the show by charging from 13th, then emerged from a three-car tussle for the lead on the 19th of 25 rounds to claim the win. Tim Crawley was second, with Marvin Lough, McClelland and National Tour regular Toby Brown rounding out the top five.

Back in tandem with the National Tour in Oklahoma City on June 27, Ramey led the Sooner contingent to the stripe with a fourth place run. Finishing fifth through seventh were Sooner shoes Drown, Smith and Jennings.

After winning a pair of Sooner Region events in 2001 prior to sitting out the 2002 season, 20-year-old Nick Smith raced to victory lane in front of a packed house at Lawton Speedway on July 5. Smith beat Ramey to the stripe by less than two car-lengths, as Ramey made a last lap pass to edge Jennings for second at the line. Landon and Harvill rounded out the top five.

A week later, Devil's Bowl Speedway hosted the Sooner vs. Gulf South Region Shootout, which is a sure bet to become an annual event. Ramey represented the Sooner Region well, racing past fellow Sooner Region rep Jason Martin in the late stages en route to yet another win. Veteran Bob Ewell made a late pass for second, with Martin settling for the show position. Sooner aces Jennings, Harvill, Drown and Landon were next across the line.

Next on the slate was another topless outing at Creek County Speedway on July 19. While the first wingless effort went off with nary a hitch, the second didn't go quite as smoothly. A heavy track proved challenging for some more accustomed to the winged machines, with several cautions and red flags the result. Ramey was up to the task however, racing to victory lane after dicing with Landon and Sellers for the point. Landon was awarded second when apparent runner-up Larkin was disqualified for use of an illegal right rear tire. Harvill took the show position in third, just ahead of Jennings. The evening came to a wild conclusion as Chris Partin flipped wildly across the finish line after banging wheels with James Shoun while the pair battled for fifth.

The Sooner Region joined up with the National Tour once again during the first weekend of August, with Ramey once again bearing the Sooner torch in Oklahoma City on August 1, while Smith led the Sooner Region shoes at Joplin 66 Speedway the next night. Ramey was third in Friday's feature, with Drown (6th), Sellers (7th) and Jennings (8th) also among the top ten finishers. Smith took the checkered in fourth the next night at Joplin, with other Sooner Region top ten finishers including Landon (7th), Drown (9th) and Jennings (10th).

After on August 30 rainout at Ada, the ASCS Sooner Region made its first ever appearance at 412 Speedway Park in West Siloam Springs, OK, on August 31, with Drown scoring his first career ASCS triumph. Drown fought off Ramey to secure the victory, as Landon, Smith and Stephanie Chappell rounded out the top five.

With a pair of events rained out late in the year, the September 20 race at Lawton Speedway turned out to be the final ASCS Sooner Region event of 2003. Ramey finished the season the way he started it; by accepting victory accolades. Ramey manhandled a progressively loosening machine to hold off Jennings at the line and became the first repeat winner in the past seven Sooner Region events hosted by Lawton Speedway. Claud Estes posted a career best third place run, with Larkin and Zach Chappell rounding out the top five.

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Series Sprint
Drivers Larry Neighbors , Travis Rilat , Nick Smith , Danny Jennings , Kevin Ramey , Tim Crawley , Sean McClelland