Sooner Region 2005 season recap

ASCS Sooner Region Season Review: McClelland the Master TULSA, Okla. (November 18, 2005) -- Collinsville, Oklahoma's Sean McClelland kicked the 2005 season off on the right foot with a feature win and never looked back as he charged...

ASCS Sooner Region Season Review: McClelland the Master

TULSA, Okla. (November 18, 2005) -- Collinsville, Oklahoma's Sean McClelland kicked the 2005 season off on the right foot with a feature win and never looked back as he charged to the American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region title.

While McClelland led the points chase throughout, it didn't come without a fight as 2002 series champ Danny Jennings closed the gap at midseason and stayed within striking distance until the season's final checkered flag flew at Mid-America Speedway in South Coffeyville, OK, on October 15.

Ultimately, it was McClelland outlasting Jennings by just 52 points, taking the series title aboard Kurt Temple's Myers-powered Cloud 9/K&N Filters No. 1 J&J on the strength of five feature wins, a dozen top-fives and 18 top-tens in 20 Sooner Region events.

McClelland served notice in the series season opener at Tulsa Speedway on April 2, collecting his first career ASCS win after apparent victor Kenneth Walker was disqualified for use of an illegal wicker bill. McClelland backed it up a week later by scoring a convincing win at Cowtown Speedway in Kennedale, TX.

Jennings fought off McClelland in the series next outing at Ada's Oklahoma Sports Park on April 23 to take his first Sooner Region win of the season and closed to within eight points.The next weekend, Danny Wood outlasted Kevin Ramey and McClelland for victory honors at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway, with McClelland outdueling National Tour invader Tony Bruce, Jr., for the win the next night at Lawton Speedway.

With three victories in the series opening five events of the season, McClelland had extended his point lead to 32 markers over Jennings with a handful of events run in conjunction with the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour up next.

Two-time Sooner Region champion Kevin Ramey claimed an Oklahoma City win on May 20 as five of the top seven finishers, including Ramey, Danny Wood, Cody Branchcomb, McClelland and Jennings, were Sooner Region reps.

Jennings then closed the gap on McClelland during the June 17-18 Dodge City Raceway Park double, where Jennings posted a runner-up finish in the prelim then held off Gary Wright to win the finale. McClelland could only muster sixth and 14th place showings, allowing Jennings to close to within 16 points.

Jennings shaved another eight points off the lead the next Friday night with a fourth place run at Oklahoma City, only to have McClelland stretch the lead back out to 28 points the next night at Cowtown when McClelland finished fifth as Jennings and Ramey watched the checkered flag fly from the pit area after an early skirmish.

McClelland snared his fourth Sooner Region victory of the season in dramatic fashion at Lawton Speedway on July 2, battling past Jennings in an intense wheel-to-wheel duel on the final round to take the win.

Zach Chappell slipped past Foster Landon to top the series debut atop Thunder Valley Speedway in Fayetteville, AR, on July 9, with Ramey leading a Sooner Region slaughter of the Gulf South Region in the July 16 Regional Shootout at Devil's Bowl Speedway.

Exiting the Devil's Bowl main with engine woes, McClelland's point lead had withered to just 16 points over Jennings entering a combined weekend of action with the National Tour on July 29 and 30 at Oklahoma City and Tulsa. While Gary Wright swept the weekend, McClelland posted strong finishes of third and fourth to reestablish a 40-point advantage over Jennings, who struggled over the weekend.

With just a handful of events remaining, Nick Smith held off Sam Hafertepe, Jr., and Zach Chappell to take his first series win since 2003 in the August 27 stop at Tulsa Speedway. Then on September 3, McClelland extended his lead in the points chase to 52 markers by making a late move past Andy Shouse at Oklahoma Sports Park to score his fifth triumph of the season.

While Ramey posted a convincing win at Lawton Speedway on September 17, Jennings gained some ground on McClelland when rear end woes forced the point leader to the infield on the final lap of the feature.

Still 40 points ahead with two events remaining, McClelland was a ninth place finisher at Cowtown Speedway on September 24. It was good enough to extend his lead to 50 points over Jennings, who only finished 14th as Travis Rilat outlasted Kevin Ramey in an entertaining non-stop affair atop the high-banked quarter-mile oval.

The season wrapped up with the series debut at Mid-America Speedway in South Coffeyville, OK, where Rilat picked up his second series win in a row to the tune of an ASCS Regional record $3,000 payday. McClelland finished third behind Rilat and Ramey to secure the crown by 52 markers over fourth-place runner Danny Jennings.

While McClelland earned the series crown, Jennings bid for a second title in the Folks-powered Lucas Products/Goodyear Tires No. 61J Maxim came up just short. After three years on the National Tour, 19-year-old Cody Branchcomb flirted with victory lane several times before settling for third in final points.

Brian McClelland, younger brother of the champion, claimed fourth in points in his first year of ASCS competition with a third place run at Fayetteville's Thunder Valley Speedway his best run of the year.

Also in his first year of ASCS Sooner Region competition, Fletcher, Oklahoma's Derek Cottrell parlayed several top ten feature finishes in the latter portion of the season into a fifth-place ranking in points.

J.P. Bailey, the ASCS Sooner Region's inaugural champion in 2001, earned a sixth place ranking in final points with a third place finish at Oklahoma Sports Park on September 3 his top finish, while Foster Landon claimed seventh in points.

Sixteen-year-old Dex Eaton earned eighth in final points despite a pair of bone-jarring Cowtown crashes, with veteran Earnest Jennings and Ramey completing the top ten.

A total of 152 drivers competed in at least one American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region event in 2005, with ten different drivers earning trips to victory lane as the series contested 20 events at nine different tracks throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.

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Series Sprint
Drivers Cody Branchcomb , Travis Rilat , Nick Smith , Dex Eaton , Danny Jennings , Kevin Ramey , J.P. Bailey , Andy Shouse , Sean McClelland