COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek Snippets; Round Two LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 11, 2004) - The popular joke in recent years has been that Gary Wright secretly possesses the ownership title to the parcel of land known familiarly as ...
COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek Snippets; Round Two
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 11, 2004) - The popular joke in recent years has been that Gary Wright secretly possesses the ownership title to the parcel of land known familiarly as Little Rock's I-30 Speedway.
After all, Wright had topped four of the past six O'Reilly ASCS National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores and Classic Trailers features at I-30 Speedway. He also made his way to victory lane when the O'Reilly Sprint Bandits 410-ci series made its inaugural stop in Little Rock on May 15.
And Wright topped off a 22-win 2003 season with a $21,000 triumph in I-30 Speedway's Short Track Nationals, his third STN crown.
Along with a pair of STN prelim wins in the past two seasons, Wright had found victory lane in eight of the most recent 11 major Sprint Car events held atop I-30's high-banked red clay oval. One could hardly be blamed for conceding the second round of the 12th Annual COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek to Wright on Saturday night.
Problem is, nobody told Travis Rilat.
Rilat's fortunes have been mixed at I-30 over the past several years. Some strong runs had been derailed by bad luck. A late pass by Pete Butler nixed a possible I-30 win in June 2002. Rilat finally broke into I-30's victory lane during STN prelim action last October.
Rilat started Saturday's main event from the pole position and broke into the early lead. After a couple of rounds in which the lead pack treaded softly on the low side, Wright decided to venture to the top.
Wright made quick work of Toby Brown for third, then raced past Zach Chappell for second on the fourth lap. Wright reeled Rilat in, and when he battled past on the seventh round, it looked to be another night of Wright domination in Little Rock.
Rilat stayed within striking distance however, and moved in to challenge just as Jan Howard and Mike Ward tangled in turn two with five to go. As Wright checked up to avoid the mess, Rilat slid into him, sending both machines bouncing past Howard's stalled mount. Fortunately, no damage was done to either machine.
When the race resumed, Rilat made a spectacular charge into turn one and into a lead he would never relinquish. Rilat, whose first ASCS National win came in 1999 Speedweek action at Texarkana, went on to score his 17th career ASCS victory and 3rd career Speedweek triumph by three car-lengths.
Rilat's victory ended what would equate to a "slump", at least according to Rilat's 2004 pace thus far. Rilat entered COMP Cams Speedweek with eleven triumphs on the season already, including five ASCS National wins, a pair of Sprint Bandits triumphs, solo ASCS Sooner and Gulf South Regional wins, and local wins at Cowtown and Heart 'O Texas.
However, since sweeping the ASCS Delta Bowl double on June 18 and 19, Rilat had been shut out of victory lane in eight feature starts entering Speedweek. Those eight features (4 ASCS National, 2 Sprint Bandits and 2 SCOA/NCRA) netted five top-fives and no finish lower than seventh.
After a sixth place run in Friday's COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek opener at Batesville, the winless streak had reached nine for Rilat. Rilat wouldn't allow it to reach ten however, leaving Wright scratching his head as "The Texan" settled for his fourth consecutive runner-up finish in ASCS National action to go along with a pair of runner-up showings in Sprint Bandits action over the Fourth of July weekend.
After distributing more than $4,800 worth of COMP Cams contingencies earned thus far this season the previous night (with top earners including Zach Chappell ($950), Travis Rilat ($850) and Garry Lee Maier ($750)), Scott Davis of COMP Cams was all smiles when Rilat became the second COMP Cams customer in as many nights to enter COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek victory lane.
Davis and COMP Cams have upped the ante as well, offering a bonus for top-three finishers displaying all three COMP Cams decals (Cams, Springs and Rocker Arms). Three-hundred dollars are available for a winner with all three decals, $200 for second and $100 for third. If drivers displaying all three decals sweep the top three spots, COMP Cams will pay the bonus to all three.
While Rilat and Wright contested the lead, there was plenty of action for the large crowd to keep track of behind them.
Toby Brown caught the turn two concrete at Batesville in painful fashion on Friday night, destroying his J&J mount. The ABF Truck Rebuilders team immediately headed back to their Carthage, MO, base, unsure of their immediate course of action. Ultimately, when the team reached home after 2 a.m., a late-night (or early morning, depending upon your point of view) call was made to Scott Brown, owner of Garry Lee Maier's machine, requesting permission to put to use the Eagle chassis the team had picked up several weeks prior. Scott Brown (no relation) didn't blink an eye, insisting that they put it to use.
Toby, along with father Terry and the rest of the crew, worked tirelessly the next 12 hours assembling a race-worthy machine from the bare frame and made their way to Little Rock just in time for hot laps.
Toby responded by winning his heat race, then battled with Zach Chappell and Cody Branchcomb in the early going before soaring to the line third in the borrowed Eagle, a nice reward for a long night in the shop.
Darren Stewart, who entered Saturday night with six top-four finishes in the past seven events, suffered through a trying night. After bursting into an early lead in the fifth heat, Stewart spun his machine and restarted at the tail. Stewart made a valiant charge through the field and challenged for the win before crossing the stripe second, only to be docked two positions for jumping a restart. Relegated to B Main action, Stewart spun again and utilized his first provisional to start the main event, from which he would make a late exit, ending his 100% rate of top-ten finishes in ASCS National competition this season.
Darren's older sibling Shane was the focal point of much attention as well. After topping one of the twin B Mains, Shane raced from 15th well into the top ten by the midway point, where he encountered Friday winner Tim Crawley. The meeting was the first since last year's Pack's Dash for Cash at the Short Track Nationals, among the most intense dashes ever contested. Before that one was over, Stewart and Crawley collided, inciting a fury-induced helmet toss from Crawley.
The pair raced each other hard, but clean, on Saturday night, with Crawley beating the elder Stewart to the line for fifth. Still simmering from last November 1, Crawley tested the durability of Stewart's rear bumper on the cool down lap, prompting Stewart to employ a brake check. Crawley gassed it and spun Stewart entering turn one, the exact location of last year's STN encounter. Track personnel quickly intervened and further discussion was limited at best.
Stewart and Scott Chilcutt's mIn Motorsports team was dealt a blow just 24 hours later, when crew chief Rob Hart announced his departure after two-and-a-half years with the team. No word on Stewart and Chilcutt's immediate plans at this time.
St. Francois County Speedway ace Tim Montgomery made an unexpected visit aboard Donnie Cooper's brand new Maxim. Working to dial in the new machine, Montgomery qualified for his first Speedweek feature by winning the second B Main, then raced from 16th to seventh in the main event. Montgomery plans to compete throughout the remainder of Speedweek.
Nick Smith fought a lack of power steering, then a loss of a brake caliper, to his second tenth place finish in as many nights.
Josh Howard collected his first ASCS checkered flag by fending off Gary Wright to win the third heat race. This followed on the heels of older brother Dale Howard's second heat race triumph. Josh, making his first career ASCS Speedweek feature start, was one of five to exit the A Main, while Dale would notch his 17th career ASCS Speedweek top-ten feature finish by crossing the stripe ninth. Middle brother Jan Howard was competitive all night but was ensnared in a pair of feature skirmishes.
Along with Montgomery and Josh Howard, local shoe Justin Sturch made his first career ASCS Speedweek feature start. After advancing from B Main competition, Sturch moved up to 12th by the time the checkered flag flew on the feature.
Liberal, KS, shoe Jason Martin entered Speedweek with some impressive 2004 stats, including a pair of victories and eleven top-ten finishes in fifteen overall ASCS National and Regional starts, along with a fifth-place ranking in Sprint Bandits 410-ci points.
After missing his first feature of the year at Batesville on Friday night, Martin had raced into the third and final transfer position in Saturday night's opening B Main, only to be unceremoniously booted from behind and spun by local teen Zach Pringle. The pair rubbed wheels after the checkered, while Zach's father Rick Pringle took the third slot to start his third career ASCS Speedweek feature.
After a pair of heat race spins, A.G. Rains utilized his first provisional of the season to start the main event before making an early exit.
Micro grad Travis Senter, Jr., jumped a wheel on the front stretch as the green flag flew on the evening's fifth heat race and escaped injury in a grinding ride into turn one, although his former Sammy Swindell machine took quite a beating.
Twenty-nine drivers have taken part in both legs of the opening two rounds of the 12th Annual ASCS COMP Cams Speedweek, with a total of 43 thus far. Tulsa Speedway is next up on Monday night, followed by Tri-State Speedway near Ft. Smith on Tuesday.