Stewart Strikes For Inaugural O'Reilly Sprint Bandits Crown TULSA, Okla. (November 30, 2004) -- Bixby, Oklahoma's Shane Stewart carved out his own place in the record books by capturing the inaugural O'Reilly Sprint Bandits championship ...
Stewart Strikes For Inaugural O'Reilly Sprint Bandits Crown
TULSA, Okla. (November 30, 2004) -- Bixby, Oklahoma's Shane Stewart carved out his own place in the record books by capturing the inaugural O'Reilly Sprint Bandits championship in 2004.
Stewart stormed to the title on the strength of eight top-five feature finishes in nine events, including an Independence Day triumph at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway and a season-ending romp at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, TX, on October 16 to secure the crown.
Stewart claimed the inaugural O'Reilly Sprint Bandits championship by 74 markers over Forney, TX, shoe Travis Rilat. While Rilat matched Stewart in the win column with Memorial Day weekend wins at US 36 Raceway in Cameron, MO, and Butler County Speedway in Rising City, NE, bad luck in the season's book-ending events at Devil's Bowl proved to be the difference in the final tally.
Just as Rilat backed up his ASCS National Tour runner-up showing with a Sprint Bandits runner-up finish, Talala, Oklahoma's Zach Chappell made it a pair of third place points finishes by taking the show position in both the 360-ci ASCS series and the 410-ci Sprint Bandits. Chappell posted a pair of top-five finishes in the season-opening double at Devil's Bowl, then recorded four more top ten feature finishes along the way to earn his third place ranking.
Scoring a pair of top-five feature finishes at Cameron and Rising City over Memorial Day weekend, Danny Jennings of Norman, OK, also notched top-ten feature finishes in the season-opening double at Devil's Bowl to finish fourth in points.
Liberal, KS, nomad Jason Martin capped a strong season with top ten runs at Cameron, Oklahoma City and Tulsa to round out the top five in points.
Collinsville, OK, shoe Foster Landon posted four top-ten finishes en route to a sixth place finish in points, while Tulsa winner Wayne Johnson of Mustang, OK, ranked second in the feature laps led charts and seventh in points. Aaron Berryhill posted a pair of top-five runs to finish eighth in points, with Little Rock winner Gary Wright and Knoxville winner Terry McCarl completing the top ten.
In nine O'Reilly Sprint Bandits point events in 2004, seven events featured at least one lead change as only two features were won in wire-to-wire fashion.
Even those that were led from green to checkered held plenty of drama, as one night after becoming the first O'Reilly Sprint Bandits feature winner at Devil's Bowl Speedway, Sammy Swindell held off the fast-closing duo of Stewart and Chappell to win by less than two car-lengths at Devil's Bowl Speedway on March 20. Wayne Johnson also won in wire-to-wire fashion, although he was busy fending off Stewart in the early stages before slamming the door on Gary Wright on the final circuit to top the Tulsa round.
Johnson's first series victory came after two potential wins had slipped away, the first of which occurred when Knoxville master McCarl raced past the Mustang, OK, native on the tenth round atop the famed half-mile oval, with the second the next night at Rising City, NE, when Rilat charged past Johnson with less than three laps remaining to steal the victory. Rilat's Rising City heroics came just two nights after Rilat stole Cameron's cash with a last lap pass of Stewart.
In addition to the nine point events, the O'Reilly Sprint Bandits also shed their wings for a challenge versus the USAC National Sprint Car series at Memphis Motorsports Park. Former Ultimate Challenge winner Rilat set the standard in qualifying, then Stewart rebounded from a wild qualifying flip to finish third behind Josh Wise and Cory Kruseman in the hotly-contested feature event.
A total of 118 different drivers competed in at least one of the nine point events in the inaugural season of competition for the O'Reilly Sprint Bandits. Stewart, Rilat, Chappell, Jennings, Martin and Landon took part in all nine events, with an additional seven drivers (W. Johnson, Berryhill, Wright, McCarl, Colin Northway, Sean Walden and Tony Bruce, Jr.) competing in at least two-thirds of the events.
O'Reilly Sprint Bandits 2004 Points (Top Fifteen): 1. Shane Stewart 1,256, 2. Travis Rilat 1,182, 3. Zach Chappell 1,156, 4. Danny Jennings 1,154, 5. Jason Martin 1,096, 6. Foster Landon 1,045, 7. Wayne Johnson 1,018, 8. Aaron Berryhill 952, 9. Gary Wright 798, 10. Terry McCarl 786, 11. Colin Northway 779, 12. Sean Walden 724, 13. Tony Bruce, Jr. 679, 14. Jason Johnson 656, 15. Nick Smith 606.