ASCS -- Tuesday Top Ten TULSA, Okla. (April 12, 2005) -- Ten items of varying degrees of relevance and/or interest have been gathered from this past weekend's American Sprint Car Series racing action and assembled in no particular order for ...
ASCS -- Tuesday Top Ten
TULSA, Okla. (April 12, 2005) -- Ten items of varying degrees of relevance and/or interest have been gathered from this past weekend's American Sprint Car Series racing action and assembled in no particular order for perusal.
1. Confidence Breeds Success -- One could say Sean McClelland is on "Cloud Nine" (an establishment with which some Chili Bowl patrons may be familiar is also incidentally one of the sponsors on the Kurt Temple-owned No. 1 Sprinter) after winning the first two American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region events of the season.
"It feels good to be on top of the points," McClelland commented after the first win. "It was nice to win one here at home too, most of these Tulsa guys still think of me as a two-barrel racer."
After McClelland beat down fellow third-row starter and 2003 ASCS National champion Travis Rilat in an opening-lap turf war in the fourth heat race this past Saturday night at Cowtown then chased down leader Joel Howard to make the winning pass on the final round, McClelland commented, "Confidence is everything, and right now my confidence is way up here," he displayed with his arm stretched above his head. "And having Slim (Jim Osborne) around to help out is making a big difference, I just wish we had enough money to keep him around all year."
McClelland then went out and put on a driving clinic en route to his second consecutive series triumph in a row after being shut out of victory lane in his first 21 Sooner Region attempts.
2. "I've never been arrested by an ambulance driver before." -- So quipped a track worker after a power-mad EMT threatened to arrest virtually anyone in his sight rather than lend a hand to Dex Eaton, who had just completed a wild set of endo's through turns one and two in the "B" Main. With the car lying on its left side and a mangled wing on top, Eaton indicated he was fine and asked that the car be turned over so he could escape the mess. However, the EMT refused to touch the machine, or let anyone else for that matter lest they be hauled off to jail immediately. Track owner Bo Rawdon quickly reminded the EMT of his place and what his job duties entailed (which did not include arresting any of Cowtown's customers), and the 16-year-old was eventually pulled from the wreckage unscathed.
3. J.P., Baja and the Lucky Dog. -- High-banked, quarter-mile dirt tracks can be conducive to unexpected, and occasionally, unwarranted contact. And as fast as Cowtown was Saturday night, it was inevitable that tempers would flare at some point. No better place than the battle for the final transfer position from the "B" Main.
After Eaton's tumble, ten laps remained with 2001 Sooner Region champion J.P. Bailey in the fourth and final transfer spot. Enter 2004 Devil's Bowl track champ Johnny "Baja" Miller, who slid wickedly in front of Bailey through turns one and two. So wicked in fact, that had Bailey not lifted he likely would have landed somewhere in the vicinity of Miller's hauler parked up the hill well beyond turn two.
After nearly stalling his mount to dodge the unexpected slider, Bailey dug in deep and set his sights on Miller. As the leaders became entangled in lapped traffic, Bailey closed in and the inevitable was about to happen. Entering turn three on the final round, Bailey dove in wide open and made contact with the back of Miller's car, sending both machines spinning. Enter "Lucky Dog" Sean Jones, a winner of three consecutive weekly events at Cowtown, who advanced from sixth to fourth and into the Main event by slicing through the fracas unharmed, while Bailey and Miller both watched from their respective trailers after a few choice words were shared between both camps.
4. Almost Got There -- Kevin Ramey sits atop the all-time ASCS Sooner Region win charts and is tied for the lead in Gulf South Regional wins. The driver who resides little more than three miles from Cowtown Speedway tried to add another to the Sooner ledger despite starting the feature in 14th after a fourth place heat race finish.
Ramey needed just six laps to move up to sixth and was third by the midway point, much to the delight of the partisan crowd. Ramey had to work to get by '04 Cowtown champ Claud Estes though, and even after the lap 22 caution it took four full laps of wheel-to-wheel racing before Ramey could claim second. And by that time, McClelland had checked out.
It just wasn't meant to be for Ramey on this night however, as he surrendered second when the car mysteriously lost power in the final corner and came to a quick stop within sight of the checkered flag. Unable to determine the exact culprit that evening, later speculation turned to the likelihood of either a broken fuel pump or a faulty magneto.
5. Rough Start -- The 2005 season has gotten off to a rough start for Foster Landon. After breaking a rear end in a "tune-up" during weekly action at Little Rock, the team lost a second rear-end during the Sooner Region opener at Tulsa. More of the same at Cowtown, as the crew changed rear-ends after a heat race victory. b^0x001cOne more lap in that heat and he couldn't have made it," commented car owner Joe Landon.
The repairs ended up costing more when Landon and Russ Fletcher tangled in turn three on the opening round of the feature. While Landon suffered damage on both ends of the car, track crews worked for more than twenty minutes to remove Fletcher's machine from the fencing.
6. Silly Season Starts Early -- It may not be that time of the year yet, but the first ride change of 2005 has taken place in ASCS territory. After missing the cut the first night of the Devil's Bowl Winter Nationals then finishing 23rd the next night, Matt Clevenger is out of the Swofford Electric machine. Taking the reins of the mount is George White, who will mix in selected starts with his busy modified slate.
White ran second to Landon in his heat race, and then held down fifth in the feature until looping the machine in turn four on the 23rd lap. Rejoining the chase at the tail, White then took the checkered flag in 13th.
Other former drivers spied in the infield taking in the action were Brian Harvill and Marvin Lough, neither of which seemed to be chomping at the bit for a new ride.
7. First Time -- Not only did Saturday night's Cowtown event mark Josh Close's first Sprint Car race, it marked his first race period. From Moore, OK, Close's only previous experience behind the wheel of a racecar was a few laps at a sprint car school.
Close kept it straight most of the night and loaded the machine in the trailer in one piece even after getting caught up the Bailey-Miller tangle on the final lap of the B Main.
8. Two in a Row Trend? -- Trend or a coincidence to start the year? Danny Jennings won the first two O'Reilly ASCS National Tour events. Now Sean McClelland has topped the opening two American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region events. Can Ray Allen Kulhanek accomplish the same feat in the Love's Travels Stops & Country Stores ASCS Gulf South Region? After winning the opener at Champion Park Speedway on March 12, that question will be answered Friday night when the series returns to action at Motorama Speedway in Beaumont, TX, before moving on to Gator Motorplex in Willis, TX, the next night.
9. Midwest Anticipation -- There's a buzz in the air up north as the American Sprint Car Series all-new Midwest Region gets set to fire off this Friday night at Nebraska Raceway Park's I-80 Speedway. Midwest Region co-coordinator T.W. Estes is encouraged by the interest shown by drivers throughout the area and a solid turnout is expected Friday night.
10. Jimmy Taylor Ready for Return -- Jimmy Taylor's streak of 53 consecutive O'Reilly ASCS National Tour events competed in came to a halt when he missed the second night of the Devil's Bowl Spring Nationals after blowing an engine on opening night. With the backup engine put back together, Taylor took his car out to Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway for hot laps on Friday night. All went well in hot laps and Taylor will be in action when the O'Reilly National Tour invades Memphis Motorsports Park next Friday and Saturday, April 22-23.
News of the strange. Also gleaned from Friday night's stopover at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway was the odd bit of info that track announcer Randy Ward (also of Chili Bowl announcing fame) will miss most of next week's program for the oddest of reasons. Dance lessons. Go figure.