American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten TULSA, Okla. (April 26, 2005) -- A long-standing tradition to be sure (dating all the way back to the first half of this month), the time for Tuesday's Top Ten has rolled around again.
American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten
TULSA, Okla. (April 26, 2005) -- A long-standing tradition to be sure (dating all the way back to the first half of this month), the time for Tuesday's Top Ten has rolled around again. We shall delve into ten items of random degrees of interest or irrelevance from this past weekend's American Sprint Car Series racing action, all of which are packaged in no discernible order whatsoever.
The green flag drops...
1. The Master -- After a lackluster start on the 2005 O'Reilly ASCS National Tour, Gary Wright broke out of his funk in impressive style with his first ASCS win of the season Saturday night at Memphis Motorsports Park. After un-Texan-like finishes of seventh and eighth in the Devil's Bowl opener, the defending series champ could only muster an eleventh place finish in Friday's MMP prelim.
Wright turned the tables on Saturday though. Wright patiently picked up positions after starting fifth in the feature. By the time he had captured second position twelve laps into the 30-lapper, Friday night winner Darren Stewart was nearly a straightaway ahead. Wright reeled in the Oklahoma State University Accounting major in just a few short laps, charged by on the high side and blitzed through lapped traffic with ease to amass a straightaway advantage in just a few more short laps.
Yet another in a long line of impressive performances turned in over the years by the Hooks, TX, racer.
2. Family Guys -- Sprint Car racing is a family sport, and a look at the weekend's ASCS results supports that fact as four Howards flocked to MMP and three Jennings joined the Sooner Region field.
Brothers Dale, Jan and Josh Howard helped fill the MMP field with cousin Ronny. Dale, the eldest of the brothers Howard at 29, fared the best with a second on Friday and third on Saturday after catching a timely caution when he looped his machine in turn four but kept it under power, testing the agility of ASCS official Jim Farley. Some swift moves kept Farley in tact, but the same could not be said of his line-up board, which is now two miniature line-up boards. And Boss Estes is out nineteen bucks as a result.
Middle brother Jan, 27, is in the thick of the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour points race, just eight points out of the lead after finishes of seventh on Friday and sixth on Saturday.
The youngster of the bunch at 19, Josh missed Friday's top ten by just two spots then earned the tenth position on Saturday. With the three Howard brothers in the top ten of Saturday's feature, it marked the first time in O'Reilly ASCS history that three bothers all finished in the top ten on the same night.
Cousin Ronny had a heat race "Ruh-Ro" moment when he spun while in an almost certain transfer position to the main. Instead, Ronny, along with the Scooby and Shaggy characters on the side of his mount, missed Saturday's show by one spot in the B Main.
The Jennings family was well represented in American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region action at Ada's Oklahoma Sports Park. Danny, 2002 series champion, held off a charging Sean McClelland to take the win and put a halt to McClelland's Sooner streak in the process. His grandfather, Earnest, made his first start of the year and finished thirteenth, one spot behind 17-year-old Lee Jennings. Also the night's B Feature winner, it was Lee's ASCS debut.
3. North Takes South -- With the Buckeye State and surrounding areas drenched, Ohio drivers Mike Brecht and Mike Dussel made the Saturday trip to Laurens, SC, for the first Heintz Performance ASCS Southern Tour event and ended up taking first and second place loot back across the Mason-Dixon line.
Mike and Mike battled throughout with North Carolina's Scott Young in the mix as well. Dussel appeared to have victory lane in sight only to have Brecht make a last lap pass for the win, thrilling the throng at Laurens County Speedway.
4. 4m Again -- Race fans only thought they'd seen the end of an era when Shane Stewart and car owner Scott Chilcutt joined forces with Rudeen Racing, leaving little more of the former No. 4m machine than a side panel from the top wing mounted to a wall in the team's Oklahoma City shop.
So, it came as a surprise when Toby Brown, who recently made his 200th consecutive start aboard the familiar ABF Truck Rebuilders No. 61a, unloaded a sharp looking No. 4m bearing mIn Motorsports Management logos at MMP. Seems that a partnership has been forged between mIn and ABF to keep the No. 4m around. "We'll run this until we crash it," Toby commented.
Old habits are definitely hard to break though. Toby's father and car owner Terry Brown looked quizzically at Saturday's heat race line-ups for several minutes. Perplexed, he finally asked, "So, where did you guys put us?" Fielding cars bearing the number "61a" for upwards of 20 years, it should come as no surprise that Terry was searching for the wrong number in the lineups.
The same happened to Toby later in the evening when Donnie Eveland made his ritualistic pre-feature tour of the pit area to show the three-wide alignment. Toby scratched his hairless head in a state of bewilderment until Eveland penciled the number "61a" next to the "4m".
5. Ladies of the ASCS -- The American Sprint Car Series certainly has its share of racers of the fairer sex. Three were in competition over the weekend, including Natalie Sather, Mary Anne Williams and Dara Morrow.
Williams, from Chester, VA, scored a strong sixth place finish in the Laurens, SC, Southern Tour opener.
Sather and Morrow both competed in Saturday night's Sooner Region event at Ada. After an eleventh place finish in O'Reilly National Tour points last year, Fargo, North Dakota's Sather will mix in some Regional events along with much of the National Tour. Sather broke into the top ten at Ada, finishing eighth.
Still awaiting her ASCS powerplant, Catoosa, Oklahoma's Morrow missed Saturday's feature. With the new engine not yet completed, Morrow may be MIA this weekend.
Tina Creswell, a regular competitor in past years with the ASCS Gulf South Region, is now in weekly competition at Cowtown Speedway. While her ASCS engine wasn't ready for the recent Sooner Region show, it is expected that she will take part in the remaining two ASCS events at Cowtown this year.
6. Rookie Race -- This year's ASCS Brodix National Tour Rookie of the Year chase should be quite the three-horse race to the finish, with Tony Bruce, Jr., Jake Martens and Lee Sowell all shooting for the honors.
Bruce entered the weekend second in points after a strong Devil's Bowl opening double, but after missing Friday night's feature the Liberal, KS, shoe slipped to seventh in points following a 14th place run on Saturday.
Jake Martens of Fairview, OK, escaped the weekend atop the Rookie points. Seeing MMP for the first time, Martens adapted quickly and posted a pair of top-ten finishes to climb to fourth in points. Saturday's ninth place run could have been even better if not for spinning after contact with a lapped car while running fourth in the final rounds.
Nesbit, MS, shoe Lee Sowell made an impressive last lap pass to take the third and final transfer position from Greg Merritt in Saturday's first B Main. Merritt, who had Ernie Ainsworth in the seat the night before, watched from the pits while Sowell bicycled mightily in turn three on the second round of the feature and retired from the event as a result of the damage inflicted.
7. Double Duty -- Some guys just can't get enough. Tim Crawley and Travis Senter, Jr., would fall into that category, as they both pulled double duty during one night of the weekend's MMP double.
Friday, three-time National champion Crawley tuned up for the Sprint Car feature by running fourth in the Late Model feature. Crawley would match the fourth place finish in Sprint Car competition moments later. Also an occasional modified competitor, Crawley passed on Saturday's modified card before wrapping up the ASCS weekend in fifth aboard William Hope's No. 77.
Senter not only qualified for his first career O'Reilly ASCS National Tour feature event on Friday night, he then raced to a tenth place finish. Before finishing 15th on Saturday, the Mini-Sprint master accepted a $250 bonus to start at the tail of the 20-car Mini-Sprint feature. Senter made it to sixth before he ran out of laps. Although he couldn't pull off the last-to-first magic trick, Wayne Rhodes paid the bonus anyway.
8. Youth Alert -- Media types have a tendency to over hype some of the young drivers in the sport. But, 15-year-old Hunter Schuerenberg of Sikeston, MO, is worthy of some hype after his MMP weekend.
Friday night, Schuerenberg found the rubber in the middle of the track before anybody else did and rocketed to the lead in just three laps, blasting past the likes of 74-time track champion Eddie Gallagher (okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration), 2003 ASCS National Tour Rookie of the Year A.G. Rains and Marshall Skinner along the way.
After scoring that first ASCS win on Friday night, Schuerenberg backed it up by topping a stout field on a fast track in Saturday night's heat race. The youngster then made a nifty move to advance from eleventh to seventh on the opening lap of the feature and stayed there most of the way. Only a turn two tap from Josh Howard on the 28th round that resulted in a quick 720 (the first 360-degree spin a result of the tap, the second more for show) could keep Schuerenberg from posting his first top-ten finish in ASCS competition. Schuerenberg did keep his machine going and crossed the stripe eleventh, the final car on the lead lap.
All of 15 years old, Schuerenberg will seem like a salty ol' grizzled veteran of the racing world compared to Oklahoma City's 12-year-old Trey Robb, who could make his first ASCS start during Friday night's Sooner Region event at State Fair Speedway.
9. Missing in Action -- For the first time since late 1999, the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour contested an event without Talala, OK, driver Zach Chappell among the entries. With Chappell awaiting his next ARCA start in some random tropical paradise rather than the paradise of MMP's pit area, a couple of streaks have gone by the wayside as a result.
First, Chappell's series record of consecutive feature starts comes to a halt at 101. Gary Wright is on his way there though with 63 consecutive feature starts after the MMP double.
Chappell also fell one event shy of competing in 200 consecutive ASCS National Tour events. As a result, the 200 consecutive event club is an exclusive one with only Toby Brown and car owner Terry among its members. And there won't be any new members any time soon. The next active streak after Toby's current 202 is Travis Rilat with 82 consecutive events. It would most likely be sometime in 2008 before Rilat could possibly reach the 200 mark.
10. Transplants -- A pair of transplants were in ASCS action at MMP over the weekend, including California native Steven Tiner and Ohio native Tim Sites.
Piloting Tim Crawley's No. 87JR Sprint Car, Tiner raced to a strong fifth place finish in Friday's preliminary feature. The California Kid's luck changed in a hurry though when the powerplant blew up in hot laps on Saturday, reducing Tiner to the role of spectator.
From Grove City, OH, Tim Sites took the wheel of Shorty Chambliss' second entry on Friday night. Sites missed Friday's feature, as did teammate Chad Jones, prompting the world famous Short Man of much Memphis lore to leave both cars at home Saturday night.
Putting the wrap's on this week's installment of Tuesday's Top Ten, comments, questions, suggestions, critiques and more are always welcome at email@example.com.
Until next week, any information you may desire regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.