American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten TULSA, Okla. (May 24, 2005) -- The time-honored weekly tradition of assembling ten random items of varying degrees of relevance and assembling them in no particular order has rolled ...
American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten
TULSA, Okla. (May 24, 2005) -- The time-honored weekly tradition of assembling ten random items of varying degrees of relevance and assembling them in no particular order has rolled around once again. You are correct, it is time for the American Sprint Car Series Tuesday's Top Ten.
Let's get it on.
1. Texan Stops Texan -- Gary Wright tried to become the first in O'Reilly ASCS National Tour history to win four in a row Friday night at Oklahoma City, but a cut tire in an opening lap feature incident effectively extinguished his chances. He charged from the tail to finish ninth as Fort Worth's Kevin Ramey threatened to make lapped traffic of "The Texan" just before the checkered flew. It was Ramey's second National Tour win at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway and fifth overall, with other wins at 81 Speedway, Fast Trax Speedway and Devil's Bowl Speedway.
Wright's three-race win streak marked the seventh time in ASCS National Tour history a driver had won three in a row, with Wright accounting for five of those streaks. Paul White halted Wright's '98 streak, Wayne Johnson stopped Wright in 2000 and brothers Darren and Shane Stewart stopped separate '03 Wright runs.J Jason Johnson put a halt to Tim Crawley's 2001 three-race win streak, while Wright ended Travis Rilat's roll in 2004.
2. Feels Like the First Time -- Bellvue, Colorado's Jake Pierson became the sixth driver in 2005 to capture his first career American Sprint Car Series feature victory by topping Friday night's ASCS Rocky Mountain Region event at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, SD. Following a runner-up finish in the season opener six days earlier, Pierson moved atop the series early-season point standings.
Other first-time winners thus far in 2005 include Sooner Region point leader Sean McClelland (who has racked up three wins already), Gulf South contenders Ray Allen Kulhanek and Scottie McDonald, and Southern Tour shoes Mike Brecht and Danny Martin, Jr. Overall, 14 different drivers have already visited ASCS victory lane through the initial 20 features of the season.
3. Debut -- Lanny Edwards has been packing the stands at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway since 12-year-old Trey Robb began competing in the weekly Super Sprint division this year. Friday night, the youngster (now to the much advanced age of 13) made his ASCS debut.
Robb drew the pole position for the evening's fifth heat race and, after outgunning 2001 Sooner Region champ J.P. Bailey for the point, led the way until a late caution closed National Tour title contender Darren Stewart to his rear bumper. Robb slid just a bit high exiting turn four with the checkered flag in sight however, allowing Stewart to slip underneath and deny the young shoe his first ASCS win by just a foot or so.
That second place heat finish still earned Robb a seventh row inside starting position for the "A" Feature, an accomplishment in itself with a stout 40-car field on hand. Robb made his way into the top ten during the early stages of the feature before settling for 13th at the checkered flag, with a pair of past Sooner Region champions among those trailing him at the line.
4. Last Lap Heroics -- Darren Stewart's last-lap pass of Robb in the fifth and final heat race was the first of three consecutive Friday night races decided on the last lap, with Danny Wood and Jake Martens following suit in the next two races.
The driver that Oklahoma City fans seemingly love to hate, Larry Neighbors, outgunned Wood for the early lead in the First B Main and paced the opening eleven rounds. Wood closed the gap late however, and made a last lap move to steal the win from Neighbors. In the Second B Main, Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Jake Martens led the way for eight laps before Aussie-native Gavin Punch took command. Martens, formerly a weekly competitor at State Fair Speedway, got up in the seat then and returned the favor on the last lap to snare the win.
5. Sooner Magic -- "Sooner Magic", a term generally reserved for the University of Oklahoma's football playing Sooners (undoubtedly the nation's most tradition-rich athletic program), could have applied to Friday night's ASCS outing at Oklahoma City.
While an O'Reilly ASCS National Tour event, it was the American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region racers who flexed their collective muscle. Ramey led the way with his triumph, as five of the top seven finishers (also including Danny Wood, Cody Branchcomb, Sean McClelland and Danny Jennings) were Sooner Region reps. Only runner-up Darren Stewart and fifth-place runner Sam Hafertepe, Jr., are National Tour full-timers.
A rarity indeed for a number of Regional drivers to keep the National Tour shoes out of the top positions.
6. Debut II -- Fifteen-year-old Conner Pullen made the tow over from Amarillo, TX, for his first taste of ASCS competition. And as much as he'd like to forget most of what happened, it's unlikely that he'll ever be able to successfully erase the memories.
Pullen's heat race went smoothly enough for the first half a lap or so. Then turns three and four came into play, where Pullen bicycled then went end-for-end several times, wasting wing number one for the night.
Repairs were made and Pullen returned for B Feature action, where he was able to gain several spots to finish seventh. Still four spots shy of a transfer at the checkered flag, Pullen was making his way to the pit area when his car mysteriously burst into flames while on the horse track leading to the pits. By the time fire crews arrived, flames engulfed the car, dancing well above the top of the wing. The fire was eventually extinguished, but the fire had burned through most of the top wing. So much for wing number two.
7. Wild Rides -- Oklahoma City, OK, and Rapid City, SD, both hosted ASCS events on Friday night. And, at approximately the same time, spectators at both tracks witnessed spectacular flips.
Entering the night ranked second in points, Howard got in trouble when he slipped over the turn four banking. Howard kept it going and his left front met Toby Brown's right rear about half way down the straightaway. Howard's car lost that battle, as the front end collapsed and launched the Byhalia, MS, driver into a violent set of endo's well beyond the entrance to turn one. While uninjured, Howard was sore soon after. So sore in fact, that he couldn't even fully enjoy a playful jab from Stephanie Chappell.
Meanwhile, in South Dakota, Mike Pennell took what Rocky Mountain Region coordinator Jim Starr described as, "One of the worst rides I've seen in a long time." Pennell paid a quick visit to the crash house, but was back at the track at the end of the night, albeit somewhat sore.
8. "I picked a heck of a time to have a bad night." -- Commented Sooner Region point leader Sean McClelland following a fourth place heat race finish after starting from the pole.
McClelland, who had finished no worse than third in the opening five Sooner Region main events of 2005, then barely fought off A.G. Rains for the third and final transfer position from the First B Main.
Mired at 19th in the A Feature starting grid, McClelland quickly turned things around and had climbed to seventh in just five laps, racing through the field with Danny Wood and Larry Neighbors. McClelland moved up as far as fifth before settling for sixth and Hard Charger honors at the line.
"The driver had to get an attitude adjustment, I just finally started racing," McClelland commented after salvaging a solid finish and maintaining the Sooner Region point lead over seventh-place finisher Danny Jennings and fourth-place runner Cody Branchcomb. "I got tired at the end. I'd got by Sam (Hafertepe), but then he started trying to get back by and I let him have the spot, I was too worn out to fight him for it."
9. Idle Time II -- After picking up his first Sprint Car feature win in weekly action at Lake Ozark, Toby Brown recorded his first top ten finish of the season in O'Reilly ASCS action at Oklahoma City on Friday night.
The next night, Toby took advantage of another off night to score his first Midget win, racing to victory lane at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, MO. In the companion Sprint feature, Toby raced from 16th to third with his ASCS-legal wing, all the while spotting his rivals the advantage of a wicker bill, which is illegal in ASCS competition.
10. Rocket Alert -- Roger "Rocket" Crockett will be among those vying for championship honors in the 13th Annual COMP Cams ASCS Speedweek, which kicks off Friday night, June 3, at Memphis Motorsports Park.
The four-time and defending Northern Sprint Tour champion from Eugene, OR, racked up a total of 14 feature wins over the course of the 2004 season.
Banging Fenders? -- "Harry Potter" in a Late Model? Surely you jest. The Sprint Car driver known by his peers as "Harry Potter" is expected to make his Late Model racing debut in Nebraska this Sunday night after competing in Saturday night's National Tour debut at Cowtown Speedway. Surely you know Harry Potter, he's practically been everywhere this year it seems.
Time to put the wraps on Installment Number Seven of Tuesday's Top Ten. Comments, questions, suggestions, critiques and more are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, any information you may desire regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.