ASCS Tuesday's Top Ten -- June 27, 2006 TULSA, Okla. (June 27, 2006) -- In a Tuesday state of mind, another edition of the American Sprint Car Series TTT has come about. The latest items of ASCS goings-on have been assembled in...
ASCS Tuesday's Top Ten -- June 27, 2006
TULSA, Okla. (June 27, 2006) -- In a Tuesday state of mind, another edition of the American Sprint Car Series TTT has come about. The latest items of ASCS goings-on have been assembled in the typical random order.
1. Variety Pack -- Those that believe the old adage that "Variety is the spice of life" surely enjoyed the last week of ASCS racing action, with eleven different drivers gracing victory lane in twelve feature events.
Only Fort Worth's Kevin Ramey was able to notch multiple victories by scoring an improbable sweep of Saturday night's double features for the National Tour at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, TX. The pumped winner, a two-time American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region champion in the midst of contending for a third crown, exclaimed as he climbed out of his winning mount at the end of the night, "Not bad for a Sooner Region guy, those National guys can kiss my Sooner butt!" Just further evidence that deep down inside, each native Texan longs to be a Sooner.
Ramey's win in the makeup event of the Spring Nationals marked the first ASCS win of the year for the driver that has racked up 21 ASCS wins from 2001 to 2005. Ramey commented afterward that, "Finally everything stayed together, nothing fell off the car or broke, I'm just glad we got one tonight. Now it would be really nice if we got another one later, but I'm happy either way." Ramey was even happier after that second win and left the grounds with a pocket full of Lanny Edwards' cash.
Ten other drivers enjoyed the limelight during the week, seven of which enjoyed a first career ASCS triumph. Scoring first-career wins were Curt Lund (Northern Plains), Gary Watson (Gulf South), Toby Chapman (Midwest), Chris Muhleisen and Bryan Howland (Patriots), Coby Adams (Southern Tour) and Steve Irwin (SOD).
After racking up five wins en route to the '05 Gulf South crown, Ray Allen Kulhanek finally worked out the bugs to dominate Saturday night at Houston Raceway Park.
Repeat winners for '06 included only Ken Mackey and Gary Wright. ASCS Sprints on Dirt point leader Mackey snared his second win of the year in Friday's card at Butler Motor Speedway, while Wright added his first O'Reilly ASCoT win of '06 to a previous triumph in the ASCS Mid-South opener.
For those keeping track, 45 different drivers have now scored at least one feature win in the 70 ASCS feature events completed thus far in 2006.
2. The Long Haul -- After competing in Knoxville, IA, on Friday night, Oskaloosa's Jeff Mitrisin and the Steve Wares team made the 12-plus hour haul to Devil's Bowl, where Jeff was already locked into the makeup feature from March 17.
Some anxious moments when the skies briefly opened upon their arrival where soon abated when the sun broke through and the Iowa visitors were treated to some typical Summer Texas heat. Mitrisin claimed twelfth in the makeup feature then improved to eighth in the Summer Nationals main event.
3. Surprise Visitor -- The possibility of Topeka, KS, racer Chad Meinholdt making a long-awaited return to ASCS action seemed like a very strong one, particularly with the ASCS Midwest Region in action just a couple of hours away at U.S. 36 Raceway in Cameron, MO.
So it wasn't a complete shock when Meinholdt's name popped up in the weekend's ASCS results. But who would have figured it would have been in ASCS Gulf South action more than 800 miles to the south in the Texas towns of Beaumont and Baytown, both near Houston.
Meinholdt enjoyed his Gulf South weekend though, among the front-runners before a late mishap in Friday's Motorama feature, then taking the show position on Saturday night at Houston Raceway Park.
4. Who Needs Shaq? -- Especially when you've got Coby. Coby Adams that is, who raced to his first career Heintz Performance ASCS Southern Tour feature win Saturday night in the series debut at Georgia's Lavonia Motor Speedway.
Adams, last year's Southern Tour points runner-up, moved atop this year's championship points chase with the win, as Butch Pendergrass surrendered the point lead with a broken crank shaft in hot laps.
Had he chosen to do so, Pendergrass would have been well within his rights to commandeer the entry of Matthew Greene, which is fielded by Pendergrass. But ol' Butch just couldn't do it. Greene was enjoying his final Sprint Car start before heading off to active duty in Iraq this week. Classy move by Butch, and best of luck to Greene after getting his series-first top ten feature finish at Lavonia.
5. Ouch! - The recent trend of exploding drivelines is unsettling to say the least. Terry McCarl's broken leg has been the most publicized, but it hasn't been the only incident.
The latest came on Friday night when Danny Jennings' driveline gave way in "B" Feature action at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway. Jennings drifted off the track and eventually came to a stop in turn three on the half mile, with a caution soon flying when potential injuries were realized. "I wanted to stop, but I couldn't feel anything at all in my lower left leg, it was totally numb," Jennings explained the next night.
While in no uncertain pain, Jennings lucked out on this one as ex-rays early the next morning revealed no broken bones. Which was enough to prompt Jennings and crew to load up and head to Devil's Bowl, with a splint affixed to his lower left leg. Jennings responded with his first O'Reilly ASCoT top five of the year with a fifth place run in the makeup feature before finishing 13th in the nightcap.
6. Heavy Stuff -- The water truck drivers must have been paid some overtime after providing some heavy surfaces at both Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway and the Devil's Bowl Speedway in Texas.
Accustomed to the typically dry Kansas surfaces, Jetmore racer Steven King commented Friday night that, "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto."JWhich could only leave one wondering whom he was referring to as Toto.
Following Saturday night's double at Devil's Bowl, Jesse Hockett laughed that, "We spent more money on tearoffs and car washes this weekend than we did on fuel to get here." Hockett exited Friday's OKC feature after pulling 24 tearoffs in just eleven laps. On Saturday at Devil's Bowl, Hockett claimed third in the makeup feature with a balky motor then salvaged a tenth place run in the finale after a rough draw and an engine change.
7. Living The Dream -- But for Michigan's Dustin Daggett, the dream has degenerated into a nightmare from which there seems to be little escape.
As enthused as they get, the 23-year-old embarked upon his first full year on the road with Rookie of the Year ambitions on the ASCS National Tour. But Lady Luck simply hasn't given a friendly nod to the two-time SOD kingpin.
A victory from the ninth row in SOD action a week before had the Daggett team enthused as they made the long trip to Oklahoma. And a strong run and resulting second-row feature start at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway had hopes running even higher.
But, Daggett then hooked the turn three cushion on the opening lap of the feature and vaulted over the banking in spectacular end-over-end fashion, wiping out another car. "I think we might just go home tonight, we can't keep doing this," a frustrated Daggett commented afterward.
But after a night to sleep on it and seemingly a million miles from his Portland, MI, home, the relatively short three-hour trek to Devil's Bowl was too much to pass up. And once again, it looked to be another promising night.
Daggett earned a front-row spot for the feature and jumped into the early lead. Daggett led his first 18 laps in O'Reilly ASCoT action before surrendering the lead to a determined Kevin Ramey. A few laps later, Daggett's mangled car sat on the frontstretch after wicked-hard contact with the inside wall after brushing wheels while dicing for fifth with Sean McClelland.
"Dustin better stay away from the casinos, because he doesn't have a bit of luck," a sympathetic Tony Bruce, Jr., commented upon watching the Daggett crew try to load the trashed machine. "That front end is knocked over about six, seven, oh maybe about nine feet," which is less exaggeration than one might think.
Back to Michigan to regroup, Daggett's day in the sun will come. It's just a matter of surviving the storm he's caught up in right now.
8. Rebound -- Current Sooner Region point leader Sean McClelland used up a car when he climbed a right rear tire and launched into Oklahoma City's frontstretch wall at the start of a Friday night heat.
The team put together a new car and McClelland responded nicely with a pair of strong sixth-place finishes at Devil's Bowl Speedway, a track at which Sean hasn't found to be his best in the past. With the pair of sixes, Sean held on to eighth in National points.
9. Fab Four -- With 13 O'Reilly ASCoT National events in the books, only four drivers have made the starting grid for each main event.
Among those are current series point leader Nick Smith, whose Rookie of the Year pursuit has taken a back seat to a $50,000 championship points chase. But just five points back and nipping at his young heels is two-time and defending series champion Gary Wright, a legend who is also among the four that has started all 13 mains.
Others that have started each feature include fourth-ranked Travis Rilat and sixth-ranked Darren Stewart.
10. In the Top Five -- Travis Rilat, the 2003 ASCS National champion, notched a third-place finish in Saturday night's Devil's Bowl Summer Nationals feature. It marked the 28-year-old shoe's 100th career top-five finish in ASCS National Tour action.
Rilat became just the fifth different driver to post 100 top five runs in ASCS National action, trailing only Gary Wright (227), Terry Gray (174), Garry Lee Maier (143) and Tim Crawley (142).
Zach Chappell, the 2001 ASCS National king, is just one off Rilat's pace, eyeing his potential 100th top five National run in this weekend's action at Pocola's Tri-State and Sedalia's Missouri State Fair Grounds.
On the flip side, Fort Worth's George White scored his first career ASCS National Tour top five run with a third-place showing in Friday's Oklahoma City feature.
Josh Lofton: An exciting weekend of ASCS action was overshadowed by Sunday evening's disheartening news of Josh Lofton's passing in a tragic drowning accident in Arkansas. Josh, along with his parents Frank and Geri, were strong supporters of the ASCS Mid-South Region and Sprint Car racing in general. Josh will most certainly be missed.
Fellow ASCS Mid-South Region competitor Bryce Vowan is producing Josh Lofton memorial decals for fellow racers (or anyone else) to display. To obtain one, please contact Bryce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enough for Volume II, No. XVII, of TTT. As always, notes, comments, questions and suggestions 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.