O'Reilly ASCS Tuesday's Top Ten -- Special Thursday Edition LANSING, Mich. (June 1, 2006) -- This week's version of Tuesday has come and gone, with a few hundred miles or so disappearing into the distance of the rearview mirror along with...
O'Reilly ASCS Tuesday's Top Ten -- Special Thursday Edition
LANSING, Mich. (June 1, 2006) -- This week's version of Tuesday has come and gone, with a few hundred miles or so disappearing into the distance of the rearview mirror along with the incessant ticking of the clock. Which sets up a special Thursday night edition of TTT that includes ten random items regarding the latest American Sprint Car Series happenings, assembled with the sounds of the rolling wheels and whirring engines of big rigs and other nocturnal interstate travelers whizzing past a Michigan motel in the night's waning hours.
1. Office Pool -- So, who was your pick to capture the 2006 O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National championship? Would the winner of the $50,000 championship prize be seemingly perennial National Driver of the Year Gary Wright? Maybe Darren Stewart? Perhaps Travis Rilat to add another title? And the list goes on and on and on...
But one has to wonder just how many people would have selected Broken Arrow, Oklahoma's Nick Smith.
But, as we proceed into the month of June, Nick Smith has risen to the top of the point standings.J A hit-and-miss contender primarily in ASCS Sooner Region action in recent years, last year's National Tour COMP Cams Newcomer of the Year has found his focus and has been consistently fast each time out, posting a handful of top-five finishes and finishing outside the top ten just once in the opening ten feature events of the year.J And after picking up his second win of the year in the series debut at Virginia Motor Speedway on Saturday night, Smith stretched his lead to a 27-point margin over Wright entering the National Tour's Northern Plains swing, which includes a two-night stop at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, ND, next Thursday and Friday (June 8-9) before moving on to I-90 Speedway in Hartford, SD, the following Tuesday (June 13).
2. No Reruns Here -- The wealth was spread around during the past week's American Sprint Car Series racing action, with nine feature events offering up a like number of different winners.
Seven of the nine, including Dave Ely, Jake Peters, Rich Swarthout, Nick Haygood, Gregg Dalman, Chris Sweeney and Keith Rauch, scored their first win of 2006. Only Nick Smith, with his second National win, and Chuck Hebing, who scored ASCS Patriot win number three on Tuesday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway, were repeat winners.
3. Welcome Back -- While seven of the nine wins for the week were the first of '06, six marked long awaited returns to ASCS victory lane while another was a first career win in ASCS action. ake Peters kicked off the trend by scoring his first ASCS Midwest Region win at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, NE, on Friday night.JIt marked "The Snake's" first ASCS win since scoring a National triumph during Knoxville 360 Nationals action on June 13, 2002.
On the same night, Pennsy shoe and former URC champion Dave Ely nailed down his first career ASCS National Tour win by taking top honors at Wythe Raceway in Wytheville, VA. Both Ely and Peters caught timely cautions that negated passes for the lead by Travis Rilat and Brian Brown, respectively.
While Smith took National win number two on Saturday, Gregg Dalman, Rich Swarthout, Chris Sweeney and Nick Haygood each ended victory droughts.
Sweeney outlasted Greg Rilat and first-time victory lane hopeful Darryl Wills to snap the longest dry spell, taking his first Gulf South win since July 27, 2002. Dalman picked up his first ASCS Sprints on Dirt win since July 25, 2003, with Rich Swarthout also scoring his first Patriot Sprint Group win since April 24, 2004. Haygood's Olathe victory was his first Rocky Mountain win since August 21, 2004.J Then on Sunday night, Keith Rauch continued the trend by taking his first Rocky Mountain Region win since July 9 of his 2004 championship season.
4. Crash & Thrash m Steve Young's SSJJ, Inc., team fielded three entries for the weekend's National Tour events in Virginia.JBut it looked like the weekend would be cut short when Jeff Young's mount was destroyed in a hot lap crash at Wytheville, with Kris Brooks' machine unable to make the call for neither his heat nor the "B" Main. Only Coby Adams saw any official green flag laps on Friday night, credited with 14th in his first National Tour main event and third-best among the Heintz Performance ASCS Southern Tour contingent.
With two of three entries disabled, the team made the journey back to its Mooresville, NC, base after a late, rain-plagued Wytheville night.
And, after a sleepless night of a reassembling and piecing together three race-ready entries, the team made the 325-mile trek to Virginia Motor Speedway, arriving just in time for Saturday's heat race action.
Although mentally and physically exhausted, the team's hardcore dedication paid off, with Jeff Young and Coby Adams emerging as the top two finishers among the ASCS Southern Tour reps during the Saturday feature at Virginia Motor Speedway.
5. Closing in on 500... - A total of 171 drivers competed in at least one of the past week's ASCS events, with 38 drivers taking part in their first ASCS event of the 2006 season. Entering this weekend's action, a total of 490 different drivers have already competed in at least one ASCS event, with 25 different drivers scoring at least one win in the 39 completed feature events. 103 drivers have recorded at least one top-five finish, with 191 finishing among the top ten on at least one occasion.
6. Raising the Bar -- Never before had the Virginia clay ovals of Wythe Raceway and Virginia Motor Speedway seen the lightning fast speeds of the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour. And it was a pair of young guns, Dustin Daggett and Nick Smith, setting the new Virginia standards.
Twenty-three-year-old Dustin Daggett posted the fastest lap time in the 37-year history of Wythe Raceway by touring the high-banked, 0x00bd-mile oval in just 15.417 seconds in Friday night heat race action. Daggett was on the march in the feature before being tripped up by turn four.
Then on Saturday, it was Nick Smith, who would celebrate his 23rd birthday three days later, eclipsing the Virginia Motor Speedway overall mark by setting a new track record of 15.843 seconds in his heat race.JThe mark broke the record previously set in 410-ci competition by Chad Kemenah.
7. Good Debut to You -- Three drivers turned in impressive ASCS National Tour debuts over the weekend, including Lance Moss, Justin Collett and Josh Weller.
Moss, an ASCS Southern Tour competitor from Cherryville, NC, finished one position shy of turning in a huge upset, settling for a strong runner-up finish in Friday night's feature at Wythe Raceway.
Middletown, DE, racer Justin Collett appeared for his first ASCS action and was impressive on both nights, finishing fifth at Wytheville on Friday night then advancing from 17th to claim fourth at Virginia Motor Speedway one night later.
Twenty-year-old Pennsylvania shoe Josh Weller earned a pair of top ten finishes in his maiden voyage with the ASCS, racing to seventh at Wytheville then climbing a spot to sixth at Virginia Motor Speedway.
8. New Blood in the Rockies -- The ASCS Rocky Mountain Region is unusual in that a majority of the regulars are based a minimum of about five hours from the nearest track on the schedule, with most events quite a bit more than that five hour minimum. But series director Jim Starr has a dedicated group of racers that seemingly don't mind all the windshield time with the lack of a dirt track near Denver, CO.
But, perhaps even more impressive, is the fact that this year's ASCS Rocky Mountain Regional Tour features five rookie contenders.J The rookies include a quartet of drivers from the Denver area as well as a Wyoming shoe. Colorado rookies include Todd Plemons and Rick Montgomery along with teenage karting grads Chad Corkin and Juleeamison, with Kass Cornella of Douglas, Wyoming, bringing the "X" Factor to the Rocky Mountain Region. For a look at the ASCS Rocky Mountain Region rookies, just check www.ascsracing.com/gallery/rmrookies650.jpg.
9. New Wrench -- Tulsa's Abe Sherwood showed up in Virginia with veteran crew chief Ray Brooks twirling the wrenches and responded with his best showing of the season by racing from 22nd to eighth in the Friday night feature at Wythe Raceway. Abe has his sights set on his first top-five run when the National Tour takes to the Dakotas next weekend.
10. Wanna Go for a Ride -- There may be no wilder ride than Wythe Raceway's fourth turn. And a number of the Friday night O'Reilly ASCoT competitors can attest to that.
Few on hand had ever seen Wythe Raceway. And a true sight to behold it was. As scenic as it gets, Wythe's high banks were equally treacherous.
Picture this if you will: Williams Grove-length straightaways with the tight corners to match, but with Belleville-type banking. Makes for a wicked combination. And it proved to be early on.
First, Trey Robb smacked the turn four rail and flipped. The 14-year-old returned to salvage an eleventh place feature run before finishing eighth at Virginia Motor Speedway to crack the top ten in O'Reilly ASCoT National points.
Still in hot laps, Jeff Young spun and was then drilled by 17-year-old Southern Tour rookie pilot Dale Arnold. Both were done for the night.
Wythe Raceway's turn four flexed its calamitous muscle several more times during the night, with Sam Hafertepe, Jr., literally busting his ass after power steering failure in a high-flyer over Butch Pendergrass, with Dustin Daggett's best shot at National glory thus far derailed by a seemingly endless turn four tumble that collected a number of followers.
Take Note: Anytime you're in a Wytheville, VA, motel, keep close ear on the volume of your room's air conditioner (of all things), lest you find yourself hassled by the desk clerk at 4:30 in the morning.J Hopefully better late than never, Volume II, No. XIII, of TTT, has reached a conclusion. As always, notes, comments, questions, suggestions and scathing critiques 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.