American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten TULSA, Okla. (August 2, 2005) -- At "publication" time, it' s still Tuesday somewhere, perhaps the Hawaiian Islands, so we can still call it TTT. This time emanating from some dank motel room...
American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten
TULSA, Okla. (August 2, 2005) -- At "publication" time, it' s still Tuesday somewhere, perhaps the Hawaiian Islands, so we can still call it TTT. This time emanating from some dank motel room along the road to Greenwood, NE, Tuesday's Top Ten is once again composed of ten random items from the latest American Sprint Car Series happenings.
In the early stages of a stretch of 18 races in 23 days, we race along...
1. Breathing Room -- Putting together a pair of strong fourth places in the weekend's ASCS National Tour/Sooner Region events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Sean McClelland stretched his American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region point lead to 40 markers over 2002 champ Danny Jennings. With just four events remaining on the Sooner slate, McCelland has some unexpected room for error as Jennings would have to finish an average of five positions better per night. But Sean isn't spending the championship money yet, quickly pointing out that, "One bad night and that lead is gone."
2. Hard Times -- Some days it seems that you'd be better off not even getting out of bed. Friday was one of those days for Sean Walden.
Walden was en route to Oklahoma City when his hauler called it quits on the Turner Turnpike. Help arrived eventually and Walden arrived late, only to find that he had been drawn in with the "55" pill, the highest number in the bunch.
After missing hot laps, Walden never made it to the green flag in the evening' s opening heat race as he and Dara Morrow tangled and flipped violently into the front stretch wall. While both cars were junk, Walden and Morrow were both on hand to watch Saturday night's card at Tulsa, albeit each nursing a variety of aches and pains. Walden purchased a car from David Chappell to take to Knoxville and then take in the ensuing Sprint Bandits Tour N' Topless swing.
3. Lovin' It -- Gary Wright should be wishing that every race night would be declared Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores night.
For the fourth year in a row, Oklahoma City based Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores kicked off its annual fund-raising efforts for the Children's Miracle Network with the late summer Oklahoma City ASCS event. And for the fourth year in a row, Gary Wright found himself in victory lane. This time, the triumph marked Wright's fourth win in a row, the first time in series history a driver had reached the four-peat level.
4. "Wright"-ing the Record Books -- Along the same vein, Gary Wright continued his relentless assault upon the ASCS record books over the weekend. After getting an unprecedented fourth win on Friday night, "The Texan" showed no respect for the sentiment of a potential first time winner, dashing Nick Smith's hopes and racing to a fifth straight win.
The win also marked Wright's 100th triumph, well over double next on the list. After entering the weekend tied with Terry Gray in career ASCS National Tour feature starts, Wright moved into sole possession of the mark with his 263rd start on Saturday night.
Wright also extended his current string of top-five finishes to twelve in a row. Which is just one short of the standard he set back in the old days of 1994 to 1995. Wright can match the record Wednesday at I-80 then work on establishing a new high water mark during Thursday's Knoxville 360 Nationals prelim action.
5. Young Rules -- A forgotten champion perhaps, Scott Young claimed the crown for the former ASCS Southern Region in 1998. With the Heintz Performance ASCS Southern Tour revived this year to once again bring quality Sprint Car racing to the region, the Mooresville, NC, racer is once again establishing himself as the cream of the Southern crop.
Young scored a third in the season opener then notched a pair of runner-up finishes in the ensuing pair of events. But victory lane had eluded him. Young changed that on Saturday night however, besting his Southern rivals in the first ever appearance for Sprint Cars atop the wicked-fast high-banked, 0x00bd-mile Wythe Raceway clay oval in Wytheville, VA.
The victory was even sweeter for Young as teammate Coby Adams took the runner-up position on an evening that looked like a sure washout with storms drenching the area earlier in the day.
6. The Park of Champions -- Perhaps mere coincidence, but Haughton, Louisiana's Champion Park Speedway is appropriately named by all indications.
In the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour's debut at Champion Park in 2002, eventual champ Tim Crawley took the win. Travis Rilat scored a win at Champion Park en route to his 2003 crown. There was no definitive sign of who the 2004 king would be as rain washed out the only Haughton go.
The signs bode well for Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Gulf South racer Ray Allen Kulhanek. Kulhanek picked up the Gulf South opener at Champion Park for his first career series win in March. He backed it up Saturday night, picking up series win number four for the season in the Gulf South's second stop at Champion Park, extending his lead in the hotly-contested Gulf South chase to 28 points over Stephen Chevallier.
Gary Wright topped the National Tour's 2005 outing at Champion Park by the way, and after this past weekend's OKC-Tulsa sweep has extended his National Tour point lead to 128 markers over Darren Stewart.
7. New Skins -- Oklahoma City's Jimmy Taylor became the second driver this season to discard a yellow paint scheme in favor of black. Foster Landon shunned the banana-look during Speedweek and has since posted several strong runs.
Taylor, who stretches a dollar far beyond its limits, was "back in black" and after missing Friday's show, charged from deep in Saturday's "B" Main lineup to make the feature starting grid. After being collected in an opening lap fracas, Taylor battled an ill-handling machine until spinning and collecting Toby Brown, who was running seventh a night after taking a wild endo at Oklahoma City.
8. Quote of the Week - "That Means He's a Nobody" -- Prior to Saturday' s Tulsa card, Gary Wright was talking about the fact that he didn't necessarily recognize some of the new, young racers that he's competing against. "You know, if (name omitted) walked up here right now in street clothes, I wouldn't have a clue who he was."
Never at a loss for words, 19-year-old Sam Hafertepe, Jr., quickly responded with a semi-straight face, "That means he's a nobody," sending the assembled group into a fit of laughter.
Wright was quick to assure Hafertepe, "At least I know who you are."
9. Sid Blandford Sighting -- A popular figure on a certain Sprint Car Forum, a legitimate Sid Blandford sighting has been documented. The former Outlaw racer sidelined in recent years by a slew of injuries, Blandford has purchased another Sprint Car and made his return in Saturday night's Rocky Mountain Region event at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Olathe, CO.
Blandford's return to the cockpit was cut short when the rear-end locked up during the feature event.
10. And Now for Something Completely Different -- Several ASCS shoes are gearing up for the upcoming O'Reilly Sprint Bandits wingless 410-ci action. Former series champions Travis Rilat and Zach Chappell are among those ready to pursue the TNT (Tour 'N Topless) title to be contested from August 9-20 at tracks throughout Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Rilat and Chappell are among an impressive group of racers numbering in the range of 20-24 that intend to chase all six events, with a number of others hitting selected events along the way. Also chasing the crown are drivers from California, New Mexico, Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana among other locales, which will make for an impressive mix of accomplished wingless aces from the Midwest, Southwest and West Coast tangling with established winged racers anxious to shed the foils for a week of explosive (TNT -- It's Dyno-Mite!) action.
Batten down the hatches. Eleven straight days of racing await, with ten days in Iowa following Wednesday's kickoff in Nebraska. Tony Bokhoven has TV duties for Knoxville's 360 Nationals. While Justin Zoch can hold his own, the sidekick is a question mark. Consider earplugs, and consider yourself warned.
This edition of Tuesday's Top Ten is done. Comments, questions, criticisms, etc., 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.
-Lonnie Wheatley, ASCS