American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten ULSA, Okla. (September 13, 2005) -- Tuesday has slipped around once again, so it's time for more Top Ten action. Per the standard, TTT is composed of ten random items of varying degrees...
American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten
ULSA, Okla. (September 13, 2005) -- Tuesday has slipped around once again, so it's time for more Top Ten action. Per the standard, TTT is composed of ten random items of varying degrees of relevance, or a subsequent lack thereof, from this past weekend's American Sprint Car Series activities. And, for your reading ease, TTT is assembled in the most random of orders.
1. One Down, Five to Go -- It seems early, but that time of year has already rolled around. The time of year that champions are declared.
The first champion of the year for the American Sprint Car Series was revealed Friday night at US 36 Raceway in Cameron, MO, with Lincoln, Nebraska's Billy Alley sewing up the ASCS Midwest Region title, taking the honors by 97 markers over fellow Lincoln-ite Toby Chapman.
Interestingly, both Alley and Chapman finished out the season in different cars than they started with.
Alley drove the familiar, yellow, family-owned No. 22 entry to three runner-up finishes, a fourth and a fifth in the opening five events, before posting a pair of sixth-place runs aboard March Burch's No. 1m in the final two features of the year.
After contesting the opening six events aboard his No. 20x machine, Chapman piloted the Rick Bowers-owned Eckley-powered Select Auto No. 84 Maxim in the season finale. Finishing among the top ten in six of seven events, Chapman beat Rick Ideus for second by just eleven points. Ideus edged three-race winner Brian Brown by two markers for third.
A total of 97 different drivers took part in at least one of the seven ASCS Midwest Region events.
Another champion will be revealed this weekend as the ASCS Rocky Mountain Region wraps up its 2005 season at Black Hill Speedway on Friday and Gillette Thunder Speedway on Saturday. A scant 28 points separate Eric Miller from Gary Taylor entering the double.
2. Welcome to Memphis -- With his sights set on potential Newcomer of the Year honors, Nick Smith of Broken Arrow, OK, made his first ever visit to the pair of Memphis-area bullrings for National Tour action this past weekend.
Smith was greeted to Memphis Motorsports Park on Friday night by drawing the number "55", the highest pill in the hopper. Starting tailback in a stout heat, Smith was moving forward in the "B" Main but fell one position short of a transfer at the checkered.
At Riverside, Smith made his way into the main only to be eliminated in the wild opening lap fracas that included a dozen cars.
Also making his first visit to "The Ditch" on Saturday night was 15-year-old Sikeston, MO, shoe Hunter Schuerenberg. Schuerenberg was involved in the opening lap scramble as well, but returned to post his second top ten ASCS feature finish in as many weeks by crossing the stripe seventh.
3. Half Way to "Ironman" Status -- Earlier this year, Toby Brown was honored as the first driver in ASCS National Tour history to compete in 200 consecutive events. He remains the only one after Zach Chappell's streak ended at 199 when he skipped the first MMP stop of the year in April.
Gary Wright extended his string of consecutive events competed in to "100" over the weekend. Wright last missed an event when a traffic accident while en route forced an Oklahoma City absence on May 9, 2003.
4. 500 -- When Jeff Leach signed in at Riverside Speedway on Saturday night, he became the 500th different driver to compete in at least one ASCS event in 2005. The 500 drivers have come from 34 different states as well as Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Seventy-nine feature events have been contested thus far, with Friday night Midwest Region winner Johnny Anderson becoming the 36th different driver to capture at least one feature victory.
5. It's in the Numbers -- There should have been little doubt at Memphis Motorsports Park on Friday night. September the ninth. The 9th day of the 9th month. How could anyone possibly bet against the No. 9 car?
A.G. Rains did his best to buck the odds by leading his first laps of the season, but Wright made his way up from seventh to take command on the 12th lap.
There was no stopping Wright at that point, as he raced to his third straight MMP win. Wright has now won five of the last nine ASCS events held at MMP since 2003.
6. Musical Cars -- A pair of cars were piloted by different drivers on successive Memphis nights.
Recently cleared by his doctor after suffering a back injury early in the year, Josh Baker made his first ASCS start of the year Friday night at MMP aboard a car supplied by Carl Sayre. Baker surrendered the seat of the No. 42 (the reverse of the late Sonny Sayre's No. 24), the next night for Jan Howard, who is vying to remain in the top ten in ASCS points. After flipping his own mount chasing a heat race win at MMP, Howard missed Saturday's show by one spot.
Also, Joey Montgomery took over the reins of Doc Sloan's No. d12 on Friday at MMP. Montgomery raced from deep in the field to finish ninth, then returned to Farmington for weekly action along with Tim Montgomery (who missed Friday's cut) and Jerrod Hull (among the first to commit to the ASCS on Tour in 2006, Hull was sixth at MMP). Sloan reclaimed his seat on Saturday night at Riverside but missed the main event.
7. Quotable -- David Chappell, father of Zach and No. 50z car owner, easily supplied the most entertaining quote of the weekend prior to Saturday's Riverside card. However, it has been deemed that this quote is even a little too rough for the likes of TTT. If you really must know, track me down sometime and if you're of proper age and adequately jaded, the gem may be shared.
Which leads to a solid back-up for quote of the week.
With Riverside hot laps running a few minutes past the scheduled start time, the opening ceremony tradition of aligning the drivers on the front stretch was scrapped. As the National Anthem cranked up, Gary Wright made the comment about the skipping of opening ceremonies: "It's a good thing, it's so wet out there we'd all just fall down."
8. Thrills, Chills & Spills -- Riverside Speedway bills itself as a place for "Thrills, Chills and Spills". And the venerable ol' joint didn't disappoint on Saturday night.
Chills and spills were offered up in form of a wild "B" Feature ride by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., as well as a Mike Ward-Darren Stewart double flip in the "A". And the 12-car melee that followed the opening green flag of the feature surely falls under either the chills or spills category
The thrills were offered up in an entertaining feature that had leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Tony Bruce, Jr., leading his first laps of the season. Bruce would give way to Zach Chappell, who likewise led his first laps of the season. In the end, it was hometown favorite A.G. Rains providing the biggest thrill of all with a late pass to score the win. Rains started the year on the road before expenses forced him to stick closer to home, where he had racked up several Riverside wins prior to Saturday's victory.
9. From the Podium -- Four different drivers earned podium finishes over the weekend of National Tour action, including Friday winner Gary Wright. It was Wright's 101st victory and 180th podium finish.
Zach Chappell was third Friday and second on Saturday, running his number of podium finishes to 44.
After finishing second Friday night, Rains picked up his second career ASCS win Saturday. Rains now has nine career ASCS podium finishes, with six of them coming at "The Ditch".
After just missing a top-three run by finishing fourth at MMP, Chad Jones drove Shorty Chambliss' No. 40 entry from 14th to third at Riverside. It was Jones' third podium effort in ASCS history and the first since a Riverside win on June 19, 1999.
10. Back on Track -- After missing several events early in the season due to ARCA commitments, Zach Chappell is regaining his previous Sprint Car racing form. Chappell scored a pair of top-five runs at Lake Ozark, then extended his string of top-five finishes to four with a strong Memphis weekend.
With four consecutive top-fives, Chappell now has sole possession of fifth in all-time ASCS top-fives. Chappell now has 94 career top-fives, just two ahead of fellow former champion Travis Rilat. In the top-five category, Chappell and Rilat trail only Gary Wright (215), Terry Gray (174), Garry Lee Maier (143) and Tim Crawley (142).
Fashion -- Don't expect comp director Tommie Estes, Jr., to change his style, even after being mocked unmercifully by Sam Hafertepe, Jr., for his "short" shorts. And Zach Chappell heckled Memphis local Philip Faulkner for his funky flat-billed Yankees hat. Faulkner took it in stride then raced from 23rd to tenth at Riverside, his first career ASCS top ten.
Edition number IX of TTT is now in the books. And remember, ridicule, comments, questions, etc., 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.