American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten TULSA, Okla. (October 4, 2005) -- A long-standing weekly tradition continues with yet another edition of Tuesday's Top Ten. As always, TTT is a collection of ten random items of ...
American Sprint Car Series -- Tuesday's Top Ten
TULSA, Okla. (October 4, 2005) -- A long-standing weekly tradition continues with yet another edition of Tuesday's Top Ten. As always, TTT is a collection of ten random items of varying degrees of insignificance from the past weekend's American Sprint Car Series racing activities.
1. First Time Stuff -- Leading off with some first timers.JTravis Rilat and Pete Butler both scored their first ASCS National Tour heat race wins of 2005 during Saturday night's card at Little Rock's I-30 Speedway.
Butler then led his first ASCS "A" feature laps of the season by pacing the opening ten rounds. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., led laps 17-19, also his first rounds in the ASCS lead in '05. Then Rilat led the final eleven laps to take the win. It was the 2003 ASCS champ's first time to lead an ASCS National Tour feature this season.
Scott Bolden used a second place finish in the night's opening heat race to qualify for his first career "A" Feature in ASCS competition. Bolden was the first of four feature casualties when he exited after 22 laps.
2. Counting Cars -- A healthy field of 41 Sprint Cars filled the pit area at Little Rock's I-30 Speedway on Saturday night, bringing the season average on the ASCS National Tour up to 38.03 cars per event.
The only events to draw more than Saturday's card have been Knoxville's 360 Nationals (118), both nights at Dodge City Raceway Park (51 and 50), both nights of Lake Ozark Speedway's 360 Nationals (51 and 50) and the season opener at Devil's Bowl Speedway (42).
Even if Knoxville's 118 entries are excluded from the overall total, the ASCS National Tour has still averaged a robust 35.4 cars per event in 2005.
3. Smokey Rilat -- "Travis wanted me to come this week because he said this motor has been smoking a little," Travis Rilat's engine man Motor Mike commented as he descended upon victory lane to greet his driver. "But that was a lot more than a 'little' smoke!"
The smoke only became apparent during caution periods, adding an extra element of suspense to the closing laps of what had already been an unpredictable feature, with a half dozen drivers dicing for the point over the opening 20 laps. The smoke emanating from Rilat's ride proved to be of no consequence however, as he held off Gary Wright to become the 14th different driver to win an ASCS feature this season.
The engine in question also propelled Travis to what had been his most recent ASCS National Tour victory, a July 10, 2004, win at I-30 Speedway. Since putting this engine back together, Travis has scored four wins in six races (including two Gulf South triumphs and one Sooner victory).
Rilat's 18th career ASCS National Tour victory came in his 199th feature start. With his next feature start, Rilat will become the seventh driver in series history to make 200 National Tour feature starts. Rilat will join Gary Wright (272), Terry Gray (262), Garry Lee Maier (260), Tim Crawley (255), Zach Chappell (226) and Toby Brown (206).
4. New Stuff -- Since jumping on the National Trail full-time over the latter portion of the season, Nick Smith's luck has been dismal at best.
After junking his Eagle in an opening lap melee at West Plains, the Broken Arrow, OK, racer took advantage of an off week to assemble an all new J&J, with an assist (at least in the parts department) from Kenny Woodruff.
Now sporting an all-red look, Smith's first race aboard the new J&lasted less than a lap when his front end crumbled after tagging the back of Josh Lofton's mount entering turn three in the night's fifth and final heat race.
Starting scratch in the second "B", Smith climbed to seventh before running out of laps.
Eyeing Newcomer honors, Smith is eleventh in points, 159 points behind Rookie of the Year contender Lee Sowell. Smith seeks to finish the season in strong fashion at Devil's Bowl Speedway, where he survived a "rumored" gangrenous infection to compete in March's ASCS season opener.
5. Closing the Gap -- An opportunity was presented to Sam Hafertepe, Jr., on Saturday night, and he took good advantage of it.
The opportunity came in the form of Tony Bruce, Jr., missing the feature event. Brake failure in the "B" Main forced the Liberal, KS, racer to settle for fourth, one position short of a transfer.
Making it out of the same "B", Hafertepe climbed from 17th to claim tenth in the feature. And in the process, Hafertepe gained 55 points on Bruce in the race for third in ASCS National Tour points.
Bruce, the leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender, and Hafertepe enter the two-night Devil's Bowl Winter Nationals on October 21 and 22 with just 15 points separating the pair. Definitely a battle worth keeping watch on.
6. Into the Flood Again -- The recent spate of hurricanes that have razed much of the Gulf Coast continued to create problems for the ASCS Gulf South Region.
A week after postponing Waco and Willis events, Beaumont's Motorama Speedway card scheduled for last Friday night was cancelled due to extensive damage at the race track. Houston Raceway Park, slated for Saturday night, went relatively unscathed. However, a National Guard lockdown throughout the area made it all but impossible for many teams and fans to even reach HRP, thus forcing that cancellation.
At the risk of inducing the wrath of hurricane lovers across the land, I'll go out on a limb by saying that hurricanes blow. And not in a good way.
By the way, the Gator Motorplex event in Willis, TX, will be made up this Saturday night, October 8.
7. A Flock of Howards -- There seemed to be an endless line of Howard's signing in on Saturday night at I-30 Speedway, with a handful of the 41 entries sporting the Howard surname.
Howards on hand included Jan, Dale, Josh, Ronny and Donny.
Jan fared best, leading a few laps before finishing third. Dale scored a top-ten finish, while Josh, Ronny and Donny each missed the show. Josh had entered the night with a slim eight point lead over Pete Butler in the I-30 Speedway points race. The track title slipped through Josh's grasp however when he missed the feature cut.
8. Loud Crowd -- Perhaps the loudest cheers of the night were heard when Marshall Skinner made a third lap pass of Steven Tiner en route to winning the third heat race at I-30 Speedway.
Even from the infield, clearly audible over an eight-car heat race field of Sprint Cars were the screams and cheers from the Skinner camp in the pit area behind the backstretch. Either the mufflers are working way too well, or that's some serious noise from the West Memphis group.
9. Slump Busters -- A half dozen different drivers made a solid run at victory honors in Saturday night's feature at I-30 Speedway.JAnd aside from Gary Wright, who was chasing his 13th win of the season and career win number 103, the other five were all trying to end winless streaks of a year or more.
Travis Rilat succeeded in snapping a streak that dated back to July 10 of last year.Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., made a bid for a second ASCS win after taking his first one at Riverside Speedway on July 17, 2004.
Mike Ward, who stayed in the lead pack throughout, last won in ASCS competition at Memphis Motorsports Park on September 12, 2003.
Pete Butler, who led the opening ten rounds, last topped an ASCS feature at I-30 Speedway on June 22, 2002. Meanwhile, Jan Howard, who paced laps eleven through sixteen, hasn't scored an ASCS win since June 2, 2002, at Memphis Motorsports Park.
10. Late Move -- Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Jake Martens had his second heat race win of the season in sight Saturday night at Little Rock, but Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., had other ideas.
Utilizing the front row outside starting slot to his advantage, Martens jumped into the early lead over polesitter Stenhouse, who spun his tires in the inside slime of early heat action. Stenhouse stalked Martens the rest of the way, looking high and low before finally making a bold move on the high side exiting turn four with the white flag in sight to snare the win.
Trying to shake a recent spate of bad luck in ASCS action, Stenhouse led several rounds in the latter stages of the feature before losing the point to Rilat. Giving chase, Stenhouse then hopped the cushion and sailed off the track. Several laps later, Stenhouse exited the track in the same manner when Steven Tiner spun in turn four, bringing an end to his night.
Enough for Edition No. XXII (of Volume I or course) of Tuesday's Top Ten. As always, notes, comments, questions, suggestions and random requests are 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.