WOODSTOCK, GA - RIS - As the best dirt late model drivers in America readied themselves for the 1997 season on the HAV-A-TAMPA Dirt Racing Series National tour, no one could have been prepared for the intensity and level of competition that has...
WOODSTOCK, GA - RIS - As the best dirt late model drivers in America readied themselves for the 1997 season on the HAV-A-TAMPA Dirt Racing Series National tour, no one could have been prepared for the intensity and level of competition that has been witnessed through the first six races of the year. Not only has the series seen six different winners in the first six races, there has also been six different drivers take the pole position. None of the pole sitting drivers have made it to Victory Lane so far.
Defending national Champion on the cigar sponsored tour, Freddy Smith, is still looking for his first win of the 1997 campaign. Smith, who pulled into the winner's circle on six different occasions during his 1996 drive to the dirt late model championship, enters this weekend with the points lead after garnering six top-five finishes this season. He is the only driver to accomplish that feat, and has charged from the rear in three of those races to keep the streak alive.
"We've concentrated on our race set-up and that has left us off the pace in qualifying a time or two. We've been racing good, so we're looking to pull out a win this weekend," commented the legendary veteran from Knoxville, TN. "HAV-A-TAMPA has got the best circuit out, they pay good money and we've got good rules. We're concentrating on the points, but we've got to get a little better in qualifying."
Wendell Wallace and Billy Moyer, who are currently ranked second and third respectively in the national points chase, call Batesville, AR home, and will be ready to stand their ground on their home turf during the $15,000-to-win 100 lap battle at Batesville Speedway this Saturday night.
"Winning at home would be a thrill," said Wallace, who pulled off the biggest win of his career last season by pocketing over $35,000 in the series' season-ending HAV-A-TAMPA shootout last September. "This is a tough deal. It used to be that if you were a tick or two off in qualifying or the heats, you could still manage a top five. Now with the level of competition, it'll just about put you out of the show."
Wallace, who pilots the Monday Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, has already found the winning combination early in the year with his season opening win in the HAV-A-TAMPA Nugget 100 in February. Wallace is the only driver, aside from points leader Smith, to finish in the top ten in each of the first six races.
Batesville's other favorite son, Moyer, is poised to strike for the national championship. Moyer heads for his hometown event in third place in the points standings following a big win in Crossville, TN several weeks ago. Rated as one of the sports top competitors, Moyer feels his season is off to a great start.
"The competition level so far this year has just been unreal," Moyer said. "Each week there are 60 to 70 cars everywhere we've been and everybody is here. You can't be dragging your feet, you've got to be on track every time you go on the race track."
The weekend gets underway at Batesville Speedway on Friday night with time trials and qualifying heat races for the HAV-A-TAMPA entries. On Saturday the schedule will include two last chance qualifying consolation races prior to the start of the 100 lap feature event, the seventh of 32 stops on the 1997 trail. A special autograph session will be conducted on Friday night giving fans the opportunity to take pictures and meet their favorite HAV-A-TAMPA drivers.
John Kaiser, Racing Information Systems