Jennings Holds off Wright to Win in O'Reilly/NCRA Sprint Car Series DODGE CITY, Kan. (June 18, 2005) -- They say lightning strikes twice -- and it almost did Saturday at Dodge City Raceway Park. Friday Danny Jennings opened up an early ...
Jennings Holds off Wright to Win in O'Reilly/NCRA Sprint Car Series
DODGE CITY, Kan. (June 18, 2005) -- They say lightning strikes twice -- and it almost did Saturday at Dodge City Raceway Park.
Friday Danny Jennings opened up an early comfortable lead over Gary Wright only to have the Hooks, Texas, pilot track him down and win the first night of the Sprint Car Invitational
Saturday Jennings held a comfortable lead late in the race but had to hold off the hard-charging Wright to win in the O'Reilly/NCRA Sprint Car Series, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires.
"I'm glad we reversed the roles from last night," Jennings said afterwards.
With 50 cars on hand, Jennings lead the 24-car field to the green for the second straight night but it took quite awhile to actually get things going. Outside pole sitter C.J. Johnson came through turn two on the first lap and did a slow 360 in front of a gaggle of racecars. As drivers swerved left and right to miss Johnson, Derek Drown got upside down to bring out a red.
Drown was OK which is more than could be said for his racecar as it came off on the hook. On the restart, the remaining 23 cars got one lap in the books before a yellow came out for a spinning Jason Martin, the third place finisher on Friday.
Jennings stayed in front followed by Darren Stewart, Cody Branchcomb, Wright and Sam Hafertepe. They stayed in that order for several laps as Jennings intentionally took to the high side after watching Wright track him down from up top the night before.
"We decided we need to be a little higher on the race track than we were last night," Jennings said, "and we need to get a better rhythm going so we worked at it and we got it going."
The rhythm was definitely there for Jennings as he slowly built up a cushion over runner-up Stewart.
A second yellow came out on lap 14 but Jennings definitely had an advantage when they lined up for the restart. Jennings held the point with three back markers restarting between himself and the second-place Stewart. This allowed Jennings to get a great jump and move out to his biggest lead of the night, almost a quarter of a straightaway.
As the laps wound down the race up front got more interesting. Sitting in fifth, Wright got around Hafertepe on the back stretch to move into fourth place on the 17th lap of the 25-lap feature.
With three circuits remaining the final caution of the night came out for Tony Bruce Jr., who spun while pressuring Hafertepe for fifth. From here on, it was the "Wright" time for an exciting finish.
Jennings still held the lead and had a single car between himself and Stewart on the restart. But the Norman, Okla., hot shoe didn't get the good jump on this restart as Stewart, Wright and Hafertepe quickly got around the back marker.
"Our tires were plum bald, there was nothing left," Jennings said of the restart.
Wright moved into third by the end of lap 22 and was closing on Stewart in second. Wright took over that spot on lap 23 with nothing between him and Jennings but open race track.
Jennings and Wright took the white flag side-by-side and with Jennings staying up top, Wright dropped to the bottom. He pulled alongside Danny on the back straight and nudged ahead ever so slightly. But Wright couldn't hold the lead as Jennings came through the final turns and edged in front at the checker.
Jennings said that Wright "gave me all I wanted" the last two laps in the understatement of the night.
"You know Gary Wright -- (was) right there close," Jennings said. "I wasn't worried too much about anybody else."
Rounding out the top five after Wright were Stewart, who was fifth on Friday, Hafertepe and Branchcomb.
Co-sanctioned with the American Sprint Car Series, NCRA drivers accounted for positions six through 10. Points leader Garry Lee Maier started ninth and finished sixth, while two drivers moved up 11 spots from their starting position.
Rookie points leader Preston Peebles started 18th and finished seventh. Defending series champion Mike Woodruff started 19th and charged to an eighth-place finish for the second straight night.
Two-time former champion Steve King returned with a backup car, starting 10th and finishing ninth. Rounding out the top 10 was C.J. Johnson, who moved up from 23rd on the lap one restart to finish in tenth.
Winners of the six Cherokee Casino & Resort heat races were Stewart, Maier, Branchcomb, King, Johnson and Drown.
Two drivers transferred from each of the three B features: Woodruff, Gary Taylor, Dennis Park, Brian McClelland, Sean McClelland and Jeff Heffner.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 1 (8 laps):
1. Darren Stewart, Bixby, Okla.; 2. Tony Bruce Jr., Liberal, Kan.; 3. Kerry McAlister, Mustang, Okla.; 4. Earnest Jennings, Norman, Okla.;5. Brian Herbert, Dodge City, Kan.; 6. Derek Cottrell, Fletcher, Okla.; 7. John Jacob, Aurora, Colo.; 8.Cody Caldwell, Ulysses, Kan.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 2 (8 laps):
1. Garry Lee Maier, Cimarron, Kan.; 2. J.D. Johnson, Goddard, Kan.; 3. Jon Freeman, Salina, Kan.; 4. Jake Martens, Fairview, Okla.; 5. Sean McClelland, Collinsville, Okla.; 6.Brett Ream, Colorado Springs, Colo.; 7. Jeff Heffner, Denver; 8. David Wheeler, Valley Center, Kan.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 3 (8 laps):
1. Cody Branchcomb, Salpulpa, Okla.; 2. Sam Hefertepe, Sunnyvale, Texas; 3. Luke Cranston, Ness City, Kan.; 4. Preston Peebles II, Lubbock, Texas; 5. Mark Walinder, Arvada, Colo.; 6. Scott Milan, Ft. Collins, Colo.; 7. Landon Brown, Wichita Falls, Texas; 8. Joe Wagner, (DNF), Denver.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 4 (8 laps):
1. Steve King, Jetmore, Kan.; 2. Eric Miller, Thornton, Colo.; 3. A.J. Selenke, Wichita, Kan.; 4. Gary Taylor, Wheat Ridge, Colo.; 5. Geoff Dodge, Colorado Springs, Colo.; 6. Gavin Punch, Collinsville, Okla.; 7. Abe Sherwood, Tulsa, Okla. 8. Rick Halverstadt, Lincoln, Neb.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 5 (8 laps):
1. C.J. Johnson, Quinter, Kan.;2. Jake Pierson, Bellvue, Colo.; 3. Jason Martin, Liberal, Kan.; 4. Mike Woodruff, Satanta, Kan.; 5. Bob Schaeffer, New Castle, Colo.; 6. Josh Fellows, Longmont, Colo.; 7. Shane Bangerter, Dodge City, Kan.; 8. Scott Cochran (DNF), Arvada, Colo.
Cherokee Casino & Resort Heat 6 (8 laps):
1. Derek Drown, Amarillo, Texas; 2. Foster Landon, Collinsville, Okla. 3. Brian McClelland, Tulsa, Okla.; 4. Dennis Park, Liberal, Kan.; 5. Dex Eaton, Owasso, Okla.; 6. Tim Newman, Cameron, Mo.; 7. Cyrus Perme, Lakewood, Colo.; 8. Jeff Crook, Garden City, Kan.
B feature (12 laps -- 2 transfer):
1. Mike Woodruff; 2. Gary Taylor; 3. Dex Eaton; 4. A.J. Selenke; 5. Geoff Dodge; 6. Brian Herbert; 7. David Wheeler; 8. Shane Bangerter; 9. Josh Fellows; 10. Scott Cochran; 11. Landon Brown (DNF).
B feature (12 laps -- 2 transfer):
1. Dennis Park; 2. Brian McClelland; 3. Gavin Punch; 4. Derek Cottrell; 5. Brett Ream; 6. John Jacob; 7. Tim Newman; 8. Cyrus Perme; 9. Jeff Crook; 10. Joe Wagner (DNS).
B feature (12 laps -- 2 transfer):
1. Sean McClelland; 2. Jeff Heffner; 3. Bob Schaeffer; 4. Abe Sherwood; 5. Jon Freeman; 6. Jake Martens; 7. Eric Miller; 8. Rick Halverstadt; 9. Cody Caldwell; 10. Mark Walinder (DNS).
A feature (25 laps):
1. Danny Jennings; 2. Gary Wright; 3. Darren Stewart; 4. Sam Hafertepe; 5. Cory Branchcomb; 6. Garry Lee Maier; 7. Preston Peebles; 8. Mike Woodruff; 9. Steve King; 10. C.J. Johnson;11. Jason Martin; 12. Foster Landon; 13. Gary Taylor; 14. Sean McClelland; 15. Tony Bruce Jr.; 16. Jake Pierson; 17. Luke Cranston; 18. J.D. Johnson; 19. Jeff Heffner; 20. Dennis Park; 21. Kerry McAlister (DNF); 22. Brian McClelland (DNF); 23. Eric Miller (DNF); 24. Derek Drown (DNF).