Stephens Wins Second Modified Championship at Hutch Nationals in O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series HUTCHINSON, Kan. (Aug. 6, 2005) -- Greg Stephens led flag-to-flag to win the O'Reilly/NCRA Late Model Division at the 49th Annual ...
Stephens Wins Second Modified Championship at Hutch Nationals in O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (Aug. 6, 2005) -- Greg Stephens led flag-to-flag to win the O'Reilly/NCRA Late Model Division at the 49th Annual Hutchinson Nationals Saturday night.
Stephens captured the A feature pole in Thursday's qualifying with fellow Wichita driver Brian McGowen starting alongside. Stephens took the lead at the green with McGowen falling in behind, and Jason Friesen in third.
17-year-old Dustin Briley bolted from a seventh starting spot into fourth place after the second lap. Two-time defending series champion Brian Franz moved up one spot into fifth in the early going.
Stephens and McGowen broke away from the pack to battle for the lead. But McGowen got a bit loose coming into turn four to complete lap 11. He bounced off an implement tire and lost two spots as Friesen and Briley both got by into second and third respectively.
McGowen was sent to the rear of the field for hitting the cone on the restart of lap 16, moving Franz up from fifth to fourth.
Stephens likes running at the Kansas State Fairgrounds but tonight late in the race was anything but fun. He broke a left rear shock mount on his racecar with about five laps left in the race, which made the finish a little more interesting than he would have preferred.
"I just couldn't hold it down on the bottom very well so I just started driving a lot slower and they caught up to me," Stephens said. "I was probably holding some of them up but hey, it was broke."
As Friesen followed Stephens into turn three on lap 22, Jason went up top and tried for the lead. Stephens said they made contact, which caused Friesen to slow. That gave Briley the chance to move around Friesen and take over second. Jason was able to slide back down the track into third, just ahead of Franz.
Briley set out after Stephens but this was Greg's night. Although he was piloting an ill-handling racecar, there were just enough laps in the feature for Stephens to take the checker.
I knew if there was one more lap I was probably going to get passed," Greg said. "I just kept it on the bottom and did what I needed to do."
Friesen held off Franz for third, while Marc Robe finished fifth.
Series points leader Chad Wheeler just couldn't get untracked in either day of qualifying. He started 18th in the B feature but attrition before one lap could be completed moved him up to 10th when they actually started the race. That was the last transfer spot but he fell to 12th late in the race, just behind the 2004 Hutchinson Nationals Modified Champion Brian Powers. On the final lap, one of the cars running a transfer position coasted to a stop short of the finish line. That elevated Powers to the A and left Wheeler one spot short of transferring.
This was Stephens' second Hutch Nationals win of the decade, with the other coming in 2001. It was also his second career NCRA late model division win and sort of made up for last year's runner-up finish.
"I always do really good here; I kinda have it figured out," he said. "I know it one lane a lot of times but I try to make it two lanes. I like the place."
B feature (12 laps -- top 10 transfer):
1. Bud Longpine, Tulsa, Okla.; 2. Joe Cleveland, Bennington, Kan.; 3. Kenny Sweet Jr., Wichita, Kan.; 4. Bobby Joe Scott, Liberal, Kan.; 5. Ronnie Warman, Wichita, Kan.; 6. Alan Dix, Stockton, Kan.; 7. Jim Armstrong, Liberal, Kan. 8. Travis Govern, Wichita, Kan.; 9. Brad Johnston, Peck, Kan.; 10. Brian Powers, Wichita, Kan.; 11. Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla.;12. Clay Bontrager, Pretty Prairie, Kan.; 13. Scott Green, Derby, Kan.; 14. Clint Smith, Hutchinson, Kan. 15. Gary Chambers, El Dorado, Kan.; 16. Johnny Whitmore, Wichita, Kan.; 17. Scott Brown, Meriden, Kan.; 18. Don Pearce, Sterling, Kan.; 19. Shane Gerber, Wichita, Kan.; 20. Brandon Barnhart, Hutchinson, Kan.
A feature (25 laps):
1. Greg Stephens, Wichita, Kan.; 2. Dustin Briley, Goddard, Kan.; 3. Jason Friesen, Sutton, Neb.; 4. Brian Franz, Newton, Kan.; 5. Marc Robe, Wichita, Kan.; 6.Zach Wood, Wichita, Kan.; 7. Dave Hardesty, Minneapolis, Kan.; 8. Richard Wilson, Wichita, Kan.; 9. Brent Burkhart, Hutchinson, Kan.; 10. Marc Hurd, Wichita, Kan.; 11. Joe Cleveland; 12. Don Renfro, Wichita, Kan.; 13. Kenny Sweet Jr.; 14. Alan Dix; 15. Brian Powers; 16. Troy Johnson; 17. Travis Govern; 18. Bud Longpine; 19. Bobby Joe Scott; 20. Brian McGowen, Wichita, Kan.; 21. Jim Graves, Liberal, Kan.; 22. Ronnie Warman; 23. Jason Roe, Wichita, Kan.; 24. Brian Casey, Hutchinson, Kan.; 25. Jim Armstrong; 26. Brad Johnston.