NCRA: Modifieds Tulsa season opener preview

Modifieds to kick off the 2005 O'Reilly/NCRA season The last division of the O'Reilly/National Championship Racing Association to finish racing in 2004 is the first to start the 2005 season with a two-city, double-header April 8-9. The ...

Modifieds to kick off the 2005 O'Reilly/NCRA season

The last division of the O'Reilly/National Championship Racing Association to finish racing in 2004 is the first to start the 2005 season with a two-city, double-header April 8-9.

The O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires, roll into Tulsa Speedway on Friday, before traveling northwest on Saturday to 81 Speedway in Wichita, Kan. -- the same track where they wrapped up the NCRA season last year.

In 2004, the early watchword was "parity" as first-time NCRA modified winners captured six of the first seven races. Eddie Martin of Stilwell, Okla., was one of those first timers when he won the third race of the season and backed it up three events later with a win at Tulsa.

Another first timer, Wichita's Brian Powers, won the second race of the season over the Memorial Day weekend to vault into the points lead. He remained on top until the next holiday weekend.

After opening the season with a last-place finish in the B feature, 2003 series champion Brian Franz didn't take over the top points spot until the Fourth of July weekend. From there, he closed the season in style with top 10 finishes in the last eight races to pull away from runner up Dave Hardesty, of Minneapolis, Kan. Included in that stretch were three of Franz' four wins on the season, with two of them coming in the final two events.

When you look at title contenders for 2005, you have to start with Franz who'll be shooting for his third in a row. That would tie him with Johnny Allen, of Chanute, Kan., who was on top from 1999-2001, for the most consecutive crowns.

"To win three in a row means you've put together three pretty good years," Franz said.

There are several other drivers you can also throw in the contender mix, all with a legitimate shot at bringing home the top prize.

"You look at anybody from the top 10 last year and it could be tough," Franz said. "There are eight or 10 guys who could really put a season together."

But you won't find Franz naming any one driver who may provide the toughest competition.

"I wouldn't want to pinpoint one of them because you just don't know," he said. "Scott Green, Greg Stephens, Hardesty, Powers, (Brian) McGowan could be there."

Winning a third straight title would mean a lot to Franz and like many others, that's what he's shooting for.

"It could happen," he said. "I'm going to go into it and just run every race to win to start out, see where we're at about midseason, and then figure out what we need to do."

For Franz and the other NCRA modified hot shoes, running every race to win begins April 8.

-ncra-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Eddie M