(here are some neat notes. I didn't take notes - not really - at least not this defined... nor was I privy to such information)
|Lonnie Wheatley, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 26, 2007) – Fifty-one drivers competed in the opening night of I-30 Speedway's O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires on Thursday night, with Oklahoma's Shane Stewart, Tennessee's Jason Sides and Oklahoma's Zach Chappell locking themselves into Saturday night's $20,000-to-win, $2,000-to-start STN championship finale.
Now, another 58 drivers are slated to battle it out on Friday night, with another dynamic trio destined for Saturday night's Pack's Dash for Cash, which will set the first three rows of Saturday night's main event.
---Eight past Short Track Nationals champions are among this year's field, with five of them taking part in Thursday's preliminary event including defending race winner Jason Johnson, 2005 winner Tim Montgomery, 2001 winner Jason Sides, 1997 winner Wayne Johnson and 1994 winner Terry Gray.
Jason Johnson, Wayne Johnson and Sides were the only past winners to make the cut for Thursday night's 20-car feature, with Tim Montgomery and Terry Gray watching the main event unfold.
Sides fared the best with a strong runner-up finish.
Johnson and Johnson both survived some qualifying race adversity to crack the feature. Moments after taking the lead with the white flag in sight, a broken steering arm sent Jason Johnson sailing off the turn two embankment. "The Ragin' Cajun" somehow limped around to salvage a sixth place finish, just good enough to start the feature in 15th instead of the pole position he would have had without the parts failure.
Earlier in the same qualifier, Wayne Johnson averted disaster along with 17-year-old Matt Covington when the pair tangled exiting turn two while battling for the lead. While Covington was forced pitside, Wayne battled back up to fifth to earn a tenth row starting slot for the feature.
Four-time STN king Gary Wright, 2002 STN winner Paul McMahan and 1998 winner Tim Crawley will be in action Friday night.
---In his first Sprint Car appearance on dirt in over a year, California's Tyler Walker missed the feature cut by just one position by ranking 21st in accumulated points after heat and qualifying race action. Piloting the No. 4am machine regularly driven by Travis Jenkins, Walker fought a tight machine in heat race action before climbing from 12th to fourth in his qualifying race only to fall just 1 ½ points shy of the feature. One more position gained in either race would have put Walker in the main event. Others just missing the cut included Chris Williams, Terry Gray and 14-year-old New Yorker Coleman Gulick. (I had forgotten he was just 14 yrs. old)
---After starting sixth in his heat race, Mississippi's Brad Bowden made a last-lap pass of Chris Williams in traffic on the final lap of the fifth heat race to rank as the top point earner after heat race action. Bowden gained just one position in his qualifier and started the feature eleventh before finishing 13th. (Brad is "Gentleman" Jim Bowden's son. Jim has raced at Riverside (West Memphis) for years.)
---Thursday was a rough night for the Howard family, with 22-year-old Josh fracturing a C5 vertebrae following a turn two flyer on the final lap of his qualifying race. Middle brother Jan would later flip in the feature event after breaking a right rear wheel. With Josh scheduled for surgery, elder brother Dale is slated for Friday night's qualifying event. (Dale didn't race on Friday night and Jan didn't race on Saturday night - altho' he was there for his car owner to sign autographs behind the grandstands. I think I've told y'all that he was telling people that Josh was improving after surgery Sat. morning... but he told me that he still had no feeling in his legs or feet... but he did have feelings now in his arms and legs. Actually - he motioned down the edge of his torso as to where Josh had regained any feelings.
---Nesbit, Mississippi's Lee Sowell popped a powerplant in Thursday hot laps and was rescheduled for Friday night's event.
---Shane Stewart's drive of dominance in Thursday night's qualifying feature marked his third career feature win at I-30 Speedway. Previous triumphs both came in 2003, including an ASCS National Tour feature on September 6 along with an STN preliminary triumph in October.
---El Paso car owner Casey Minks added a pair of late entries, including Shawn Sander and Brandon Berryman (Gulf South champion from the Houston area). After winning his qualifying race, Sander started fifth in Thursday's feature before ultimately sailing off the top of turn two. Berryman is set for Friday night.
---With the addition of Berryman, at least 18 track or series champions are represented among this year's Short Track Nationals entries.
Seven competed on Thursday, including Shane Stewart (All-Star Speedweek and NSCS Speedweek), Terry Gray (I think Terry is USCS champ), Garry Lee Maier (NCRA), Jerrod Hull (MASS), Gary Taylor (SMRS), Jimmy Hurley (AT&P Race Park) and Jesse Hockett (Sprint Bandits TNT).
Nine more go on Friday night, including Gary Wright (ASCS National), Kaley Gharst (Sprint Invaders), Zach Pringle (I-30 Speedway), Greg Wilson (All-Stars), Brian Brown (Knoxville Raceway), Mike Boston (Eagle Raceway), Tyler Blank (Double X Speedway), Brian McClelland (ASCS Sooner) and Brandon Berryman (ASCS Gulf South).
Natalie Sather (ASCS Midwest) and Eric Schrock (Lake Ozark Speedway) were no-shows on Thursday.
---Advancing from sixth to fourth in his heat race, Gary Taylor scratched from his Thursday qualifying race with a melted-down powerplant. Enter car owners Mike and Meaghan Eubanks, who came to the rescue by purchasing the Wesmar engine that Gary Wright won two weeks ago in the ASCS/Wesmar Challenge at Devil's Bowl Speedway, thus allowing the Washington State native to continue his first STN pursuit on Saturday night. (I didn't realize he was from Wash. state. He really has looked good at the Devil's Bowl & STN)
---South Dakota's Jake Peters made his first start since July 4, when he elected to sit out to recover from injuries incurred in an earlier crash. Peters had a rough go of it on Thursday, wrestling his way to seventh in a stout heat race and then suffering front-end damage in his qualifying race when the field stacked up in turns one and two on the opening lap.
---When the sixth heat race field stacked up on the opening lap, Lewis Jenkins, Jr., and Dale Blaney got tangled up in turn two. While Jenkins was forced pitside, Blaney salvaged his machine and raced to a second place finish. An STN preliminary feature runner-up last year, Blaney picked up just one position in his qualifier and slid from second in points to 14th. Blaney claimed tenth in the feature.
---Missouri's Tyler Thompson lost an engine on the final lap of his qualifier, prompting Doc Sloan to initiate a search for another engine for Saturday's feature. While Sloan missed the feature in his own machine, Tim Shaffer takes the wheel of the second Sloan mount on Friday. (WOW - I had no idea that Shaffer's car was owned by Doc Sloan. Shaffer did him proud - that's for sure).
---At least 13 of Thursday night's 51 competitors experienced their first on-track action at I-30 Speedway. Only Mike Brecht and Shawn Sander made it to the feature. Both recorded DNF's.
---Topeka, KS, racer Chris Morgan had made just four 2007 starts prior to Thursday night's event. Always capable of a strong run, Morgan started the feature in eighth and ran among the top five much of the way before driveline failure with just five laps to go.
---There were a number of drivers on the move in Thursday's feature, with Travis Rilat picking off the most positions by racing from 16th to fourth. Wayne Johnson gained eleven spots by racing from 19th to eighth.
---With the 19th and 20th positions in Saturday night's STN finale to be filled by the two drivers that accumulate the most points through their qualifying night and Saturday night's action that aren't already in the feature, Thursday's total points are of some relevance. Points following Thursday's program (minus the three drivers that are locked in), are as follows:
1. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX) 148.0
2. 18T-Tony Bruce, Jr. (Liberal, KS) 141.5
3. 29R-Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) 136.5
4. 12h-Jerrod Hull (Sikeston, MO) 136.5
5. 41-Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA) 126.5
6. 6b-Dale Blaney (Fowler, OH) 126.0
7. 94J-Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, OK) 125.5
8. 26-Marshall Skinner (West Memphis, AR) 125.5
9. 11x-Garry Lee Maier (Cimarron, KS) 125.0
10. 15b-Brad Bowden (Hernando, MS) 123.0
11. 7c-Chris Morgan (Topeka, KS) 121.5
12. 29s-Shawn Sander (El Paso, TX) 120.5
13. 53b-Joe Beaver (Knoxville, IA) 117.5
14. 75J-Jesse Hockett (Warsaw, MO) 116.5
15. 4x-Jan Howard (Byhalia, MS) 116.5
16. 97-Mike Brecht (Leipsic, OH) 116.5
17. 74e-Claud Estes (Godley, TX) 105.0
18. 4am-Tyler Walker (Los Angeles, CA) 92.0
19. 8x-Chris Williams (Memphis, TN) 92.0
20. 10-Terry Gray (Bartlett, TN) 92.0
21. 14c-Coleman Gulick (Binghamton, NY) 92.0
22. 76-Jay Russell (Elwood, KS) 89.0
23. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr. (Bryant, AR) 86.0
24. 6n-Dain Naida (Bellville, MI) 84.5
25. 93c-Chris Sweeney (Channelview, TX) 84.5
26. 14T-Tyler Brown (Vilonia, AR) 83.0
27. 87T-Tim Montgomery (Fredericktown, MO) 83.0
28. 21T-Tommy Bryant (Montgomery, TX) 75.5
29. d12-Doc Sloan (Imperial, MO) 74.0
30. 00-Danny Martin, Jr. (Sarasota, FL) 74.0
31. 17b-Ryan Bickett (Ramona, SD) 74.0
32. 59d-Dustin Morgan (Tulsa, OK) 69.5
33. 95-Matt Covington (Glenpool, OK) 68.0
34. 25-Gary Taylor (Sapulpa, OK) 68.0
35. 20-Josh Howard (Byhalia, MS) 66.5
36. 64J-Johnny Miller (Burleson, TX) 66.5
37. 71b-Robert Bell (Colfax, IA) 65.0
38. 1p-Curtis Evans (Norburne, MO) 65.0
39. 71J-John Jacob (Aurora, CO) 63.5
40. 35h-Jimmy Hurley (Springfield, IL) 62.0
41. 11T-Tyler Thompson (Cape Girardeau) 62.0
42. 93b-Bob Schaeffer (New Castle, CO) 62.0
43. 57x-Jake Peters (Sioux Falls, SD) 62.0
44. 32-Garry Bell (Cordova, TN) 60.5
45. 69h-Larry Howery (Hearne, TX) 59.0
46. 94T-Steven Tiner (Elverta, CA) 53.0
47. 2m-Bryce Vowan (Forrest City, AR) 50.0
48. 51J-Jimmy Brooks (College Station, TX) 50.0
Who's running on Friday, you may be asking? The 58 drivers slated for Friday include the following:
#0 Dustin Daggett (Portland, MI)
#1g Cody Gardner (Benton, AR)
#1x Don Droud, Jr. (Lincoln, NE)
#01 Paul McMahan (Nashville, TN)
#2d Stu Snyder (Waverly, NE)
#2w Kenneth Walker (Sapulpa, OK)
#3 A.G. Rains (West Memphis, AR)
#3b Brad Greer (Coultierville, IL)
#3* Kaley Gharst (Decatur, IL)
#03 Joe Wood, Jr. (Oklahoma City, OK)
#4T Justin Sturch (Benton, AR)
#B4 Eric Baldaccini (Keller, TX)
#5ma Mallory Armfield (St. Joseph, MO)
#5$ Danny Smith (Sapulpa, OK)
#6 Mike Dussel (Rising Sun, OH)
#7m Kevin Ramey (Fort Worth, TX)
#7w Wade Human (Marion, AR)
#8c John Carney, Jr. (El Paso, TX)
#8s Steve Short (Farmington, MO)
#8w Jeff Wingate (Centertown, MO)
#8z Zach Pringle (Benton, AR) (current I-30 Champion)
#9 Gary Wright (Hooks, TX)
#9JR Derek Hagar (Marion, AR)
#11F Foster Landon (Collinsville, OK) (Did not show up)
#12s Jeff Swindell (Memphis, TN)
#12x Robbie Standridge (Springfield, IL)
#a12 Tim Shaffer (Aliquippa, PA)
#13k Lucas Wolfe (Harrisburg, PA)
#14 Jason Meyers (Clovis, CA)
#14E Danny Jennings (Norman, OK) (#14E was destroyed at the Devil's Bowl so Danny didn't show up)
#14k Kyle Bellm (Nixa, MO)
#15s Nick Smith (Broken Arrow, OK)
#18w Lorne Wofford (Alamogordo, NM)
#R19 Scott Winters (Butterfield, MN)
#20e Eric Lutz (Sioux Falls, SD)
#w20 Greg Wilson (Benton Ridge, OH)
#21 Brian Brown (Grain Valley, MO)
#21p Daryn Pittman (Owasso, OK)
#23 Rob Chaney (Wooster, OH)
#28 Jonathan Cornell (Sedalia, MO)
#29x Brandon Berryman (Missouri City, TX)
#35r Ron Blair (Troy, OH)
#38 Rick Pringle (Benton, AR) (former I-30 champion and father of current champ - Zach)
#40 Ernie Ainsworth (Southaven, MS) (in a Shorty Chambliss car. Ernie looks good in that car. an aggressive driver)
#47 Dale Howard (Byhalia, MS) (Dale didn't race. As Jan said about racing Sat. - our family has had enough of this right now. I was actually surprised that Jan raced after Josh's accident - but it was probably better for him - and his car owner. The car owner is the father, I believe, of a young driver who was killed a couple of years ago in a boating accident - I believe. But then, my memory isn't what it used to be - especially at 5:00 a.m.)
#51b Mike Boston (Crete, NE)
#51s Lee Sowell (Nesbit, MS)
#53 Jack Dover (Springfield, NE)
#58 Wade Oliver (Milan, TN)
#66 Kenny Taylor (Clinton, AR)
#71T Tim Simmons (Splendora, TX)
#75b Tyler Blank (California, MO)
#81 Jon Freeman (Salina, KS)
#86f Josh Fisher (Smithton, MO) (either 15 or 16 yrs. old... it isn't always easy to understand the announcers)
#87b Brian McClelland (Tulsa, OK)
#88 Tim Crawley (Benton, AR)
#91 Darren Stewart (Bixby, OK) (I haven't seen Darren finish a race in a while. I hope he can do half as well as his brother - Shane)
#98 Andrew Korte (Centertown, MO)