By Lonnie Wheatley
TEXARKANA, Ark. (May 21, 2010) – Gary Wright made the most of the annual race just a few miles from his Hooks, TX, home by racing to victory lane in Friday night’s 25-lap American Sprint Car Series Lone Star feature event at Texarkana 67 Speedway.
After starting from the pole position, a lap ten miscue set the stage for a dogfight to the checkered flag with “The Texan” beating Travis Rilat to the stripe after battling past upstart Travis Elliott to recapture the lead upon the completion of the 23rd lap.
With the ¼-mile clay oval in prime racing condition, Wright outgunned Elliott for the lead at the drop of the green flag and began working through traffic after just five laps in Scott Brown’s ASI-powered Lubbock Wrecker Service/Richwood Construction No. 9x Maxim with Elliott, Eric Baldaccini and Rilat in pursuit.
With Wright in command, the complexion of the race changed dramatically on the tenth round when he did a mighty wheelstand exiting turn two and veered beyond the outer reaches of the backstretch.
“I thought I was gone!” Wright explained after his second overall ASCS Regional win of the year in front of vocal partisan crowd in victory lane.
By the time Wright shot back onto the racing surface after somehow dodging disaster, Elliott, Baldaccini and Rilat had all raced by to relegate the local favorite to fourth.
Wright got back around for Rilat by the time the red flag flew after 15 laps when Martin Edwards got upside down in turn one after contact with the battling lead duo of Baldaccini and Elliott. Elliott, who had just been passed by Baldaccini at the stripe a half straightaway earlier, averted disaster and retained the lead when action resumed with scoring reverting to the last completed lap.
Wright powered by the high side of Baldaccini for second on the restart and pressured Elliott high and low over the next several circuits before making a power move on the top side of turns three and four stick for the lead on the 23rd lap.
Rilat followed Wright past Baldaccini and then Elliott to take runner-up honors in the F&J Construction No. 29, with Baldaccini snaring the show position in the Smiley’s Racing Products No. 4 JEI.
Little more than two laps shy of his first career ASCS win, Elliott slipped to fourth in the final two laps. Elliott explained that, “After Gary got by me, my throttle started sticking and I pushed a couple of times. That cost me.”
I-30 Speedway rep Zach Pringle rounded out the top five, while Tim Crawley advanced a handful of positions from 11th to sixth in Jeremy Newkirk’s No. 01 entry.
Skip Wilson drove from 12th to seventh, with 14th-starter Terry Gray, Justin Sturch and new ASCS Lone Star points leader Bean Elliott completing the top ten.
Claud Estes, Wright and Sturch topped heat race action for the 25-car field, with Martin Edwards winning the “B” Main. Estes held down fifth in the feature until his mount stalled with undetermined mechanical woes on the lap 16 restart.
Justin Melton held down a top five spot as well when he lost an engine with less than ten laps remaining.
Preston Peebles II got upside down in turn two chaos on the opening lap of the night’s first heat race, with Justin Spoerl flipping in turn three on the ensuing restart. Peebles returned for “B” Main action, while Spoerl was done for the night.
ASCS Lone Star Region Results from Texarkana 67 Speedway:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 74e-Claud Estes, 2. 8z-Zach Pringle, 3. 1r-Scott Reneau, 4. 30-Brandon Corn, 5. 10-Terry Gray, 6. 45-Martin Edwards, 7. 14-Michael Lang, 8. 6-Justin Spoerl, 9. 0c-Preston Peebles II.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 29-Travis Rilat, 3. 30x-Bean Elliott, 4. 65-Skip Wilson, 5. 01-Tim Crawley, 6. 76-John Ricketts, 7. 1g-Cody Gardner, 8. 80-Morgan Turpen.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 9-Justin Sturch, 2. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 3. 11-Justin Melton, 4. 15T-Travis Elliott, 5. 81au-Gavin Punch, 6. 16-Koty Adams, 7. 2-Randy McKinney, 8. 5c-Chris Coker.
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 45-Martin Edwards, 2. 81au-Gavin Punch, 3. 14-Michael Lang, 4. 1g-Cody Gardner, 5. 76-John Ricketts, 6. 5c-Chris Coker, 7. 80-Morgan Turpen, 8. 0c-Preston Peebles II, 9. 16-Koty Adams, 10. 2-Randy McKinney. DNS: 6-Justin Spoerl.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 29-Travis Rilat, 3. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 4. 15T-Travis Elliott, 5. 8z-Zach Pringle, 6. 01-Tim Crawley, 7. 65-Skip Wilson, 8. 10-Terry Gray, 9. 9-Justin Struch, 10. 30x-Bean Elliott, 11. 14-Michael Lang, 12. 76-John Ricketts, 13. 30-Brandon Corn, 14. 11-Justin Melton, 15. 1g-Cody Gardner, 16. 74e-Claud Estes, 17. 5c-Chris Coker, 18. 81au-Gavin Punch, 19. 45-Martin Edwards, 20. 1r-Scott Reneau.
ASCS Lone Star Region Points (Top 10): 1. Bean Elliott 360, 2. Eric Baldaccini 352, 3. Justin Melton 340, 4. (tie) Brandon Corn and Claud Estes 336, 6. Preston Peebles II 325, 7. (tie) John Ricketts and Justin Spoerl 311, 9. Chris Coker 287, 10. Kevin Ramey 285.