By Lonnie Wheatley
TULSA, Okla. (May 25, 2010) – With another three events completed (in Arizona, Arkansas and California) and one partially done (in New York) and an extreme flurry of ASCS racing activity little more than 48 hours away, the latest edition of Tuesday’s Top Ten hits the streets.
1. Hollywood, The Texan & The Magic Man – Johnny Herrera, Gary Wright and Mike Martin each enjoyed ASCS Regional glory over the weekend with wins in Arizona, Texas and California, respectively.
Wright (Lone Star at Texarkana) and Herrera (Southwest at Canyon Speedway Park) both added second overall ASCS Regional wins of the year in preparation for this weekend’s Lucas Oil ASCS National action at Jetmore, while Martin (Canyon at Perris Auto Speedway) became the fourth driver of 2010 to snare a first career ASCS win. Other first-time ASCS winners this year include Matt Covington, Dave Darland and Dustin Morgan.
2. The Return – Winged Sprint Cars hadn’t hit the track at Canyon Speedway Park near Phoenix since April of 2006.
That dry spell for the winged forces in the desert ended on Saturday night with a similar outcome, as Albuquerque’s Johnny Herrera took advantage of a late caution to take the Peoria win away from Rick Ziehl. Herrera, perhaps trying to begin another win streak out west, also won that last winged CSP feature in 2006.
While the win escaped Ziehl, all was not lost as the Las Cruces shoe moved back to the top of the point charts, albeit by just two points over John Gaston.
The ASCS Sprints on Dirt were also scheduled to return to Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway on Friday night for the first time since 1999. That’s a return that will likely have to wait until next year at best, thanks to Ma Nature.
3. Shaky Start – Friday night’s ASCS Lone Star festivities at Texarkana 67 Speedway got off to the most inauspicious of starts when Preston Peebles II got bounced over in turn two on the initial attempt to go green in the first heat and then Justin Spoerl dumped it in turn three (http://www.ascsracing.com/gallery/spoerlflip67052110.jpg) on the second try.
Peebles returned but didn’t make it out of “B” Main action, slipping from second to sixth in Lone Star points, with Spoerl done for the night and sliding from fourth to a tie for seventh in the rankings.
Opening lap jitters aside, the rest of the night ran off smoothly on the best 67 surface seen in quite a few years with only a couple of minor incidents, the most notable of which occurring when Martin Edwards turned over in turn one after 15 feature laps while trying to dodge the battling lead duo of Eric Baldaccini and Travis Elliott. It proved bad luck for fifth-runner Claud Estes as well, who came to a stop with unknown problems on the restart.
4. 9x – In the two events completed since the ASCS Lone Star opener held in conjunction with the National forces at Lone Star Speedway, the smart money has been on the No. 9x entry, regardless of which one it may have been.
At Waco’s Heart O’ Texas Speedway last month, it was Wayne Johnson in a second Brian Parker entry.
Friday night, it was the more familiar 9x entry of Gary Wright, who had to work for it after an off-the-backstretch excursion on the tenth lap that dropped him from first to fourth. “The Texan” had just enough time left to battle back for the win, taking the lead away from Travis Elliott with just two laps to go.
It was Wright’s fourth ASCS win at Texarkana 67 Speedway, but the first since reeling off three in a row from 2000 to 2002.
5. Switcheroo – Tim Crawley entered the night tied with Gary Wright at three career ASCS wins at Texarkana 67 Speedway, including the most recent win last year.
Rather than the familiar No. 88 though, Crawley took the seat of Jeremy Newkirk’s No. 01 machine for the night and advanced from 11th to sixth in the main event after struggling to get the engine tuned correctly earlier in the night.
Crawley will be back aboard Mike Ward’s No. 88 for this weekend’s Lucas Oil ASCS National action at the Jetmore (KS) Motorplex.
6. California Dreamin’ – Not just dreamin’ any more, ASCS has made it to California. History was made on Saturday night as the American Sprint Car Series slung California clay for the first time since the series inception in 1992.
The Arizona-based ASCS Canyon Region crossed the border and invaded southern California’s Perris Auto Speedway, where 16 Arizona teams tangled with 13 Golden State reps.
By the end of the hotly-contested 30-lapper, Arizona owned the top five finishing positions as Mike Martin claimed his first series win.
Raceway Video caught all the action, including these main event highlights that feature an amazing John Aden save while battling for the lead at about the 2:20 mark along with some celebratory donuts by Martin after the checkered flag…
The ASCS Canyon Region returns to Perris Auto Speedway on July 17.
7. 14 – Fourteen is the number of ASCS events scheduled for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, a holiday woven into the fabric of auto racing history.
While the Lucas Oil ASCS National series presented by K&N Filters gets back to action for the first time since April 10 (following an April 23-24 rainout) with the Rocky Mountain Region along as well, plenty of other Regional action takes place including Gulf South (three in Texas), Midwest (a pair in Nebraska), Northwest (season opening double in Washington), Patriots (one in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania) and Sprints on Dirt (three in Ohio).
8. Stopped Short – Frank Costanza may have pioneered the technique, but the ASCS Patriots found a little help with their own version this past weekend as inclement weather cut Saturday night’s card at Woodhull Raceway after heat races were completed.
The upside is that fans will now be treated to double features when the Patriots return to the high-banked New York clay oval on July 31.
Three-time ASCS Patriot champ Bryan Howland now leads Patriot points with a four-point edge over Chuck Hebing and Tim Kelly, who are tied for second.
9. Where oh Where… – One would be hard-pressed to guess the host state of each of the past weekend’s ASCS Regional events based upon where the podium finishers came from.
The trend started on Friday night with Texas drivers Gary Wright, Travis Rilat and Eric Baldaccini taking the top three positions in ASCS Lone Star action across the Arkansas line at 67 Speedway. Travis Elliott gave Texans a sweep of the top four, with Little Rock shoe Zach Pringle the top-finishing Arkansas rep.
Mike Martin led an all-Arizona top five in ASCS Canyon Region action at California’s Perris Auto Speedway, with Nic Faas the top-finishing Golden Stater in sixth.
In Arizona, the New Mexico trio of Johnny Herrera, Rick Ziehl and Joshua Hodges swept the top three positions with John Gaston the top-finishing home-stater.
10. Missed It by Just That Much – After back-to-back top five Gulf South runs, Travis Elliott very nearly broke through on Friday night for his first career ASCS feature win.
Elliott found himself leading the ASCS Lone Star main at Texarkana 67 Speedway when Gary Wright did a little off-tracking on the tenth lap. Elliott set the pace for 13 circuits and was little more than two laps away from that first win before Wright surged back for the win.
While Elliott slipped to fourth with sticking-throttle issues behind Wright, Rilat and Baldaccini over the final two circuits, younger brother Bean took over the ASCS Lone Star points lead with a tenth-place finish.
The month of June awaits on the other side of this weekend’s 14 that is headlined by the resumption of National action at Jetmore with the Second Annual Steve King Memorial.
Putting the wraps on 2010 TTT Edition XIII, until next time, find what you need in terms of ASCS info at www.ascsracing.com.