By Lonnie Wheatley
TUCSON, Ariz. (November 17, 2011) – Sammy Swindell and Jerry Coons, Jr., both reached victory lane in Thursday night’s Sunoco Fuels qualifying action as the 44th Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships fired off atop the 3/8-mile USA Raceway clay oval.
Three-time Western World champion Swindell raced into the lead on the third round en route to winning the winged 25-lap Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National feature event, while 2007 Western World kingpin Coons, Jr., wired the field in the wingless 25-lap Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region main event.
While Swindell and Coons, Jr., each earned pole starting positions for their respective $15,000 and $5,000 to win championship feature events on Saturday night, the points battle for the Lucas Oil Sprint Car crown intensified after points leader Shane Stewart flipped on the opening lap of the feature event.
Credited with a 23rd place finish after the accident, Stewart gave up 55 points to Johnny Herrera, who finished second to Swindell to close to within 21 points of Stewart in the title chase. While Herrera will now start Saturday night’s main event inside the second row, Stewart will begin the evening mired in a “C” Main.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be here to race for it,” Stewart explained afterward while icing a sore foot from the wild ride that destroyed his mount. Stewart does have a provisional at his disposal should he opt to use it on Saturday night.
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters (Winged)
Sammy Swindell kicked off his bid for a fourth Western World title and second in three years with a strong victory drive in Thursday night’s 25-lap feature at USA Raceway. The triumph marked Swindell’s third Lucas Oil Sprint Car triumph of the year and eighth of his career.
“The car was awesome, it drove pretty much wherever I wanted to go,” Swindell explained of his Parker-powered Big Game Tree Stands No. 1 machine.
While Swindell started the feature outside the second row, four separate incidents slowed the initial pair of laps before the final 23 circuits ran off in frantic non-stop fashion with Swindell eventually lapping all the way through 12th place.
After the initial start quickly went red when Shane Stewart climbed a right rear and flipped violently in the first turn, the next start was waved off as well when Kolt Walker tagged the backstretch wall and limped to a stop in turn three.
With pole starter Bryan Dobesh gunning into the lead on the third try with Swindell quickly disposing of front row outside starter Paul McMahan for second, the caution flew again after one lap when Trey Starks tested the backstretch wall as well, with Lucas Wolfe prompting one final caution a lap later with a similar wall test.
The green flag flew again on lap three and stayed out the remaining distance. And, Swindell wasted no time moving to the front, working to the low side of Dobesh in turns three and four to take command in less than a lap.
Swindell reached traffic in short order by the eighth circuit and worked diligently through traffic the rest of the way, though a couple of times along the way Swindell was forced to slow his pace to avoid incident.
“I didn’t want to throw it away, I didn’t feel any pressure from anybody so I kind of took my time there,” Swindell explained.
Albuquerque’s Herrera, making a final weekend run at the Lucas Oil Sprint Car title, got around McMahan for third by the fourth round after starting sixth and then took second away from Dobesh on the sixth circuit.
Herrera kept Swindell within sight much of the way and closed to within a few car-lengths on a couple of occasions as traffic came into play but never could close in to mount a serious challenge, with Swindell ultimately taking the checkered flag with a 2.930-second advantage.
Instead, the challenge came from behind as defending Western World champion Donny Schatz sliced through the field from his 17th starting position. Schatz was already up to sixth by the fifth round and then fourth behind Swindell, Herrera and McMahan by the tenth circuit.
Herrera disposed of McMahan for third by the 15th round and gradually closed in on Herrera, challenging for the position in the final laps. Herrera held on for runner-up honors in the Wesmar-powered Mesilla Valley Transport No. 45x Maxim, with Schatz taking the show position in the Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All No. 15 J&J.
Sam Hafertepe, Jr., slipped around McMahan on the 23rd lap to snare fourth in the Lone Star Speedway No. 15h, with McMahan rounding out the top five in Richard Samure’s No. 39c entry.
Lucas Oil Sprint Car rookie contender Aaron Reutzel was sixth, with Brady Bacon in seventh. Dobesh held on for the eighth and final lock-in to Saturday night’s championship feature event.
Logan Forler climbed a half dozen spots from 15th to ninth, with Sunoco Fuel ASCS Southwest shoe Calvin Landis rounding out the top ten. Gary Wright raced from 20th to eleventh and was the final car on the lead lap.
Hafertepe, Jr., Swindell, McMahan and Reutzel won Thursday night’s heat races, with Schatz winning the “B” Main.
The balance of the approximately 60-car field of winged Lucas Oil ASCS competitors hits the track in Friday’s qualifying event.
ASCS Canyon Region (Wingless)
Tucson native Jerry Coons, Jr., overcame some early engine issues to wire the field in Thursday night’s 25-lap Sunoco Fuel ASCS Canyon Region main event at USA Raceway.
Coons, Jr., gunned into the lead from his front row outside starting position and never looked back en route to his second Western World preliminary triumph in three years.
With fourth-starter Dustin Morgan and third-starter Charles Davis, Jr., giving chase, Coons, Jr., reached traffic by the tenth circuit and then waded through a thick batch of lapped cars on laps 14 and 15 to maintain command.
Holding second throughout, Morgan wasn’t as fortunate as he clipped an infield tire exiting turn two on the 19th lap and spun to a stop on the low side of the track with race-ending front end damage.
One lap later, Ryan Linder, who had started the race from the pole position, went for a wild ride down the backstretch and over the turn three wall. Linder was uninjured.
Back under way, two-time and reigning ASCS Canyon Region champion Davis, Jr., mounted a brief challenge, but Coons, Jr., was up to the task and held on to post the victory by 1.061 seconds.
Davis, Jr., settled for runner-up honors, with Bud Kaeding nearly alongside in the show position as the checkered flag flew. R.J. Johnson climbed a handful of positions to claim fourth, with current Canyon Region points leader Jeremy Sherman rounding out the top five after apparent fifth-place finisher Matt Mitchell failed to report directly to the scales and was disqualified.
Nick Aiuto was sixth, with Ronnie Clark racing from 18th to claim the seventh and final lock-in position to Saturday night’s championship finale. Bob Ream, Jr., was eighth, with Justin Quinn and Brian Hosford rounding out the top ten.
Linder, Davis, Jr., and Rick Ziehl topped heat race action. Stevie Sussex brought out the night’s first red flag when he flipped through the turn three and four fencing. He was uninjured.
The balance of the 40-plus field of wingless ASCS Canyon Region competitors hits the track in Friday’s qualifying event.
44th Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships
Thursday’s Sunoco Fuel Qualifying Results
USA Raceway – Tucson, AZ
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters (Winged Cars):
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 55-Trey Starks, 4. 1mx-Kraig Kinser, 5. 5-Koby Barksdale, 6. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 7. 23-Seth Bergman, 8. 9r-Reece Goetz.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell, 2. 22-Jesse Baker, 3. 5w-Lucas Wolfe, 4. 79-Calvin Landis, 5. 15-Donny Schatz, 6. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 7. 11T-Steve Lohn.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 39c-Paul McMahan, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 57-Shane Stewart, 4. 45k-Kolt Walker, 5. 48-Jake Martens, 6. 15g-Bud Goodwin, 7. 9-Gary Wright.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 2d-Bryan Dobesh, 3. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 4. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 5. 2L-Logan Forler, 6. 17m-Josh Baughman, 7. 2p-Alex Pettas.
“B” Main (Top 6 Advance to “A” Main):
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz, 2. 1mx-Kraig Kinser, 3. 48-Jake Martens, 4. 9-Gary Wright, 5. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 6. 5-Koby Barksdale, 7. 23-Seth Bergman, 8. 9r-Reece Goetz, 9. 15g-Bud Goodwin, 10. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 11. 11T-Steve Lohn, 12. 2p-Alex Pettas. DNS: 17m-Josh Baughman.
Lucas Oil ASCS Western World Thursday Preliminary Feature (Top 8 Lock into Saturday’s “A” Main):
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 15-Donny Schatz, 4. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 5. 39c-Paul McMahan, 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 7. 99-Brady Bacon, 8. 2d-Bryan Dobesh, 9. 2L-Logan Forler, 10. 79-Calvin Landis, 11. 9-Gary Wright, 12. 33x-Henry Van Dam, 13. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 14. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 15. 5-Koby Barksdale, 16. 1mx-Kraig Kinser, 17. 23-Seth Bergman, 18. 48-Jake Martens, 19. 22-Jesse Baker, 20. 5w-Lucas Wolfe, 21. 55-Trey Starks, 22. 45k-Kolt Walker, 23. 57-Shane Stewart.
Lap Leaders: Bryan Dobesh 1-2, Sammy Swindell 3-25.
Note: Seth Bergman utilized his fourth and final provisional of the year to start the main event.
ASCS Canyon Region (Non-Wing Cars):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 9x-Ryan Linder, 2. 29-Bud Kaeding, 3. 27n-Nick Aiuto, 4. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 5. 97-Jon Stanbrough, 6. 32b-Brian Hosford, 7. 74-Derek Williams.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 2. 6c-Rex Calderwood, 3. 93-Justin Quinn, 4. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 5. 91-Jody Williams, 6. 21-Jeremy Sherman, 7. 6-Ronnie Clark.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 2. 94-Jerry Coons, Jr., 3. 81-Matt Mitchell, 4. 51-R.J. Johnson, 5. 96-Carson Ditsch, 6. 16s-Stevie Sussex.
ASCS Canyon Region Western World Thursday Preliminary Feature (Top 7 Lock into Saturday’s “A” Main):
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 94-Jerry Coons, Jr., 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 3. 29-Bud Kaeding, 4. 51-R.J. Johnson, 5. 21-Jeremy Sherman, 6. 27n-Nick Aiuto, 7. 6-Ronnie Clark, 8. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 9. 93-Justin Quinn, 10. 32b-Brian Hosford, 11. 91-Jody Wilson, 12. 96-Carson Ditsch, 13. 97-Jon Stanbrough, 14. 74-Derek Williams, 15. 9x-Ryan Linder, 16. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 17. 6c-Rex Calderwood, 18. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 19. 81-Matt Mitchell. DNS: 16s-Stevie Sussex.
Lap Leaders: Jerry Coons, Jr. 1-25.