From Inside Line Promotions
TAMPA, Fla. (February 28, 2017) – Travis Rilat came up just short of capturing the 16th annual Ronald Laney Memorial King of the 360s crown last weekend at East Bay Raceway Park.
Rilat led with six laps remaining during the $10,000-to-win ASCS Southern Outlaw Sprints finale on Saturday before a tire issue relegated him to a third-place finish.
“I wasn’t too happy after the race, but after thinking about it it wasn’t a bad way to start the year,” he said. “We led laps during two out of the three nights, came away with two podiums and didn’t tear anything up.”
Rilat started the tripleheader just as strong as he ended it. The action began last Thursday when Rilat charged from ninth to fourth place during a heat race, which was good enough to lock him into the feature redraw. He then pulled the No. 2 to start the 25-lap main event on the outside of the front row.
“We had a lot of bad luck along the way to the track with blowing tires on the trailer and then we drew the No. 69 during the pill draw, which put us at the back of the heat,” he said. “Lady Luck was on our side as a couple of cars dropped out and we were able to move up and make the redraw. That set the tone for the weekend.”
Rilat capitalized on the good draw by quickly powering into the lead. He led the first eight laps of the race before being slowed in traffic, which allowed Mark Smith to take over the top spot. Rilat remained in striking distance, but a late-race effort to regain the lead allowed another driver to drop Rilat to a third-place finish.
“I was able to get lead on the start of the race, but Smith had a great car,” he said. “We needed a bit more. That was one we really wanted to win.”
Rilat continued to run up front on Friday during the second night of competition by winning his heat race from the pole. That lined him up 14 th for the main event. Unfortunately, the track took rubber early and didn’t allow for much passing. Rilat finished where he started, but it was good enough to rank sixth in overall event points to lock into the feature redraw for Saturday’s finale.
Once again, Rilat came out of the feature redraw on the front row as he pulled the No. 1 for the 40-lap main event.
“Our car was pretty good and we took the lead on Lap 4,” he said. “I figured Mark Smith and Terry McCarl would be hot on our tail. Mark was able to get around us and we swapped the lead several times. We had a good car and he had a great car. He made a few better moves.”
Rilat led 10 laps before he and Smith featured several laps in a row of slide jobs. Smith then led the middle portion of the race with Rilat in tow before a caution with nine laps remaining gave the front runners open track.
Rilat pounced on the restart as he took over the lead by running the outside groove. He began to pull away the next two laps before Smith closed the gap on Lap 34 and took the lead on the ensuing lap.
“We had about five pounds of air in the right rear tire when we came in,” Rilat said. “The bleeder let out more air than it needed so I had trouble getting off turn four. It was a very exciting race to part in, but I really, really wanted to win.”
Rilat finished third to post his second podium finish of the season in his first three races.
He is slated to return to action March 17-18 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, for the 44th annual Spring Nationals with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour.