From David Smith, Jr, photo courtesy of TWC Photo
Park City, Kansas – Jack Dover of Springfield, Nebraska drove the Chuck Swenson owned Schnee chassis to the Hard Rock Hotel – Casino victory lane Saturday night while Garry Lee Maier of Cimarron, Kansas wrapped up his fifth career series championship as the O’Reilly/NCRA sprint car division wrapped up their 2009 race season at 81 Speedway in Park City, Kansas.
Defending series champion Mike Peters started on the pole for the twenty-five lap feature and quickly jumped out front as the green flag fell while fellow front row starter Maier settled into the runner up position. Starting sixth, Dover quickly moved closer up front as he passed Dennis Park for the third position before a spirited battle for Maier for that runner up spot.
Back up front, Peters held on to the top position but by only three car lengths over Maier and Dover. On lap four, Maier got a run underneath Peters in turns three and four and would out pull Peters down the front stretch to take the lead.
In the meantime Zach Chappell, back aboard the family owned #50z entry and just twenty points out of the points lead coming into the evening, worked his way up into the fifth position from his eighth starting spot and was gaining ground on the front runners before the first caution of the feature fell on lap five when Allan Unruh spun at the top of turn two.
On the restart Maier jumped ahead of the field while behind him Dover worked his way past Peters with a slide job in turns three and four of the three-eighths mile oval. Maier would begin to open things up with a six car length battle while Dover and Peters were still battling for the second position. Maier kept the pace up top but behind him Dover was closing in and on lap thirteen drove around the series career feature winner down the front stretch to take the apparent lead. However the pass was nullified when the caution would wave for an A.J. Selenke spin in turn two.
On the restart Dover would dive low entering turns one and two and come out down the back stretch to take the lead. Maier, aboard the Ochs Brothers #1x, kept pressure on the leader before the final caution would wave on lap fourteen when John Cornell, Park and Don Droud, Jr. his first night aboard the Danny King owned #E85 sprinter, tangled in turns one and two.
On the final restart of the night, Maier would challenge Dover for the lead but the Nebraska hot shoe kept the pace up top and withstood several of Maier’s challenges.
While Dover, Maier and Peters were opening up distance from the rest of the field, first “B” feature winner Aaron Berryhill of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma began working his way toward the front from his thirteenth starting position and into the fifth position with ten laps to go.
But back up front action started to settle down as did Dover as he would go on the rest of the way unchallenged to pick up his second career O’Reilly/NCRA sprint car victory and become the seventh different feature winner in the ten races that were held.
Maier would settle for the runner up position, about a half stretch behind Dover at the finish line but would come away with yet another series championship. However, this one with a little special meaning. “Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to win any championship but to do it for the Ochs Brothers makes it a little special as they have been trying a long time, “said Maier afterwards. “I told the guys coming into tonight that all we had to do was just race to win and things would take care of themselves. While I would have really liked to have won the race, this worked out pretty good.”
For Mike Ochs, the oldest of the Ochs Brothers, this championship was most sought after. “We have tried 29 yrs. to get this series championship and we finally did it,” he stated in victory lane. “We have had a lot of great driver’s race for us, Dennis Park, C. J. and Jon (Johnson) and Mike (Peters) and we came close several times but always fell just short. We felt like coming into the season when things worked out where we could finally get Garry as our driver that we really had a chance. And we finally got it; this is best thing we could have ever asked for.”
Berryhill would continue his tear to the front and come home with a strong third place finish while Stewart Snyder drove a steady race to come home fourth. Peters would settle for a fifth place finish.
The heat races for the thirty-three car field were won by Park, Peters, Maier and Mitchell Moore while Berryhill and Droud took home the two, twelve lap “B” features.
This event put the wraps on another successful season on the O’Reilly/NCRA sprint car tour and the series is already gearing up for the 2010 season, which is also the 40th anniversary year for the series. Banquet. To climb aboard as contingency sponsor for the series or to schedule an event, contact the NCRA office (316) 755-1781.
The O’Reilly/NCRA would like to thank the following series sponsors and contingency sponsors on the NCRA sprint car trail for the 2009 race season:
Official 2009 NCRA Sprint Car Series Sponsors: O’Reilly Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tires, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hard Rock Casino-Resort
2009 NCRA Sprint Car Contingencies: Brodix Cylinder Heads, Schoenfeld Headers, Maxim Chassis, Saldana Race Products, KSE Racing Products, QA1 Motorsports, The Brake Man, Rod End Supply, Outerwears Racing Accessories, Ultra-Shield Race Products, Racing Optics, Design 500, Taylor Cable Products, Vertex Magnetos, Design 500, Triple XXX Company, Arizona Sports Shirts, Winters Racing Products and Just Plugs
HEAT 1 – 1, Dennis Park. 2, John Cornell. 3, Zach Chappell. 4, J.D. Johnson. 5, Aaron Berryhill. 6, Jon Freeman. 7, Ryan Kitchen. 8, Roger Sundquist. 9, Mike Boston.
HEAT 2 – 1, Mike Peters. 2, Allan Unruh. 3, Jack Dover. 4, A.J. Selenke. 5, Jason Schroeder. 6, Forrest Southerland. 7, Luke Cranston. 8, Marc Robe.
HEAT 3 – 1, Garry Lee Maier. 2, Trevor Grossenbacher. 3, Steven Richardson. 4, Scott Lehman. 5, Brian Herbert. 6, Koby Barksdale. 7, Jeff Stasa. 8, Jake Martens.
HEAT 4 – 1, Michell Moore. 2, Stewart Snyder. 3, Patrick Stasa. 4, Don Droud, Jr. 5, Jon Freeman. 6, C.J. Johnson. 7, Jay Russell. 8, Jordan Whitehead.
B FEATURE – 1, Aaron Berryhill. 2, J.D. Johnson. 3, Jon Freeman. 4, Koby Barksdale. 5, Mike Boston. 6, Luke Cranston. 7, Jeff Stasa. 8, Scott Lehman. 9, Jake Martens. 10, Roger Sundquist. 11, Gavin Punch.
B FEATURE – 1, Don Droud, Jr. 2, C.J. Johnson. 3, Brian Herbert. 4, A.J. Selenke. 5, Ryan Kitchen. 6, Jason Schroeder. 7, Jordan Whitehead. 8, Forrest Southerland. 9, Jay Russell. DNS: Marc Robe.
HARD ROCK HOTEL-CASINO A FEATURE – 1, Jack Dover. 2, Garry Lee maier. 3, Aaron Berryhill. 4, Stewart Snyder. 5, Mike Peters. 6, C.J. Johnson. 7, Zach Chappell. 8, J.D. Johnson. 9, Jon Freeman. 10, John Cornell. 11, Don Droud, Jr. 12, Mitchell Moore. 13, Brian Herbert. 14, Trevor Grossenbacher. 15, Patrick Stasa. 16, A.J. Selenke. 17, Koby Barksdale. 18, Steven Richardson. 19, Dennis Park. 20, Allan Unruh.