From Lonnie Wheatley, photo courtesy of Rob Kocak/fscpictorial.com
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Since the inception of I-30 Speedway’s Short Track Nationals in 1988, the Saturday night championship feature grid has always been built upon 20 starters. That’s something that is about to change for 2009.
With a record field of entries expected to converge upon Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway this coming weekend for the 22nd edition of the O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires even after a week’s rain delay, track promoter Tracey Clay has opted to add an additional starter or two to make for a 22-car starting field in Saturday night’s 22nd Annual STN championship finale.
While well over 100 teams from throughout the nation will vie for the $15,000 winner’s share in this weekend’s Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters event, another pair of drivers will leave Little Rock with the $2,200 championship feature starter’s cut as a result of the added positions.
Currently, 128 entries from 23 different states throughout the nation as well as Mexico have been filed for the prestigious event slated for this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A Wednesday night Test ‘N Tune session will precede the three full nights of racing action.
A 21st-starting position has been built into the Short Track Nationals championship feature format in recent years, traditionally reserved for that year’s I-30 Speedway track champion. And, that 21st position is still reserved for the local ace, which is Justin Sturch this time around.
This year though, the Clay family assures 22 starters for Saturday’s grand finale. If Sturch utilizes his provisional, one name will be drawn for that 22nd starting position. If Sturch races his way into the original 20-car starting grid, two names will be drawn to fill out positions 21 and 22. Drivers must have competed in both a qualifying night and Saturday night to be eligible.
Another handful of entries were submitted on Monday, including NASCAR Nationwide shoe Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., of Olive Branch, MS. Stenhouse, who ranks as the youngest feature winner in Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series National event history after posting a Speedweek win in 2004, reeled off three consecutive top-ten STN finishes from 2005 to 2007 after making the feature cut as an event rookie in 2003.
Also among the latest entries is Juarez, Mexico, shoe Don Grable, who topped the inaugural ASCS Southwest Region event in 2008.
With the event postponed from its original dates of October 29-31 due to weather, a pair of driver changes have taken place. Seventeen-year-old California ace Kyle Larson will take over the Jesse Hockett Racing No. 77 entry originally slated for Kyle Hirst, while Illinois’ Kaley Gharst takes the seat vacated by Dale Blaney.
While another handful of entered drivers will likely be unable to compete this weekend due to previous commitments, the odds are still strong that the event record of 108 competitors established in 2007 will fall by the wayside over the next several days.
The pre-entry discount deadline for the 22nd Annual O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires has been extended to November 4 along with advance discount tickets for all three nights for just $45. For more information, contact the track at 501-455-4567.
Pertinent Short Track Nationals Information:
The What: 22nd Annual O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
The Where: I-30 Speedway (Little Rock, AR). I-30 Speedway is located seven miles southwest of Little Rock off I-30 Exit 126 (Alexander Road).
The When: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 5-7, 2009. $15,000 to win the STN finale on November 7, with $2,200 to start the STN championship feature. Race time is 7:30 p.m. each night. Test ‘N Tune session on Wednesday night, November 4.
The Past Winners: Tony Bruce, Jr. (2008), Jason Meyers (2007), Jason Johnson (2006), Tim Montgomery (2005), Gary Wright (2004, 2003, 1999 and 1995), Paul McMahan (2002), Jason Sides (2001), Mike Ward (2000), Tim Crawley (1998), Wayne Johnson (1997), Pete Butler (1996), Terry Gray (1994), John Gerloff (1993), Steve Kinser (1991, ’89 and ‘88) and Sammy Swindell (1990). 1992 finale was rained out.
The Entries: The pre-entry discount deadline has been extended to Wednesday, November 4. Entries filed by then are just $150, with any entries submitted on race day $250. Entries are available by calling the track at 501-455-4567 or at http://www.i-30speedway.com/stn.html.
#1g Cody Gardner (Benton, AR)
#1jm Jim Moughan (Springfield, IL)
#1k Chris Shirek (Thompson, ND)
#1m Sean McClelland (Tulsa, OK)
#1p Curtis Evans (Norburne, MO)
#1xh Randy Hannagan (San Jose, CA)
#1xp Chad Pitts (Little Rock, AR)
#1xx Garry Lee Maier (Dodge City, KS)
#01n Jeremy Newkirk (Roland, AR)
#2a Randy Hibbs (Savannah, MO)
#2d Dusty Ballenger (Sioux Falls, SD)
#2sb Sean Becker (Carmichael, CA)
#2w Kenneth Walker (Sapulpa. OK)
#3a A.G. Rains (West Memphis, AR)
#3d Paul McMahan (Hendersonville, TN)
#3m Mark Shirshekan (Farmington, MO)
#3s John Carney II (El Paso, TX)
#03 Joe Wood, Jr. (Oklahoma City, OK)
#4 Eric Baldaccini (Keller, TX)
#5h Justyn Cox (Pleasant Grove, CA)
#5k Jerry Kamer (Jacksonville, AR)
#5L Eric Lutz (Sioux Falls, SD)
#6b Kaley Gharst (Decatur, IL)
#6s Raymond Stull (Coldwater, MS)
#6z Jessica Zemken (Sprakers, NY)
#7h Lewis Jenkins, Jr. (Bryant, AR)
#7L Darren Long (Elida, OH)
#7m Kevin Ramey (Fort Worth, TX)
#7s Paul Sides (Bartlett, TN)
#8m Mike Wells (El Paso, TX)
#8s Steve Short (Farmington, MO)
#8x Chris Williams (Memphis, TN)
#8z Zach Pringle (Benton, AR)
#9jr Derek Hagar (Marion, AR)
#9p Brian Parker (Midlothian, TX)
#9s Justin Sturch (Benton, AR)
#9w Lane Whittington (Denham Springs, LA)
#9x Gary Wright (Hooks, TX)
#10a Ricky Logan (Little Rock, AR)
#10g Terry Gray (Bartlett, TN)
#10h Josh Higday (Des Moines, IA)
#10s Sammy Swindell (Germantown, TN)
#11c Chad Corken (Highlands Ranch, CO)
#11j Justin Melton (Flower Mound, TX)
#11m Brandon Moseley (Doyline, LA)
#11xs Donovan Peterson (Brookings, SD)
#a12 Tommy Worley, Jr. (Bismarck, MO)
#d12 Danny Smith (Danville, IN)
#12d Dalton Davis (Munford, TN)
#12h Jerrod Hull (Sikeston, MO)
#12s Jeff Swindell (Bartlett, TN)
#13 Jesse Hockett (Warsaw, MO)
#14aj Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, OK)
#14k Kyle Bellm (Nixa, MO)
#14L Michael Lang (Mesquite, TX)
#14T Tyler Brown (Vilonia, AR)
#15h Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX)
#16a Koty Adams (Doyline, LA)
#16n Anthony Nicholson (Bartlett, TN)
#16p Dewayne Prince (Munford, TN)
#17b Ryan Bickett (Ramona, SD)
#17c Ray Allen Kulhanek (Magnolia, TX)
#17w Brad Welborn (Allen, TX)
#18 Tony Bruce, Jr. (Liberal, KS)
#19 Jay Adams (Olive Branch, MS)
#20 Kyle Sager (Alto, NM)
#w20 Greg Wilson (Benton Ridge, OH)
#21b Brian Brown (Grain Valley, MO)
#21T Tommy Bryant (Conroe, TX)
#21TX Brandon Schure (El Paso, TX)
#23b Seth Bergman (Snohomish, WA)
#23x Brian Bell (Cordova, TN)
#24c Justin Carver (Millington, TN)
#24g David Gailley (Forney, TX)
#25 Don Grable (Jaurez, MEX)
#26 Marshall Skinner (West Memphis, AR)
#27 Curt Michael (Ocean View, DE)
#28 Jonathan Cornell (Sedalia, MO)
#29h Lyle Howey III (Hartford, SD)
#29r Travis Rilat (Forney, TX)
#32 Garry Bell (Cordova, TN)
#35 Ronnie Blair (Troy, OH)
#39 Brad Bowden (Hernando, MS)
#40a Ernie Ainsworth (Southaven, MS)
#40j Junior Jenkins (Greenville, TX)
#40r Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Olive Branch, MS)
#41 Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA)
#44w Austen Wheatley (Lake Stevens, WA)
#46 Jan Howard (Byhalia, MS)
#50z Zach Chappell (Talala, OK)
#51b Jimmy Brooks (College Station, TX)
#51s Lee Sowell (Nesbit, MS)
#53d Jack Dover (Springfield, NE)
#53x Andy Gregg (Placerville, CA)
#55 Donnie Ray Crawford (Broken Arrow, OK)
#56 Davey Heskin (St. Michael, MN)
#57 Shane Stewart (Bixby, OK)
#58 Wade Oliver (Milan, TN)
#61a Gary Taylor (Snohomish, WA)
#69 Larry Howery (Hearne, TX)
#71 Channin Tankersley (Highlands, TX)
#72 Sherman Davis (Sand Springs, OK)
#74c Brandon Corn (Hearne, TX)
#74e Claud Estes (Godley, TX)
#75 Don Young (Bartlett, TN)
#77 Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA)
#83 Tim Shaffer (Aliquippa, PA)
#86 Josh Fisher (Smithton, MO)
#87a Andrew Marshala (Shawnee, OK)
#87m Brian McClelland (Tulsa, OK)
#87r Aaron Reutzel (Clute, TX)
#87x Billy Melton (Longview, TX)
#88 Tim Crawley (Benton, AR)
#88b Mike Boston (Omaha, NE)
#88k James Kinder (Holts Summit, MO)
#91a Jonathan Allard (Chico, CA)
#91b Brad Sweet (Grass Valley, CA)
#91c Cody Darrah (Red Lion, PA)
#91m Marty Stanford (McKinney, TX)
#93 Dustin Morgan (Collinsville, OK)
#94w Danny Wood (Norman, OK)
#94z Zach Zimmerly (West Linn, OR)
#95 Matt Covington (Glenpool, OK)
#97 Aaron Berryhill (Broken Arrow, OK)
#99b Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, OK)
#99d Rickey Hood (Millington, TN)
#165 Haley Arnold (Sedalia, MO)
The Series: A premier stop on the Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters trail, Shane Stewart has moved 24 points ahead of Jason Johnson in the $60,000 championship chase with Gary Wright just another 16 points back in third. After the Short Track Nationals, the Lucas Oil Sprint Cars will finish off the season with USA Raceway’s 42nd Annual Kronik Energy Western World Championships presented by Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, AZ, on November 19-21.
Current top 20 in Lucas Oil Sprint Car points: 1. Shane Stewart (Bixby, OK) 2,278, 2. Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA) 2,254, 3. Gary Wright (Hooks, TX) 2,238, 4. Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) 2,117, 5. Paul McMahan (Hendersonville, TN) 2,066, 6. Tim Crawley (Benton, AR) 2,043, 7. Danny Wood (Norman, OK) 2,020, 8. Tony Bruce, Jr. (Liberal, KS) 1,982, 9. Jack Dover (Springfield, NE) 1,963, 10. Jesse Hockett (Warsaw, MO) 1,961, 11. Sean McClelland (Tulsa, OK) 1,694, 12. Kenneth Walker (Sapulpa, OK) 1,628, 13. Darren Long (Elida, OH) 1,519, 14. Chad Corken (Highlands Ranch, CO) 1,487, 15. Gary Taylor (Snohomish, WA) 1,471, 16. Seth Bergman (Snohomish, WA) 1,397, 17. Gavin Punch (Collinsville, OK) 1,344, 18. Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, OK) 1,215, 19. Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, OK) 1,118, 20. Ricky Logan (Little Rock, AR) 974.
The Format: A version of the popular Sprint Bandits format of heats and qualifying races will be in place. Each night, Heat Races will be aligned according to the pre-race draw, with the 2009 passing points system in effect.
Approximately half of the STN entrants will battle through Thursday’s qualifying program, with the other half racing through Friday night’s qualifying program. Those not locked in after the first two nights (top three from each night) will race through a full card of Heats and Qualifying Races on Saturday night to fill out the November 7 STN championship finale.
Drivers must compete in either Thursday’s prelim or Friday’s prelim to be eligible for passing points on Saturday.
Saturday’s Odus Pack Building Materials Dash for Cash will be aligned by a pill draw conducted in “Cheater’s Day” fashion. Thursday’s winning driver will draw the first pill then give that pill to the driver of his choice. Friday’s winner will draw the second pill and give that pill to one of the remaining drivers, and so on until the lineup is determined.
The COMP Cams Gambler’s Challenge: The COMP Cams Gambler’s Challenge offers the pole sitter of the STN championship feature event the opportunity to pull a playing card that will grant a new starting position for the 40-lap finale. Upon accepting the Gambler’s Challenge, the driver will draw the fourth, sixth, eighth or tenth starting position. If the driver can win from the starting position drawn, a $5,000 bonus will push the overall winner’s take to $20,000.
If the pole sitter declines to draw a card, the outside front row starter will be presented with the same COMP Cams Gambler’s Challenge.
The driver that takes the COMP Cams Gambler’s Challenge is assured an extra $1,000 regardless of finishing position.
The Josh Howard Determination Award: Bossier City, Louisiana’s Shed Road Auto Parts will present a top wing and nose wing from Lightning Wings to a driver that battles through adversity over the course of the intensely competitive weekend.
The Dart Engine Block Presented by Wells Racing Engines: Wells Racing Engines will present a lightened Dart engine block, a prize worth approximately $4,000, to some lucky ASCS registered driver over the course of the weekend.
The Trade Show & Midway: This year’s rendition of the Short Track Nationals will also include the Fifth Annual Short Track Nationals Trade Show & Midway. Fans, drivers & crews will have the opportunity to visit vendor displays, which opens at noon on Thursday and then at 9 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday. The deadline for guaranteed vendor space is Monday, October 26.
The Tickets: Advance tickets are on sale through Wednesday, November 4, no advance sales after that. Tickets ordered in advance are just $45 for all three nights. Day of show prices are $15 on Thursday and Friday and $25 on Saturday. To order tickets in advance or for more information, call the track at 501-455-4567 or e-mail orders to racing@I-30speedway.com. Children’s tickets will be available at the event for just $2 on both Thursday and Friday and then $5 on Saturday. There is a $1 per ticket surcharge for orders placed via credit/debit cards. Pit passes are $30 on both Thursday and Friday and $35 on Saturday.
For more information regarding the 22nd Annual O’Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires, contact I-30 Speedway at 501-455-4567.
Additional information regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.