From Lonnie Wheatley
TULSA, Okla. – A happening that occurs at least twice as often as the Olympics, the latest rendition of Tuesday’s Top Ten has been freed from the gates.
All things ASCS, in no particular order as per the norm, follows…
1. The Unemployed – It’s the dead of winter in Iowa, so what better place to go than Florida, right? Even without the security of a full-time ride.
That’s exactly what Oklahoma City native Wayne Johnson, a current Knoxville, IA, resident, opted to do, picking up a swing shift or two in a second Glenn Styres entry along the way. After a couple of less than stellar prelim nights at Tampa’s East Bay Raceway Park on Thursday and Friday, Lady Luck flattened a Texan’s (Gary Wright) left rear and then detonated that Steel City fella’s (Tim Shaffer) engine to open the door to victory lane in the Ninth Annual Ronald Laney Memorial.
Wayne waltzed right through and snared a $14,500 victory that included the originally posted $10,000 winner’s share from East Bay Raceway Park, another $4,000 from the Laney family and $500 from CnB Mushroom farms.
Wayne left Florida behind with crown in hand and no certain plans for the balance of 2010, as Styres took the owner’s share back north of the border.
2. Top Tenners – Three drivers ran among the top ten in all three East Bay feature events last weekend. Two would be expected, including two-time Short Track Nationals champ Tony Bruce, Jr. (8th, 4th and 6th) and new father Travis Rilat (6th, 6th and 5th). The third would have been considered a dark horse however, as Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Lou Kennedy, Jr., followed up a Thursday runner-up run with a seventh-place showing on Friday and then a third-place podium run in Saturday’s finale.
3. Full Slate – With Monday’s unveiling of the 2010 ASCS Patriots schedule, the number of ASCS races on the 2010 calendar now numbers 212 events at 86 different tracks throughout 23 different states and two Canadian provinces.
4. Point Scales – The Lucas Oil Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters as well as the eleven ASCS Regional series will each be subject to a revised championship points scale in 2010. Feature winners will still receive 150 points, however the runner-up will now get 142 rather than 146, with the full feature scale as follows; 150, 142, 135, 130, 125, 122, 119, 116, 113, 110, 108, 106, 104, 102, 100, 98, 96, 94, 92, 90, 89, 88, 87, 86.
Tested at the ASCS2 Micro Sprint level over the past two years, the revised point scale places a greater emphasis on wins and top-five finishes than the former system.
5. Spring Training – Some Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series contenders take advantage of events like last weekend’s East Bay Winter Nationals and this weekend’s ASCS Gulf South openers as a “Spring Training” of sorts. Seven National contenders took in the past weekend’s Rebel action at East Bay, including Gary Wright, Tony Bruce, Jr., Travis Rilat, Jesse Hockett, Darren Long, Joe Ramaker and Michael Dupuy.
Several of those will travel to Beaumont and Battleground to harass the Gulf South regulars this weekend along with other Lucas Oil contenders including the likes of Okies Brady Bacon and Dustin Morgan.
6. Iron Man – When the ASCS Gulf South Region fires off at Beaumont’s Golden Triangle Raceway Park on Friday night, Texas City, TX, veteran shoe Greg Rilat will be making his 130th consecutive ASCS Gulf South start, easily an overall series Regional record.
Among the top-ten in ASCS Gulf South points over each of the past eight seasons (and either second or third on five occasions), Travis’ father last missed an ASCS Gulf South event at Many, LA, in September of 2002.
7. For Openers – While East Bay hosted the ASCS Rebel 2010 opener, Beaumont’s Golden Triangle Raceway Park hosts one of two openers this weekend.
While the ASCS Gulf South kicks off Friday at Golden Triangle before moving on to Battleground on Saturday, Golden Triangle will also host the 2010 opener for the 410-ci Sprint Bandits Tour ‘n Topless series on Friday night, April 30. That event will mark the first wingless 410-ci Sprint Car event in the Lone Star State since Ron Shuman bested a CRA vs. NCRA showdown at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in the olden times of May 1988.
Golden Triangle, Houston Raceway Park (May 1) and Waco’s Heart O’ Texas Speedway (May 2) each host the wingless forces for the first time ever before the series moves on to Devil’s Bowl (May 7) and then Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway (May 8).
8. Gulf South Title Hopes? – If reigning ASCS Gulf South champ Aaron Reutzel and 2009 runner-up Channin Tankersley, both 19 years of age, both hit the Lucas Oil National trail full-time in 2010 as suspected, the Gulf South points race could very well be up for grabs.
The Gulf South contender that can flex the best with the invading forces this weekend will be the one to watch. Some possibilities would include two-time series champ Brandon Berryman, who hopes to shake the demons of 2009, 2006 champ Gary Watson, 2005 champ Ray Allen Kulhanek, Greg Rilat, Tommy Bryant (who takes the wheel of Jerry Bell’s No. 85), Klint Angelette and the brothers Elliott (Bean and Travis).
Resurfacing from the way-back machine is Beau Smith, who will wheel a TSR Motorsports entry after a ten-year layoff.
9. Saturdays Are for Racing – Saturday’s Ninth Annual Ronald Laney Memorial at East Bay Raceway Park marked the first of 36 consecutive Saturday nights that will include at least one scheduled ASCS event somewhere around the country.
10. Lucas Oil Title Hopefuls – When the Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters kicks off the 2010 season with the 37th Annual Devil’s Bowl Spring Nationals in Mesquite, TX, on March 19-20, Oklahoma native Shane Stewart will have his hands full in defense of his 2009 title.
Back on the trail are most of last year’s full-timers including Jason Johnson, Gary Wright, Travis Rilat, Tim Crawley, Tony Bruce, Jr., Jack Dover, Jesse Hockett, Sean McClelland, Kenneth Walker and Darren Long. The Benjamin No. 3d entry has yet to formally announce a driver, while it is uncertain whether Danny Wood will take on the full series in the Hammers No. 94. Washington native Gary Taylor is trying to finalize 2010 Lucas Oil Sprint Car plans at this very moment, while no official word has been revealed from the Bobby Sparks No. 91 camp.
Others set for the road include Brady Bacon and Ricky Logan along with a Brodix rookie crop that includes Matt Covington, Dustin Morgan, Kyle Hirst, Justyne Cox, Joe Ramaker, Aaron Reutzel and Channin Tankersley.
The 2010 Lucas Oil Sprint Car trail will also be markedly more scenic than in years past, as Rock Star girls much like those spotted at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals will reportedly be on hand for selected events at the very least.
Ending on that good note, find whatever you may need to know at www.ascsracing.com.