From Lonnie Wheatley
BEAUMONT, Texas – The American Sprint Car Series Gulf South Region opened up the 2010 season in much the same way as 2009, with Gary Wright standing in victory lane at Golden Triangle Raceway Park.
For the second year in a row, “The Texan” topped the $3,000-to-win, 25-lap Prelude to the Gulf Coast Nationals to launch the season for the ASCS Gulf South Region atop the Golden Triangle clay.
However, rather than wait for the last lap to make the winning move like last year, Wright gunned into the lead at the outset aboard Scott Brown’s ASI-powered Lubbock Wrecker Service/The Shop No. 9x Maxim and never looked back en route to a third ASCS Gulf South season opening win.
“As heavy as the track was tonight, it was real easy to get in trouble in traffic or really anywhere,” Wright explained. “We got lucky tonight and stayed out of trouble, we’ll get cleaned up and try to get another one tomorrow.”
A move past Tommy Bryant and Bruce Crockett in the final two laps of his heat race landed Wright in the redraw. And when he drew the number one pill, that may have been all the luck the four-time Lucas Oil National Sprint Car champion needed.
Weathering three red flag periods over the initial four circuits, including a pair on the initial two starts, Wright paced the early circuits in front of fellow front row starter Klint Angelette before Travis Rilat, Ricky Logan and Jesse Hockett freight trained the 16-year-old on a lap five restart.
After one final caution after nine circuits for Dustin Morgan’s turn four spin, the final 16 rounds ran off in non-stop fashion with Wright distancing himself from the field while lapping well into the top ten.
Rilat held off several challenges from Logan over the latter portion of the race for runner-up honors, with Logan settling for the show position. Hockett advanced from ninth in the early rounds to snare fourth, with Tony Bruce, Jr., rounding out the top five.
Brady Bacon crossed the stripe sixth, making it a sweep of the top six positions by prospective Lucas Oil Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters championship contenders.
Brian Brown crossed the stripe in seventh, with two-time ASCS Gulf South champ Brandon Berryman the final car on the lead lap in eighth, just ahead of fellow Gulf South shoes Wes Miller and Scottie McDonald.
The initial attempt to start the main event was waved off for a Jimmy Brooks tumble in turn one, with the second start going red as well when reigning ASCS Gulf South champ Aaron Reutzel launched out of the park in turn two. Four laps later, Tommy Bryant tumbled in turn two as well. There were no injuries.
Brown, Angelette, Brooks, Wright and Morgan topped heat race action for the 37-car field, with Berryman and Reutzel winning the twin “B” Mains.
American Sprint Car Series Gulf South Region Results from Golden Triangle Raceway Park:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 21-Brian Brown, 2. 61-Travis Knighton, 3. 93-Chris Sweeney, 4. 31-Brandon Berryman, 5. 12b-Logan Bledsoe, 6. 3-Gary Watson, 7. 28-James Cooper, 8. 3T-Tyler King.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 19-Klint Angelette, 2. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 75-Jesse Hockett, 4. 15T-Travis Elliott, 5. 74-Brandon Corn, 6. C41-Wayne Johnson, 7. 14-Michael Lang, 8. 35-Greg Rilat.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 51-Jimmy Brooks, 2. 51w-Wes Miller, 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 00-Michael Dupuy, 6. 4m-Michael Miller, 7. 52-Roger Oakes.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 8-Bruce Crockett, 3. 10-Ricky Logan, 4. 85-Tommy Bryant, 5. 87x-Billy Melton, 6. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr., 7. 51s-Beau Smith.
Heat Five (8 Laps): 1. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 2. 29-Travis Rilat, 3. 71-Channin Tankersley, 4. 88-Scottie McDonald, 5. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 76-John Ricketts, 7. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek.
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 31-Brandon Berryman, 2. 93-Chris Sweeney, 3. C41-Wayne Johnson, 4. 12b-Logan Bledsoe, 5. 87x-Billy Melton, 6. 3-Gary Watson, 7. 35-Greg Rilat, 8. 28-James Cooper, 9. 51s-Beau Smith, 10. 4m-Michael Miller, 11. 15T-Travis Elliott. DNS: 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 85-Tommy Bryant, 3. 74-Brandon Corn, 4. 00-Michael Dupuy, 5. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 76-John Ricketts, 7. 14-Michael Lang, 8. 52-Roger Oakes, 9. 3T-Tyler King, 10. 71-Channin Tankersley, 11. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 29-Travis Rilat, 3. 10-Ricky Logan, 4. 75-Jesse Hockett, 5. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 6. 99-Brady Bacon, 7. 21-Brian Brown, 8. 31-Brandon Berryman, 9. 51w-Wes Miller, 10. 88-Scottie McDonald, 11. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 12. 19-Klint Angelette, 13. 61-Travis Knighton, 14. 74-Brandon Corn, 15. 93-Chris Sweeney, 16. 85-Tommy Bryant, 17. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 18. C41-Wayne Johnson, 19. 51-Jimmy Brooks, 20. 8-Bruce Crockett (DNS).
ASCS Gulf South Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Gary Wright 150, 2. Travis Rilat 142, 3. Ricky Logan 135, 4. Jesse Hockett 130, 5. Tony Bruce, Jr. 125, 6. Brady Bacon 122, 7. Brian Brown 119, 8. Brandon Berryman 116, 9. Wes Miller 113, 10. Scottie McDonald 110.