From Lonnie Wheatley
HIGHLANDS, Texas – Missouri rivals Brian Brown and Jesse Hockett hooked up in an epic duel along the Gulf Coast Saturday night as Sprint Cars returned to the 3/8-mile Battleground Speedway for the first time in nearly ten years.
And, when the checkered flag flew upon the Third Annual Gulf Coast Nationals, it was Brown coming away with the $3,000 winner’s share in the capper of season-opening weekend competition for the ASCS Gulf South Region.
After trading the top spot a handful of times over the final ten circuits, Brown held the point the final two times around in the scheduled 25-lapper to take the win aboard the FVP No. 21 Maxim entry.
“Jesse and I have had a lot of good battles, it’s a lot of fun to race with him like that,” Brown commented in victory lane.
Had it not been for a late-race caution, eleventh-starting Oklahoma shoe Brady Bacon may very well have played the role of spoiler.
“I really should probably thank Brady for that one,” Brown explained. “I kept pounding the cushion and then he showed the low side just when that caution came out, that made all the difference.”
Gridding the main event outside row two, Brown chased pole starter Wayne Johnson and second-starter Hockett in the early rounds.
Hockett and Johnson diced for the point until “The Rocket” took command on the fifth round. Johnson’s run aboard a former Jason Johnson mount now owned by Joe Zierolf was cut short when a power steering line blew ten laps in.
Johnson’s misfortune nearly proved disastrous for Brown as well, with contact in turn four as Johnson checked up. “I hit him, I was lucky my race didn’t end right there,” Brown surmised.
Back under way, Brown kept the pressure on Hockett’s Don Ott-powered VKCC Motorsports No. 75 A.R.T. as Bacon and Tony Bruce, Jr., mixed it up for third.
Brown slipped by Hockett for the official lead on the 18th lap, with Hockett returning the favor a lap later. As the lead duo made another couple or so unofficial lead changes in the corners, Bacon broke free from Bruce and was about to dispose of Brown for second when a caution flew for Channin Tankersley’s stalled mount.
With Bacon’s hand tipped, Brown raced to the low side and ultimately battled past Hockett to post a narrow win.
A disappointed Hockett settled for runner-up honors, commenting that, “I never even saw the white flag. My hat’s off to Brian though, he did a good job.”
Bacon settled for third in the Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Triple-X, with Bruce, Jr., and 19th-starter Travis Rilat rounding out the top five.
Tommy Bryant was sixth, with Ray Allen Kulhanek in seventh. The night’s top passing points earner in heat race action, Ricky Logan returned from an opening lap stop on the track to claim eighth with Eric Baldaccini and Aaron Reutzel completing the top ten.
After Logan’s stop on the initial start of the feature, Klint Angelette, Scottie McDonald, Travis Knighton and Travis Elliott were eliminated in a wild turn four skirmish on the second try.
Brandon Berryman, Wayne Johnson, Hockett and Bryant topped heat race action for Saturday night’s 34-car field, with Travis Rilat winning the “B” Main.
American Sprint Car Series Gulf South Region Results from Battleground Speedway:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 31-Brandon Berryman, 2. 19-Klint Angelette, 3. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 9x-Gary Wright, 6. 71-Channin Tankersley, 7. 15T-Travis Elliott, 8. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr. DNS: 74-Brandon Corn.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. C41-Wayne Johnson, 2. 21-Brian Brown, 3. 35-Greg Rilat, 4. 88-Scottie McDonald, 5. 00-Michael Dupuy, 6. 29-Travis Rilat, 7. 51w-Wes Miller, 8. 87x-Billy Melton, 9. 55r-Rooster Boone.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 75-Jesse Hockett, 2. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 4. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 5. 28-James Cooper, 6. 76-John Ricketts, 7. 52-Roger Oakes, 8. 93-Chris Sweeney.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 85-Tommy Bryant, 2. 10-Ricky Logan, 3. 51-Jimmy Brooks, 4. 61-Travis Knighton, 5. 14-Michael Lang, 6. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 7. 12b-Logan Bledsoe, 8. 51s-Beau Smith.
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 29-Travis Rilat, 2. 14-Michael Lang, 3. 71-Channin Tankersley, 4. 51w-Wes Miller, 5. 15T-Travis Elliott, 6. 87x-Billy Melton, 7. 76-John Ricketts, 8. 12b-Logan Bledsoe, 9. 52-Roger Oakes, 10. 51s-Beau Smith, 11. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr., 12. 28-James Cooper. DNS: 9x-Gary Wright, 55r-Rooster Boone, 93-Chris Sweeney, 74-Brandon Corn.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 21-Brian Brown, 2. 75-Jesse Hockett, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 5. 29-Travis Rilat, 6. 85-Tommy Bryant, 7. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 8. 10-Ricky Logan, 9. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 10. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 11. 35-Greg Rilat, 12. 87x-Billy Melton, 13. 71-Channin Tankersley, 14. 51w-Wes Miller, 15. 31-Brandon Berryman, 16. 14-Michael Lang, 17. 00-Michael Dupuy, 18. C41-Wayne Johnson, 19. 51-Jimmy Brooks, 20. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 21. 19-Klint Angelette, 22. 88-Scottie McDonald, 23. 61-Travis Knighton, 24. 15T-Travis Elliott.
ASCS Gulf South Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Jesse Hockett 272, 2. Brian Brown 269, 3. Travis Rilat 267, 4. Brady Bacon 257, 5. Tony Bruce, Jr. 255, 6. Ricky Logan 251, 7. Tommy Bryant 220, 8. Brandon Berryman 216, 9. (tie) Gary Wright and Wes Miller 215.