By Lonnie Wheatley
TULSA, Okla. (May 3, 2010) – Race fans way down in southeast Texas got a long-awaited dose of traditional Sprint Car racing this past Saturday night and loved what they saw with a three-wide charge to the checkered flag.
Now, another pair of history-rich tracks are set to host the Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless series this coming weekend in North Texas and Arkansas.
On Friday night, wingless, 410-ci Sprint Cars return to the fabled ½-mile Devil’s Bowl Speedway clay oval in Mesquite, TX, for the first time since Ron Shuman raced to victory lane in May of 1988.
Then, on Saturday night, the Sprint Bandits TNT forces get their elbows up atop the high-banked, ¼-mile I-30 Speedway red clay oval in Little Rock, AR, where wingless 410’s have been absent since 1981.
Friday’s card at Devil’s Bowl pays the standard $3,000-to-win and $300-to-start purse, with up to $6,000 possible to win Saturday night at I-30 Speedway with the TNT Front Row Challenge in effect. If the pole sitter (or front row outside starter) accepts the Challenge and wins from the tail of the field, the winner’s share will double from $3,000 to $6,000 at I-30 Speedway.
Both events also offer up a $500 bonus to the top-finishing 360-ci powered entry. Memphis shoe Anthony Nicholson pocketed the bonus Saturday night in Houston, with his ninth-place finish worth in excess of $1,000 as a result and putting him among the top ten in points, good enough for tow money this Friday night at the very least.
Three past Sprint Bandits TNT champions are among this year’s title contenders, and in Saturday night’s opener at Houston Raceway Park it was the those three that rose to the top.
A co-champ in 2007, Rocklin, CA, native Robert Ballou overcame a wreck, a twisted chassis and a tired engine to race from 13th for his seventh career TNT win on Saturday. Ballou edged 2006 champ Jesse Hockett, who recovered from an early feature spin, by mere inches with reigning TNT champion Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, OK, a half car-length out of the lead at the stripe.
Travis Rilat of Forney, TX, escaped the opener fourth behind Ballou, Hockett and Bacon after leading much of the way, with Owasso, Oklahoma’s Matt Sherrell rounding out the top five.
The balance of the current top ten entering this weekend’s action includes Zach Chappell (Talala, OK), Ray Allen Kulhanek (Conroe, TX), J.C. Bland (Springfield, IL), Anthony Nicholson (Bartlett, TN) and Jake Simmons (Houston, TX). Another pair outside the top ten include Arizona native Casey Shuman and Oklahoma City shoe Wayne Johnson, who pilots the Jack Yeley entry.
Friday’s action at the Devil’s Bowl Speedway fires off at 8:00 p.m., with Saturday’s card at Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway going green at 7:30 p.m.
Mesquite, Texas’ high-banked, ½-mile Devil’s Bowl Speedway clay oval is located six miles east of Dallas’ I-635 on I-20, then three miles north on Lawson Road. Lawson Road north of the track (and south off of US 80) has been closed for repair, so fans and racers are urged to use I-20 and then go north on Lawson. For more information, contact the track at 972-222-2421.
The high-banked, ¼-mile I-30 Speedway clay oval is located seven miles southwest of Little Rock, AR, off I-30 Exit 126 (Alexander Rd.), then south to frontage road, then east. For more information, contact the track at 501-455-4567.
Past Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Champions:
2005 – Levi Jones
2006 – Jesse Hockett
2007 – Robert Ballou and Tim Kaeding
2008 – Dave Darland
2009 – Brady Bacon
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Career Feature Wins:
Robert Ballou 7, Brady Bacon 6, Levi Jones 5, Cory Kruseman 3, Dave Darland 2, Jesse Hockett 2, Brady Short 2, Jerry Coons, Jr. 1, Dickie Gaines 1, Darren Hagen 1, Bud Kaeding 1, Brad Sweet 1, Chris Windom 1.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT on the Web:
Those unable to catch all the action in person can listen to every Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT event live at www.racinboys.com.
Official results, championship point updates, photos and race notes will be available at www.sprintbandits.com.
Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless series is available at www.sprintbandits.com.