By Lonnie Wheatley
MESQUITE, Texas (May 7, 2010) – Travis Rilat didn’t have to travel too far for his first career Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless feature win, as he topped the first wingless, 410-ci Sprint Car feature contested atop the storied ½-mile Devil’s Bowl Speedway clay oval in nearly 22 years on Friday night.
Just 15 minutes away from his Forney, TX, home, Rilat led all 30 laps to take the $3,000 triumph in the www.ShopTheBoss.com No. 50off entry, the first wingless triumph for the past ASCS National Champion since an Ultimate Challenge victory in 2002.
It didn’t come without a stiff challenge however, as reigning Sprint Bandits TNT champion Brady Bacon pressured for the lead throughout, even surging ahead down the backstretch at one point in the final circuits.
“I knew someone was there, I couldn’t tell who it was though,” Rilat explained. “I was able to hit traffic right and work it the way I needed to keep ‘em behind me.”
After outdueling Ray Allen Kulhanek in his qualifying race to earn the pole starting position for the feature, Rilat outgunned fellow front row starter J.C. Bland for the lead at the drop of the green flag. Bland slipped off the backstretch on the opening round and fell to eighth, with the race’s only caution flying when Robert Ballou came to a stop in turn four with a cut tire.
Third-starter Jesse Hockett and fifth-starter Bacon were on Rilat’s tailtank on the lap two restart, with Bacon taking over second soon after.
Bacon kept Rilat in his sights all along, turning up the heat at the midway point as traffic factored into the equation.
Racing off the bottom of turn two, Bacon actually drove Mike and Megan Eubanks’ Wesmar-powered Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Triple X ahead of Rilat down the backstretch on the 26th lap. But Rilat had the preferred line getting into turn three to retain the lead and held steady to take the checkered flag with a two car-length advantage.
Hockett claimed the show position in the VKCC Motorsports No. 75, with Casey Shuman fourth in the R&B/Barnhill No. 10x.
Wayne Johnson rounded out the top five in Jack Yeley’s No. 2, with Matt Sherrell advancing seven positions from 13th to sixth. Justin Melton picked up a $500 bonus as the top finishing 360-ci powered entry by crossing the stripe as the final car on the lead lap in seventh. Ray Allen Kulhanek, Ballou and Bland completed the top ten.
Billy Melton utilized 360-ci power to win the first heat race, with Hockett stealing heat two away from Zach Chappell at the line and then Ballou holding off Bland in heat three. Bland bested the first qualifier, Wayne Johnson denied Hockett a second-consecutive last gasp victory in the second qualifier and Rilat got the best of Kulhanek in the third qualifier.
The Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless series moves on to Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway on Saturday night, with the TNT Front Row Challenge in effect potentially doubling the winner’s share should a front row starter accept the challenge and win from the tail of the field.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Results
Devil’s Bowl Speedway:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 87-Billy Melton, 2. 10x-Casey Shuman, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 2-Wayne Johnson, 5. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 45-Martin Edwards, 7. 21-Russell Shoulders.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 75-Jesse Hockett, 2. 50z-Zach Chappell, 3. 50-Travis Rilat, 4. 5*-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 5. 35-Matt Sherrell, 6. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 7. 7s-Tim Simmons.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 98-J.C. Bland, 3. 65-Skip Wilson, 4. 11-Justin Melton, 5. 22-Koby Barksdale, 6. 74e-Claud Estes, 7. 5m-Glenn Martin.
Qualifier One (8 Laps): 1. 98-J.C. Bland, 2. 65-Skip Wilson, 3. 10x-Casey Shuman, 4. 87-Billy Melton, 5. 35-Matt Sherrell, 6. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 7. 5m-Glenn Martin.
Qualifier Two (8 Laps): 1. 2-Wayne Johnson, 2. 75-Jesse Hockett, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 11-Justin Melton, 5. 45-Martin Edwards, 6. 21-Russell Shoulders, 7. 22-Koby Barksdale.
Qualifier Three (8 Laps): 1. 50-Travis Rilat, 2. 5*-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 3. 50z-Zach Chappell, 4. 81-Robert Ballou, 5. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 74e-Claud Estes, 7. 7s-Tim Simmons.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway Sprint Bandits TNT Main Event:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 50-Travis Rilat, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 75-Jesse Hockett, 4. 10x-Casey Shuman, 5. 2-Wayne Johnson, 6. 35-Matt Sherrell, 7. 11-Justin Melton, 8. 5*-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 9. 81-Robert Ballou, 10. 98-J.C. Bland, 11. 22-Koby Barksdale, 12. 87-Billy Melton, 13. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 14. 45-Martin Edwards, 15. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 16. 65-Skip Wilson, 17. 50z-Zach Chappell, 18. 74e-Claud Estes, 19. 5m-Glenn Martin, 20. 21-Russell Shoulders, 21. 7s-Tim Simmons.
Lap Leaders: Travis Rilat 1-30.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Points (Top 10): 1. Travis Rilat 280, 2. (tie) Jesse Hockett and Brady Bacon 277, 4. Robert Ballou 263, 5. Matt Sherrell 247, 6. Casey Shuman 236, 7. Ray Allen Kulhanek 235, 8. J.C. Bland 226, 9. Wayne Johnson 225, 10. Justin Melton 223.