By Lonnie Wheatley
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 8, 2010) – Tim Crawley may have been spotting his top rivals 50 cubic inches in Saturday night’s Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless event at I-30 Speedway, but that didn’t prevent him from racing to victory lane in the 30-lap main event atop the high-banked, ¼-mile clay oval.
Pitting Mike Ward’s 360-ci McCarver powerplant up against some of the top wingless, 410-ci competitors in the country, Crawley swept through the night’s action by wiring the feature field after earlier heat race and qualifying race wins to earn the pole position.
“We were fortunate to win both our heat and qualifier which put us up front for the feature, which is exactly where we needed to be tonight,” Crawley explained afterward.
Crawley collected $3,500 for his first TNT triumph aboard Mike Ward’s Boater Sports/Southern Renovations No. 88 Maxim, including a $500 bonus as the night’s top finishing 360-ci entry.
A last-corner pass of Casey Shuman to win the night’s second heat race and then a qualifying race triumph over J.C. Bland put Crawley on the pole position for the feature with the option of accepting the TNT Front Row Challenge for the opportunity to potentially double his winner’s take.
“The track is gonna be tough to pass on in this feature, so I think I’m going to have to pass on the Challenge and take my chances from the front row,” the Benton, AR, racer explained. Fellow front row starter Ray Allen Kulhanek of Conroe, TX, declined the Challenge as well.
After Patrick Budde’s left rear tire flew off in the opening corner on the original start, Crawley gunned into the initial lead with third-starter Jesse Hockett shuffling Kulhanek back to third at the outset.
Following a lap four interruption for Matt Sherrell, who came out on the short end of a turn four traffic jam and came to a stop, Crawley reached the tail of the field by the eleventh round only to have the yellow lights flicker again for Brian Bell’s turn four spin.
Another pair of cautions after 15 laps (for an Eric Sandage spin) and then 25 laps (for Brady Bacon, who slowed with a flat front tire) kept Crawley free and clear of traffic, allowing him to cruise to another I-30 Speedway victory virtually unchallenged.
“On that last restart, I knew I just needed to keep it low and stay right on the inside tires,” Crawley commented. “There was getting to be a few ruts in three and four, you just had to make sure not to hit those wrong.”
Crawley took the checkered flag ahead of past ASCS Gulf South champion Kulhanek, who slipped back by Hockett exiting turn two at the midway point en route to runner-up honors in his No. 5* entry.
Hockett claimed the show position aboard the Stanton Mopar-powered VKCC Motorsports/Parker Stores of Arizona No. 75 A.R.T. to take over the Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT points lead by a slim two-point margin over Travis Rilat, who finished fourth in the www.shoptheboss.com No. 50off.
Past I-30 Speedway track champion Zach Pringle pedaled his 360-ci powered entry to a fifth-place finish after starting eleventh, with Gary Taylor’s first Sprint Car outing of 2010 resulting in a sixth-place finish aboard the 360-powered Carver No. 24.
Casey Shuman crossed the stripe seventh, with Wayne Johnson, J.C. Bland and Zach Chappell completing the top ten.
Bacon, Crawley and Taylor won the 10-lap heat races, with Kulhanek, Crawley and Sherrell victorious in the qualifying races. Rick Pringle slipped around Brian Bell on the final round to win the “B” Main.
Derek Hagar of Marion, AR, was transported to a local hospital for observation after climbing a right rear tire and flipping violently off the turn three embankment in the night’s third and final heat race.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Results
Heat One (10 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 50-Travis Rilat, 3. 50z-Zach Chappell, 4. 8z-Zach Pringle, 5. 81-Robert Ballou, 6. 60-Eric Sandage, 7. 87-Billy Melton, 8. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 9. 12T-Joe Young, 10. 4-Tommy Snellgrove.
Heat Two (10 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 10x-Casey Shuman, 3. 5*-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 4. 75-Jesse Hockett, 5. 35-Matt Sherrell, 6. 57-Dude Garrett, 7. 5k-Jerry Kamer, 8. 2-Wayne Johnson. DNS: 1g-Cody Gardner.
Heat Three (10 Laps): 1. 24-Gary Taylor, 2. 23-Brian Bell, 3. 58-Wade Oliver, 4. 01-Jeremy Newkirk, 5. 98-J.C. Bland, 6. 38-Rick Pringle, 7. 90-Patrick Budde, 8. 14-Jordon Mallett, 9. 9-Derek Hagar.
Qualifying Races (Top 16 in Combined Passing Points from Heat Races and Qualifying Races to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):
Qualifier One (10 Laps): 1. 5*-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 2. 75-Jesse Hockett, 3. 8z-Zach Pringle, 4. 10x-Casey Shuman, 5. 24-Gary Taylor, 6. 38-Rick Pringle, 7. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 8. 87-Billy Melton, 9. 4-Tommy Snellgrove. DNS: 9-Derek Hagar.
Qualifier Two (10 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 98-J.C. Bland, 3. 2-Wayne Johnson, 4. 58-Wade Oliver, 5. 01-Jeremy Newkirk, 6. 57-Dude Garrett, 7. 12T-Joe Young, 8. 90-Patrick Budde, 9. 23-Brian Bell.
Qualifier Three (10 Laps): 1. 35-Matt Sherrell, 2. 50-Travis Rilat, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 60-Eric Sandage, 5. 81-Robert Ballou, 6. 14-Jordon Mallett, 7. 5k-Jerry Kamer, 8. 50z-Zach Chappell. DNS: 1g-Cody Gardner.
“B” Main (Top 6 Transfer to “A” Main):
“B” Feature (8 Laps): 1. 38-Rick Pringle, 2. 23-Brian Bell, 3. 57-Dude Garrett, 4. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 5. 12T-Joe Young, 6. 90-Patrick Budde, 7. 14-Jordon Mallett, 8. 5k-Jerry Kamer, 9. 87-Billy Melton. DNS: 4-Tommy Snellgrove, 9-Derek Hagar, 1g-Cody Gardner.
I-30 Speedway Sprint Bandits TNT Main Event:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 5*-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 3. 75-Jesse Hockett, 4. 50-Travis Rilat, 5. 8z-Zach Pringle, 6. 24-Gary Taylor, 7. 10x-Casey Shuman, 8. 2-Wayne Johnson, 9. 98-J.C. Bland, 10. 50z-Zach Chappell, 11. 38-Rick Pringle, 12. 35-Matt Sherrell, 13. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 14. 81-Robert Ballou, 15. 60-Eric Sandage, 16. 99-Brady Bacon, 17. 12T-Joe Young, 18. 58-Wade Oliver, 19. 01-Jeremy Newkirk, 20. 23-Brian Bell, 21. 57-Dude Garrett, 22. 90-Patrick Budde.
Lap Leaders: Tim Crawley 1-30.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Points (Top 10): 1. Jesse Hockett 412, 2. Travis Rilat 410, 3. Ray Allen Kulhanek 377, 4. Brady Bacon 375, 5. Robert Ballou 365, 6. Casey Shuman 355, 7. Matt Sherrell 353, 8. Wayne Johnson 341, 9. J.C. Bland 339, 10. Zach Chappell 328.