Sweet Sensation in Friday’s Short Track Nationals Qualifier!

Brad Sweet
Brad Sweet

From Lonnie Wheatley

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 29, 2010) – California native Brad Sweet made the most of his first visit to I-30 Speedway since 2006 by wiring the field in Friday night’s 25-lap preliminary feature at the 23rd Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.

Gunning into the lead from the front row outside and setting the pace throughout the non-stop affair aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing Ollie’s Bargain Outlet No. 49 entry, Sweet became the second first time winner in as many nights of Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National competition at I-30 Speedway’s Short Track Nationals.

“I grew up on tracks just like this, Placerville and Chico, they’re both small quarter miles,” Sweet explained of the high-banked, ¼-mile I-30 Speedway clay oval. “I just can’t believe how many cars are here and how much competition is here, it’s always fun to be able to show up and beat all these guys.”

With 70 cars on hand Friday amounting to an STN record total of 125 competitors after 55 took to the track on Thursday, Sweet beat Indiana’s Brandon Wimmer to the stripe in the main event, while Ohio’s Chad Kemenah outdueled hometown hero Tim Crawley for the third and final lock-in position to Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win, $2,300-to-start STN finale at Hammer Hill.

Sweet, Wimmer and Kemenah join Thursday night’s top three (Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Sammy Swindell and Greg Wilson) in Saturday night’s Dash for Cash to set the alignment of the first three rows of the STN finale, with the balance of the star-studded 125-car field left to battle it out for the remaining 14 starting positions in the 40-lap championship main event.

While Kemenah led the feature field to the green flag after accumulating the most points through heat race and qualifying race action, it was outside front row starter Sweet gunning into the lead at the drop of the green flag.

Sweet gradually slipped away as the early laps clicked off, leaving Kemenah to fend off fourth-starter Wimmer. Sweet’s lead had reached nearly a straightaway by the tenth round, when Wimmer finally swept around the high side of Kemenah exiting turn four on the tenth circuit.

As traffic came into play on the 12th circuit, Wimmer began to nibble away at Sweet’s advantage and closed to within a few car-lengths until a near spin exiting turn four in the waning circuits allowed Sweet to stretch his lead again.

“That lapped car was racing me like he was racing for the win, but we’re happy where we’re at,” Wimmer explained of the near miss afterward.

Sweet raced on to the checkered flag to lock into his second career STN finale in as many attempts after starting the 2006 main event aboard a second Jesse Hockett entry, with STN rookie contender Wimmer pedaling Gaerte power to a close runner-up finish.

Behind the lead duo, Kemenah and 1998 STN champion Tim Crawley diced for that critical third position over the final ten laps. The pair swapped the position several times, with Kemenah making the late move to secure the show position in Ron Hammons’ No. 6.

“I saw the two to go and knew it was win it or wear it, we’re gonna try it,” Kemenah explained after locking into his third STN finale in as many attempts and first since an 18th place finish in 2004.

Crawley finished one position shy of a lock-in by crossing the stripe fourth in Mike Ward’s No. 88, with 2001 STN champion Jason Sides advancing a handful of positions to round out the top five in the familiar Sides No. 7s entry.

Justin Carver, also in his first STN effort, turned in a strong run by crossing the stripe in sixth, with Danny Lasoski, Brian Brown, Danny Wood and Tim Kaeding completing the top ten.

Eighteen of Friday night’s 20 feature starters were still around for the checkered flag.

After Connecticut shoe David Gravel was the only STN rookie contender to make the Thursday feature, three rookie contenders made Friday’s feature including Wimmer, Carver and ASCS Northwest champion Jason Solwold, who crossed the stripe 12th.

Crawley, Randy Hannagan, Zach Pringle, Wood, Carver, Ernie Ainsworth, Matt Covington, 13-year-old Nic Jenkins and Brooke Tatnell topped Friday night’s heat race action, with Lasoski, Wood, Brian Brown, Solwold and Wimmer winning the qualifiers.

The night got off to a wild start when Wade Human got some air and tumbled off the exit of turn two on the opening lap of the first heat race. Human was unharmed but done for the night.

Slated to start the second qualifying race from the pole position, defending Lucas Oil ASCS National champion Shane Stewart looped his car in turn three before getting to the green flag after contact and missed the feature cut after only getting back up to fifth after restarting at the tail.

Kyle Larson was vying for a potential transfer position when he slipped a little too high entering turn one on the final lap of the first qualifier and turned over as he pressed the limits of the embankment.

Saturday night’s 23rd Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires championship finale gets under way at 7:00 p.m.

23rd Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Friday Night Results:

Heat Races:

First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 9s-Justin Sturch, 3. 9w-Lane Whittington, 4. 30-Brandon Corn, 5. 75-Tyler Blank, 6. 7hx-Chris Morgan, 7. 17bb-Brad Bowden, 8. 7w-Wade Human.

Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 22h-Randy Hannagan, 2. 141-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 3. 93s-Chris Sweeney, 4. 01-Danny Lasoski, 5. 3m-Mark Shirshekan, 6. 26s-Jon Stinson, 7. 87b-Kent Buckley, 8. 38-Rick Pringle.

Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 8z-Zach Pringle, 2. 6k-Chad Kemenah, 3. 21v-Taylor Velasquez, 4. 57-Shane Stewart, 5. 75L-Kyle Larson, 6. 87a-Andrew Marshala, 7. 33-Mark Huddleston, 8. 55c-Donnie Ray Crawford.

Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 94-Danny Wood, 2. 7s-Jason Sides, 3. 21b-Brian Brown, 4. 10a-Ricky Logan, 5. 51s-Lee Sowell, 6. 24-Justin Carver, 7. 50z-Zach Chappell, 8. 59-Marty Stanford.

Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 24-Justin Carver, 2. 58x-Wade Oliver, 3. 22s-Robbie Standridge, 4. 20s-Sheldon Barksdale, 5. 21tx-Brandon Schure, 6. 17w-Brad Welborn, 7. 17g-Jimmy Brooks, 8. 5g-Dave Glennon.

Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 40a-Ernie Ainsworth, 2. 85-Jerry Bell, 3. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 4. 14z-Jessica Zemken, 5. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 6. 19-Klint Angelette, 7. 3a-A.G. Rains, 8. 3g-Darren Long.

Seventh Heat (10 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, 2. 90-Jeff Swindell, 3. 1g-Cody Gardner, 4. 11x-Garry Lee Maier, 5. 14e-Tommy Bryant, 6. 53d-Jack Dover, 7. 40j-Junior Jenkins. DNS: 53T-Charles Tankersley.

Eighth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 1h-Nic Jenkins, 2. 55s-Jason Solwold, 3. 7tw-Brandon Wimmer, 4. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 5. 5m-Miranda Arnold, 6. 58f-Gary Floyd, 7. 17b-Ryan Bickett.

Ninth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 3x-Brooke Tatnell, 2. 49-Brad Sweet, 3. 29-Tim Kaeding, 4. 60-Eric Sandage, 5. 84-Ben Wagoner, 6. 40h-Andy Huston, 7. 11xx-Chad Corken.

Qualifying Races – Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into “A” Main; Balance of 20-car Feature Field comprised of Top 15 Overall Points Accumulated Through Heats & Qualifiers (Feature Lined up according to total points)

First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 01-Danny Lasoski, 2. 49-Brad Sweet, 3. 8z-Zach Pringle, 4. 88-Tim Crawley, 5. 53d-Jack Dover, 6. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 7. 17bb-Brad Bowden, 8. 5g-Dave Glennon, 9. 75L-Kyle Larson, 10. 33-Mark Huddleston, 11. 58x-Wade Oliver, 12. 30-Brandon Corn, 13. 84-Ben Wagoner, 14. 87a-Andrew Marshala.

Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 94-Danny Wood, 2. 29-Tim Kaeding, 3. 90-Jeff Swindell, 4. 24-Justin Carver, 5. 57-Shane Stewart, 6. 3m-Mark Shirshekan, 7. 14e-Tommy Bryant, 8. 50z-Zach Chappell, 9. 20s-Sheldon Barksdale, 10. 9w-Lane Whittington, 11. 38-Rick Pringle, 12. C4-Casey Rowland, 13. 17b-Ryan Bickett. DNS: 3g-Darren Long.

Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 21b-Brian Brown, 2. 93m-Dustin Morgan, 3. 60-Eric Sandage, 4. 14z-Jessica Zemken, 5. 141-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 6. 22h-Randy Hannagan, 7. 40a-Ernie Ainsworth, 8. 51s-Lee Sowell, 9. 26s-Jon Stinson, 10. 87b-Kent Buckley, 11. 59-Marty Wilcox, 12. 19-Klint Angelette, 13. 21v-Taylor Velasquez. DNS: 7w-Wade Human.

Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 55s-Jason Solwold, 2. 6k-Chad Kemenah, 3. 10a-Ricky Logan, 4. 1g-Cody Gardner, 5. 85-Jerry Bell, 6. 3a-A.G. Rains, 7. 95-Matt Covington, 8. 17w-Brad Welborn, 9. 5m-Miranda Arnold, 10. 55c-Donnie Ray Crawford, 11. 93s-Chris Sweeney, 12. 40h-Andy Huston, 13. 17g-Jimmy Brooks, 14. 1h-Nic Jenkins.

Fifth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 7tw-Brandon Wimmer, 2. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 3. 3x-Brooke Tatnell, 4. 7s-Jason Sides, 5. 22s-Robbie Standridge, 6. 9s-Justin Sturch, 7. 21tx-Brandon Schure, 8. 11x-Garry Lee Maier, 9. 7hx-Chris Morgan, 10. 58f-Gary Floyd, 11. 11xx-Chad Corken, 12. 40j-Junior Jenkins. DNS: 75b-Tyler Blank, 53T-Charles Tankersley.

“A” Feature – Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night’s $15,000 to win STN Finale.

A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 49-Brad Sweet (2), 2. 7tw-Brandon Wimmer (4), 3. 6k-Chad Kemenah (1), 4. 88-Tim Crawley (5), 5. 7s-Jason Sides (10), 6. 24-Justin Carver (8), 7. 01-Danny Lasoski (9), 8. 21b-Brian Brown (3), 9. 94-Danny Wood (7), 10. 29-Tim Kaeding (6), 11. 10a-Ricky Logan (16), 12. 55s-Jason Solwold (12), 13. 90-Jeff Swindell (11), 14. 141-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (14), 15. 60-Eric Sandage (13), 16. 14k-Kyle Bellm (15), 17. 8z-Zach Pringle (17), 18. 3x-Brooke Tatnell (19), 19. 93m-Dustin Morgan (18), 20. 1g-Cody Gardner (20).

Lap Leaders: Brad Sweet 1-25.

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Video Highlights courtesy of High Vista Video