From Lonnie Wheatley
TUCSON, Ariz. (November 18, 2010) – North Dakota’s Donny Schatz and Phoenix shoe R.J. Johnson took center stage as the 43rd Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships kicked off Thursday night atop the 3/8-mile USA Raceway clay oval.
Schatz raced into the lead on the fifth round en route to a convincing victory in the 25-lap Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National feature event to earn the pole position for Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win Western World Championships main event, becoming the 100th different winner in ASCS National history in the process.
Johnson swept into the lead on the ninth round of the 25-lap ASCS Canyon Region main event and went on to earn the pole for Saturday night’s $5,000-to-win wingless feature with his sixth series win of the year.
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters (Winged)
It had been a while since Donny Schatz had started a Lucas Oil ASCS National feature event. In fact, the last time the Fargo, ND, resident competed in an ASCS National event, he was an 18-year-old enjoying some Florida sun back in February of 1996.
Now, more than 14 years later, Schatz again crossed paths with the Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National series and came away with a resounding victory aboard the Tony Stewart Racing Bass Pro Shops No. 20 entry.
“Our next year is starting today, so we’re happy to be in victory lane,” Schatz commented. “We learned from it, we’ll be able to watch tomorrow, come back Saturday night and try to win the Western World!”
After starting the feature from the third position, Schatz charged past early pacesetter Sam Hafertepe, Jr., on the fifth round and never looked back as he sliced through traffic at a frantic pace much of the way.
Schatz explained of the traffic, “That’s what makes racing fun, that’s the stuff as a driver that you itch for.”
Schatz took the checkered flag nearly a half lap ahead of 20-year-old Nebraska shoe Jack Dover, who wrestled second away from Hafertepe just past the midway point and then outlasted Sammy Swindell over the waning circuits to secure the runner-up position aboard the Shaver-powered 3D Auto Transport No. 53 Eagle.
Defending Western World winner Swindell settled for the show position in the Big Game Tree Stands No. 1, while 21-year-old Cody Darrah of Red Lion, PA, made the most of his first Lucas Oil ASCS National feature start by charging from the 17th starting position to fourth.
Hafertepe slipped to fifth in the wild scramble for position over the final half of the race, with pole starter Gary Wright crossing the stripe in sixth.
After suffering engine woes while leading on the final lap of the “B” Main, Brady Bacon used a provisional to start the main event and raced from 23rd to seventh to lock into Saturday’s Western World finale, with Tony Bruce, Jr., taking the eighth and final lock-in position.
Michael Dupuy fell one position shy of locking in with a ninth-place showing, with Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Channin Tankersley completing the top ten.
Thursday’s feature pace was interrupted on three occasions, the first when sixth-running Zach Chappell clipped an infield tire exiting turn four and spun to the infield. Chappell rejoined the chase and salvaged a 13th-place finish.
The red flag flew after eight laps when California’s Andy Gregg got upside down in turn two, with the final caution appearing with 14 laps in the books when Aaron Berryhill came to a stop in turn two.
Following the start and each caution, it took little more than four laps for the leaders to reach traffic on the high-speed 3/8-mile clay oval.
Hafertepe, Calvin Landis, Tankersley and Wright topped heat races for Thursday night’s 30 Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters contenders, with Darrah taking “B” Main honors after Bacon lost power on the final circuit.
The balance of the 60-plus field of winged Lucas Oil ASCS competitors hits the track in Friday’s qualifying event.
ASCS Canyon Region (Wingless)
R.J. Johnson carried the hot hand into this year’s edition of the Western World Championships with victories in four of the seven most recent ASCS Canyon Region events.
Johnson continued that momentum on Thursday night at USA Raceway, driving around Johnny Herrera on the top side on the ninth round and racing on to his sixth ASCS Canyon Region win of the year and third in a row aboard the Michael Brothers Racing Ford-powered Mammoth Sound No. 77m Sherman.
“Once we got our momentum up there, we were pretty good, this thing was set up on a rail,” Johnson explained. “This is the biggest win of my career so far, now we’ve just gotta try to get Saturday.”
While Sherman started Thursday’s 25-lap feature from the front row outside, it was Gary Taylor gunning into the lead from the pole position and leading the initial pair of circuits before seventh-starter Herrera raced by on the low side with Johnson and eighth-starter Shane Cottle following suit within the next pair of laps.
After fifth-runner Joshua Hodges slapped the wall exiting turn four on the ninth lap and was fortunate to escape with just right rear damage, Johnson took to the topside and powered by Herrera exiting turn four to take command.
Herrera tried to keep pace, but even after a Matt Rossi flip on the 19th lap that brought out a red flag, the Albuquerque shoe was no match for Johnson who took the checkered flag with a 1.271-second advantage.
Herrera settled for second, while current ASCS Canyon Region points leader and defending series champion Charles Davis, Jr., charged from 17th to take the show position and lock up a second consecutive series championship.
California’s Colby Copeland raced through the field as well with a run from 14th to fourth, with Indiana’s Cottle rounding out the top five.
Kyle Larson claimed sixth, with Kansas’ Chris Morgan prevailing in the duel for the seventh and final lock-in position to Saturday night’s $5,000-to-win wingless Western World Championship main event.
Taylor was next across the stripe in eighth, with Dustin Morgan and Rick Ziehl completing the top ten.
The initial attempt to start Thursday’s feature quickly went red when fifth-starter Bud Kaeding slapped the wall exiting turn two and went for a wild ride down the backstretch, with Ronnie Clark turning over in the melee as well. Both drivers were uninjured.
Taylor, Herrera and Hodges topped heat race action for Thursday’s 24 ASCS Canyon Region competitors, with Charles Davis, Jr., winning a tumultuous “B” Main in which Chris Beal and Patrick Krob went for a wild, injury-free double ride entering turn one.
The balance of the 50-plus field of wingless ASCS Canyon Region competitors hits the track in Friday’s qualifying event.
43rd Annual Kronik Energy Drink Western World Championships
Thursday Qualifying Results
USA Raceway – Tucson, AZ
Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters (Winged Cars):
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 20-Donny Schatz, 3. 95-Matt Covington, 4. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 5. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 6. 1x-J.T. Imperial, 7. 5h-Mason Moore, 8. 57x-Steve Stone.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 79-Calvin Landis, 2. 2L-Logan Forler, 3. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 4. 21c-Justyn Cox, 5. 99-Brady Bacon, 6. 19-Wes Wofford, 7. 21tx-Brandon Schure, 8. 98m-Mitch Olson.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 71-Channin Tankersley, 2. 1-Sammy Swindell, 3. 53-Jack Dover, 4. 15-Bud Goodwin, 5. 53x-Andy Gregg, 6. 55-Trey Starks, 7. 1p-Curtis Evans.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 9x-Gary Wright, 2. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 3. 3x-Michael Dupuy, 4. 50z-Zach Chappell, 5. 89-Cody Darrah, 6. 22j-John Gaston, 7. 31-Brandon Berryman.
“B” Main (Top 6 Advance to “A” Main):
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 89-Cody Darrah, 2. 53x-Andy Gregg, 3. 55-Trey Starks, 4. 5h-Justyn Cox, 5. 1x-J.T. Imperial, 6. 22j-John Gaston, 7. 15-Bud Goodwin, 8. 99-Brady Bacon, 9. 21tx-Brandon Schure, 10. 31-Brandon Berryman, 11. 19-Wes Wofford, 12. 57x-Steve Stone, 13. 1p-Curtis Evans. DNS: 98m-Mitch Olson.
Lucas Oil ASCS Western World Thursday Preliminary Feature (Top 8 Lock into Saturday’s “A” Main):
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 20-Donny Schatz, 2. 53-Jack Dover, 3. 1-Sammy Swindell, 4. 89-Cody Darrah, 5. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 6. 9x-Gary Wright, 7. 99-Brady Bacon, 8. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 9. 3x-Michael Dupuy, 10. 71-Channin Tankersley, 11. 79-Calvin Landis, 12. 2L-Logan Forler, 13. 50z-Zach Chappell, 14. 5h-Mason Moore, 15. 95-Matt Covington, 16. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 17. 21c-Justyn Cox, 18. 55-Trey Starks, 19. 1x-J.T. Imperial, 20. 22j-John Gaston, 21. 77-Dalten Gabbard, 22. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 23. 53x-Andy Gregg.
Lap Leaders: Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1-4, Donny Schatz 5-25.
Note: Brady Bacon utilized his third overall and first partial-point provisional of the year to start the main event. Bacon has one partial-point provisional remaining.
ASCS Canyon Region (Non-Wing Cars):
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 12T-Gary Taylor, 2. 16b-Bud Kaeding, 3. 33-Matt Rossi, 4. 19-Andrew Reinbold, 5. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 6. 11-Danny Sheridan, 7. 6c-Rex Calderwood, 8. 8x-Chris Beal, 9. 20x-Shon Deskins.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 2. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 3. 93-Justin Quinn, 4. 74-Colby Copeland, 5. 17-Chris Morgan, 6. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 7. 0-Jimmy Crawford.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 2. 6-Ronnie Clark, 3. 71-Kyle Larson, 4. 8b-Shane Cottle, 5. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 6. 32b-Brian Hosford, 7. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 8. 5-Patrick Krob.
“B” Main (Top 4 Advance to “A” Main):
“B” Feature (10 Laps): 1. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 2. 32b-Brian Hosford, 3. 20x-Shon Deskins, 4. 6c-Rex Calderwood, 5. 8az-Jordan Stetson, 6. 8x-Chris Beal, 7. 5-Patrick Krob. DNS: 0-Jimmy Crawford.
ASCS Canyon Region Western World Thursday Preliminary Feature (Top 7 Lock into Saturday’s “A” Main):
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 4. 74-Colby Copeland, 5. 8b-Shane Cottle, 6. 71-Kyle Larson, 7. 17-Chris Morgan, 8. 12T-Gary Taylor, 9. 93x-Dustin Morgan, 10. 20z-Rick Ziehl, 11. 19-Andrew Reinbold, 12. 11-Danny Sheridan, 13. 32b-Brian Hosford, 14. 6c-Rex Calderwood, 15. 33-Matt Rossi, 16. 20x-Shon Deskins, 17. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 18. 93-Justin Quinn, 19. 6-Ronnie Clark, 20. 16b-Bud Kaeding.
Lap Leaders: Gary Taylor 1-2, Johnny Herrera 3-8, R.J. Johnson 9-25.