From Lonnie Wheatley, Tim Aylwin photo
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (November 26, 2010) – Just because he makes his living on Sundays in NASCAR’s premier circuit doesn’t mean that Tony Stewart has forgotten his way round a dirt track in a Sprint Car.
“Smoke” proved that on Friday night by racing to his first career triumph in Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National competition to kick off the Inaugural Las Vegas Sprint Car Super Nationals atop the 1/2-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway clay oval.
“It’s fun for me, the hard part is I’m an underdog, I don’t run these things very much,” Stewart explained in victory lane. “It’s fun to race with these guys that are really good in these things, my goal was just to make the “A” Main tonight, let alone win this thing. I’m on top of the world right now.”
Working forward from the third row, Stewart drove around Brian Brown for the lead on the 12th circuit and dashed on to the checkered flag in front of Brown and ninth-starter Jack Dover, with Joey Saldana making a last corner pass of Darren Long for the fourth and final lock-in position to Saturday night’s $6,000-to-win Las Vegas Sprint Car Super Nationals finale.
The two-time Chili Bowl Nationals champ drove the same Bass Pro Shops No. 11 Maxim to victory lane that Steve Kinser won with at Southern New Mexico Speedway two weekends earlier, a weekend in which Stewart’s series debut soured when he destroyed his Old Spice No. 14 mount in a wild heat race ride.
“I’ve got to thank Steve for letting me borrow this car,” Stewart commented. “We crashed our car. Or I crashed our car, it’s always ‘we’ if I crash and it’s ‘I won’ if I win. I was kinda honored that I got to drive Steve Kinser’s car tonight, I don’t think there’s too many guys that have had that opportunity. I’m glad I didn’t let him down.”
There was no stopping Stewart Friday night at Las Vegas, as he cruised to the checkered flag with a 1.879-second advantage over Brown even after a late caution set up a two-lap dash to the stripe.
While Stewart started in the third row alongside fellow TSR shoe Jessica Zemken, it was Ohio’s Darren Long and Missouri’s Brian Brown leading the way to the green flag. However, it was second row starter Sam Hafertepe, Jr., of Sunnyvale, TX, sweeping into the lead on the initial circuit in front of Brown, Long and Stewart.
Hafertepe paced the early rounds until a caution flew for Ben Gregg, who came to a stop in turn two with front end woes after seven circuits. Brown rallied past Hafertepe for the point on the restart, with the next caution flying three laps later when the left sideboard from Hafertepe’s car came off and landed in turn one. Hafertepe pulled it pitside.
Up to third on the restart, Stewart made quick work of Long and then used the topside of the track to take the lead away from Brown on the 12th lap. Stewart weathered another pair of cautions, including one for Lucas Oil ASCS points leader Jason Johnson on the 15th round and then one for Matt Covington with two laps to go, en route to the checkered flag.
Brown held on for the runner-up slot in the FVP No. 21 Maxim, fending off Nebraska’s Jack Dover, who charged from ninth to claim the show position in the Shaver-powered 3D Auto Transport No. 53 Eagle.
After running among the top four throughout, Long surrendered the fourth and final lock-in to Saturday night’s finale in the final corner to Saldana, who charged from the 22nd starting position in the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 9.
Long rounded out the top five in the Joe Gaerte Racing XYZ Machining No. 3g, with Lucas Wolfe, 14th-starter Brady Bacon, 13th-starter Shane Stewart, Michael Dupuy and 16th-starter Donny Schatz completing the top ten.
Despite being credited with a 21st-place finish after cutting a tire and exiting after 15 laps, Jason Johnson escaped the night with a 104-point advantage over Bacon in the $60,000 championship points chase, an amount good enough to lock up a second series championship by simply showing up on Saturday.
Dover, Ricky Logan, Hafertepe, Chris Schmelzle, Dustin Morgan, Zemken, Shane Stewart and Wolfe topped heat race action for the 65-car field, with Covington, Gregg and Tim Kaeding winning the “B” Mains.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
Las Vegas Sprint Car Super Nationals:
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to 3 “B” Mains):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 53-Jack Dover, 2. 3s-John Carney II, 3. 15c-Donny Schatz, 4. 98m-Mitch Olson, 5. 57x-Steve Stone, 6. 90-Lance Norick, 7. 3-R.C. Smith, 8. 18a-Chauncey Filler. DNS: 23n-Gary Taylor.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 10a-Ricky Logan, 2. 3g-Darren Long, 3. 1-Sammy Swindell, 4. 49-Brad Sweet, 5. 39c-Jason Solwold, 6. 2L-Logan Forler. DNS: 45-Martin Edwards, 71-Channin Tankersley.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 21a-Chad Hillier, 3. 88-Tim Crawley, 4. 94T-Steven Tiner, 5. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 6. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 7. 79-Calvin Landis, 8. 74x-Joshua Hodges.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 57c-Chris Schmelzle, 2. 3x-Michael Dupuy, 3. 55-Trey Starks, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 29-Willie Croft, 6. B9-Jayme Barnes, 7. 11x-Chad Corken, 8. 28x-Billy Strange.
Heat Five (8 Laps): 1. 93-Dustin Morgan, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 4. 41j-Joshua Williams, 5. 2b-Ben Gregg, 6. 11-Roger Crockett, 7. 22j-John Gaston, 8. 5h-Mason Moore.
Heat Six (8 Laps): 1. 20-Jessica Zemken, 2. 83-Tim Kaeding, 3. 21-Brian Brown, 4. 1s-Sean McClelland, 5. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 6. 6-Kyle Hirst, 7. 16-David Miller. DNS: 1p-Curtis Evans.
Heat Seven (8 Laps): 1. 57-Shane Stewart, 2. 95-Matt Covington, 3. 41-Jason Johnson, 4. 33-Danny Lasoski, 5. 9-Joey Saldana, 6. 23-Seth Bergman, 7. 50z-Zach Chappell, 8. 10-Jeff Mitrisin.
Heat Eight (8 Laps): 1. 57w-Lucas Wolfe, 2. 11T-Tony Stewart, 3. 31-Brandon Berryman, 4. 9x-Gary Wright, 5. 21c-Justyn Cox, 6. 89-Cody Darrah, 7. 53x-Andy Gregg. DNS: 94-Danny Wood.
“B” Mains (Top 2 From Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, 2. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 21c-Justyn Cox, 4. 50z-Zach Chappell, 5. 1-Sammy Swindell, 6. 55-Trey Starks, 7. 6-Kyle Hirst, 8. 11x-Chad Corken, 9. 5h-Mason Moore, 10. 90-Lance Norick, 11. 57x-Steve Stone, 12. 2L-Logan Forler, 13. 98m-Mitch Olson, 14. 31-Brandon Berryman, 15. 10-Jeff Mitrisin. DNS: 71-Channin Tankersley, 1p-Curtis Evans.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 2b-Ben Gregg, 2. 9x-Gary Wright, 3. 49-Brad Sweet, 4. 41-Jason Johnson, 5. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 6. 3s-John Carney II, 7. 23-Seth Bergman, 8. 94T-Steven Tiner, 9. 29-Willie Croft, 10. 11-Roger Crockett, 11. 79-Calvin Landis, 12. 28x-Billy Strange, 13. 3-R.C. Smith, 14. B9-Jayme Barnes. DNS: 18a-Chauncey Filler, 45-Martin Edwards.
Third “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 83-Tim Kaeding, 2. 9-Joey Saldana, 3. 88-Tim Crawley, 4. 33-Danny Lasoski, 5. 21a-Chad Hillier, 6. 39c-Jason Solwold, 7. 89-Cody Darrah, 8. 1s-Sean McClelland, 9. 53x-Andy Gregg, 10. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 11. 74x-Joshua Hodges, 12. 22j-John Gaston, 13. 16-David Miller, 14. 41j-Joshua Williams. DNS: 94-Danny Wood, 23n-Gary Taylor.
Las Vegas Sprint Car Super Nationals Preliminary “A” Main:
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 11T-Tony Stewart, 2. 21-Brian Brown, 3. 53-Jack Dover, 4. 9-Joey Saldana, 5. 3g-Darren Long, 6. 57w-Lucas Wolfe, 7. 99-Brady Bacon, 8. 57-Shane Stewart, 9. 3x-Michael Dupuy, 10. 15c-Donny Schatz, 11. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 12. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 13. 10a-Ricky Logan, 14. 93-Dustin Morgan, 15. 97b-Aaron Berryhill, 16. 88-Tim Crawley, 17. 20-Jessica Zemken, 18. 95-Matt Covington, 19. 83-Tim Kaeding, 20. 57c-Chris Schmelzle, 21. 41-Jason Johnson, 22. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 23. 2b-Ben Gregg, 24. 9x-Gary Wright.
Lap Leaders: Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1-7, Brian Brown 8-11, Tony Stewart 12-25.
Note: Jason Johnson and Tim Crawley utilized provisionals to start the main event. Johnson utilized his mid-season bonus full-point provisional, while Crawley used his fourth and final provisional of the year.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Points (Top 20): 1. Jason Johnson 3,598, 2. Brady Bacon 3,494, 3. Shane Stewart 3,451, 4. Jack Dover 3,403, 5. Tim Crawley 3,229, 6. Tony Bruce, Jr. 3,123, 7. Zach Chappell 3,013, 8. Kyle Hirst 2,939, 9. Ricky Logan 2,893, 10. Danny Wood 2,889, 11. Matt Covington 2,833, 12. Darren Long 2,691, 13. Dustin Morgan 2,615, 14. Channin Tankersley 2,531, 15. Gary Wright 2,292, 16. Brian Brown 1,898, 17. Justyn Cox 1,739, 18. Johnny Herrera 1,525, 19. Austen Wheatley 1,344, 20. Sammy Swindell 1,194.