By Lonnie Wheatley, Tim Aylwin photo
, KILGORE, Texas (March 12, 2011) – National Sprint Car Hall of Fame bound Gary Wright took full advantage of a late caution flag to win Saturday night’s 25-lap season-opening The Oil Medics ASCS Lone Star Region main event atop the newly reconfigured 3/8-mile Lone Star Speedway clay oval.
Reigning ASCS Lone Star champion Eric Baldaccini paced the initial 21 circuits before a late caution flag set the table for the Hooks, TX, veteran to pounce upon his 16th career ASCS Regional triumph to go along with an all-time best 126 Lucas Oil ASCS National scores.
While Wright tacked another feature win on to his legendary career, the night was highlighted by Travis Rilat’s successful return to the seat after critical burns less than eight months ago. Rilat needed just three laps to race from sixth to win his heat race and then claimed third in the feature behind Wright and Matt Covington.
As Wright started the feature from seventh aboard his No. 9 entry, Baldaccini led the way to the green flag with George White alongside. Gunning into the lead at the outset, Baldaccini was closing in on a fourth career ASCS Lone Star triumph when a caution flew after 21 laps for Jeffrey Newell’s stalled mount.
With Baldanccini’s left rear tire low on air pressure and Wright on his tailtank on the restart, “The Texan” charged into the lead and raced on to the checkered flag as Baldaccini lost several positions in the closing circuits. Covington, a Lucas Oil National Sprint Car winner at Lone Star Speedway last year, claimed runner-up honors with Rilat in the show position. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., climbed from eighth to fourth, with Baldaccini rounding out the top five.
White was sixth, with Martin Edwards, Travis Elliott, Beau Smith and 15th-starter Justin Melton completing the top ten.
Baldaccini, Covington, Rilat and White topped heat race action for the 28-car field, with Newell winning the 12-lap “B” Main.
The Oil Medics ASCS Lone Star Region Results from Lone Star Speedway:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 2. 14-Michael Lang, 3. 33-Mark Huddleston, 4. 11-Justin Melton, 5. 20-Chad Wilson, 6. 15b-Curtis Wayne Brown, 7. 7w-Dustin Welch.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, 2. 15T-Travis Elliott, 3. 51-Beau Smith, 4. 76-John Ricketts, 5. 17w-Brad Welborn, 6. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr., 7. 12w-Dale Wester.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 29-Travis Rilat, 2. 45-Martin Edwards, 3. 40-Junior Jenkins, 4. 74e-Claud Estes, 5. 11x-Jeffrey Newell, 6. 36-John Pate, 7. 15d-Brady Demeree.
Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. 10-George White, 2. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 3. 9-Gary Wright, 4. 64j-Johnny Miller, 5. 79-Ryan Hall, 6. 14b-Robert Byrom, 7. 54-Evan Pardo.
“B” Main (12 Laps): 1. 11x-Jeffrey Newell, 2. 17w-Brad Welborn, 3. 64j-Johnny Miller, 4. 36-John Pate, 5. 79-Ryan Hall, 6. 14b-Robert Byrom, 7. 15d-Brady Demeree, 8. 54-Evan Pardo, 9. 17-Bruce Griffith, Jr., 10. 7w-Dustin Welch, 11. 15b-Curtis Wayne Brown. DNS: 12w-Dale Wester.
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 9-Gary Wright, 2. 95-Matt Covington, 3. 29-Travis Rilat, 4. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 5. 4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 10-George White, 7. 45-Martin Edwards, 8. 15T-Travis Elliott, 9. 51-Beau Smith, 10. 11-Justin Melton, 11. 74e-Claud Estes, 12. 17w-Brad Welborn, 13. 76-John Ricketts, 14. 40-Junior Jenkins, 15. 36-John Pate, 16. 33-Mark Huddleston, 17. 20-Chad Wilson, 18. 14-Michael Lang, 19. 11x-Jeffrey Newell, 20. 64j-Johnny Miller.
The Oil Medics ASCS Lone Star Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Gary Wright 150, 2. Matt Covington 142, 3. Travis Rilat 135, 4. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 130, 5. Eric Baldaccini 125, 6. George White 122, 7. Martin Edwards 119, 8. Travis Elliott 116, 9. Beau Smith 113, 10. Justin Melton 110.