By Lonnie Wheatley
, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 16, 2011) – Gary Wright ended the longest winless streak of his Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National career by racing to victory lane in Saturday night’s 35-lap main event atop the high-banked, ¼-mile I-30 Speedway clay oval.
Wright slipped under race-long leader Brad Bowden in turns one and two on the 19th circuit and went on to post his 127th career ASCS National win and first since October of 2009 in front of Jeff Swindell, with past series champions Tim Crawley, Shane Stewart and Jason Johnson rounding out the top five.
“It just feels good to win again, especially here at I-30 Speedway, this place has kind of been like a second home to me,” Wright commented after the triumph aboard his own No. 9 Maxim entry.
With the $6,000 score, Wright became the eighth different winner in as many Lucas Oil ASCS National events thus far in 2011 while also snapping a victory drought of 49 features dating back to 2009 Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals preliminary action.
“I talked with one of the top Outlaw guys last year and he said that this ASCS National deal is without a doubt the toughest racing series out there, with the format and as many good cars as there are, there’s no tougher series in the country,” Wright explained.
When informed that fellow fifty-plus member Jeff Swindell took runner up honors, Wright concluded that, “I guess us old guys put it on the young ones tonight!”
After chasing Swindell to the stripe in Friday night’s preliminary, “The Texan” redrew the front row outside starting position with 23-year-old Mississippi shoe Brad Bowden, the night’s top point earner in heat race action, drawing the pole position.
Bowden and Wright raced wheel-to-wheel through the opening lap with Bowden holding the advantage at the stripe and then wading through three early tangles, including a red flag after two laps for a Zach Chappell flip in turn two. Chappell, who flipped in heat race action as well and then made a last-lap pass in “B” Main action to earn a transfer, was done for the night.
Back under way, Bowden led the way on the topside ahead of Wright and Sam Hafertepe, Jr., with Wright moving in to challenge as Bowden closed on the tail of the field only to have the caution fly after ten laps when Wade Oliver came to a stop in turn four.
The final 25 laps ran off in non-stop fashion, with Bowden keeping Wright at bay once again until traffic came into play. Testing the low side of the track paid dividends for Wright, as he reeled in Bowden and drove by in turns one and two on the 19th circuit to take command.
While Wright led the way, Swindell had slipped past Hafertepe for third on the lap eleven restart and then followed Wright’s lead with a move around Bowden for second on the 22nd round. Wright was flawless through lapped traffic though, keeping Swindell nearly a half straightaway behind.
Boxed in behind a pair of backmarkers over the final lap, Wright’s advantage diminished but proved to be enough as he took the checkered flag a half-dozen car-lengths ahead of Swindell’s Roush/Yates Ford-powered Davis Paint & Drywall No. 28 Maxim.
After starting seventh, Tim Crawley moved around Shane Stewart for fifth by the 15th lap, disposed of Hafertepe for third by the 20th round and then picked off Bowden for third by the 30th lap. Crawley held the show position to the line to post his best series finish of the year aboard Mike Ward’s Lucas Oil/Boater Sports No. 88 GF1.
Current series point leader Stewart took over fourth in the closing circuits aboard Paul Silva’s Wesmar-powered Rockstar Energy Drink No. 57 A.R.T., with defending series champion Jason Johnson charging from 18th to round out the top five in the JJR Don Ott-powered Haynes No. 41 Maxim.
Hafertepe was sixth at the line, with Seth Bergman in seventh. Bowden faded to eighth in the closing laps, with Tony Bruce, Jr., rallying from 24th to salvage a ninth place finish after using his second provisional of the year to start the main event after a “B” Main flip on the frontstretch. Danny Wood completed the top ten.
Matt Covington, Logan Forler, Bowden, Bergman and Crawley topped heat race action, with Zach Pringle and Johnson winning the “B” Mains.
After starting sixth in the feature, Forler got a piece of the wall exiting turn four and came to a stop in turn one to bring out the first caution after just one lap. A lap later, Matt Covington got pushed high exiting turn four and spun, collecting Johnny Herrera and Wade Oliver in the process. When Chappell flipped and collected Jerrod Hull and Dustin Morgan on the restart, the work area was a busy place with Covington, Forler, Herrera and Oliver all making quick repairs to rejoin the chase.
Marshall Skinner’s night came to an early end when he flipped the Sparks No. 91 wildly off the turn two embankment on the opening lap of the night’s fourth heat race. Like the night’s other flip victims, Skinner was uninjured.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
I-30 Speedway Results
I-30 Speedway – Little Rock, AR
Locked in from Friday Night’s Preliminary Feature:
28-Jeff Swindell, 57-Shane Stewart, 9-Gary Wright, 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr.
Heat Races (Top 12 in Passing Points, including the 5 heat race winners, to “A” Main; Balance to Two “B” Main):
Heat One (10 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, 2. 14T-Tyler Brown, 3. 5k-Jerry Kamer, 4. 14-Jordon Mallett, 5. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 6. 9x-Justin Sturch, 7. 60-Eric Sandage, 8. 33-Mark Huddleston.
Heat Two (10 Laps): 1. 2L-Logan Forler, 2. 58-Wade Oliver, 3. 01-Jerrod Hull, 4. 12-Dalton Davis, 5. 24-Justin Carver, 6. 2-Dustin Morgan, 7. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 8. 1x-Gary Taylor.
Heat Three (10 Laps): 1. 39-Brad Bowden, 2. 47-Dale Howard, 3. 1h-Nic Jenkins, 4. 8x-Chris Williams, 5. 8z-Zach Pringle, 6. 40x-Ernie Ainsworth, 7. 3-A.G. Rains, 8. 40-Junior Jenkins.
Heat Four (10 Laps): 1. 23-Seth Bergman, 2. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 3. 2x-Bryce Vowan, 4. 41-Jason Johnson, 5. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 6. 38-Rick Pringle, 7. 0-Zach Chappell, 8. 91-Marshall Skinner.
Heat Five (10 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 81-Danny Wood, 3. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 1g-Cody Gardner, 6. 81au-Gavin Punch, 7. 5-Jerod Roller, 8. 44-Ronny Howard.
“B” Main (Top 3 from Each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 8z-Zach Pringle, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 0-Zach Chappell, 4. 8x-Chris Williams, 5. 1x-Gary Taylor, 6. 81au-Gavin Punch, 7. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 8. 3-A.G. Rains, 9. 5k-Jerry Kamer, 10. 44-Ronny Howard, 11. 1g-Cody Gardner, 12. 38-Rick Pringle, 13. 60-Eric Sandage, 14. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 01-Jerrod Hull, 3. 2-Dustin Morgan, 4. 9x-Justin Sturch, 5. 1h-Nic Jenkins, 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 7. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 8. 14-Jordon Mallett, 9. 24-Justin Carver, 10. 40x-Ernie Ainsworth, 11. 5-Jerod Roller, 12. 33-Mark Huddleston, 13. 40-Junior Jenkins. DNS: 91-Marshall Skinner.
I-30 Speedway “A” Main:
“A” Feature (35 Laps): 1. 9-Gary Wright, 2. 28-Jeff Swindell, 3. 88-Tim Crawley, 4. 57-Shane Stewart, 5. 88-Jason Johnson, 6. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 7. 23-Seth Bergman, 8. 39-Brad Bowden, 9. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 10. 81-Danny Wood, 11. 47-Dale Howard, 12. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 13. 99-Brady Bacon, 14. 12-Dalton Davis, 15. 2-Dustin Morgan, 16. 14T-Tyler Brown, 17. 8z-Zach Pringle, 18. 2x-Bryce Vowan, 19. 95-Matt Covington, 20. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 21. 2L-Logan Forler, 22. 01-Jerrod Hull, 23. 58-Wade Oliver, 24. 0-Zach Chappell.
Lap Leaders: Brad Bowden 1-18, Gary Wright 19-35.
Note: Aaron Reutzel and Tony Bruce, Jr., both utilized provisionals to start the main event. It was the second of the year for both.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Driver Points (Top 15): 1. Shane Stewart 1,072, 2. Johnny Herrera 962, 3. Jeff Swindell 956, 4. Tim Crawley 890, 5. Gary Wright 881, 6. Brady Bacon 854, 7. Seth Bergman 844, 8. Aaron Reutzel 793, 9. Tony Bruce, Jr. 790, 10. Zach Chappell 745, 11. Logan Forler 707, 12. Dustin Morgan 690, 13. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 544, 14. Jason Johnson 518, 15. Danny Wood 454.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Owner Points (Top 15): 1. Paul Silva #57 – 1,072, 2. Jason Johnson Racing #41 – 1,070, 3. Herrera/Main #45x – 962, 4. Swindell Group #28 – 956, 5. Mike Ward #88 – 890, 6. Bacon/Tel-Star #99 – 854, 7. Petersen Motorsports #23 844, 8. Kenny Reutzel #87 – 793, 9. Bruce Racing #18 – 790, 10. Cooper/Sperry #01/51 – 774, 11. Randy Washburn #0 – 745, 12. Steve Forler #2L – 707, 13. M&M Motorsports #2 – 690 14. Sam Hafertepe #15 – 544, 15. Danny Wood #81 – 454.