From John Lemon
Ada, OK — (May 14, 2011) — Like the old saying goes, “When your hot, your hot” and Moore Oklahoma’s Whit “The Gasman” Gastineau is on fire. At the Oklahoma Sports Park in Ada, the Gasman pulled a restart power move with just four laps to go on Norman Oklahoma’s Danny Jennings enroot to his third consecutive Oil Capital Racing Series main event conquest in the third annual “Harold Leep Jr. Memorial event.
Jennings took the led immediately from the drop of the green flag in his Goodyear Tires / Lucas Oil / Car and Fleet sprinter from the pole position which was earned by virtue of his Dash for Cash event win earlier in the evenings program. The Gasman started outside of the front row and dropped in behind the Norman bullet as they swept through turns three and four. Fourth heat winner Rafe Essary and second heat winner Chris Burns, making his first sprint car start since 2009, followed behind the front tandem.
Jennings would lead throughout the feature and had to endure several stoppages along the way. The first occurred on lap four when the red was displayed for a flip by Brandon Jennings in turn three. Jennings was done for the night but otherwise OK. The race was just into lap five when a yellow flag was unfurled for a spin by Andrew Deal in turn four. Deal was sitting in the center of the track and was collected by Kerry McAlister ending the night for both.
Once underway, flagman J.D. Etter dropped yet another yellow flag before a lap would be complete when Kyle Clark would come to a halt between turns three and four. He would restart at the tail. The restart would see Jennings in command, Gasman second followed by Essary, Burns, Kyle Cobb, Danny Smith, Mike Goodman (up from 15th), Johnny Kent, Joe Bob Lee, Matt Sherrell (up from 17th) and Gary Owens, who was up from 18th.
On the restart, Smith would overtake Cobb going through turns one and two and Goodman would do the same to Kent a lap later. Owens and Sherrell were waging a fight of their own between the ninth row starters with Owens, from Pauls Valley, taking eighth from the Owasso Oklahoma speedster. A yellow would fly yet again shortly after and this time it was 2011 OCRS rookie of the year contender Josh Toho who would be sitting idle in turn three with a mechanical failure. On the ensuing restart, Kent would slide up and over the edge of turns one and two and find himself at the tail end by the time he recovered.
Jennings and Gastineau would put several car lengths between themselves and the field as the laps began to click off. Cobb would lose several spots when he would get too high in turn three on lap fifteen. Lap sixteen would see the cars of Burns, who was driving a team car from the Scott Waddell racing stables, and Smith get together on the back straight and find themselves locked together. Burns would be towed in while Smith restarted.
The restart would not only see Jennings and Gasman ready to square off again, but with Essary holding down a quiet third and with Burns and Smith out of the pecking order, those back marker starters of Goodman, Sherrell and Owens were lined up fourth – sixth and all three were looking for more victims. Another yellow, brought out by a Cobb spin in turn four, halted action two laps after the restart. Cobb would not rejoin the field for the finish. Jennings had survived every stoppage presented to him then came lap nineteen.
Another yellow was brought out for a restart spin by Blanchard’s Jeremy Allen in turn four and that would prove to be a pinnacle factor in the outcome. Gastineau timed his restart maneuver to perfection and he overtook Jennings as the two screamed down the front chute and sailed into turn one. The Gasman would get around Jennings for the top spot with the well timed move While all this was taking place, Goodman’s excellent run from the back hit a snag when he sailed high in turns one and two thus loosing four positions back to eighth. The night’s final yellow came out when Jeff Leep, son of Harold Jr, spun to a stop in turn two. At this point, the OCRS officials called for a green white checker finish.
Gastineau, in his Goodyear / Shell Rapid Lube / Larry Allen Racing Engines / Eagle sprinter would fend off the final challenge presented by Jennings for the win. Sherrell and Owens would each overtake Essary in the waning laps to complete excellent runs by both drivers as each passed fourteen cars to equal the best passing jobs by a given driver in the feature.
In B-Feature action, Sherrell won a thriller over Deal by nipping the Dewey driver at the finish line in the first of two semi mains. In the second last chance affair, Owens was victorious with 16 year old Harli White, driving a Larry Neighbors racing entry holding off Sean McClelland for the final transfer position. White, a standout in micro sprint racing, was running just her second ever sprint car event. McClelland entered the nights action as the OCRS points leader.
With the OSP win, Gastineau finds himself at the top of the points chase by a mere five markers over Sherrell (329-324). Essary (314 pts) moves into the third spot with McClelland (287) slipping to fourth. Smith (271) rounds out the top five.
The next event for the OCRS racing series is round number five at Kerry Gorby’s Caney Valley Speedway in Caney Kansas next Friday night, May 20th.
Gastineau: When asked about not being able to take the lead after multiple restarts: “I really wasn’t to worried about it. I knew my car was pretty much horrible in the beginning of the race but I thought it (track) would take on rubber and it pretty much did. I was pretty good those last 5-10 laps and I knew we were just as good as he (Jennings) was and I was pretty much watching his line and was adjusting mine just a little bit. I don’t know if we would have gotten around him in lapped traffic or on one of those restarts.”
On the winning move: “I dove underneath him (turn one) and slid up in front of him. I thought he was going to slide back underneath me and get me back there (turn two) but I just kept my line and we were fast. I hammered the right front and right rear tires pretty good. We were fortunate to finish. We finished without the Jacob ladder hooked up and had a bent right rear wheel. I hadn’t hit the bottom (spot in turn one) good all night and neither had he, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to hold or not, but I was going to take a chance. I was kind of scared about third place getting up there but I thought if I could get a good enough of a run, I could dive underneath him and make it stick.”
Jennings: “Racing is racing and I’ve been a bridesmaid here about the last six times or so we have raced here, but we will take what we can get and go onto another race.”
About trying to get the lead back: “I was trying some long slide jobs to where I could try to gather him (Gastineau) back up where I could do something with him but it just wasn’t going to happen. It started to rubber down in one lane and who ever was there in the lane, that’s where you were going to finish. There wasn’t much passing that was going to happen up there. If it weren’t for all the ‘start – stops’, it probably would have been a different story but the last one just got me.’
Sherrell: “I think it kind of helped out that I got to run the B feature. I had to start in the back because of that but I learned a lot about the track from that. We had a couple of breaks with the restarts in the beginning then again, the restarts kind of killed us. We would stumble on the restarts and they would get away from us and we would have to catch back up. Im really proud of this car and the crew tonight. I have to thank Don and Pat for letting me drive this thing. I found if I went up high and diamond down (the car) into the rubber in turns one and two, it worked a lot better. I used the banking to my advantage.”
Owens: About his 18th to fourth run: “It was a lot of luck. We had a few cars that went over the edge and we just capped on it and we had the car set up just perfect. We just had a lot of luck and some skill I guess. We set up our car a lot tighter than most and we just kind of came up through there. It seemed we made up most of our ground in turns one and two on a bunch of them.”
Oklahoma Sports Park
Race date: May 14, 2011 – Event 4
1. Johnny Kent 2. Danny Smith 3. Jeremy Allen 4.Kyle Cobb 5.Harli White 6.Travis Jenkins 7.Frank Dittman 8. Fred Mattox 9. Brent Merchant 10. Chuck Bellefeuille
1. Chris Burns 2. Joe Bob Lee 3. Jamie Passmore 4.Shayla Waddell 5. Andrew Deal 6.Sean McClelland 7. Kacee Frazier 8. Matt Sherrell 9. Larry Neighbors
1. Danny Jenkins 2. Josh Toho 3. Kerry McAlister 4. Kyle Clark 5. Mike Goodman 6. Tyler Johnson 7. Terry Easum 8. Gary Owens 9. Time Kent
1.Rafe Essary 2. Brandon Jennings 3. Whit Gastineau 4. Jeff Leep 5. Beau Gastineau 6. Brent Swift 7. Casey Wills 8. Justin Allen 9. Jeff Garnett
Dash for Cash
1. Danny Jenkins 2. Whit Gastineau 3. Rafe Essary 4. Chris Burns 5. Kyle Clark 6.Johnny Kent
1st B Feature (Top 2 Transfer)
1. Matt Sherrell 2. Andrew Deal 3. Frank Dittman 4. Shayla Waddell 5. Travis Jenkins 6. Tyler Johnson 7. Brent Merchant 8. Justin Allen 9. Chuck Bellefeuille 10. Casey Wills 11. Tim Kent (DNS)
2nd B Feature (Top 2 Transfer)
1. Gary Owens 2.Harli White 3. Sean McCelland 4. Terry Easum 5. Brent Swift 6. Beau Gastineau 7. Kacee Frazier 8. Fred Maddox 9.Jeff Garnett 10. Larry Neighbors
1. Whit Gastineau 2. Danny Jennings 3. Matt Sherrell 4. Gary Owens 5. Rafe Essary 6. Joe Bob Lee 7. Mike Goodman 8. Jaime Passmore 9. Kyle Clark 10. Danny Smith 11. Harli White 12. Johnny Kent 13. Jeremy Allen 14. Jeff Leep 15. Kyle Cobb 16. Chris Burns 17. Josh Toho 18. Andrew Deal 19. Kerry McAlister 20. Brandon Jennings