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– ELMA, Wash. (July 14, 2013) – Things are moving in the right direction at the right time for Tony Bruce Jr.
He put together one of his most successful weeks of the season with four finishes in the top seven and his first feature victory of the season with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour.
“It’s probably the most consistent week,” he said. “We’ve been pretty fast and pretty consistent lately. Everything is going in the right direction. Every single race we’re in we go forward. That’s the key to racing is always going forward. All we need to do now is start toward the front. Every single night it’s an uphill battle, which we’re overcoming and having good runs.”
After Monday’s event at Billings Motorsports Park in Billings, Mont., was delayed one day because of a storm that ravaged the area, Bruce Jr. charged from fourth to pick up his sixth heat race win of the season on Tuesday. That put him as the second-highest points earner and gave a spot in the feature redraw, where Bruce Jr. pulled the second-highest number – seven – to start the main event on the inside of the fourth row.
“In the A Main we started off really good and halfway through the track changed quite a bit and we couldn’t keep up with it,” he said. “At one point we were up to fourth, but lost a couple of spots toward the end. We faded a little toward the end and that’s not usually our style.”
Bruce Jr. finished sixth, which marked his seventh straight top-10 result.
On Wednesday, Bruce and the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour tackled Electric City Speedway in Great Falls, Mont., where Bruce Jr. maneuvered from fifth to the runner-up position in his heat race to again advance to the feature redraw. However, he got the six in the random draw and started the feature on the outside of the third row.
Bruce Jr. didn’t stay there for long. He climbed to third on the opening lap and took the lead on Lap 3. Bruce Jr. pulled away to a sizeable lead before cautions and traffic kept the field bunched up through the final two thirds of the race.
“We had a really good start and was able to get by everybody really quickly,” he said. “At the beginning of the race we checked out before the track took rubber. I think we were the fastest car in the slick. Once the rubber came the race track was changing every single lap.”
In the waning laps, Bruce Jr. was passed by Brad Loyet and Jason Johnson, who found better rubber lower on the track. However, Bruce Jr. was able to return the favor on the final lap to score the win.
“It was one of those deals where everything played out as perfectly as we could have asked for,” he said. “We were in the right place at the right time to seal the victory.
“The bottom was where I was running almost the entire race. The top started taking rubber so I moved up to the top. I knew the rubber was going to start working itself down so I started moving down. The very bottom started taking rubber and (Loyet and Johnson) were able to get by me. On the last lap, we took the white flag running third. Jason went in a little too high and slid out of the rubber. Brad did the same thing going into three, about a car length too high, and I was able to stick the rubber and take the win. They pretty much left the door open for me and I walked right through it.”
It was his third feature victory of the season and definitely eased a long travel day on Thursday to Grays Harbor Raceway for the weekend doubleheader at the 3/8-mile oval, which was taped for a delayed television broadcast by Lucas Oil Productions.
On Friday, Bruce Jr. advanced from third to second place in his heat race. Once the points were tallied, he was one position out of the feature redraw. After starting ninth on a one-groove track, Bruce Jr. finished seventh.
“We were pretty solid the whole feature,” he said. “It was one of those deals where the top was predominant. We were able to slide a couple of guys and more than anything, it was don’t make any mistakes rather than trying to go forward. It was tough to pass. We’ll take what we got there.”
The track was just as tricky on Saturday, when he drove from fifth to second in his heat race to place one spot out of the feature redraw for the second straight night. That lined him up seventh for the 30-lap race.
“We lost a few spots at the beginning,” he said. “I wasn’t necessarily great. Sometimes you’ve got to be patient and play it out at the end of the race. We were able to start working the bottom. I’m not sure if the bottom got faster, but I think the top slowed down where you could actually race.”
With most of the cars using the cushion around the track, Bruce Jr. took advantage of the bottom groove to rally in the closing laps. He climbed as high as second and was edged by Johnny Herrera for the runner-up position on the final lap.
“Right there toward the end my engine started to lay down,” he said. “We actually broke an exhaust valve. I’m not sure a caution would have helped. Any time you can cross the finish line on a podium, you just brush the sweat off and take it.”
Bruce Jr. will be in action on Friday and Saturday at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour. The doubleheader is scheduled to also be taped for a delayed television broadcast.
QUICK RESULTS –
July 9 – Billings Motorsports Park in Billings, Mont. – Heat race: 1 (4); Feature: 6 (7).
July 10 – Electric City Speedway in Great Falls, Mont. – Heat race: 2 (5); Feature: 1 (6).
July 12 – Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash. – Heat race: 2 (3); Feature: 7 (9).
July 13 – Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash. – Heat race: 2 (5); Feature: 3 (7).
SEASON STATS –
32 races, 3 wins, 14 top fives, 23 top 10s, 30 top 15s, 32 top 20s
UP NEXT –
Friday and Saturday at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS –
Here is a link for RacinBoys’ footage of Bruce Jr.’s victory at Boyd Raceway on April 26: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Bruce Jr. has black and white t-shirts in adult sizes for sale at his race trailer at each of his races. For his schedule, visit http://www.TonyBruceJr.com/
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Wheeler Metals
Established in 1968, Wheeler Metals is a sheet metal business that offers a variety of products for professional and amateur builders. Wheeler Metals has three locations in Muskogee, Okla., Rogers, Ark., and Springfield, Mo. For more information, visit http://www.WheelerMetals.com.
“When I moved to the Tulsa area a few years back we built a brand new shop,” Bruce Jr. said. “We always strive as a race team to find the best products for the situation and that was no different selecting the company to build our building. Wheeler Metals was the perfect fit for our needs. From 10×10 pole barns to 100×100 full metal buildings, they have it all. I challenge anyone to find a building company that will work the customers’ need like they do.”
Bruce Jr. would also like to thank Lubbock Wrecker Service, The Oil Medics, Briley Trucking, Eagle Motorsports, Hinchman Racewear, Smiley’s Racing Products, SWE, Maxwell Industries, FK Rod Ends, ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems, Factory Kahne Shocks, DriverWebsites.com, RacinBoys.com, Wilwood, Schoenfield Headers, Hoosier Tires, HRP, Kaeding Performance, Schaeffer Oil, Fuel Safe, Bell Helmets, Four Seasons Radiator, Southern Trailer Works, KSE, Brown and Miller Racing Solutions, Weld Wheels, ISC Racers Tape and Pressure Tek for their continued support.