Lonnie Wheatley, MEMPHIS, Tenn. (April 23, 2005) – Gary Wright found the winning combination in O’Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores competition for the first time in 2005 as he chased down pacesetter Darren Stewart on the 19th round then checked out on the field en route to topping Saturday night’s 30-lap feature at Memphis Motorsports Park.
“We had a good track to race on tonight and we had a really good car for it,” commented Wright after steering the Wesmar-powered Southwest Express/Richwood Construction/The Shop No. 9 Maxim to his 91st career ASCS National Tour feature victory.
Wright established the tone for the evening early by scorching the field in the first heat race and accumulating the night’s most passing points to earn the right to start the feature fifth behind Darren Stewart, Dale Howard, Mike Ward and Tim Crawley, Friday night’s top four finishers.
After the first attempt to start the race was waved off for Garry Bell’s contact with the turn three fencing, Stewart outgunned Howard to snare the early lead. The caution flew again with just one lap in the books when Lee Sowell, who made a last lap pass in the first “B” Main to earn a feature starting berth, came to a halt in tour four with mechanical problems.
way, Stewart set the pace in front of Howard and
After encountering lapped traffic on the sixth lap, Howard closed the gap on Stewart and raced into the lead on the low side in turn two on the tenth round. Howard looped his machine a half lap later without stopping, retaining second position when the caution flew for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who spun in turn two at the same time with steering arm problems.
Stewart stretched his lead to a straightaway over Howard in short order on the ensuing restart, with Wright battling past Howard for second on the twelfth round. With Stewart back into lapped traffic at the midway point, Wright quickly closed the gap and had closed to Stewart’s rear bumper by the 16th lap.
Stewart fended off the defending series champion for several laps until Wright used the high line to race into the lead exiting the fourth turn on the 19th round. Once in front, there was no stopping the “Texan” as he sliced through lapped traffic with ease to deny Stewart a weekend sweep.
Wright had amassed a half straightaway advantage when the race’s final caution flew with just three rounds to go for Brodix National Tour Rookie of the Year contender Jake Martens, who spun in turn two while running a strong fourth.
lapped cars separating Wright from Stewart on the final restart, Wright charged
to the checkered flag unchallenged over the final three rounds. Stewart settled for second, with Howard
taking the show position. Ward crossed
the stripe fourth, with
Jan Howard charged from 18th to claim sixth at the line, with Bryce Vowan in seventh. Former ASCS National champion Travis Rilat earned Hard Charger honors by racing from 22nd to eighth, while Martens recovered from the late spin to snare ninth. Josh Howard completed the top ten.
With 36 cars in the pits, Wright, Travis Senter, Jr., Hunter Schuerenberg and Martens topped heat race action. Eddie Gallagher overtook Marshall Skinner on the ninth round en route to winning the first 12-lap “B” Main, with Ernie Ainsworth claiming the second “B” Main victory.
escaped the weekend with a six point advantage over Wright in the series points
chase, with Jan Howard just two more markers back in third. Action for the O’Reilly ASCS National Tour
presented by Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores resumes on May 6 at Fast
Trax Speedway in
Locked in from Friday night’s preliminary feature: Darren Stewart, Dale Howard, Mike Ward, Tim Crawley.
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. Gary Wright, 2. Bryce Vowan, 3. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 4. A.G. Rains, 5. Bob Schaeffer, 6. Eddie Gallagher, 7. Cody Gardner. DNS: Steven Tiner.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. Travis Senter, Jr., 2. Josh Howard, 3. Henry Gustavus, 4. Travis Rilat, 5. Ernie Ainsworth, 6. Andy McElhannon, 7. Jimmy Taylor, 8. Robert Gant.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2. Garry Bell, 3. Tony Bruce, Jr., 4. Jan Howard, 5. Marshall Skinner, 6. Lee Sowell, 7. Jim Bowden, 8. Buster Dickerson.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. Jake Martens, 2. Toby Brown, 3. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 4. Greg Merritt, 5. Philip Faulkner, 6. Ronny Howard, 7. Dewayne Prince, 8. Andy Goin.
First B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Eddie Gallagher, 2. Marshall Skinner, 3. Lee Sowell, 4. Greg Merritt, 5. Cody Gardner, 6. Robert Gant, 7. Philip Faulkner, 8. Jim Bowden, 9. Andy Goin.
Second B Feature (12 Laps): 1. Ernie Ainsworth, 2. Travis Rilat, 3. Andy McElhannon, 4. Ronny Howard, 5. Jimmy Taylor, 6. Bob Schaeffer, 7. Dewayne Prince. DNS: Buster Dickerson, Steven Tiner.
A Feature (30 Laps):
1. Gary Wright, 2. Darren Stewart, 3. Dale Howard, 4. Mike Ward, 5. Tim
Crawley, 6. Jan Howard, 7. Bryce Vowan, 8. Travis Rilat, 9. Jake Martens, 10.
Josh Howard, 11. Hunter Schuerenberg, 12. Marshall Skinner, 13. Eddie
Gallagher, 14. Tony Bruce, Jr., 15. Travis Senter, Jr., 16. Toby Brown, 17. Sam
Hafertepe, Jr., 18. A.G. Rains, 19. Henry Gustavus, 20. Andy McElhannon, 21.
Ernie Ainsworth, 22. Jimmy Taylor, 23. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 24. Lee Sowell,
O’Reilly ASCS National Tour presented by Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Points (Top Ten): 1. Darren Stewart 554, 2. Gary Wright 548, 3. Jan Howard 546, 4. Jake Martens 514, 5. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 502, 6. Travis Rilat 490, 7. Tony Bruce, Jr. 483, 8. Toby Brown 439, 9. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 427, 10. A.G. Rains 413.