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ASCS Tuesday Top Ten – The Return

Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (May 4, 2010) – Another Tuesday brings another Tuesday’s Top Ten, with this week’s offering of information regarding recent ASCS happenings spiced up with a topless twist of Sprint Bandits TNT flavoring.

Dig in…

After Friday’s much-anticipated topless outing at Beaumont’s Golden Triangle Raceway Park fell victim to weather, Houston Raceway Park proved to be the site of Traditional return to Texas.

Hot laps set the tone with Sprint Cars backing into HRP corners like never before. Cautiously contested heat races ratcheted up with fiercely contested qualifiers that were topped by a feverish 30-lap finale.

Robert Ballou worked forward after problems earlier in the night, while Jesse Hockett found himself deep in the pack as well after an early spin.

Still digesting the previous night’s June bugs (the things racers will do for a few bucks on rained out nights), Brady Bacon stalked Travis Rilat half the race before deciding it was time to go after his seventh win in eleven TNT tries. And with Ballou and Hockett up to the lead duo by the time the last caution appeared after 18 laps, the final circuits were blissful mayhem.

Over adjusted on an earlier red flag, Rilat faded to fourth as Bacon, Hockett and Ballou slugged it out for the win. Less than a half car-length separated the trio of past TNT champs at the stripe, with Ballou inches ahead of Hockett with Bacon third.

The first-ever wingless, 410-ci Sprint Car event at Houston Raceway Park will be followed this Friday by the return to Devil’s Bowl, just shy of 22 years since that Ron Shuman win. Then, on Saturday night, Tracey Clay will use her wily charms in an effort to convince a front-row starter to tag the field for a chance at doubling the winner’s share to $6,000 at Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway.

But after 15 wins in 31 feature starts during back-to-back championship campaigns of 2006 and 2007, the victory output declined to three in 2008 before being shut out entirely in 2009.

“The Cobra” was back in full force in Friday night’s ASCS Patriot season opener at Dundee, New York’s Black Rock Speedway with Hebing disposing of nearby resident Tim Kelly midway through en route to his 31st career Patriot score.

It was also Hebing’s first Patriot score with a Roush Yates Ford powerplant, adding to a pair of recent Roush Yates victories by Charles Davis, Jr., in ASCS Canyon Region action.

Gunning for a three-peat after back-to-back ASCS SOD titles in 2008 and 2009, Mann is back aboard his No. 19 on a full-time basis after spending time in the Rowlee and Frohlich No. 79 over the past two seasons.

Next on the active ASCS Sprints on Dirt consecutive feature starts list is Gregg Dalman with 19 in a row. Dalman was fourth in Saturday’s opener.

Ballou explained of the qualifying race melee, “It actually bent the whole front end of the car an inch-and-a-half or two inches. This year I decided to be my own crew chief, I’m kinda off in left field. I reblocked the thing and it looked funny, but I just wound some weight and tried to get it back to even, apparently it worked out.”

As for the powerplant, Ballou relayed that, “This motor we’re running has got 20 nights on it. The last ten laps I had to hold it to the mat because it wouldn’t even break the tires loose, it’s ready to fall apart.”

Just to make things a bit more challenging, Ballou ran short of tearoffs a few laps shy of the checkered flag. “I saw the flagman say five to go and I actually pulled a tearoff that happened to be my last one. So the last three laps I was covering my shield with one hand and driving with the other. I knew that if I slowed down and kept the car straighter, that builds speed. Brady Bacon was just getting the thing a little pinched off too much down around the bottom, I just got lucky tonight.”

No problem for the 21-year-old that discovered his wingless prowess in a TNT triumph at Nebraska Raceway Park’s I-80 Speedway in August of 2006. Saturday’s triumph at HRP was his seventh career TNT victory, breaking a tie with Bacon who remains at six.

Mother Nature had other ideas though, washing out both nights of competition. The Central Missouri Speedway date has been reset for Sunday night, June 13, with the series also returning to Warrensburg on September 3.

While the Lucas Oil Speedway date hasn’t been rescheduled, the “Diamond of Dirt Tracks” will still see some premier Sprint Car action this season with the Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT on June 19 and then the Lucas Oil ASCS National Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters on September 25.

With the two Midwest rainouts along with the Beaumont TNT washout, Mother Nature has claimed nine of 32 (28%) overall scheduled ASCS and Sprint Bandit events thus far in 2010.

Anthony Nicholson established himself as an HRP frontrunner for the bonus after a heat race win, while Justin Melton made his presence known by leading seven of eight laps in his qualifier.

While Nicholson started the feature third, Melton climbed from eighth to fourth before getting bit by the turn three cushion and flipping out of contention on a lap nine restart after Jimmy Brooks trashed his car in turn two.

Nicholson, who has made a few wingless starts in 305-ci and 360-ci competition at West Memphis’ Riverside Speedway, went on to finish ninth and earned over $1,000 on the night with the $500 bonus included, thus making the 650 mile trek from Bartlett, TN, to Baytown pay off.

Daggett’s 67th career overall SOD win, including a pair of non-point races, was his 16th at Crystal, including ten of the last eleven main events atop the semi-banked, 3/8-mile clay oval dating back to 2006.

Since the 2007 season, Daggett has reached victory lane in 29 of 43 ASCS Sprints on Dirt feature starts.

While Casey Shuman carried a yellow and black scheme on the No. 10x, the Jack Yeley entry with Wayne Johnson at the wheel carried No. 2 rather than No. 1. Shuman was up to third in the main only to have the first of two fuel lines break. Johnson broke a u-joint in his qualifying race and was unable to make repairs prior to the main.

Rather than pilot his regular No. 71, Channin Tankersley made his wingless Sprint Car debut in the No. 17 of Bruce Griffith, Jr. After fuel pump problems in his heat race, Tankersley was caught up in the Leon Bacon-Robert Ballou qualifying race crash, suffering a hairline fracture of his collarbone in the process.

Normally in the F&J No. 29 in the winged ranks, Travis Rilat went topless in the No. 50off entry. Earning the pole for the feature after a heat race win and then a last-corner qualifying race win, Rilat paced 22 feature laps before finishing fourth. ShopTheBoss boss donated several cold fire extinguisher bottles and aerosol cans to Bandits & ASCS comp director Tommie Estes, Jr., who will have them handy just in case.

ASCS Gulf South regulars Aaron Reutzel and Jimmy Brooks made their first career Sprint Bandits TNT feature starts on Saturday night, while Owasso, Oklahoma’s Matt Sherrell netted a fifth-place finish in just his second career wingless 410-ci outing.

Ballou preceded the description of his Triple X by saying that it was bent, “After we flipped ‘cause Mr. Leon Bacon shoulda stayed in retirement.” The Madman may have been a little burned when Lightnin’ Leon flashed by with ease in TNT hot laps. But there is no payoff window after hot laps, and after cutting his heat race short with a hung throttle Leon was fast again until a turn three bobble while chasing son Brady that ultimately determined the storyline of the night.

With 18 traditional Sprint Cars on hand for the TNT opener in winged country, Ballou went on to say in victory lane, “I hope you guys had a good show. I know the promoter wasn’t very happy that we only had 18 cars or whatever. There were at least five or six guys tonight that could have easily won it, coming to the line it could have been one of three people. If he’s still disappointed, I guess he likes something else.”

Ballou thanked the crowd that numbered approximately 4,000 and invited them to Devil’s Bowl and I-30 Speedway this coming weekend.

And with the opening half of the first two weekends of traditional action in Texas and Arkansas in over two decades in the books along with ASCS Regional openers in New York and Michigan, 2010 TTT Edition X is put to rest.

Until next time, find what you need in terms of ASCS info at