Short Track Nationals Kick Off – A Look at the Field
Lonnie Wheatley, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 28, 2015) – Dorothea has all the delicious fixins’ for those legendary Frito Chili Pies, the Pit Road is overflowing with everyone’s favorite libations and the camping areas will rival the best of grill master’s showdown arenas.
Yep, it’s that time. Time for the 28th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires at Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway.
Pesky weather be damned, it all gets under way with Wednesday night’s $2,000-to-win Third Annual Short Track Nationals Open. And the Open is exactly what it sounds like, Open. As in welcome to all comers, whether they intend to compete for the $15,000 STN championship share or not.
A vast majority of the scheduled STN competitors will take part in Wednesday’s Open as well as a few others that want to dip their toes into STN waters before making the full plunge at a later date.
Besides a couple extra grand, the Open winner (or the top finisher among the top four not to race his way into the STN finale) has a free pass to the Saturday finale in his or her hip pocket. That’s worth another $2,000 minimum right there along with another potential $1,500 bonus courtesy of Dixon Road U-Pull-It for winning both Wednesday’s Open and Saturday’s STN finale.
It’s an appetizer that fully whets the appetite for three nights of STN action that doles out over $100,000 to 90 or so of the nation’s top Sprint Car drivers over the next three nights beginning with Thursday and Friday’s preliminary events that set the stage for Saturday’s STN championship card.
Four spectacular days of Sprint Car racing and festivities are about to fire off in the Arkansas capital city of Little Rock.
With 83 entries already submitted and more on the way, here is a look at this year’s Short Track Nationals field…
Past Champs: No winners from this decade are among the current field of 83, although defending champion car owner Brandon Berryman will vie for back-to-back STN crowns, this time with STN rookie Sheldon Haudenschild at the helm as 2014 winner Christopher Bell fulfills asphalt commitments.
Tony Bruce, Jr, who went back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, broke stretch of four years without making the cut by racing into last year’s feature. TBJ will look for going into an uncertain racing future that may include retirement on a high note with a third STN win.
Four other past winners bring the number of past STN champion drivers to five with Jason Johnson (2006), Jason Sides (2001), Tim Crawley (1998) and Wayne Johnson (1997) each looking for a second title.
Along with Berryman, another pair of past winners as car owners look for more STN glory. Donnie Cooper, who has won twice with Paul McMahan in 2002 and 2012 as well as with Tim Montgomery in 2005, tries for number four with Posse shoe Stevie Smith while two-time winner Bobby Sparks (W. Johnson in 1997 and Crawley in 1998) has young Steven Russell under his tutelage.
Also, 2000 race winner Mike Ward fields the familiar No. 88 entry wheeled by Crawley.
So Close…: With five past winners among the current entries, another half-dozen drivers have missed the top step of the podium by just one position including Shane Stewart, Aaron Reutzel, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Jerrod Hull, Travis Rilat and Eddie Gallagher.
Newly-crowned ASCS National champion Reutzel will try to follow in Bell’s footsteps by improving from second last year to first this time around.
Second in World of Outlaws points, Shane Stewart teams with Texas car owner Scottie McDonald as he tries to improve upon runner-up finishes in 2003 and 2007.
Hafertepe, Jr., who enters with victories over each of his past three active weekends, settled for second after some late-race fireworks in 2010, Hull was second in 2004 and “One Fast” Gallagher missed the win by just one spot way back in 1993.
STN Championship Feature Experience: The trio of Tim Crawley, Wayne Johnson and Shane Stewart are among an elite group of just eight drivers that have made ten or more STN championship feature starts.
Leading the way among the current field with 18 is Crawley, who was on his way to breaking a tie for the top spot with Gary Wright before some late-race Thursday night fireworks with Jerrod Hull created a hole he couldn’t dig out of.
No extended streaks of STN championship feature starts are carried into this year with the handful of A.G. Rains, Ray Allen Kulhanek, Johnny Herrera, Joe Wood, Jr., and Brandon Hanks all tied with the current stretch of two in a row.
The longest stretch of STN preliminary feature starts is at four in a row for both Kulhanek and Seth Bergman, though some other notable strong runs include Wayne Johnson and Tony Bruce, Jr. (7 of the last 8), Jason Johnson (7 of 9), Tim Crawley and Cody Gardner (6 of 7), Joe Wood, Jr. (6 of 8), Zach Pringle (5 of 6) and Derek Hagar (5 of 7).
Career STN feature starts: Tim Crawley 18, Wayne Johnson 15, Shane Stewart 10, Travis Rilat 9, Eddie Gallagher 8, Jason Sides 8, Jason Johnson 7, A.G. Rains 7, Marshall Skinner 7, Tim Shaffer 6, Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 4, Jerrod Hull 4, Chad Kemenah 4, Ernie Ainsworth 3, Seth Bergman 3, Tony Bruce, Jr., 3, Cody Gardner 3, Johnny Gardner 3, Derek Hagar 3, Johnny Herrera 3, Ray Allen Kulhanek 3, Kevin Ramey 3, Randy Hannagan 3, Joe Wood, Jr. 3, Matt Covington 2, Brandon Hanks 2, Jac Haudenschild 2, Zach Pringle 2, Aaron Reutzel 2, Shawn Dancer 1, Claud Estes 1, Terry McCarl 1, Alex Sewell 1, Stevie Smith 1, Channin Tankersley 1, Gary Taylor 1, Tyler Thomas 1, Dusty Zomer 1.
Habitual Winners: Seven of those among the current field of 83 have reached double-digits in the win column thus far in 2015. At the top of the charts is El Paso native John Carney II with 20 triumphs, although 17 of those have come amongst the 305 ranks.
Washington-state native Seth Bergman has racked up an impressive 13 wins in the 360-ci ranks while Derek Hagar and South Dakota shoe Dusty Zomer have both piled up a dozen victories.
With 11 wins each are ASCS champ Aaron Reutzel and King Royal champ Shane Stewart while recent Williams Grove National Open winner Stevie Smith has put up ten wins.
The Rookies: At least 17 STN rookies are set to battle it out this weekend with a number of likely contenders including Sheldon Haudenschild, who takes the wheel of the defending race-winning car while father Jac makes his first STN start since 1989. Jac is teammate to STN rookie Bill Balog, dubbed “The North Pole Nightmare” due to his Alaska origins.
Some others that will try to mix it up for top Rookie honors include Washington shoe Trey Starks, who teams with a Carolina-based car, 2015 Chili Bowl eye-opener Andrew Deal and a pair of lady racers in ASCS shoe Jordan Weaver and Alex Hill, who makes the trip from the land of maple syrup along with 2015 Canadian champs Mitch Brown and Glenn Styres.
The rookies: Jesse Baker, Bill Balog, Andrew Deal, Dustin Gates, Sheldon Haudenschild, Alex Hill, Johnny Kent, Zane Lawrence, Bubba Lofton, Fred Mattox, Kris Miller, Chris Parkinson, Jim Perricone, Steven Russell, Trey Starks, Forest Sutherland, Jordan Weaver.
The States: With 83 entries thus far from 18 states ranging from Pennsylvania to Alaska as well as the Canadian province of Ontario, host state Arkansas leads the way with 15 entries followed by Oklahoma with 14 and then Texas with 13.
Each state (and province) is represented thus far as follows: Arkansas 15, Oklahoma 14, Texas 13, Ohio 5, Tennessee 5, Mississippi 4, Missouri 3, Kansas 3, Louisiana 3, New Mexico 3, Ontario CAN 3, Washington 3, Iowa 2, Pennsylvania 2, Alaska 1, Illinois 1, Indiana 1, Minnesota 1, South Dakota 1.
The current list of qualifying night assignments is as follows, with late entries assigned as needed.
#1a Kevin Ramey (Fort Worth, TX)
#2g Cody Gardner (Benton, AR)
#8 Alex Sewell (Broken Arrow, OK)
#8m Kade Morton (Coweta, OK)
#8z Zach Pringle (Benton, AR)
#9jr Derek Hagar (Marion, AR)
#10b Mitch Brown (Brantford, ONT)
#10p Jim Perricone (Albuquerque, NM)
#12w Dale Wester (Ovilla, TX)
#15h Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX)
#15j Jeremy Middleton (N. Little Rock, AR)
#17 Channin Tankersley (Highlands, TX)
#17b Josh Baughman (Odessa, TX)
#18 Tony Bruce, Jr. (Liberal, KS)
#19 Klint Angelette (Thibodaux, LA)
#21 Kevin Hinkle (Cabot, AR)
#21k Ray Allen Kulhanek (Conroe, TX)
#22h Randy Hannagan (San Jose, TX)
#23 Seth Bergman (Snohomish, WA)
#23T Trey Starks (Puyallup, WA)
#24 Terry McCarl (Altoona, IA)
#32b Brian Bell (Cordova, TN)
#33h Mark Huddleston (Mesquite, TX)
#34dd Jac Haudenschild (Wooster, OH)
#43 Matthew Bauldwin (Little Rock, AR)
#44 Ronny Howard (Nesbit, MS)
#49 Shawn Dancer (Delphos, OH)
#52 Blake Hahn (Sapulpa, OK)
#59 Brad Bowden (Hernando, MS)
#76 Zane Lawrence (Lillian, TX)
#77xx Alex Hill (Six Nations, ONT)
#84 Brandon Hanks (Burlison, TN)
#85 Forrest Sutherland (Cherryvale, KS)
#87 Aaron Reutzel (Clute, TX)
#87F Andrew Deal (Caney, KS)
#88 Tim Crawley (Benton, AR)
#88m Shane Stewart (Bixby, OK)
#91 Steven Russell (Springfield, IL)
#91a Ernie Ainsworth (Bartlett, TN)
#92 Jordan Weaver (Woodward, OK)
#99 Blake Jenkins (Benton, AR)
#199 Ryan Bowers (Ham Lake, MN)
#0 Glenn Styres (Ohsweken, ONT)
#01 Stevie Smith (New Oxford, PA)
#1x Eddie Gallagher (Olive Branch, MS)
#3 AG Rains (West Memphis, AR)
#3n Nate Van Haaften (Otley, IA)
#4j Gary Taylor (Snohomish, WA)
#5T Bubba Lofton (Cordova, TN)
#6s Tim Shaffer (Aliquippa, PA)
#7m Chance Morton (Coweta, OK)
#7s Jason Sides (Bartlett, TN)
#9p Parker Price-Miller (Kokomo, IN)
#10h Chad Kemenah (Findlay, OH)
#11w Joe Wood, Jr. (Oklahoma City, OK)
#12 Chris Parkinson (Gladstone, MO)
#12h Jerrod Hull (Sikeston, MO)
#14k Kyle Bellm (Nixa, MO)
#14m Jordon Mallett (Greenbrier, AR)
#17t Dustin Gates (Haughton, LA)
#17w Harli White (Lindsay, OK)
#21b Brandon Hinkle (Cabot, AR)
#22 Jesse Baker (Grants, NM)
#26 Marshall Skinner (W. Memphis, AR)
#26m Fred Mattox (Drumright, OK)
#29 Travis Rilat (Forney, TX)
#31b Sheldon Haudenschild (Wooster, OH)
#31g Johnny Gardner (Benton, AR)
#33 Kris Miller (Woodward, OK)
#34bb Bill Balog (Fairbanks, AK)
#38 Rick Pringle (Benton, AR)
#40 Howard Moore (Memphis, TN)
#41x Jason Johnson (Eunice, LA)
#42 Andy McElhannon (Hernando, MS)
#45x Johnny Herrera (Albuquerque, NM)
#55 Johnny Kent (Tulsa, OK)
#74b John Carney II (El Paso, TX)
#74e Claud Estes III (Godley, TX)
#77x Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, OK)
#82 Dusty Zomer (Sioux Falls, SD)
#86 Tyler Thomas (Collinsville, OK)
#95 Matt Covington (Glenpool, OK)
#X Charlie Louden (Camden, AR)
The Pertinent Info:
The What: 28th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
The Where: I-30 Speedway (Little Rock, AR). I-30 Speedway is located seven miles southwest of Little Rock off I-30 Exit 126 (Alexander Road).
The When: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 29-31, 2015. $15,000 to win the STN finale on October 31 with $2,000 to start the STN championship feature. Race time is 7:30 p.m. each night. Rain date is November 4-7. The $2,000 to win and $200 to start Third Annual Short Track Nationals Open kicks off all the action on Wednesday, October 28, at 7:30 p.m.
The Entries: Entries are rolling in on a daily basis. Entry forms are available at http://www.i-30speedway.com/flyers/2015STN.pdf or by calling the track at 501-455-4567. Entries submitted by October 19 are just $150 with entries after that at $250.
The Format: Approximately half the field will take to the track in the Thursday night qualifying event, with the other half in Friday’s qualifying event. The popular format of heats and qualifying races will once again be in place on the Thursday and Friday qualifying nights. The top 14 in cumulative points from heats and qualifiers will be locked into that night’s main event, with two or three “B” Mains, depending upon car count, contested to fill out the qualifying night feature field.
The top three from each qualifying night will be locked into Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win, $2,000-to-start STN Championship Finale. Those six drivers will battle it out in Saturday’s Dash for Cash to determine the alignment of the front three rows of the championship main event.
The balance of the field will redraw on Saturday to set lineups for eight (8) “Saturday Night STN Showdowns”. With passing points in effect, points will be added to qualifying night point totals (heats, qualifying races and features) with the top eight (8) in total points advancing to STN feature starting positions 7-14.
The next 36 in total points will go to three “B” Mains with the remainder of the field to three “C” Mains. Top finishers from “C” Mains will move on to “B” Main action, with the top two from each “B” Main moving on to the STN finale.
Wednesday’s Short Track Nationals Open will have no impact upon Thursday, Friday or Saturday lineups, with the exception that the top finisher among Wednesday’s top four that is unable to qualify for Saturday night’s STN finale will be offered a provisional.
Wednesday’s STN Open will include heat races lined up by pill draw with passing points in effect that will set lineups for the “B” Main(s) (multiple “B” Mains if necessary depending upon car count) and “A” Main. A Dash for the top six in passing points will set the first three rows of the feature with at least $1,100 (400, 225, 175, 125, 100, 75) to be distributed among those in the Dash.
The Past Winners: Christopher Bell (2014), Sammy Swindell (2013, 2011 and 1990), Paul McMahan (2012 and 2002), Brad Sweet (2010), Tony Bruce, Jr. (2009 and 2008), Jason Meyers (2007), Jason Johnson (2006), Tim Montgomery (2005), Gary Wright (2004, 2003, 1999 and 1995), Jason Sides (2001), Mike Ward (2000), Tim Crawley (1998), Wayne Johnson (1997), Pete Butler (1996), Terry Gray (1994), John Gerloff (1993), Steve Kinser (1991, ’89 and ‘88). 1992 finale was rained out.
The Tickets: Advance tickets for either three or four nights are on sale through Monday, October 26, no advance sales after that. Single night tickets are not available in advance. Tickets ordered in advance are just $64 for all four nights (Wednesday through Saturday) or $53 for three nights (Thursday through Saturday) with $1 off if paying cash.
Day of show prices are $16 on Wednesday, $21 on Thursday and Friday and $29 on Saturday.
Children’s tickets will be available at the event only for just $2 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then $5 on Saturday.
To order tickets in advance or for more information, call the track at 501-455-4567 or e-mail orders to email@example.com.
Pit passes are $30 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and $35 on Saturday.
The Trade Show & Midway: This year’s rendition of the Short Track Nationals will also include the Eleventh Annual Short Track Nationals Trade Show & Midway. Fans, drivers & crews will have the opportunity to visit vendor displays, which opens at noon on Wednesday and then at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The deadline for guaranteed vendor space is Monday, October 26. Inquiries regarding vendor space should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding the 28th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires, contact I-30 Speedway at 501-455-4567 or check online at http://www.i-30speedway.com/shorttracknationals.html.