Freedom Tour Rides into Dodge City!
Well, don’t miss out on your chance to catch the final two rounds of action on Friday and Saturday night as the wingless Sprint Cars tackle the 3/8-mile Dodge City Raceway Park in southwest Kansas.
Oklahoma’s Danny Smith bested the invading forces by topping Wednesday night’s 30-car Freedom Tour field at Sapulpa, Oklahoma’s Creek County Speedway while New Mexico’s Rick Ziehl struck a blow for the USAC Southwest forces in Round Two on Thursday night at Wichita’s 81 Speedway over a field of 27.
The USAC Southwest Sprint Cars will be joined on Friday night’s card by DCRP’s stock car championship chase divisions of IMCA Stock Cars and Thunder Cars with Saturday’s USAC Southwest tilt bolstered by the IMCA Modifieds and United Wireless IMCA Sport Modifieds.
Both nights of action get under way at 7:30 p.m.
Excerpts summarizing the initial two nights of Freedom Tour action follow:
A new rivalry begins to brew as Sapulpa’s Danny Smith defended his home turf in the opening leg of the USAC Southwest Sprint Cars Inaugural “Freedom Tour” on Wednesday night at Creek County Speedway.
Reminiscent of past tours through the region such as the old USAC Silver Crown vs. NCRA champ cars days and later the CRA (and then later SCRA) vs. NCRA Sprint Car tilts, the locals were set to battle it out on their home turf against Arizona’s wingless aces by bolstering the total count to 30 for the first Freedom Tour throwdown.
While veteran shoe Smith ultimately prevailed, it was at the expense of stepson Kyle Clark.
Just 19 years old, Clark won the Dash to earn the pole position for the feature and then paced the initial 15 laps of the main event as Smith worked his way up from tenth to take over second by the time a caution flew for Missouri wingless ace Joshua Stephens, who spun in turn four.
The caution initially appeared to be a godsend for Clark, whose substantial lead had dwindled to virtually nothing as he reached the tail of the field.
Surely, open track would make Clark hard to run down.
With 15 laps remaining around the tight ¼-mile clay oval and the likes of past Arizona Sprint Car champions Charles Davis, Jr., and Josh Pelkey along with Broken Arrow’s Jonathan Beason breathing down his neck, the odds seemed slim.
But the OCRS regular, currently second in series points, showed that his carbureted wingless outings paid off by holding off all challengers despite a wicked push that made the going through the turns three and four cushion treacherous at best.
“There’s no way I thought I’d get here, the car got so tight getting into three and it was just a real handful toward the end,” Smith explained.
Davis, Jr., pressured for a while and then Pelkey took advantage of the Chargin’ one on a lap 23 restart, reeled in the leader and was poised for a last corner slider that would have netted the Peoria, AZ, shoe the $2,500 win.
But it didn’t happen.
“I had him set up just the way I wanted it, but then I hit the berm on the bottom getting into three and killed my corner,” Pelkey explained after settling for runner-up honors. “I messed up.”
Beason challenged at the midpoint for the win before a lap 16 slider went too far into the turn three cushion and cost him several positions. Beason battled back to third at the stripe, explaining that, “I was just getting worn out, it felt like we ran a hundred laps.”
Running second until the final caution, Davis, Jr., slipped to fourth in the final rounds. “I had a good rhythm going before that and just lost it, I started trying to change my line up and all it did was mess me up over those last laps.”
Dustin Morgan, the most experience wingless shoe among the local contingent despite running with the wings in ASCS National competition in recent times, raced from 11th to fifth to give Oklahoma three of the top five finishers.
Sooner State shoes took the next three positions as well with Joe Wood, Jr., Blake Hahn and Mike Goodman sixth through eighth with Arizona reps Shon Deskins and Mike Martin filling out the top ten.
The second Mike Martin entry didn’t fare so well on the night, with Lindsay, Oklahoma’s Harli White making little more than a lap while getting involved in separate heat race and “B” Main incidents. White suffered front end damage in a heat race incident in which Brian McClelland took a hard ride down the frontstretch as the green flag flew and then was caught up in a multi-car tangle when another car looped it in turn one just one lap into one of the “B” Mains.
McClelland wasn’t the only heat race flip victim, as Illinois transplant Kyle Chady caught the same turn three fencing that would later trip up Kyle Clark in similar manner.
The Feature Finish: 1. 5$-Danny Smith, 2. 74-Josh Pelkey, 3. 36-Jonathan Beason, 4. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 5. 93-Dustin Morgan, 6. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 7. 17-Blake Hahn, 8. 4am-Mike Goodman, 9. 20-Shone Deskins, 10. 16-Mike Martin, 11. 41w-Rick Ziehl, 12. 94L-Tim Kent, 13. 09-Josh Stephens, 14. 23-David Dutton, 15. 5-Tye Mihocko, 16. 7s-Robert Sellers, 17. 78-Chris Bonneau, 18. 9s-Kyle Clark, 19. 51-Matt Ward, 20. 55-Tony Everhart.
One night after Oklahoma shoe Danny Smith fought off invading forces to win the Inaugural Freedom Tour opener in Sooner territory, New Mexico’s Rick Ziehl struck back for the USAC Southwest contingent by winning Thursday night’s 30-lap feature across the northern border at 81 Speedway.
“Not too bad for a rookie,” the veteran Las Cruces, NM, racer with an extensive list of accolades quipped after cracking victory lane in his first visit to the storied 3/8-mile clay oval in south-central Kansas.
After besting the invading Arizona forces on Wednesday night, Smith had his sights set on another $2,500 winner’s share at Wichita.
Getting a piece of a heat race incident in which Harli White got upside down, Smith raced back up to third to earn a front row starting position in the Dash.
And after pocketing an extra $100 for winning the Dash, Smith started the main event from the coveted pole position.
“Everybody thinks there’s a big difference between running a winged car and non-wing, but the difference isn’t really all that big,” the veteran racer explained as he prepped for a potential second win in a row versus the West Coast contingent.
And to add a little fuel to the developing rivalry fire, Smith joked in victory lane after his Dash win that, “These West Coast guys really aren’t all that.”
Starting alongside Ziehl on the front row, Smith backed up his words. For a couple of laps at least, until he slipped a bit too high over the always treacherously-thin 81 Speedway turn three cushion and sailed in frighteningly fast fashion off the corner and into the outside retaining barriers. Smith was okay, but the car was done for the night.
Ziehl assumed the point and dominated the remaining 28 laps, making quick work of lapped traffic over the final rounds that gave Charles Davis, Jr., a glimmer of hope after taking second from Wednesday night runner-up Josh Pelkey with just five laps to go.
“Traffic can make or break you in races like this, we just managed to catch those guys at the right time,” Ziehl said after his second wingless USAC Southwest win of the year to go along with a handful of winged 360-ci scores.
“At least we were going forward at the end tonight instead of backwards like last night,” reigning series champ Charles Davis, Jr., commented after claiming runner-up honors. “A few more laps and we might have been able to do something with him.”
For Davis, Jr., it was a return to a track he first visited as a rookie precisely 20 years ago in August of 1993 with the CRA Tour. “I had all of about ten races under my belt then, it’s changed some now,” Davis, Jr., laughed.
Pelkey claimed a podium finish for the second night in a row by crossing the stripe third to give the traveling contingent a sweep of the top three positions after the Okies commanded night one. “A second and third the first two nights, we can’t complain about that,” Pelkey commented.
Michigan transplant Jeremy Campbell led the local contingent in a rare wingless start by finishing fourth. “I’ve made just a handful of wingless starts in the past,” Cambpell explained. “I really enjoy it, it’s fun to do something a little different for a change.”
After being passed by teammate Harli White two-thirds of the way through the feature, Mike Martin rallied in the closing rounds to finish fifth with Oklahoma City’s Joe Wood, Jr., crossing the stripe sixth for the second night in a row after starting 16th this time. One night earlier, Wood, Jr., gained an extra four positions after starting 20th.
Eighteen-year-old Harli White’s night started much the way her Wednesday outing went; with a crash. But after climbing over Koby Barksdale’s mount and tipping over in the opening corner of her heat race, White decided it was showtime.
White rallied from the tail of the “B” Main with some dramatic slidejobs to snare the third of four transfer positions.
The current carbureted OCRS point leader from Lindsay, OK, then rallied from the final row, passing teammate Martin for sixth in the late rounds before a late miscue or two put the young lady a still impressive seventh in the final rundown.
Show Me Stater Josh Stephens was eighth with Arizona’s Chris Bonneau and Nebraska’s Don Droud, Jr., the balance of the top ten.
Aside from White, Arizona traveler Tye Mihocko was the only driver to get upside down, doing so after tangling with Michelle Decker entering turn one on the 11th round of the feature.
Sixteen of the 27 competitors on hand for Thursday night’s action were in competition as well the previous night at Creek County Speedway including the 11 Arizona and California based entries (Rick Ziehl, Charles Davis, Jr., Josh Pelkey, Mike Martin, Harli White in a second Martin entry, Chris Bonneau, Michael Curtis, Tom Lee, Shon Deskins, Tye Mihocko and Tony Everhart) along with four Okies (Joe Wood, Jr., Cody Brewer, Danny Smith and Koby Barksdale) and Missouri’s Josh Stephens.
The Feature Finish: 1. 41w-Rick Ziehl, 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 3. 74-Josh Pelkey, 4. 10-Jeremy Campbell, 5. 16-Mike Martin, 6. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 7. 16w-Harli White, 8. 09-Josh Stephens, 9. 78-Chris Bonneau, 10. 1x-Don Droud, Jr., 11. 51-Mike Peters, 12. 45-Jeff Lowery, 13. 11c-Michael Curtis, 14. 92-Jordan Weaver, 15. 53-Tom Lee, 16. 96-Cody Brewer, 17. 20-Shon Deskins, 18. 7-Michelle Decker, 19. 5-Tye Mihocko, 20. 5$-Danny Smith.
Only two of the 18 scheduled nights of competition at DCRP remain following this weekend’s Freedom Tour double including championship chase action on August 31 and the season ending Jerry Soderberg Championship Memorial Event on September 28 that includes URSS Sprint Cars along with each of the track’s regular divisions.
Dodge City Raceway Park is located on the south edge of Dodge City, KS, on US 283, then 0.9 miles west on US 56, then 0.1 miles south. For more information, contact the track at 620-225-3277 or check www.dodgecityraceway.com.