posted July 01, 2002 03:59 PM
O'REILLY AUTO PARTS MID-AMERICA RACING SERIES
Friday, July 5 Batesville Speedway
Saturday, July 6 Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway
By Larry Olson; Mountain Home, AR
BATESVILLE AR. The O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-America Racing Series will be back in action over the Independence Day Weekend. A pair of vital points events will be on tap as the O'Reilly M.A.R.S. Super Late Models will return to their home track, the Batesville Speedway on Friday June 5. From there, the O'Reilly M.A.R.S. cars will be on their way to the Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway for the Ameribration 40.
Rainouts have claimed events at both tracks, so this will be the second appearance of the season at the Batesville Speedway on Friday, and the first trip of the year to Kentucky Lake. Each night will be headlined by a $3,000 to win, $500 to start 40 Lap A Main.
Bill Frye has taken charge of the 2002 O'Reilly M.A.R.S. points chase, and has a comfortable margin of 74 points on the field. Frye must remain viligant however, as no point lead is safe with 2/3 of the season still on the docket. Frye has recorded two feature wins this season, but the key to his points advantage has been the hoard of top five finishes that he's racked up so far in 2002.
Behind Frye, Leslie Essary and Donnie Barnhart are deadlocked for the second spot. Essary has a win on the O'Reilly M.A.R.S. trail so far in 2002, but Barnhart has been steady, though winless this season.
Terry Phillips has been the hot driver on the series over the last four events. Phillips has won two of those features, and was the man to beat in the other two. A flat tire and a wheel packed with mud cost Phillips a shot at both those races, but in the overall points standings, Phillips has risen to fourth, but trails Essary and Barnhart by just four markers coming into the weekend.
Jeff Taylor has also been a force to reckon with over the last four events. Taylor has one win, but has been a second place car twice, and was fourth his other start. Taylor has come up the ladder as fast as Phillips, and is a contender for the elite spots at the top of leader board coming into the weekend. Taylor trails Essary and Barnhart by 28 points, and could move up this weekend.
David Gibson is currently sixth in the points. Gibson hasn't had as many top ten finishes as he would have liked at this point in the season, but is still within striking distance of the top spots. Gibson was a top ten car both events over the last O'Reilly M.A.R.S. weekend, and is starting to get his season going in the direction he would like.
Steve Rushin has moved up a couple of spots over the last couple of weekends, currently in seventh spot. Rushin had a top ten finish his last time out, and is still chasing that first O'Reilly M.A.R.S. win and a top five points finish.
Wendell Wallace was the points leader a couple of weeks ago, but after missing a weekend of M.A.R.S. action has found himself in eighth position in the points. A top five at Muskogee, but a dnf at Tri-State has set him back a bit, but Wallace is a very capable driver, and should be able to move back into the top five.
Joey Mack is the Kuntz & Co. Rookie of the Year points leader, but has also found himself in nineth in overall series points. Mack has continued to build on the season that he had in 2001, and scored his first top 10 of 2002 at Tri-State Speedway last time out. Mack's consistency has propelled him into one of the elite spots in the O'Reilly M.A.R.S. points, and he will attempt to stay among the best of the M.A.R.S. drivers.
Jeff Floyd has had a disappointing season to date. Floyd is currently 10th in series points, but has had motor problems plague him all year. Floyd hopes that a change in his motor program will turn his campaign around and that he will be able to get on track again this weekend.
Gary Stolba is just outside the top 10, and is another driver that hasn't had his season go as well as he would have liked. Stolba still has 2/3 of the 2002 season ahead of him though, and will look to make up ground on the leaders.
Dewaine Hottinger is the second place car in the Kuntz & Co. Rookie of the Year race. Hottinger has struggled so far in 2002. After a 6th place run on opening night, Hottinger has seen several nights where he's loaded up prior to the feature. Hottinger had one his best runs the last time out at Tri-State Speedway however, and will look to get his season turned back around.
Brad Looney is currently 13th, and has fallen a few spots as of late. Looney is in a new car and hopes to see his season turn around. Raymond Merrill is on an upswing as of late. Merrill had missed a few O'Reilly M.A.R.S. events to compete closer to home, but a win at Muskogee and a top 10 at Tri-State has re-energized Merrill's season and he hopes to continue to move up. Mike Bowers is also on an upswing in 2002. Bowers has yet to win his first race in 2002, but has climbed up to 15th and has been notching top 5's and 10's over the last several events.
Pit Gates will open at 5:30 Friday at the Batesville Speedway. Hotlaps will be scheduled for 7:30 with racing getting underway at 8:00pm. Modifieds, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Super Stars, and Front-Wheel Drive cars will accompany the M.A.R.S. Late Models.
The Pit Gates will open at 2:00pm at the Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway, with hotlaps scheduled for 6:30 and racing at 7:00pm. UMP Modifieds, Limited Sportsmen, and Cruisers will accompany the M.A.R.S. Late Models.
Title Sponsor for the 2002 Mid-America Racing Series is O'Reilly Auto Parts. Rookie of the Year sponsor for 2002 is Kuntz & Co. Performance and Balancing.
Major Corporate Sponsors for the 2002 M.A.R.S. season are Competition Cams, Rinehart Trucking, GRT Race Cars, Hoosier Racing Tires, Larry Shaw Race Cars, Schoenfeld Headers, and Turbo Blue Racing Fuel.
Turbo Blue is the official racing fuel for the Mid-America Racing Series.
Associate Corporate Sponsors for the 2002 M.A.R.S. season are Boyd Built Sheet Metal Breaks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Duralite Racing Wheels, Hatfield Racing Engines, JFR Graphics, Landrum Spring Service, Mudslinger The Magazine, New Vision Graphics, Ringer Gloves, Rockhard Powder Coating, Raceday Embroidery, and Warrior Race Cars.
Raceday Embroidery is the sponsor of the Crew of the Year Award