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Houston Raceway Park

Ward gets SUPR victory in front of 8,000 at HRP

August 23, 2009, 6:52 am
From series and correspondent reports
Runner-up Kenny Merchant (left) congratulates winner James Ward. (ronskinnerphotos.com)
Runner-up Kenny Merchant (left) congratulates winner James Ward. (ronskinnerphotos.com)

BAYTOWN, Texas (Aug. 22) — Polesitter James Ward of Lettsworth, La., notched his first series victory in more than two years in winning an O'Reilly Southern United Professional Racing tour event at Houston Raceway Park. Ward, who outdueled fellow front-row starter David Ashley of Zachary, La., early and took the lead for good on the seventh lap, earned $2,500 for the victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd of more than 8,000. | Slideshow

Series points leader and five-time race winner Kenny Merchant of West Monroe, La., rallied from his ninth starting spot and gained ground on Ward, but Merchant ended up a few lengths behind at the finish. Ronny Adams of Greenwood, La., was third followed by hometown driver Kevin Sitton. Howard Willis of Dayton, Texas, rounded out the top five as SUPR competitors got back into action after a six-week break. Ashley's high groove faded throughout the race and he ended up seventh.

Ward notched his sixth career victory on the Louisiana-based tour and first since June 15, 2007, at Baton Rouge (La.) Raceway.

Notes: Ward's Dickie Allen-owned GRT Race Car has a Russell Baker powerplant and sponsorship from Triple A Diesel Service and Allen Services. ... Ward's victory came on Military Appreciation Day at Houston Raceway Park. ... The 7,500-seat grandstand was full with many other fans lining the fence to watch on a night when free tickets were widely available. HRP occasionally provides giveaway tickets to events and charges $10 for parking. ... It was the second-largest crowd to watch a SUPR Late Model event behind Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. ... Howard Willis piloted the Gary Rollo Motorsports entry. ... In a series schedule change, SUPR has moved the Late Model portion of the Louisiana State Championships to Sept. 12 at Baton Rouge Raceway. ... The series is also considering adding another event at Monroe (La.) Motor Speedway, the only paved oval in Louisiana. ... Next up for O'Reilly SUPR competitors is a three-race Labor Day weekend. Greenville (Miss.) Speedway hosts events Sept. 4-5 with Champion Park Speedway in Minden, La., hosts the Sept. 6 weekend finale.

O'Reilly SUPR @ Houston: (1) James Ward, (2) Kenny Merchant, (3) Ronny Adams, (4) Kevin Sitton, (5) Howard Willis, (6) Robbie Stuart, (7) David Ashley, (8) Chris Brown, (9) Rob Litton, (10) Lee Davis, (11) Allen Tippen, (12) Mark Andrews, (13) Jason England, (14) David Kulhanek, (15) Doug Ivey, (16) Jeff Chanler, (17) Brock Williams, (18) Eric Neal, (19) Chris Holley, (20) Donald Watson, (21) Alex Ashley, (22) Richard Mills. Heat race winners (among 22 cars): D. Ashley, Ward, Stuart.

O'Reilly SUPR points

(Through Aug. 22)
1. Kenny Merchant - 2,030
2. Rob Litton - 1,789
3. Kevin Sitton - 1,768
4. Allen Tippen - 1,756
5. David Ashley - 1,393
6. Gary Christian - 1,310
7. Jeff Chanler - 1,291
8. Lee Davis - 1,144
9. Kyle Cummings - 1,136
10. Ray Moore - 1,069
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