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National notebook

Notes: Vaught aiming to continue Lucas upswing

May 20, 2010, 1:36 pm
From staff, track, series and correspondent reports
Will Vaught
Will Vaught

The launching of his rookie season on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series didn't go as smooth as Will Vaught hoped, but the 23-year-old driver from Crane, Mo., is coming off his two best performances heading to the May 22-23 series trip to the Midwest.

Vaught led the first 12 laps on April 23 in his first trip to Bedford (Pa.) Speedway before finishing a career-best third, then made an eighth-to-second charge early in his debut at Wythe Speedway in Rural Retreat, Va., on May 15 before a broken rear end forced him out. Running among the leaders in his No. 1 Warrior Race Car was a confidence builder for the Vaught, especially overtaking six top-notch drivers in the early laps at Wythe.

"That really helped my confidence being able to pass 'em rather than just being in front of them," Vaught said. "Those guys are the best in the country, and (it's good) to be able to run up front with 'em."

The lanky Missouri driver joined the national touring series this year after previous success on the MARS DIRTcar Series and UMP DIRTcar Summernationals.

"A few years ago, I knew I had the ability to do it. I didn't know if I'd ever had the equipment and the sponsorship to do it," said Vaught, who began driving for car owner Paul McKenna last spring. "This year everything kind of came around. I think we have the right chassis that fits my driving style, and everything's coming together finally. If we can just get some luck, maybe we can get a win here before too long."

In what will be a familiar refrain for Vaught, he heads to two tracks he's never raced at this weekend Saturday's event at La Salle (Ill.) Speedway and Sunday's race at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa (the 34 Raceway event was originally scheduled for Friday but rained out and rescheduled for Sunday). Both events pay $10,000 to the winner and series points leader Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., is aiming for a record-setting fourth consecutive series victory.

Vaught has some catching up to do in series points after 10 series events — he's 14th overall and third in rookie standings behind Chris Wall of Holden, La., and Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky. — partly because problems with the team's hauler prevented him from running Lucas Oil's Florida Speedweeks races at East Bay Raceway Park. But with his Warrior fast right out of the hauler at recent events, Vaught hopes to climb the points chart.

Vaught credits Warrior Race Cars house car driver Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga., a former World 100 champion who is sixth in Lucas Oil points, and his brother Shane McDowell with helping him get his car rolling.

"I probably wouldn't be running as good without them," Vaught said. "Here lately I haven't been making much adjustment. I've just been driving the car. Just a couple of turns here or there, and getting the right tires on the car" before the main event. — Todd Turner and James Essex

Editor's note: Updates with rainout and rescheduled 34 Raceway event.

APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN SPEEDWEEK LANDS TITLE SPONSOR: The seven-race Appalachian Mountain Speedweek has landed title sponsorship from CenturyLink and announced the points fund will be double for its season season with the champion earning $4,000. “We felt that this is a good fit for us,” said CenturyLink's Deborah Keyser. "A few years ago, we had a sponsorship at Williams Grove (Pa.) Speedway and we were pleased with the response we received from it." The miniseries points fund pays the top eight drivers with the second- and third-place finishers receiving $2,250 and $1,200. Other sponsors include Hoosier Racing Tire, American Racer, Keizer Aluminum Racing Wheels and Sunoco Race Fuels. Besides the seven Super Late Model events paying at least $5,000 to the winner, the Tri-Track Late Model Championship for Limited Late Models will also run in conjunction with AMS events at Lincoln, Port Royal and Bedford in $1,000-to-win events. — Jerry Reigle

OHIO'S MIDWAY SPEEDWAY FOR SALE AFTER CLOSURE: Midway Speedway owner Chad Shipman announced Wednesday he was closing the Crooksville, Ohio, track and putting it up for sale. "My interests in these past few months have shifted in other directions and I just can't give the racetrack the time or the attention it needs to reach the next level," Shipman wrote on the track website. "I owe it to the Midway Speedway fans, loyal track track employees and the hard-working Midway racing teams to sell or lease the track. This will give someone with the passion, desire and 100 percent commitment it takes to run a racing facility an opportunity to take Midway Speedway to the next level in motorsports where we all think it belongs." Corey Conley of Wellsburg, W.Va., won last year's Late Model championship at the 3/8-mile oval, which was originally built in 1963 and annually hosts the Jim Dunn Memorial. Anyone interesting in buying or leasing the track can contact Shipman at chadwshipman@gmail.com or (740) 343-0273. — From track reports

ELDORA PLANNING MINIATURE MUSEUM: Eldora Speedway, which hosts some of Dirt Late Model racing's biggest events, is planning a miniature museum to showcase items commemorating historic moments at the half-mile track in Rossburg, Ohio. "When this museum is completed, it will become a shrine and add to the fabled Eldora experience," track owner Tony Stewart said in a statement. "A victory at Eldora is special, and sharing that moment for generations to come, makes it even more exceptional." The museum's location hasn't been selected and no timetable has been set on construction, but items already preserved include Bart Hartman's uniform and helmet from last year's World 100 victory. Replicas of winning trophies are being collected as well as copies of winner's checks. — From track reports

TWO-SEATER SHOWDOWN IN ALABAMA: Drivers Mike Head of Ellenwood, Ga., and Glenn Starr of Gadsden, Ala., will face off May 21-22 in two-seater car match races at Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Ala., and Little River Speedway in Heflin, Ala. In other news, the tracks announced that drivers winning back-to-back Limited Late Model features at the two tracks would earn a $100 bonus. — From track reports

TRACKS OFFER WEEKLY RACING DISCOUNTS: At least three Late Model tracks are offering special admission prices for May 22 action. Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., is cutting its adult admission in half to $5 for action that includes Super Late Models and Fastrak-sanctioned Crate Late Models. Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway is hosting Fan Appreciation night with $5 admission, an event that includes UMP DIRTcar Late Models. And Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway is offering free admission to fans who bring identification as residents of Washington and Greene counties. PPMS will feature DIRTcar Super Late Models and Fastrak Crates. — From track reports

ADDITIONS TO SERIES SCHEDULES: The O'Reilly All Star Late Model Series has added a $4,000-to-win event at Mercer (Pa.) Raceway Park on July 10. ... The Dart Corn Belt Clash has added three Minnesota events: June 20 event at Dodge County Speedway in Kasson and July 9-10 at Elko Speedway. ... The Florida-based National Late Model Series has added a June 12 event at 441 Speedway in Dublin, Ga. ... The Monster Midwest Series has added an Aug. 22 event at Shepp's Speedway in Alexander, Ill., along with Oct. 21-22 events at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway. ... The Race Brothers Show Me Racing Series has added a June 12 event at West Plains (Mo.) Speedway. ... The Sunoco UDLMCS has added a Sept. 18 event at Senoia (Ga.) Speedway and an Oct. 2 event at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Ga.

DELETIONS FROM SERIES SCHEDULES: The Southern All Stars have removed a scheduled Aug. 28 event at Whynot (Miss.) Motorsports Park (and will run that night at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss., a race originally scheduled for Aug. 29). ... The Three State Flyers have removed the scheduled May 28 event at Winchester (Va.) Speedway. ... The United Late Model Series has removed the scheduled July 9 stop at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio. ...The Steel Block Bandits have removed the scheduled June 19 race at Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, N.C. ... The Midwest DIRTcar Late Model Series postponed its May 22 event at Mid-America Speedway in South Coffeyville, Okla., to a date to be announced.

ODDS AND ENDS: Former Dirt Late Model racer Carl Collins of Brownstown, Ind., died May 15 of complications from a stroke. He was 72. Collins raced for more than 30 years at Brownstown Speedway, Twin Cities Raceway Park and other tracks while piloting cars for Paul Crockett, Don Kriete, Bill and Marty Fleetwood, Harold Burton and Earl Sims. .... The Lucas Oil MLRA tour moved its event at 24 Raceway in Moberly, Mo., to June 24 instead of June 12. ... Citing economic concerns, Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Ga., announced it will run only special events the remainder of 2010. Ten events are scheduled including NLMS races on June 19 and Sept. 4 and a UDLMCS race on Oct. 2.

Lucas Oil points

(Through May 15)
1. Jimmy Owens -1,345
2. Scott Bloomquist - 1,305
3. Earl Pearson Jr. - 1,175
4. Don O'Neal - 1,115
5. Chris Wall - 1,095
6. Dale McDowell - 1,075
7. Steve Casebolt - 1,050
8. Ray Cook - 995
9. Dan Schlieper - 970
10. Eric Wells - 920
11. Mike Marlar - 915
12. Dennis Erb Jr. - 885
13. John Blankenship - 860
14. Will Vaught - 845
15. Jason Feger - 840
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