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Stewart Stomps Field in O'Reilly Short Track Nationals Opener at I


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Stewart Stomps Field in O'Reilly Short Track Nationals Opener at I-30 Speedway



Lonnie Wheatley, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 25, 2007) – The trio of Oklahoma hotshoe Shane Stewart and West Coast car owners Mike Doyle and Paul Silva has been a magical combination since joining forces in July.




With the team already racking up a $10,000 victory in Knoxville's 360 Nationals and an NSCS Speedweek title in the Upper Northwest, Stewart kicked off the 20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires by decimating the field Thursday night's 25-lap O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National series preliminary feature at I-30 Speedway.




With his 15th overall feature win of the year and 13th aboard the Shaver-powered Doyle's Harley Davidson No. 1hd Maxim, Stewart locked himself into Saturday night's $20,000-to-win Short Track Nationals championship feature event along with second and third-place runners Jason Sides and Zach Chappell.




"I'm thankful that I crossed paths with Paul Silva, getting together with these guys really has turned my career around," Stewart explained of a remarkable 2007 season that follows a forgettable 2006 campaign.




Locked into Saturday night's Pack's Dash for Cash, in which the winner will have first option at the COMP Cams Challenge which could net the winner a bolstered paycheck of $45,000 by opting to start at the rear, Stewart stated that, "This is a race that I've wanted to win for a long time, we've had a couple of good chances and a couple of good finishes. Now, if we can just keep that number nine (Gary Wright) behind us, it seems like he's been our biggest nemesis at this race," the Bixby, OK, native explained of the four-time Short Track Nationals champion.




Stewart was stout from the outset, working his way up from eighth to fourth in his heat race and then charging from sixth to take the lead from Joe Beaver on the ninth round of the fourth 12-lap Qualifying race to earn the pole position for the feature.




And when Stewart beat fellow front row starter Sides, the 2001 STN king, into the first turn at the drop of the green flag, it was essentially over.




Stewart survived three interruptions along the way and worked through some lapped traffic as well before ultimately taking the checkered flag with a straightaway advantage over Sides to post his third ASCS National Tour feature win of the season and 15th of his career.




Sides fought off Chappell in the early stages before taking command of the runner-up position. Meanwhile, Chappell and Sam Hafertepe, Jr., engaged in a spirited duel for the third and final lock-in position over the final rounds, with the 2001 ASCS National champion finally securing the position when Hafertepe bicycled in a big way in turn four with the white flag in sight.




Hafertepe's brush with disaster allowed Travis Rilat, who charged from 16th, to scamper into fourth. Hafertepe rounded out the top five, with Tony Bruce, Jr., Jerrod Hull, 19th-starter Wayne Johnson, 15th-starter Jason Johnson and 14th-starter Dale Blaney completing the top ten.




The feature event was red-flagged after just two laps when Jan Howard flipped in turn one when a right rear wheel broke on his machine.




The second stoppage occurred after ten rounds when Shawn Sander sailed off the top of turn two. The final caution flew with just five laps remaining when Chris Morgan, who had raced among the top five most of the way, came to a stop in turn two with driveline woes. As the checkered flag was flying, Jesse Hockett slipped off the top of the track exiting turn two while running sixth and flipped as well.




Stewart took off after each interruption, reaching lapped traffic within a handful of laps on the fast ¼-mile clay oval. Working traffic flawlessly, Stewart, the 2003 STN runner-up, collected his second STN preliminary feature win virtually unchallenged.




Picking up heat race wins for Thursday night's 51-car field were defending STN champion Jason Johnson, Sides, Hull, Jesse Hockett, Brad Bowden and Jan Howard.




After Matt Covington and Wayne Johnson tangled in turn two while battling for the lead in the first qualifier, Jason Johnson battled past Garry Lee Maier on the eleventh lap for the lead, only to have a steering arm break entering turn one. Maier took advantage to take the win, with Johnson struggling around the track to finish sixth.




Marshall Skinner wired the field in the second qualifier, while El Paso's Shawn Sander fought off Sam Hafertepe, Jr., early and then battled past Jay Russell on the seventh lap to score a surprise win in the third qualifier before Stewart made a late move around Beaver to win the fourth qualifier.




Johnny Miller became the first flip victim of the 20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires when he tumbled in turn three on the opening lap of the second heat. Miller returned for qualifying race action.




The first qualifying race was marred by a last-lap accident involving Josh Howard. Moments after Jason Johnson slid off the top of turn two, the 22-year-old Howard bicycled in turn one and then sailed off the top of turn two.




After a hard landing, safety personnel worked for over an hour to extricate the youngest of the three Howard brothers from his machine. After being transported to a local hospital, it was determined that the Byhalia, MS, racer suffered a fractured C5 vertebrae. Howard is scheduled to undergo surgery.




20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Thursday Night Results:




Heat Races:




First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 2. 7c-Chris Morgan, 3. 29R-Travis Rilat, 4. 95-Matt Covington, 5. 26-Marshall Skinner, 6. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 7. 59d-Dustin Morgan. DNS: 51-Jimmy Brooks, 32-Garry Bell.




Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 7s-Jason Sides, 2. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 3. 94J-Wayne Johnson, 4. 1hd-Shane Stewart, 5. 29s-Shawn Sander, 6. 6n-Dain Naida, 7. 20-Josh Howard, 8. 94T-Steven Tiner, 9. 64J-Johnny Miller.




Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 2. 10-Terry Gray, 3. 87T-Tim Montgomery, 4. 50z-Zach Chappell, 5. 76-Jay Russell, 6. 53b-Joe Beaver, 7. 00-Danny Martin, Jr., 8. 69h-Larry Howery, 9. 93b-Bob Schaeffer.




Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 75J-Jesse Hockett, 2. 18T-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 11x-Garry Lee Maier, 4. 25-Gary Taylor, 5. 14c-Coleman Gulick, 6. 11T-Tyler Thompson, 7. 57x-Jake Peters, 8. 4am-Tyler Walker, 9. 2m-Bryce Vowan.




Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 15b-Brad Bowden, 2. 8x-Chris Williams, 3. 74e-Claud Estes, 4. 97-Mike Brecht, 5. d12-Doc Sloan, 6. 71b-Robert Bell, 7. 71J-John Jacob, 8. 1p-Curtis Evans.




Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 4x-Jan Howard, 2. 6b-Dale Blaney, 3. 14T-Tyler Brown, 4. 93c-Chris Sweeney, 5. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 6. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 7. 35h-Jimmy Hurley.




Qualifying Races – Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into "A" Main; Balance of 20-car Feature Field comprised of Top 16 Overall Points Accumulated Through Heats & Qualifiers (Feature Lined up according to total points)



First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 11x-Garry Lee Maier, 2. 50z-Zach Chappell, 3. 7c-Chris Morgan, 4. 4am-Tyler Walker, 5. 94J-Wayne Johnson, 6. 41-Jason Johnson, 7. 15b-Brad Bowden, 8. 21T-Tommy Bryant, 9. d12-Doc Sloan, 10. 20-Josh Howard, 11. 71b-Robert Bell, 12. 95-Matt Covington. DNS: 2m-Bryce Vowan.




Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 26-Marshall Skinner, 2. 18T-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 97-Mike Brecht, 4. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 5. 29R-Travis Rilat, 6. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 7. 6b-Dale Blaney, 8. 00-Danny Martin, Jr., 9. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 10. 1p-Curtis Evans, 11. 35h-Jimmy Hurley, 12. 51J-Jimmy Brooks. DNS: 25-Gary Taylor.




Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 29s-Shawn Sander, 2. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 3. 7s-Jason Sides, 4. 76-Jay Russell, 5. 6n-Dain Naida, 6. 8x-Chris Williams, 7. 10-Terry Gray, 8. 14T-Tyler Brown, 9. 64J-Johnny Miller, 10. 32-Garry Bell, 11. 71J-John Jacob, 12. 11T-Tyler Thompson, 13. 94T-Steven Tiner.




Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 1hd-Shane Stewart, 2. 53b-Joe Beaver, 3. 14c-Coleman Gulick, 4. 4x-Jan Howard, 5. 74e-Claud Estes, 6. 75J-Jesse Hockett, 7. 93c-Chris Sweeney, 8. 87T-Tim Montgomery, 9. 59d-Dustin Morgan, 10. 93b-Bob Schaeffer, 11. 69h-Larry Howery, 12. 57x-Jake Peters.




“A” Feature – Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night’s $20,000 to win STN Finale.




A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 1hd-Shane Stewart (1), 2. 7s-Jason Sides (2), 3. 50z-Zach Chappell (4), 4. 29R-Travis Rilat (16), 5. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (3), 6. 18T-Tony Bruce, Jr. (9), 7. 12h-Jerrod Hull (10), 8. 94J-Wayne Johnson (19), 9. 41-Jason Johnson (15), 10. 6b-Dale Blaney (14), 11. 26-Marshall Skinner (13), 12. 53b-Joe Beaver (20), 13. 15b-Brad Bowden (11), 14. 75J-Jesse Hockett (17), 15. 11x-Garry Lee Maier (7), 16. 7c-Chris Morgan (8), 17. 97-Mike Brecht (12), 18. 29s-Shawn Sander (5), 19. 74e-Claud Estes (18), 20. 4x-Jan Howard (6).

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