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Champ Oates Skips Race for Prom

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San Antonio – NASCAR star Jeff Gordon once said, "If my prom had been on a race day, I'd have missed the prom." His dad, John Bickford, later remarked that, thinking back, he could have let Jeff have more of a life.


2004 NASCAR Sunbelt Champion Justin Oates is dedicated to racing, but he chose to miss the first points race of the season and go to his La Vernia High School prom two weeks ago. This Saturday night, April 23, he'll start his run at the San Antonio Speedway Late Model championship having spotted the field the first race, but he's not worried.


"It's a tough field and mostly veterans, but that makes it good," he said this week. "No one will get out to a big lead, they'll all be fighting for points, and that means I can catch up with a couple of really good races. I hope I start with one this weekend." In addition, last year's champion, Larry Bendele, also missed the first race.


The 18-year-old Oates actually started his third season of racing at SAS on April 2 by setting a new Sportsman class lap record in qualifying in his Affordable Trailers Chevrolet Camaro, then racing from sixth starting spot to win the non-points "American Classified Sportsman 25." The 18-year-old La Vernia High School senior qualified on the pole but started sixth after part of the field was inverted.


The previous record had been held by Justin's dad, Jason, who set the record in the same car while qualifying for the 2004 "OktoberFast" post-season race at SAS. That night Justin was racing the new Affordable Trailers Chevrolet Monte Carlo late model stock car to an eighth-place finish in his first race in the car.


Gates open at 5:00 pm on Saturday at SAS, located on Highway 16 just south of San Antonio. Races start at 7:27 pm, according to the track schedule.




T. Q. Jones, Public Relations Counselor,

P. O. Box 91346, Austin, TX 78709-1346

Phone: (512) 261-5236 Email: tqj@mindspring.com

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