During the Oil Capital Racing Series sprint car feature event on this sultry, hot summer Saturday night; Whit “The Gasman” Gastineau had all three apply at the Oklahoma Sports Park in Ada. The Gasman lead from the outset of the 25 lap event and seemingly had the race in hand until the waning laps when he was caught by Pauls Valley native Gary Owens. On the 24th and final lap, as the pair rocketed into turn one, Gastineau made his first and only mistake of the race when he missed his mark going into turn one and slid up the track allowing Owens to take full advantage and pass The Gasman in a drag race to the finish line.
As the duo swept through turn three, 2011 OCRS rookie of the year contender Josh Toho blew a water hose in turn four and spun off the track leaving a trail of water in the racing grove. Along came Owens in the Fields Pecan Pies /Glen Owens Sand and Gravel sprinter who just needed to negotiate the final turn and sprint to the line for his first career OCRS main event win. However, Owens, not realizing Toho spewed water onto the track, ran through the moisture and spun off the high side of turn number four alongside the disabled mount of Toho. The Gasman, who had just realized what had taken place, also hit the slick spot but in so doing, cracked the throttle to reduce tire spin and managed to get through the final corner and reached the finish line to capture his fifth win of the 2011 OCRS season in his Goodyear Tire /Shell Rapid Lube/ Eagle machine.
“I saw him (Owens) about a lap before and knew someone was on me, but I didn’t know who it was” explained Gastineau. “I told myself to stick to the bottom and you will be fine. They aren’t going to get around you on the top. I pushed up just a hair and he (Owens) got underneath me. Once he got by me, I was right behind him and then we went down to number four and a car had busted some water. I saw he had gotten loose (in the water) and by that time I had gotten loose. He ended up getting spun and we kept it straight and got the win,” said the elated victor.
Owens knew he was so close to his first OCRS win.
“We were going into three coming around to take the checkered and I guess the 41 car (Toho) blew a radiator hose, and I never saw anything and the next thing I knew, I was turned around and I was backing into the wall. Backwards up the track was all I seen.” When asked about what his thoughts were when he took the lead from Gastineau, Owens responded: “Just hang on and we can win one of these OCRS features finally.”
It was wasn’t to be this night for the talented racer.
Getting started for the feature was an adventure in its self. The initial start was called back due to the night’s pole dash winner and thus pole starter, Dean Drake Jr jumping early. On the second start attempt, Gastineau shot into the lead entering into turn one with Drake and Andrew Deal following. Before the first lap could be completed, a yellow flag was displayed for a spin in turn number three by Travis “Hollywood” Jenkins. The third attempt to start the feature saw the same trio going into turn one in the same order with Mike Goodman and Danny Jennings trailing. Lap one would eventually be completed but on the second lap, the yellow would fly once again for the stalled car of Kerry McAlister in turn three. The race would go back to green only to go immediate red when second time OCRS and sprint car starter, Alex Sewell, would collect the front stretch wall and execute a slow roll over. Sewell was okay but otherwise disappointed for his night ending so early.
Back to green, Gastineau would immediately show his strength as he began to put distance between himself and runner up Drake. The Gasman would enter traffic at the beginning of lap 11 which saw Deal drift high in turns one and two thus allowing Goodman and Owens to fly by. Further back in the field, Rafe Essary was quietly picking off cars a few at a time from his 16th starting position. Lap 16 would bring out another yellow when Mike Goodman spun to a stop in turn number four with Owens climbing the top berm of the same corner almost stalling to a stop himself.Goodman would go pitside and would not return for the rest of the affair. Gastineau would pace the field for the restart with the lapped car of Terry Easum set between himself and Drake.
On the next lap, Sean McClelland, who at this point was struggling to catch the front runners, had seemed to be having an overheating problem and pulled in. It was during this point that Deal and Danny Jennings were putting on a challenge as to who would take the fourth spot. A couple of laps later, Jennings and Tim Kent would work by Deal whose machine began to show signs of distress. Soon after, Deal’s mount would give way and he would pull in unable to finish.
Down to the final five laps, Owens was putting pressure on the Gasman and there was a large gap back to Drake and Jennings and then another gap to Tim Kent then “Hotrod” Kent and the closing Essary. Then came the white flag affair when Gastineau had felt the race has slipped away and Owens had felt he was about to embark on that long awaited initial OCRS victory. After Gastineau took checkers, last weeks feature winner, Drake, brought his sprinter home second in the Oil Express/ Liquid Designz/ Maxim with Jennings in the Goodyear special and “Hotrod” Kent and Essary completing the top five.
Sixth went to Matt Sherrell who was piloting the Danny Smith owned Same Day Auto Repair special as his regular ride was unavailable for this particular event. Seventh went to Jamie Passmore with Tim Kent eight. Kyle Clark took the ninth position and was the last car running at the checkers. Owens, who sat idle in turn four as the field completed their run, rounded out the top ten.
Heat race winners for the 27-car field went to Goodman, Owens and Drake Jr. Essary was victorious in the 12 lap B Feature with “Hollywood” Jenkins, McClelland and Joe Wood Jr. Wood, who was driving the Jeff Leep Jr number 99 XXX sprinter on this night, took the fourth and final transfer into the main event.
The next event for the OCRS traveling warriors will be next Friday night at the Outlaw Motor Speedway just south of Muskogee Oklahoma.