There is something about “special events” at the Oklahoma Sports Park that suits Gary Owens just fine when the Oil Capital Racing Series comes to town.
For the second time in five events at George Welch’s 4/10-mile track, Owens took advantage of his front row starting spot and became the fifth winner in as many attempts of the Harold Leep Jr. Memorial Race held earlier this month. Owens last took checkers at OSP in the fall of 2011, when he won his first OCRS feature event at the Oklahoma State Championship event.
“The track was in pretty good shape tonight,” said Owens. “We had a pretty good little cushion, and I knew that if I could keep it (the car) there, hopefully everything would line up, and it did and we had a pretty good run tonight.”
At the drop of the green flag, Owens shot his vehicle into the lead as the cars attacked the first two corners. Perry Pickard followed Owens into turn one from his pole position berth, only to have Shayla Waddell, who started outside second row and behind Owens, overtake Pickard as the cars exited turn two.
Alex Decamp, Casey Wills and Jeremy Allen would be the next few cars to cross the stripe with the leading trio, as the field would complete the opening round of the 25-lap affair.
DeCamp would pass Pickard on the third lap to move into the show position. Soon after, Pickard would drift high in turn two and lose several positions. On the ensuing lap, Waddell would break loose and get crossed up in turn four. “The Princess” would wind up in the infield but gassed it to keep her revs up and bolted right back onto the track, only losing two positions.
Owens was out to a 12-car length lead by this point and was showing everyone in attendance he meant business. As the field was working lap 13, Chuck Bellefeuille came to a stop in turn two to bring out the first caution of the race. He would not restart, as he was towed back to the pits. The restart order would have Owens at the top, with the lapped car of Joshua Tyre next, then DeCamp, Allen, Waddell, Wills, Joe Wood Jr., Harli White, Kade Morton, Whit Gastineau, Strike Hill and Johnny Kent.
On the restart, Allen would overtake Decamp in turn two to move into the runner-up spot. DeCamp would get a little high thereafter, and Waddell would take back another position she had lost earlier. A yellow would fly again as Kent, who arrived just in time to transfer from the B-Feature after attending his sister’s wedding earlier in the evening, got into the back of Hill and the two cars were left stalled. Hill would be towed in, while Kent would rejoin the field at the rear.
Once back under the green flag, Owens stretched out to a couple of car lengths’ lead almost immediately while positions behind him were being fought tooth and nail. White and Wood Jr. were going at one another, and Gastineau was looking to muscle in as well.
Working the 17th round, Wood Jr. would take a spot from DeCamp in turn one. DeCamp had to feel like the kid in school who gets picked on because just after losing a spot to Wood Jr., White was all over him, trying to get in to the top five. White would make the pass for position, then Gastineau was all over DeCamp’s bumper and eventually got by him. Gastineau quickly caught up to White and the battle was on, but for these two top gunners, their battle wouldn’t last long. Coming down the front straight for the 20th lap, the two made contact and Gastineau shot to the infield by several feet. “The Gasman” kept the gas pedal mashed, executed a 360 and blazed back out onto the track; however, he would lose several position.
Smith, who had quietly picked his way through the field, was giving DeCamp all he wanted then. As the white flag was deployed on the next circuit, DeCamp had a problem and parked his car high in turn four. Owens would take the checkers, followed by Allen, Waddell (who had her best finish since her victory at Salina one year ago), Wood Jr. and White. The rest of the top 10 were Smith, Brian McClelland, Wills, Morton and Gastineau.
“Special thanks goes out to the family of Harold Leep Jr. as they added cash to the winning purse and they paid out $100 to every team that did not qualify for the A feature,” said Welch.
When asked about the lapped traffic that was encountered, Owens gave this take.
“I was kind of leery. When they get to racing each other, you just have to kind of watch what they are doing. I didn’t want to ram anybody, so I just took my time and got around them the best I could,” he said. “I also wish to say thanks to the Leep family for all that they have done for the racing community and for the extra money they put up tonight.”
Allen seemed pleased with his runner-up finish.
“We started to get loose towards the end of the race. We should have had the bleeders in, and we didn’t put them in,” he said. “I thought I had a chance at the lead on one of the restarts, but the car just kept getting looser and looser. I like these fast tracks. The car loves it. Once you get the combination just right, you go to the front pretty easy.”
Waddell was pleased with her podium finish for the night.
“At the beginning of the race, I was really loose and I almost lost it. I got completely sideways in turn four and had to cut through the infield. I lost a couple of spots and had to work my back,” she explained. “We got the car good all night on the setup. The car was too tight (first night out), and we had gearing issues (second night out) but tonight was a lot better.”
McClelland received the AmeriFlex Hose and Accessories “Hard Charger,” passing eight cars. Strike Hill was the Dyno Services of Oklahoma “Hard Luck” recipient. Danny Smith took the Wesmar Racing Engines B-Feature. Allen nabbed the AmeriFlex Hose and Accessories heat, Waddell won the Bob Hurley Auto Family heat and Gastineau won the Drive Shafts Inc. heat race.
The next event for the OCRS warriors will be next Saturday night at the Salina Highbanks Speedway in Salina. It will be the first of three stops at the Highbanks for OCRS in 2013.
OCRS Race Results
Date of Race:
Saturday, May 11, 2013
AmeriFlex Hose and Accessories Heat
1, 17-Jeremy Allen . 2, 78-Perry Pickard . 3, 8M-Kade Morton . 4, 9$-Kyle Clark . 5, 5$-Danny Smith . 6, 11-Michael Tyre . 7, 55-Johnny Kent. (DNS). 8, 007-Michael Bookout. (DNS).
Bob Hurley Auto Family Heat
1, 88S-Shayla Waddell . 2, 31-Casey Wills . 3, 17W-Harli White . 4, 71-Joe Wood Jr. . 5, 33-Gary Owens . 6, 87F-Brian McClelland . 7, 7m-Chance Morton . 8, 94-Dan Schnackenberg .
Drive Shafts Inc. Heat
1, 2W-Whit Gastineau . 2, 84-Alex DeCamp . 3, 26-Rafe Essary . 4, 13-Strike Hill .
5, 25-Chuck Bellefeuille . 6, 7F-Joshua Tyre . 7, 98-Jeff Garnett .
Wesmar Racing Engines B Feature (Top 8 transfer)
1, 5$-Danny Smith . 2, 9$-Kyle Clark . 3, 87F-Brian McClelland . 4, 55-Johnny Kent . 5, 7m-Chance Morton . 6, 25-Chuck Bellefeuille . 7, 7F-Joshua Tyre . 8, 94-Dan Schnackenberg . 9, 007-Michael Bookout . 10, 11-Michael Tyre . 11, 98-Jeff Garnett .
OCRS A Feature
1, 33-Gary Owens . 2, 17-Jeremy Allen . 3, 88S-Shayla Waddell . 4, 71-Joe Wood Jr. . 5, 17W-Harli White . 6, 5$-Danny Smith . 7, 87F-Brian McClelland . 8, 31-Casey Wills . 9, 8M-Kade Morton . 10, 2W-Whit Gastineau . 11, 26-Rafe Essary . 12, 7m-Chance Morton . 13, 55-Johnny Kent . 14, 7F-Joshua Tyre . 15, 84-Alex DeCamp . 16,
94-Dan Schnackenberg . 17, 13-Strike Hill . 18, 9$-Kyle Clark . 19, 78-Perry Pickard . 20, 25-Chuck Bellefeuille .
AmeriFlex Hose and Accessories Hard Charger: Brian McClelland: +8
Dyno Services of Oklahoma Hard Luck Award: Strike Hill
Note: Races are held every Saturday night throughout the 2013 season at the local dirt track, located 10 miles northwest of Ada on SH 3W. Gates open at 5 p. m. and races begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information, check out the Oklahoma Sports Park website at www.oklahomasportspark.com.