The Dirt Works Race Cars sponsored Open Wheel Modified Show-Me Championship, held Aug. 5-7 at West Plains Motor Speedway, is in the record book. With weather for three days that couldn't have been much better, and racing described by observers as the best ever, the 12th annual event saw Greenbrier's Jack Sullivan take the big $6,000 check, the pair of trophies and full honors of the event.
The event kicked off Aug. 5 with round one of the qualifying action. Seventy-six drivers representing nine states drew heat race start positions. The top four in each of the six heats advanced to the nightly qualifier feature.
Round one found Arkansas drivers dominating the first eight to advance to the Saturday night Championship feature. Winning the qualifier and locking in the pole starting position was Brandon Smith of Batesville, followed by Steve Holzkamper of Gentry, Wayne Brooks of Bald Knob, Jared Landers of Benton, Brad Buck of Paragould, Scott Drake of Webb City, Mo., Tim Crawley of Mablevale and Walt Butler of Bald Knob.
Friday night round two recorded 81 drivers following the same format with eight more transferring to the main event. Taking the checkers first was Robby Arnold of Paragould, followed by Chris Moore of Nesbit, Miss., George White of Ft. Worth, Texas, Kevin Salter of Batesville Shane Stephens of Arlington, Tenn., Jeremy Conner of Essex, Mo., Shawn Walsh of Ash Flat and Andy Milliken of Greenwood.
Round three action brought 79 teams to the red clay at WPMS for the final opportunity to make the big show. Winning that final round was Jerry Buck of Harviel, Mo., followed by Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Gary Clark of Walker, Mo., Mark Stephens of Arlington, Tn, Terry Kerbough of Arlington, Tn, Todd Clifford of Paragould, Chris Henigan of Marshall, Texas and Richie Tosh of Salado.
With the field of 24 drivers set, the last and 25th slot went to the high point driver at West Plains Motor Speedway who had not already qualified into the Championship event, and this year that spot went to Bill Adams of West Plains.
Brandon Smith took the green on the pole but was overtaken by the outside front starter, Robby Arnold on the first lap. Arnold and Jack Sullivan, who started in the third row outside, volleyed back and forth for the lead spot the first 14 laps but Sullivan took the lead at that point and never looked back.
Only four cautions slowed the action where 20 of the 25 starting drivers finished on the lead lap. Track conditions were great with lots of two and three-wide action throughout the field. Cars were moving high, low and in the mid-grooves throughout the night. Double-wide restarts provided an extra level of interest when the action was slowed by the cautions.
The full finish is as follows: Jack Sullivan, Chris Moore, Robby Arnold, Brandon Smith, Brad Buck, Wayne Brooks, Jerry Buck, Steve Holzkamper, George White, Mark Stephens, Walt Butler, Tim Crawley, Todd Clifford, Shawn Walsh, Gary Clark, Scott Drake, Kevin Salter, Richie Tosh, Jeremy Conner, Jared Landers, Shane Stephens, Terry Kerbough, Andy Milliken, Chris Henigan, and Bill Adams.
Weekly classes provided support action to the event. Thursday night Hobby Stock feature winner, Dave Wallace of Theodosia, took the honors followed by Tyson Troutman of Houston, Chuck Russell and Bobby Bryant, both of West Plains, and Rick Cooper of Thornfield, Mo., rounding out the top five.
Patrick Reed of Mountain View won the Front Wheel Drive feature Thursday night, followed by Chris Johnson, Brad Sanders, Jerry Doane and Truman Poole, all of West Plains, making up the top five finishers.
Friday night support action included the Cruiser class where Jason Johnson of Hardy won his first career feature event. Following closely was Bill Johns, also from Hardy, Jeff North of Willow Springs, Shane Hitt of Birch Tree and Michael Lewis, Jr. of West Plains rounding out the top five.
Youth Hobby Stock feature winner was Chris Ratterree of Mountain Grove, Bobby Skinner of Moody, Ben Ledgerwood of Birch Tree, Eric Butler of Moody and Nikita Curtner of West Plains.
Super Stock provided the support class action Saturday night when John Hughes of Batesville took the winner's honors. Stan Ellison came across the finish second followed by Bobby Bryant, both from West Plains, Dee Kelly of Birch Tree and Bill Dixon of Thayer.
The Miss West Plains Motor Speedway title was presented to Heather Collins, 16-year-old daughter of Sharon and Andy Collins of West Plains. Collins was presented with a crown, an embroidered sash, trophy, $50 savings bond and a gift basket. She will preside over trophy presentations for the remainder of the 2004 season.
Runners-up in the competition were Ashley Smith of Salem, along with Jolene Russell and Anna O'Conner, both of West Plains.