Lonnie Wheatley, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 27, 2012) – California native Paul McMahan became just the fifth driver in STN history to post multiple victories in the prestigious event by racing to victory lane in Saturday night’s 25th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires 40-lap finale atop the high-banked, ¼-mile I-30 Speedway clay oval.
McMahan slipped around STN rookie sensation Christopher Bell on the 29th round and went on to collect the $15,000 winner’s share aboard the Cooper Motorsports No. 01 entry ten years after snaring his first Short Track Nationals crown in 2002 with the same car owner. Saturday’s triumph marked the third for Cooper as a car owner.
Seventeen-year-old Bell chased McMahan to the stripe to earn the Dixon Road U-Pull-It STN Rookie of the Year bonus, with four-time event champion Gary Wright claiming the show position in his final event appearance after leading the initial six circuits.
After winning the Pack Building & Materials Dash for Cash, Wright led the $81,675 championship feature event to the green flag with Friday prelim winner Jack Dover alongside. McMahan shared the second row with initial prelim winner Jason Johnson, with STN rookie contenders Justin Henderson and Bell alongside in row three. Bell fell from contention in the Dash after a slider from Johnson while dicing for second resulted in a cut left rear tire.
The initial start was waved off when Jeff Swindell turned over in turn four. Travis Rilat ducked to the pit area for quick wing repairs after getting tagged in the incident while J. Swindell was done.
While Dover had gained the advantage on the initial start, Wright turned the tables on the restart and paced the opening round in front of the Roush Yates Ford-powered Dover and Johnson. But it was Bell, the young gun from Norman, OK, on the move early on, racing past McMahan, Johnson and Dover to take second by the third round with McMahan following along to take third by the fifth circuit.
Bell closed the gap on “The Texan” and immediately began pressuring for the point and took the lead away from Wright on the seventh lap with McMahan relegating Wright to third by the tenth lap.
Into traffic by the 12th lap, Bell kept McMahan at bay until a caution finally flew after 21 laps when fourth-runner Johnson slipped off the turn two embankment and returned to the track with a cut right rear tire. Greg Wilson and Henderson, both running among the top ten, made quick trips to the pit area with cut tires as well from apparent debris.
After reigning NASCAR Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., came to a stop three laps later with race-ending woes, Bell fought off serious challenges from McMahan over the next three laps before Dover’s powerplant detonated in turns one and two to bring out one final caution with 13 laps to go.
McMahan went right to work on the youngster on the restart and slid past for the lead in turns one and two on the 29th lap to take command for keeps. McMahan opened up an advantage of a half dozen car-lengths until traffic became a factor in the final three circuits.
Bell closed to McMahan’s tailtank as the white flag flew, but McMahan was flawless on the final lap to secure the victory with Bell falling just two car-lengths short at the stripe.
Wright held down the show position over the closing circuits, with 2011 STN champion Sammy Swindell advancing a handful of positions to claim fourth. Tim Shaffer rounded out the top five
Danny Lasoski advanced from 14th to claim sixth, with Kevin Swindell in seventh. Randy Hannagan posted the best passing performance by racing from 19th to eighth, with Shane Stewart and Tim Crawley completing the top ten.
Event rookies Bell and Henderson were the only drivers making their first STN championship feature start with Wright and Crawley at the other end of the spectrum by making event bests 18th career STN finale starts.
Tim Shaffer won the first “B” Main over Sammy Swindell to make it into his fifth STN finale in as many tries, with 2010 third-place finisher Wilson besting Stenhouse, Jr., in the second “B” Main to make the cut for his third STN finale.
Gary Taylor and Ryan Bickett earned “C” Main wins, Chris Sweeney and Tony Bruce, Jr., were victorious in “D” Mains and Claud Estes won the “E” Main.
A total of 94 different drivers competed in the 25th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
25th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Saturday Results:
“E” Main (Top 8 Advance to “D” Mains; 1,3,5,7 to “D” Main 1 & 2,4,6,8 to “D” Main 2):
“E” Main (12 Laps): 1. 74e-Claud Estes, 2. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 3. 0m-Andy McElhannon, 4. 31g-Johnny Gardner, 5. 4j-John James, 6. 9$-Kyle Clark, 7. 2x-Patrick Moore, 8. X-Charlie Louden, 9. 92h-Richie Harris, 10. 01n-Jeremy Newkirk, 11. 4s-Tommy Snellgrove, 12. 44-Ronny Howard. DNS: 19-Klint Angelette, 57c-Kyle Chady, 66-Geoff Dodge, 09-Timmy Thrash.
“D” Mains (Top 4 Advance to Corresponding “C” Main):
First “D” Main (12 Laps): 1. 93-Chris Sweeney, 2. 64-Scotty Thiel, 3. 5-Joe Bob Lee, 4. 3r-A.G. Rains, 5. 74e-Claud Estes, 6. 0m-Andy McElhannon, 7. 21x-Taylor Velasquez, 8. 4j-John James, 9. 21k-Ryan Kitchen, 10. 17w-Cole Wood, 11. 58f-Gary Floyd, 12. 17g-Cody Gardner, 13. 33-Mark Huddleston, 14. 1x-Rickey Hood, 15. 16-Koty Adams. DNS: 2x-Patrick Moore.
Second “D” Main (12 Laps): 1. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 3. 66x-Aaron Reutzel, 4. 47-Dale Howard, 5. 0s-Glenn Styres, 6. 12d-Dalton Davis, 7. 21tx-Brandon Schure, 8. 76-John Ricketts, 9. 9$-Kyle Clark, 10. 5k-Jerry Kamer, 11. 1h-Nic Jenkins, 12. 21w-Wes Wofford, 13. 31g-Johnny Gardner, 14. 9k-Kyle Sager, 15. 4x-Shawn Petersen. DNS: X-Charlie Louden.
“C” Mains (Top 4 Advance to Corresponding “B” Main):
First “C” Main (15 Laps): 1. 4t-Gary Taylor, 2. 35-Jimmy Hurley, 3. 14z-Zach Pringle, 4. 27-Andy Shouse, 5. 3h-Brandon Hanks, 6. 46-Jan Howard, 7. 36b-Jonathan Beason, 8. 11m-Justin Melton, 9. 3r-A.G. Rains, 10. 38-Rick Pringle, 11. 93-Chris Sweeney, 12. 5-Joe Bob Lee, 13. 58w-Wade Oliver, 14. 64-Scotty Thiel, 15. 11c-Matt Covington. DNS: 45x-Johnny Herrera.
Second “C” Main (15 Laps): 1. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 2. 25-Blake Hahn, 3. 2-Dustin Morgan, 4. 39-Brad Bowden, 5. 10-Terry Gray, 6. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 7. 66x-Aaron Reutzel, 8. 26s-Jon Stinson, 9. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 10. 17j-Josh Baughman, 11. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 12. 47r-Eric Riggins, Jr., 13. 47-Dale Howard, 14. 49-Shawn Dancer, 15. 3n-Nate Van Haaften. DNS: 48-Jake Martens.
“B” Mains (Top 7 from each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Main (15 Laps): 1. 6t-Tim Shaffer, 2. 1s-Sammy Swindell, 3. 3g-Shane Stewart, 4. 88-Tim Crawley, 5. 94-Jeff Swindell, 6. 39c-Travis Rilat, 7. 22h-Randy Hannagan, 8. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 9. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 10. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 11. 4t-Gary Taylor, 12. 14z-Zach Pringle, 13. 12m-Kyle McCutcheon, 14. 27-Andy Shouse, 15. 35-Jimmy Hurley, 16. 29-Brandon Hahn.
Second “B” Main (15 Laps): 1. W20-Greg Wilson, 2. 6s-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 3. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 4. 1m-Danny Lasoski, 5. 39s-Kevin Swindell, 6. 23s-Seth Bergman, 7. 26m-Marshall Skinner, 8. 25-Blake Hahn, 9. 21t-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 10. 99-Brady Bacon, 11. 23b-Brian Bell, 12. 39-Brad Bowden, 13. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 14. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 15. 2-Dustin Morgan, 16. 21b-Brian Brown.
Dash for Cash (Finish Determines Alignment of Front Three Rows of Main Event):
Dash (6 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 9w-Gary Wright (1), 2. 53-Jack Dover (4), 3. 01m-Paul McMahan (6), 4. 41-Jason Johnson (3), 5. 82-Jason Danley (5), 6. 40b-Christopher Bell (2).
25th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Championship “A” Feature:
A Feature (40 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 01m-Paul McMahan (3) [$15,000], 2. 40b-Christopher Bell (6) [$10,000], 3. 9w-Gary Wright (1) [$7,500], 4. 1s-Sammy Swindell (9) [$5,000], 5. 6t-Tim Shaffer (7) [$2,800], 6. 1m-Danny Lasoski (14) [$2,750], 7. 39s-Kevin Swindell (9) [$2,725], 8. 22h-Randy Hannagan (19) [$2,700], 9. 3g-Shane Stewart (11) [$2,675], 10. 88-Tim Crawley (13) [$2,650], 11. 26m-Marshall Skinner (20) [$2,625], 12. 82-Justin Henderson (5) [$2,600], 13. 41-Jason Johnson (4) [$2,575], 14. 9jr-Derek Hagar (12) [$2,550], 15. 23s-Seth Bergman (18) [$2,525], 16. 53-Jack Dover (2) [$2,500], 17. W20-Greg Wilson (8) [$2,500], 18. 6s-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (10), 19. 17g-Cody Gardner (21) [$2,500], 20. 39c-Travis Rilat (17) [$2,500], 21. 94-Jeff Swindell (15) [$2,500].
Lap Leaders: Gary Wright 1-6, Christopher Bell 7-28, Paul McMahan 29-40.
Photo Credit: Joe Orth