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Schuerenberg steals show at West Plains sprint car feature

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hunter Schuerenberg
WEST PLAINS -- Gary Wright may have captured his 102nd career O'Reilly American Sprint Car Series National Tour presented by Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores feature victory Friday night at West Plains Motor Speedway, but it was 15-year-old Hunter Schuerenberg who stole the show after taking "The Texan" to the brink in the 25-lapper.

The young lion and the cagey veteran swapped the lead several times before lapped traffic finally played into Wright's hands on the 21st round. Wright reported immediately to the scales after his 12th series victory of the season then went directly to his trailer, declining traditional victory lane ceremonies in the process, much to the disappointment of the assembled crowd.

Wright earned the pole position for the feature by making an impressive charge from sixth to take over the lead in less than three laps en route to winning the evening's second heat race. While Wright was the prohibitive odds-on favorite for the main event, third-starter Schuerenberg had other ideas.

Wright outgunned fellow front row starter Zach Chappell for the point at the drop of the green, with action interrupted after just two rounds when Jake Martens spun in turn three after contact, with Jerrod Hull getting collected and Nick Smith flipping in the aftermath. While there were no injuries, all three were done with Jon Corbin rejoining the chase after quick repairs.

With the final 23 rounds contested in non-stop fashion, Wright set sail on the restart with Schuerenberg making his way past Chappell for second on the fourth lap. Schuerenberg wasted little time reeling in the defending series champion and working the middle flawlessly through turns three and four, blasted into the lead upon the completion of lap seven.

Schuerenberg led by two car-lengths until lapped traffic became a factor on the eleventh round. Wright worked back into the lead on the 14th lap, only to have the Sikeston, MO, youngster battle right back to recapture the point on the 16th circuit.

Schuerenberg closed to the rear bumper of the battling soon-to-be-lapped duo of Terry Gray and Ernie Ainsworth on the 18th lap. Schuerenberg looked high and low, even poking his nose between the pair on a couple of occasions before thinking better of it.

With the leaders slowed behind the Bartlett, TN, pair, Wright took advantage by moving to the extreme high side in turns one and two on the 21st round, racing past Schuerenberg as well as the lapped cars.

Schuerenberg made his way past Gray and Ainsworth moments later as well, but his shot at a first career O'Reilly ASCS National Tour victory aboard the Minor's Harley-Davidson/The Hide Group No. 35 Maxim had slipped away.

Wright took the checkered flag aboard the Wesmar-powered Southwest Express/The Shop/Richwood Construction No. 9 Maxim with a four car-

length edge over an enthused Schuerenberg, as Chappell took the show position nearly a straightaway behind the lead pair. Marshall Skinner raced to a strong fourth place finish, while Tim Montgomery charged from 17th to round out the top five after making a late move past Toby Brown to win the 12-lap "B" Main.

Jan Howard crossed the stripe sixth, with Randy Martin securing his first Winged Outlaw Warriors championship by finishing seventh. Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Lee Sowell posted his best finish of the year by taking the checkered in eighth, with 15th-starter Sam Hafertepe, Jr., and leading Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Tony Bruce, Jr., completing the top ten.

Schuerenberg, Wright, Sowell and Skinner topped heat race action for the 30-

car field prior to Montgomery's tenth lap pass of Brown in the "B" Main.