By DUSTY WIEGERT
Special to The Hays Daily News
SALINA, Kan. -- For the first time in Salina Speedway history a National Tour event will be staged at the 3/8 mile facility on Thursday night.
That event, sanctioned by the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series, will feature many long time veterans and rising stars in the world of dirt track racing.
The series started in 1992 with Kansan Gary Lee Maier claiming the first Championship. From humble beginnings the ASCS has grown into a national power house, with its competition regarded as the best around.
Leading the standings is Eunice, Louisiana's Jason Johnson, a two-time Champion in the series. Johnson's car owner is a name familiar with all race fans, 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The "Ragin' Cajun" has eight wins already during the 2012 season, which has stretched thirty-eight races so far from Arkansas and Texas to the Pacific Northwest. Johnson also looked to be en route to a win the last time the Sprint Cars competed at the Speedway in 2006 but finished second to Chuck Swenson.
Wayne Johnson, no relation to Jason, has one series title but is only twenty-one points away from the lead looking for number two. The Oklahoma City native, who now makes Sprint Car Capital of the World Knoxville, Iowa his home, has seven wins on the season.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma's Brady Bacon holds down the third position in the standings with five wins thus far. Bacon has past experience at the Salina Speedway as he nearly won a Southern Midget Racing Series event in 2006, leading until the final lap.
For many years Sunset Hills, Missouri driver Brad Loyet piloted a Midget car, capturing numerous Championships. Now, after making the transition to Sprint Cars, Loyet finds himself in the fourth place position in the standings in a season where he finally picked up his first win on July 29 in Santa Maria, California.
Though winless in 2012, "Hollywood" Johnny Herrera is one of the series veterans with vast experience across the country. Herrera is also a former King's Royal Champion, one of the World's most prestigious races.
A Kansan holds down the sixth place spot in the standings. Liberal's Tony Bruce Jr., who has race at Salina in the past, has three wins on the season.
Other drivers expected in Thursday's field include Salina's Jon Freeman, Seth Bergman, Dustin Morgan, Gary Wright, Logan Forler, Danny Wood, Jack Dover, Matt Covington, Aaron Reutzel, and many more, including some of the state's local drivers.
Joining the Sprint Cars will be the Auto House Mod Lites and T&R Dirt Construction Mini Stock divisions. Race time is set for 7:30PM. Admission is $20 with Kids 12 & Under FREE. Pit passes will be $30.
For more information on the Salina Speedway please visit www.racesalinaspeedway.com