Tuesday, June 01, 2010

SPORTS>>USCS Speedweek puts top drivers on Beebe track

Leader sportswriter

USCS Speedweek is coming to Beebe Speedway on Thursday night.

The national touring sprint-car series is making its annual trek through the Southeast with six scheduled races in eight days.

The first two dates of this year’s Speedweek at Riverside Speedway in West Memphis and North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, Ala., were rained out over the weekend. That made Monday’s race at Clayhill Motorsports Park in Atwood, Tenn., the first of what will be four Speedweek races this year.

It will be the second year for USCS to visit Beebe. The 360 winged sprints and Outlaw Modifieds appeared for the first time in September.

“What happened last year was we leased the track to them,” Beebe track promoter Harold Mahoney said. “School had already started, and we didn’t know how it was going to go. But they promoted it and promoted it, and had a pretty nice crowd turn out. They made money, the track made money, so everyone was happy.”

The USCS Outlaw Modified touring series will also be on hand Thursday. Modified drivers from the weekly modified division at Beebe will join the contingent of touring drivers, including defending national champion Hunter Rasdon of Jonesboro.

The modified race will be $1,000-to-win, or $1,200 to the winner if he runs without his roof connected to the car, or “topless.”

The USCS modified drivers are considered some of the best in the country, but Mahoney said not to count out the regulars at Beebe. The sandy clay at the track is notorious for being temperamental and difficult to set up for properly.

“Last year it was kind of funny because there were all those guys who were supposed to be so bad,” Mahoney said. “And I think the highest finishing driver from their deal was sixth or seventh; all the ones ahead of them were my guys who run every week here.”

The 360 winged-sprint cars will bring some of the biggest names in the country to Beebe, including defending champion and current points leader Terry Gray of Bartlett, Tenn., and Marshall Skinner of West Memphis, who is sixth in the USCS points.

But for fans in the central Arkansas area, the name most recognizable is Tim Crawley of Mabelvale. Crawley got his start at Beebe Speedway running late models in the early 1980s and has gone on to a legendary sprint car career. Crawley is a three-time national champion of ASCS, and has numerous Speedweek victories.

“Everybody likes to see the sprint cars because of the speed they carry,” Mahoney said. “There’s a good crowd that follows them, so that’s the biggest thing.”

The E-mods and hobby stocks will also run Thursday, and Beebe Speedway will feature its regular race program, including the factory stocks and mini stocks, on Friday.