by Inside Line Promotions | Bryan Hulbert photo
MESQUITE, TX | Oct. 20, 2013 – Two-time Short Track Nationals champion Tony Bruce Jr. continues to build momentum as he heads into the $15,000-to-win event at I-30 Speedway this week.
Bruce Jr. has scored 12 consecutive top-10 finishes entering the 26th edition of the COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires, which kicks off in Little Rock, Ark., on Wednesday and ends Saturday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it because Little Rock is a place we have had a lot of success at,” said Bruce Jr., who is one of only three drivers to record back-to-back wins at the event.
“Every time we’ve been to Little Rock for an ASCS show we’ve been fast. We’ve just got to get a little bit of luck on our side. To win a race like that you have to have things fall your way and you can’t have any missteps.”
Bruce Jr. has done both the past two months, including last Saturday at Devil’s Bowl Speedway during the 40th annual Winter Nationals with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour. With 50 drivers competing for the coveted title, Bruce Jr. charged from fourth place to claim his heat race.
“I really just went where they weren’t,” he said. “We had a pretty good start and had a good run down the back straightaway and then was on the leader down the front straightaway. I dove to the bottom in turn one and never looked back.”
After taking the lead on the second lap, Bruce Jr. led the distance for his 11th heat race win of the season. It also earned him the most points of any driver and a trip to the feature redraw, which determined the first four rows of the feature. Bruce Jr. pulled the No. 2 in the random draw to start the main event on the outside of the front row.
“The preferred lane was definitely on the bottom and we started on the outside front row,” he said. “I was focused that I didn’t miss the bottom on the first lap. (Brian) Brown, starting eighth, he pretty much had a go-for-it mentality. He went for it and it worked for him. Unfortunately, starting in the front row like that I would have never thought to jump to the top knowing that the bottom line was the predominant line. After that we all just rode in line.”
Bruce Jr. fell in line in third place behind Brown and polesitter Wayne Johnson as most drivers clung to the bottom lane throughout the feature. Brown and Bruce Jr. were able to avoid a crash during the second half of the feature, but Johnson wasn’t as fortunate.
“It was one of those things where we were pretty much just stuck behind everybody from the start of the race,” Bruce Jr. said. “Fortunately we were able to miss the big pileup on the back straightaway.”
That advanced Bruce Jr. to second, which is where he finished to earn his third straight podium with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour. He remains fifth in the championship standings, but is only 67 points out of third place.
Bruce Jr. also competed in the RaceSaver 305ci class for Kurt Summers. After maneuvering from fourth to second place in his heat race, Bruce Jr. rallied from eighth to a fourth-place result in the feature.
“I really appreciate the opportunity that Kurt gave us,” he said. “It gave us some extra track time and I think it really benefited us for our ASCS portion of the night.”
The opening night of the 40th annual Winter Nationals was rained out on Friday.
QUICK RESULTS –
Oct. 19 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas (360 class) – Heat race: 1 (4); Feature: 2 (2).
Oct. 19 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas (305 class) – Heat race: 2 (4); Feature: 4 (8).
SEASON STATS –
56 races, 4 wins, 23 top fives, 37 top 10s, 47 top 15s, 51 top 20s
UP NEXT –
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., for the 26th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour