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Crockett highlights lineup for ASCS opener

Roger "The Rocket" Crockett appears to be in midseason form, and that does not bode well for other sprint car drivers at Southern Oregon Speedway this weekend.

The second season of the American Sprint Car Series Northwest Region begins with the White City track's first-ever two-day show for that class of race car.

Racing is Friday and Saturday for the tiny cars that are a fan favorite because of their speed, which should be accentuated on the three-eighths mile, semi-banked clay oval because it was recently rebuilt.

"It's going to be fast, fast racing," says Richard Barney, a managing partner of the track.

General admission tickets Friday are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, veterans and children ages 7-12. The prices increase Saturday to $15 and $12.

Gates open at 4 p.m. both days. Racing begins at 6 p.m.

Medford driver Crockett, by far the winningest racer on the circuit last year but only third in season-ending points, will be one of the featured competitors.

Crockett won five of the 13 events last season. One other driver, Shane Stewart, triumphed twice, and the other six victories went to six other drivers.

"You just gotta be fast," says Crockett, who won four of his titles while dominating the ASCS Northwest Speedweek. "Last year we got on a really good roll during Speedweek. That's where we won most of them. You have to have good sponsors and good people behind you. We had that last year."

Despite the glut of checkered flags, Crockett lost the points battle to Jayme Barnes of Marysville, Wash., and Jared Ridge of Snohomish, Wash.

Barnes had 1,754 points to Ridge's 1,724. Crockett scored 1,710.

Two things kept Crockett from the points title.

First, he was disqualified after placing third in the first series race for having an illegal motor. The points he lost that night were the difference in overtaking Barnes.

Second, Barnes and Ridge were the only two drivers to make every A main event, and their consistency was difficult to overcome.

But Crockett is not without talent, and if it's fair to label the 27-year-old as streaky, then watch out.

In six 360 sprint races (non-ASCS) to start this season, he's won five times, including once at Southern Oregon Speedway and twice at Cottage Grove.

Crockett has only raced a handful of times at the local track in recent years and doesn't expect a home-oval advantage.

As such, he'll stick to the basics.

"There are a lot of different things that play into it," he says of being successful. "The biggest thing is you've got to be there at the end of the race. You can't tear stuff up. You have to respect the other drivers and your own race car."

The ASCS staged one event here last season. It was won by Jonathan Allard of Chico, Calif.

It's uncertain if Allard will return because there's a big race in northern California the same weekend.

A rule change this year in ASCS should add to the excitement.

Drivers will get five "passing points" for each car they overtake during the course of a race, be it a heat race or main event.

The ASCS Northwest season will increase to 18 events this year.

It will return to Southern Oregon Speedway July 13 for Speedweek.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com