Schnader wins Shootout, class championship
By RYAN BOYLE
Published June 24, 2003
Tommy Schnader posted the victory in the Leo Musgrave Shootout on June 14 to become the track's Open Wheel Modified champion.
To claim the title, Schnader had to contend with a red-hot Butch Bassett, driver of the No.23 car. Bassett took the championship's opening race for his first Modified feature victory.
The two competitors participated in an experimental series-style event that was implemented for the 2003 schedule.
Despite being only the second such title race of the season, Schnader had little difficulty adjusting to the change.
"It wasn't too different," Schnader said. "We're just trying to get some wins, make some money."
Drivers drew starting positions for a standard, 25-lap feature. The winners then were inverted to determine the starts of a second standard-length event.
The 10 highest point totals were tabulated for a third race, the 10-lap run and gun Shootout. The winner took home the crown and coveted Musgrave trophy.
Aside from the event's altered structure, the championship had a smaller-than-average showing due, in part, to a new rule regarding eligibility.
Sunshine Speedway officials introduced a policy this year barring from championship competition any driver who fails to maintain a four-week points average at the Pinellas Park raceway.
The action effectively closed the door on traveling drivers, out-of-towners seeking the higher-dollar payouts that often accompany big events.
Basset won the first feature, fending off Schnader (No.19) and Tommy Bower (No.51) from his start on the pole position.
Robert Crisp held on for second place in his No.20 machine, and Schnader took third.
Bower started the second event in full daylight - inside, first row - after recording an 11th-place finish in the opening feature.
He never trailed, beating out Chris Robbins' No.88 and points leader Ralph Bowman (No.2).
Tensions escalated entering the Shootout.
Basset's 72 points on the evening secured the top starting spot. He was two points ahead of Schnader, whose two-race total gave him a start on the outside, first row.
Schnader was spun in the opening lap, necessitating a complete restart. Basset promptly returned the favor, losing control again before the close of a single revolution.
Schnader leapt into the lead at the third drop of the green flag, then never looked back.
Basset stayed glued to second for the first half of the event but was forced out during a pass attempt by Robbins. Basset went on to place fourth.
Robbins took second. Bowman, who nearly missed the opening feature due to starter problems, was third.
From the start, Schnader had a plan.
"I knew (Bassett) was loose after a few laps of trying to run deep with me," Schnader said. "I just knew I had to stay next to Butch."
NOTES: Wendell Overstreet, driver of the No.78 car, took the top spot in the Outlaw Late Model division.
He was followed by Pete Coon (No.27) and Ed Kidd (No.6).
The race was led much of the way by Chris Escott, operator of the No.18 machine. Mechanical problems, however, pulled him from competition near the midpoint of the 20-lap feature.
Abbie Haugh logged the Street Stock victory in the No.42 car.
Jackie Dziadul (No.2) finished second, and Terry Zimmerman (No.4) rounded out the top three. Points leader Roger Welch (No.98) was fourth.
Glenn Kelley (No.16) outlasted Tom Zimmerman (No.55) for the Mini Stock win.
Macky Mongold crossed the line third in his No.6 car.
John Stewart won the 20-lap Enduro feature in his No.02 machine.
Mike Crooks (No.81) and Rick Germony (No.8) trailed, respectively.
The Figure 8 feature was canceled due to rain.
The June 21 School Bus Figure 8 race was called because of flooding at the track.
The event was rescheduled for July 12.
[Last modified June 24, 2003, 01:47:56]
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