TAZEWELL, TN--The O'Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series presented by Arizona Sport Shirts concluded its 2004 racing season on Saturday Night at the Tazewell Speedway. Scott Sexton of Sevierville, TN dominated the Lucas Oil "Citizens Bank of Tazewell" 75 lap feature earning $5000 for his win. Sexton became the 16th different winner in 22 O'Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series races this season.
Aaron Hatton of Mt. Sterling, KY is the 2004 O'Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series champion. Hatton is the third different champion in the series' three year existence joining Eddie Carrier, Jr. and Mike Marlar. Doug Smith of Somerset, KY is the 2004 O’Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass Rookie of the Year.
Sexton took the lead on the seventh lap from Hatton and then completely ran away with the race as the 38 year old driver drove the Jerry Weisgarber owned, Byrd's Radiator, West Haven Speed Equipment, Bearden Oil, Hoosier Tires, Pro Shocks, K&N, Oval Craft, Stealth Racing Carburetors, RaceTek Race Engines sponsored TNT Chassis Grand Prix to his first career BoB win. Brad Hall of Knoxville, TN in his BoB Series debut finished second in the Miller Brothers Coal/Custom Race Engines/Bloomquist Race Cars Ford. Third place was 2004 Tazewell Speedway track champion, Bryan Hendrix of Knoxville, TN in the Armstrong Refrigeration/Custom Engines/GRT Grand Prix with Steve Smith of Powell, TN in the Mathis Farms/C.J. Rayburn Race Cars Monte Carlo entry fourth and Aaron Hatton would round out the top five in the Russell Hatton Used Cars and Mobile Home Rentals/Draime Engines/MasterSbilt Grand Prix.
Hatton would jump to the lead at the drop of official chief starter Noel Hargis' green flag with John Llewellyn running in second followed by Sexton, who started third and Steve Smith. Hatton would set a torrid pace early on with Llewellyn and Sexton nipping on his heels. Sexton would pass Llewellyn for second on lap three and then set his sights on the high flying Hatton. Hatton, who clinched the 2004 O'Reilly Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series Championship by simply qualifying for the race at Tazewell, was seeking his first series win of the season. Hatton came into the race with six second place finishes this year which secured the title for the him, but he was wanting to end the season on a winning note. Hatton would lead the 75 lap race until lap seven when Sexton shot around him to take over the top spot. Smith would then go to third around Llewellyn setting up a two car battle for second place. It wasn't long before Sexton set sail and quickly distanced himself from Hatton and Smith. Smith, the Eldora Million runner-up would slip by Hatton for second on the ninth lap, but by then Sexton was well out of his sights. Sexton would start to pick up the tail end of the pack lapping cars by the 11th circuit. At this point of the race it was all Sexton with Smith, Hatton, Llewellyn and Bryan Hendrix running in the top five.
With the race for the lead well in hand, a caution flew for a piece of metal on the race track on lap 16. This would only slow Sexton momentarily as the veteran driver would pull away on the restart and open some real estate between himself and Smith. But Hatton would re-emerge in the race for second as he would go to the runner-up spot when Smith pitted under the yellow for a flat tire. Sexton would start to pick up the tail end of the field again by the 24th go round as Hatton was running in second fending off challenges from Llewellyn, Hendrix and new top fiver, Stacey Boles. Brad Hall would start to make a charge passing Boles for fifth on lap 27. Another caution on lap 32 would temporarily slow Sexton. On the restart Sexton would again bolt away from Hatton with Hall coming on strong. Hall would go to third past Llewellyn and Hendrx by lap 35. Hall with Hendrix tagging along would race past Hatton for second on lap 43. With Sexton again well out in front holding almost a half of a lap lead over the field another caution would come out on lap 47.
When the race resumed Hall who running in second tried to stay within striking distance of Sexton, but it would be to no avail. At the halfway point it continued to be the Scott Sexton show followed by Hall, Hendrix, Hatton and Smith, who was back up to fifth after his pit stop. Lap 53 was near disaster for Sexton. While still in the lead and pulling away again Sexton would come off of turn number four and halfway down the straight there would be a multi car tangle that had the track blocked. Sexton with no where to go slid into the accident that had taken place. O'Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series track rules state that if a car has to stop or spin to avoid a blocked race track the driver will get their spot back. Despite damage to the front and right side of his race car, Sexton would continue without pitting going back to the point. Surviving that scare and even with damage to his race car, Sexton could not be stopped by anyone else on this night. Over the last 15 laps of the race, Sexton would put the throttle down and erase any thoughts that Hall or Hendrix had of overtaking him as he would lengthen his lead out to where there was no chance for anybody to get to him in the waning laps of the race. Sexton would go to the $5000 payday and his first career O'Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass win leading 69 of the 75 laps in convincing fashion. Hall in his first ever O'Reilly NARA Battle of the Bluegrass DirtCar Series start would finish second with Hendrix, who clinched the 2004 Tazewell Speedway Late Model crown for the fifth time in his career this year taking third in his first ever BoB start as well. Smith would finish fourth ahead of Hatton.
Completing the top ten were John Llewellyn, Jason Trammell, Victor Lee, Jerry Broyles and Tyrel Todd.
Sexton was the Racing Optics/Russell Baker Racing Engines Fast Timer with a lap of 11.30 seconds. The Crown Spray Power Heat Races went to Sexton, Hatton and Llewellyn.
Real Power Race Summary
Saturday Night, October 2, 2004
Racing Optics/Russell Baker Race Engines Fast Time: Scott Sexton 11.30
Crown Spray Power Heat #1: Scott Sexton, Steve Smith, Jerry Broyles, Jason Trammell
Crown Spray Power Heat #2: Aaron Hatton, Brad Hall, Spensor Watson, Victor Lee
Crown Spray Power Heat #3: John Llewellyn, Bryan Hendrix, Stacey Boles, John Laws
Lucas Oil "Citizens Bank of Tazewell" 75: Scott Sexton, Brad Hall, Bryan Hendrix, Steve Smith, Aaron Hatton, John Llewellyn, Jason Trammell, Victor Lee, Jerry Broyles, Tyrel Todd, Dennis Selby, Michael England, Stacey Boles, Spensor Watson, John Laws, Doug Smith, Josh Sneed, Scott Gardner, Jeff Wolfenbager DNS, Billy Ogle, Jr. DNS