LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Qualifying at I-30 Speedway’s 25th annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires wrapped up in grand style with Jack Dover riding the perilous rim of the high-banked, quarter-mile to victory in Friday night’s 25-lap qualifying feature.
After chasing Gary Wright much of the way and then Justin Henderson, the Springfield, Neb., shoe stayed committed to the cushion and rallied into the lead on the 24th circuit to take the win and a starting berth in Saturday’s $15,000-to-win, $2,500-to-start STN championship finale aboard the Roush Yates Ford-powered Home Pride No. 53.
The triumph was the second Roush Yates Ford score of the night, with Jason Johnson taking top honors in similar fashion on the 24th lap earlier in the evening to complete the initial qualifying event that got under way on Thursday.
While Dover earned a starting berth in just his second STN finale, Henderson earned runner-up honors in his first STN appearance while Wright locked himself into an STN record 18th finale with a third-place showing.
With Dover gridding the feature field inside row three, Wright led the way to the green flag after racking up the most points through heat and qualifying race action with Pennsylvania’s Tim Shaffer alongside.
Wright, the only four-time winner of the Short Track Nationals, gunned into the lead at the outset in front of Shaffer and fourth-starter Danny Lasoski only to have the caution fly after three laps when Lasoski clipped an infield tire and came to a stop in turn two with race-ending front end woes.
Back under way, Dover rallied past Shaffer on the high side for second on the sixth lap and began pressuring the low-riding Wright for the point. Dover nearly pulled alongside at the midway point, but Wright slipped away and soon third-starter Justin Henderson moved in on Dover and then took over second in the Buffalo Wild Wings No. 82 on the 17th lap.
With traffic coming into play, Henderson charged past Wright for the lead two laps later on the 19th circuit with Dover racing into second a lap later before the caution flew for Wayne Johnson, who surrendered the fourth position when he slipped off the top of turn two and came to a stop.
Set for a five-lap dash to the stripe, Henderson worked low while Dover stuck to the top side of the track. Dover made it pay off, rallying into the lead on the backstretch on the 24th round and racing on to the checkered flag for his first I-30 score.
Henderson settled for second and is the second Dixon Road U-Pull-It STN Rookie of the Year contender to earn a starting berth along with Christopher Bell, while Wright raced into his first STN finale since claiming runner-up honors in 2008.
Right behind them, Brian Brown broke away from a race-long duel with defending race winner Sammy Swindell to claim fourth from the 15th starting position while Shaffer rounded out the top five.
Jack Dover, Justin Henderson, Gary Wright, Brian Brown, Tim Shaffer, Jeff Swindell, Shane Stewart, Sammy Swindell, Tim Crawley, Ricky Stenhouse, Kyle McCutcheon, Brandon Hahn, Marshall Skinner, Zach Pringle, Jerrod Hull, Wayne Johnson, Ryan Bickett, Kyle Bellm, Andy Shouse, Danny Lasoski.