Todd Rowland doesn't come close to being the oldest driver in Auto Tire and Parts Racepark's weekly crowd.
But sometimes it's just felt that way.
"There have been some tough times this year," said Rowland, a 33-year-old sprint racer from Jackson. "When you have problems with the car or something doesn't work right, then you go out and you're trying to battle that and a 17- or 18-year-old's just whipping your butt, yeah, that's frustrating."
But consistency and 10 years of racing at the track is paying off with a steady climb to fourth in the point standings. Rowland finished third Saturday, tying his season-best finish. He's finished the feature in each of ATPR's six nights of racing this year.
Rowland trails third-place Eddie Lynch by two points. He's 82 points behind points leader and defending division champ Robbie Standridge.
A problem earlier in the season, Rowland said, was the decision to try new setups with the car that actually kept it mostly noncompetitive. He even contacted a World of Outlaws team for tips on setups to accomodate for ATPR's dry-slick surface. Even those didn't help.
"We were coming out there and trying things, and people were looking at us like we were crazy," Rowland said. "It might work for them, but it didn't work for us."
Credit a more hands-on approach and a tire change for part of the turnaround over the past three weeks. Rowland said he's become more involved in preparing the car through the week, and the decision to go with Hoosier tires has helped.
"We've gotten things going lately, and we're OK now," Rowland said. "I feel pretty confident about where we are.
"If I finish in the top three in points this year, I'll be happy with that. I'd like to go out on the track, be there at the end of the race every week and have some strong finishes. Our equipment is good enough now that we should be able to do that."
A strong finish in the points race would be a nice way to cap what could be the final season of Rowland's career. He said that as his two children, ages 6 and 8, gain interest in racing, he's finding less time to devote to his own. He doesn't rule out that he could strap into a sprint car for the final time later this year.
"It's hard to say for sure," he said, "but you never know."
Wednesday's twin bill of late models and sprints at I-55 Raceway near Pevely, Mo., was rained out. No makeup date has been set.
The track hosts the World of Outlaw sprints in a rescheduled event June 22.
Officials at Malden Speedway say they're still working on a date to reschedule the $3,000-to-win Mid America Racing Series late model event already postponed twice because of rain. The tour will visit the track again July 4, and the second event likely will be later in the summer.
A 2.-1 mile natural-terrain motocross track has opened near Poplar Bluff, Mo. A full schedule for the track --Rattlesnake Hills Raceway --is at rattlesnakehills.net.
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