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Small car, big season - Ruch puts wraps on series title chase
The tracks are unfamiliar. The challenges are greater.
And yet Rick Ruch's season keeps getting better.
A second-year racer on the RAMS mini stock circuit, Ruch sits third in the series standings going into today's series finale at Fredericktown Raceway. But Ruch's 10-win season already is a step -- make that 10 steps -- above last year when he went winless.
"Anybody can run the same track over and over and they'll figure it out eventually," said Ruch, 25, of Perryville. "I like seeing different tracks. It tests you more as a driver."
Ruch has picked up his wins this season on a new circuit that, in its initial year, has made area stops at SEMO Motor Speedway near Blodgett and Auto Tire and Parts Racepark near Benton. Ruch won Saturday's special event at ATPR and won a day earlier at Fredericktown.
He's done it in a 1987 Mustang that, like the other cars in the division, usually catches the attention of fans. Class rules allow for a variety of small, compact -- and low-cost -- vehicles from Pintos to pick-up trucks.
"Sometimes we'll go to a track for the first time and people tell us we should get out of the way and let the real race cars race," Ruch said. "But then they see us on the track and they know we're serious.
"We've got a lot of people who have seen the series now and given feedback. It's a good class, a good bunch of people. We have a good time."
It's also less expensive than most short-track divisions. A mini stock car, Ruch said, costs between $1,500 and $2,000 to get race-ready.
"Some guys in pure street classes put that much money in their motor alone," Ruch said.
After today's event, Ruch and other RAMS racers will prepare for a return to ATPR on Oct. 5 as a part of the track's season-ending event.
Fredericktown: Rodney Melvin won Wednesday's special event for late models at Fredericktown Raceway. Mike Hammerle was second and Ed Dixon third among 19 cars. Scott Weber won in modifieds. Theran Pearl won in pure stocks.
In Friday's events, Shawna Bader became the first female to win a feature event, taking the victory in the pure street class after she avoided a wreck that knocked out the top three cars late in the event. Other winners included Chad Zobrist in late models and Kasey Nations in pro streets.
The track's season will end Friday. Info: 78-DRIVE or 760-1913.
Malden: Dewayne Keifer took Friday's win in Malden Speedway's late model class, down to 11 entries this week. Larry Hillis was second and Lyndon Moore third. Shawn Haynes won the eight-car modified event; Gregg Layne won in hobby stocks; Dietrich Bollinger of Benton won in pure street.
Poinsett County: Bollinger won Saturday's hobby class event at Harrisburg, Ark. Billy James of Sikeston finished second to Bill Frye in the annual Cowpatty 50 for late models.
Sikeston: Mike Buckley won in the super pro class Saturday at Sikeston Drag Strip (5.86 seconds, 121 mph). David Phillips was second. Jerry Tripp of Fredericktown topped the pro class (6.68, 101 mph) with Greg Harty of Dudley second. Tre Hammontree won in the ET class (8.18, 77 mph) over Josh Ames.
St. Francois County: Fredericktown's Tim Montgomery won Saturday in SFCR's sprint class, adding to his division points lead. Tommy Worley Jr. was second with Tim Moss third. Shawn King of Cape Girardeau won the B-main. Joey Montgomery won the MARA midget event; Dustin Barks won in the multis; and Chuck Adams won in hobby stocks.
I-55 Raceway near Pevely will host the I-55 Pepsi Nationals Saturday. The late model event Saturday is worth $10,000 to the winner.
The USCS sprint series visits Malden next Friday and ATPR the following day. Both events pay $2,000 to win. Terry Gray of Bartlett, Tenn., leads the series points.