Branson, MO —
Announcement Was Made At Tour’s 2007 Awards Banquet Honoring Five-Time Champ Bill Frye
The MARS DIRTcar Series will take another step forward in 2008.
O’Reilly Auto Parts has signed as the dirt Late Model tour’s title sponsor, promising exciting new possibilities for the series as it begins its ninth consecutive season of operation.
With many of its over 1,650 stores located in the Midwestern states that serve as the home territory of the MARS DIRTcar Series, O’Reilly Auto Parts is a perfect fit for the popular tour.
“O’Reilly Auto Parts is a big supporter of grassroots racing in its market areas and we’re proud the company has decided to come on board with us in 2008,” said MARS DIRTcar Series director Kim Norris. “Our association with O’Reilly Auto Parts will make the series bigger and better.”
The announcement that O’Reilly Auto Parts has signed as the major backer of the MARS DIRTcar Series was made last month during the tour’s 2007 ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet, held at the Grand Palace in Branson, Mo.
The gala banquet closed out a successful, competitive 2007 campaign for the MARS DIRTcar Series, which saw Bill Frye of Greenbrier, Ark., push his tour-record championship total to five with an impeccable season.
Frye, 47, received a $20,000 check at the banquet for capturing his second consecutive and fifth overall MARS DIRTcar Series points crown.
The veteran standout once again beat longtime rival Terry Phillips of Springfield, Mo. – who, with three titles, is the only other champion in the history of the MARS DIRTcar Series– for the championship. After closing the campaign with a rush, Frye’s final margin of victory was a hefty 111 points over Phillips.
Over the final 12 events (including one show-up points race) of the 20-race 2007 season, Frye ripped off five wins, three seconds, two thirds and two fifths. He seized the points lead from his young protégé, Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., with a victory on Aug. 24 at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway and never gave it up.
Frye clinched the title in style, winning the 40-lap season-closer on Sept. 22 at Lebanon I-44.
A well-respected racer and parts/chassis repair shop owner, Frye has been contemplating retirement from driving for the last two years. But he said at the end of his strong season that he was energized to chase another title in 2008, and he made no statement during his acceptance speech at the banquet that indicated he had changed his mind.
Behind Frye and Phillips, the remainder of the top-10 in the 2007 MARS points standings were honored and received points-fund checks at the banquet.
Vaught, who turned 21 on Oct. 13, topped the best season of his burgeoning career by accepting the trophy for finishing third in the points standings.
The fourth- and fifth-place honors went to 21-year-old Jeremy Payne of Springfield, Mo., and Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark. Both Payne and Sullivan were absent from the banquet because they were competing in an open-wheel Modified event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track, so Payne’s awards were accepted by his car owner Terry Phillips and Sullivan was represented by his crewman John Sutherland.
Rounding out the top 10 in the 2007 points standings was Brandon McCormick of Lebanon, Mo.; Steve Rushin of Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kans.; Gary Stolba of Willow Springs, Mo.; and David Turner of Adrian, Mo.
Several special awards were handed out to highlight the 2007 MARS DIRTcar Racing season, including:
* Rookie of the Year went to Payne, a transplant of Phoenix, Ariz., who has developed into a solid contender under the tutelage of Phillips.
* The Most Improved Driver and Custom Race Graphics Hard Charger awards were presented to McCormick, who advanced from 12th in the 2006 standings to sixth this season. He received a $1,000 bonus for the Hard Charger honor.
* GRT Race Cars once again was feted as the Manufacturer of the Year.
* The Sportsmanship Award was given to Rushin, who stepped out of the driver’s seat during the summer to prepare for hip-replacement surgery but still fielded a car on the tour. Rushin underwent carpal-tunnel surgery earlier is this and recently went under the knife for his hip-replacement procedure.
Doctors have told Rushin that he will have a recovery period of two to three months, so he expects to be back behind the wheel in 2008.
The banquet also featured an announcement by MARS officials that Ron’s Racing Collectibles will sponsor the ‘Fans’ Favorite Award’ in 2008. Fans will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite MARS driver on-line and at each event, and the biggest vote-getter will earn a $500 bonus.
Norris said that the 2008 O’Reilly MARS DIRTcar Series schedule is currently being formulated. It will be released in the near future.
For more information on the O’Reilly MARS DIRTcar Series, visit www.midamericaracingseries.com.