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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A husband and wife are finding success as second-year drivers in two divisions at a pair of NASCAR Whelen All-American series dirt tracks in Oklahoma.
Shannon Scott, 43, of Henryetta, Okla., competes in the 360 Modified division each Friday night at Outlaw Motor Speedway, a .375-mile oval in Muskogee. His wife, Rikki competes in the Factory Stock division. Each was leading their divisional track points standings.
Shannon also leads the 360 Modified track point race at Salina (Okla.) Highbanks Speedway, another .375-mile dirt track. Rikki is eighth in Factory Stock points at Salina, despite racing there on a part-time basis.
Both had never driven race cars prior to the 2010 season. After a slow start, Shannon won some features and his division’s Rookie of the Year Award at Outlaw. The Salina track re-opened this year and joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series after being inactive for several seasons.
“Racing is something I always wanted to do,” Shannon said. “I didn’t get started racing in my 20s or 30s. I’m in a season of life where I want to race in a top tier division. We own a Ford dealership, and we have the time and resources to do it right.”
In a division designed to be economical, the resources come in the form of warehouse space for a race shop at the dealership and racing veteran Gary Baehler as crew chief.
Shannon is 33rd in the dirt track NASCAR Finalist Division II point standings this week. He has six wins, 11 top fives and 15 top 10s in 15 starts.
Rikki is 60th in the dirt Division IV standings with a win, four top fives and seven top 10s in seven starts.
The NASCAR Finalist program recognizes drivers who compete in support divisions at NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks. With Division I being each track’s top division, the NASCAR Finalist program highlights drivers competing in each track’s Division II, III, IV and V.
NASCAR Finalist Division leaders on asphalt tracks include Division II, Ricky Martin, Raceway Park in Shakopee, Minn.; Division III, Brent Kane, Raceway and Elko (Minn.) Speedway; Division IV, Glenn Colvin, Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl; and Division V, Danny Field, Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.
Dirt track NASCAR Finalist Division leaders include Division II, Chuck Schutz Jr., Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa.; Division III, Brad Derry, I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb. and Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa; Division IV, Pat Shiflett, Adams County; and Division V Bill Gibson, Adams County.
The NASCAR Finalist Program began in 2010 as a way to recognize the accomplishments throughout all of the racing divisions at NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks.
A NASCAR-licensed driver’s best 14 finishes are counted toward their final point total for the year. Points are kept separately for dirt and asphalt tracks.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points, and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five bonus points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third, 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
“I really struggled at first,” Shannon said. “We just worked on the car every night to get it to go. That’s about as much as I’d ever like to bite off but all the work accelerated my learning curve. I struggled to make the top five for the first five months. I ended up winning four features: one in August, two in September and one in October.
“I told my wife I thought I’d be able to jump in the car and race and it would be easy,” he said. “I finally got the hang of it late in the season then worked on the car all winter.”
Watching her husband race opened Rikki’s eyes to racing.
“He started racing in March and by the end of April I started telling him I wanted to drive in the Factory Stock division,” she said. “I found a car I was interested in on racingjunk.com and told him that was the car I wanted. He kept telling me the car was overpriced.
“Then one day they went to Bob’s Machine Shop in Hulbert to pick up a motor. I was suspicious because they took the trailer which they had never done before to pick up a motor. I was at the dealership when they pulled in with the car I wanted on the trailer.”
It took several weeks for them to go through the car, the engine, the belts and seat. Rikki also had to go to Tulsa to purchase her uniform, helmet, gloves and shoes. She finally got on track at Outlaw in June.
“I was excited and nervous,” she said of anticipating her first race. “I was so nervous I didn’t run hot laps.”
Her first laps came in competition.
“I didn’t finish last and I didn’t finish first, but I finished,” she said.
Engine problems were discovered after her fourth race and the car was running on only six cylinders. She ran the car twice more and parked it for the year. The engine was sent out to be freshened and she started anew this year.
Both drivers are winning races this year.
Shannon Scott leads the NASCAR 360Modified division point standings at Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee, Okla. and Salina (Okla.) Highbanks Speedway. Robbie Russell - Prowler Designs Photography
“A lot of the credit for what I’ve been able to do this year goes to Gary Baehler,” Shannon said. “We might not spend as much as some do on shock absorbers, but Gary understands shocks and their role in setting up the car. He might be working under the car during the week and be on the phone asking a friend about adjustments as he’s making them. Really this is Gary’s first year at the dirt track racing rodeo.”
Shannon’s 360 Modified is based on a Hughes Racing Chassis and powered by a BMS 360 cubic inch engine. In addition to Henryetta Ford, Hughes and BMS he’s sponsored by Creek Nation Casino at Checotah.
Rikki credits her dad, Rick Wisdom, for helping her succeed.
“I never envisioned driving a race car,” Rikki said. “Racing was never in the picture.”
Now the couple are racing – and winning – in NASCAR.
At season’s end the top three drivers in the four asphalt and four dirt NASCAR Finalist Divisions will be recognized at the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Dec. 9.