FORNEY, Texas — All over the Great State of Texas, up into the Sooner State of Oklahoma and down into the Bayou country of Louisiana, racers toil away week after week hoping to spend just a little bit of time on a Friday or Saturday night in that coveted space known as 'Victory Lane.'
For 41-year-old Limited Modified pilot Steven Ashcraft, a visit to that elusive parking spot isn't far off. In eight starts this year between Devil's Bowl and Superbowl Speedway, he's been in the top-five on four occasions and inside the top-10 in all eight races. He's close, and feeling good about his results.
“I've been very happy with the way our year started off,” Ashcraft said. “The car has been really fast. In our first race, we led all but the last three-quarters of a lap before Rowdy Day got by us. It would have been a nice win to get, but I think we'll make it to Victory Lane soon.”
Now in his eighth year of racing, Ashcraft has driven a couple types of cars and done very well in them.
“I started out in a Limited back in 2015,” he explained. “I was a low-budget racer, blew a motor and couldn't afford to put it back together. After that I picked up a Factory Stock ride, and earned my first career feature win in 2017. That was a highlight of driving for Joe Criswell; first wins always stick out.
“We eventually got the Limited back together, and managed to rattle off two wins real quick in our first year back in that division. We've been going strong in Limiteds ever since. I'd have to say my best win was my most recent, because my entire family was there to celebrate in Victory Lane with me.”
Ashcraft is a regular at the famed Devil's Bowl up in Mesquite, a fast oval with a pit area full of talent.
“It is incredibly tough to win in this class no matter where we unload, and Devil's Bowl is a perfect example,” he said. “You have drivers like Cody Smith and Tommy Davis Jr. who are as fast as can be, and are tough to compete against on a weekly basis. It's a stacked field no matter where you go today.”
When Ashcraft suits up, grabs his helmet and gets ready to compete, he climbs into a fabulous machine.
“I made a switch here recently, going from driving a 2017 Express car that looks like Texas to a black car built on a 2020 IRP chassis,” he explained. “My wife's cousin, Brett Jensen, has been driving the Texas car for me, and he's done well in it. In fact, he drove it up from 21st to finish seventh two weeks ago.
“For horsepower, I use Wells Racing Engines from Dennis Wells. He builds engines with big power and they are super durable, as well. I couldn't ask for a better engine builder than we have now. I've been a big fan of Wells engines since I started racing.”
Along with his volumes of natural talent behind the wheel and a top-notch race car, Ashcraft also has several key people and marketing partners behind him who keep his program on-track and successful.
“I am blessed with an amazing amount of support from my family, friends and partners,” he said with a distinct sincerity in his voice. “I need to thank my wife, Reva Ashcraft; my kids, Tanner and Kendyll; along with Caley Dijkman, Caden Dijkman, my Crew Chief, Marty Miller, who is 'Mr. Thorough' and a big part of why we run so well; and crew members Brett Jensen, Kaine Buckmeyer and Dustin Choate.
“I also want to thank our partners Synergy Environmental Services, Elliott Welding Services, Xtreme Electric, C&P Pumps, Buckmeyer Motorsports, JW Chassis Works, KSP Racing and Dennis Wells at Wells Racing Engines. I also want to give a Special Thanks to the guys who got me started; Jim, Joe and Jimmy Criswell; my driving mentor Joe Taylor, and setup man James Williams.”
With temperatures heating up and summer quickly approaching, Ashcraft knows what he needs to do.
“We're really just going after wins and trophies this year,” he concluded. “We plan to stay primarily at Devil's Bowl for most of the season. We don't focus on points, but if you're winning races, the points will take care of themselves.
“I hope to make it to Rocket Raceway Park here soon; I think Kevin Rogers and Kevin Sustaire are good for our sport and I like what they've done there. We may do a little traveling in the fall from September through late October in a few big races. I just love being out at the track with my family.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Dalton Warren