Stories

Thumbs up to Cranston

Winning races isn't an easy task. A lot of hard work goes into it, plus -- sometimes -- you need a little luck.

That's what Luke Cranston was calling his streak at the Belleville High Banks entering the weekend.

The sprint car driver had won three United Rebel Sprint Series features in a row at the famed high-bank track in north-central Kansas.

Cranston, who grew up in Ness City, would say time and time again he was fortunate, lucky, caught the right breaks at the right time.

OK. Maybe he did catch a few breaks every now and then, but he also made some of his own, too, with nifty driving.

After his third win in a row at the track, which came June 29, Cranston, crew chief Kirk Reinert and ace wrench-turner Lonnie Hornung hammed it up a bit for laughs in the winner's circle -- posing with two thumbs up and cheesy smiles.

(About a week later, Reinert and Hornung were having more laughs as Cranston went around WaKeeney Speedway while packing the track. He won that night, too.)

The funny thing was, the winner's circle at Belleville had become familiar territory to Cranston. So he entered the weekend's URSS 305 Belleville Nationals as one of the favorites to win the two-day event.

He kept playing down the streak, just wanting to have another good run and a solid finish.

After Friday night, he accomplished that, winning for the fourth time in a row at the track.

The next night, the sprint car driver started a little farther back in the A-main, one that paid $2,000 to win.

And ... he won again.

Five in a row at one of the fastest tracks in the nation.

Five in a row against a solid cast of drivers.

Five in a row in front of a packed crowd.

Luck? Sure, whatever Cranston thinks.

He's also underselling his ability to get around the half-mile track. Drivers were closing in on his heels both nights, but he was able to hang on for the win.

That hints at something more than luck, but some skill, talent and a great car set-up.

The streak will end sometime, or, maybe not.

No matter what the reason for Cranston's success at the track, it's one of the most impressive streaks I've seen in racing.

And that, my friends, deserves two thumbs up.

* NICK SCHWIEN, HDN