URSS Rebels ready to invade Liberal

By the URSS

OBERLIN, Kan. -- Some things change. Some things don't. Luke Cranston is hoping things change for him Friday night at Liberal Fairgrounds Speedway as the United Rebel Sprint Series kicks off the 2013 season with the inaugural Spring Thaw 305 Shootout in Liberal. Cranston has won 11 times in the URSS in the last few seasons, but he's never really had much go his way at the D-shaped track in far southwest Kansas.

"I haven't ran good there before," Cranston said. "I really struggled there. I'm nervous about it, and Kirk (Reinert) is excited about it. We'll see what happens."

Friday's races begin at 7 p.m., with pit gates opening at 4:30 p.m. It will be the ninth time the Rebels have competed on the Liberal track, with four different winners in those races (C.J. Johnson 4, Jason Martin 3, Taylor Velasquez 1 and Ray Seemann 1).

Seemann won the last race in Liberal for the Rebels in 2010. That was one of the first years Cranston competed in the series.

"We're going to have to have everything put together this week," Cranston said. "There's going to be some good drivers there with Ty (Williams), Seemann, (Brian) Herbert, Jake Bubak and others. ... It's going to come down to Kirk getting the car set up and me getting into the car and driving it."

Friday's race features a $1,000 payout to the winner, and each driver making the A-main will receive at least $200. The race originally was scheduled for Beaver County Raceway in Beaver, Okla. But officials in the Beaver area wouldn't allow the track access to enough water to provide a safe, clean racing surface. So promoter Glen Thompson moved the show to Liberal.

A year ago, Martin and Jeff Radcliffe won the first two nights of the Cow Chip Nationals in Beaver, with Radcliffe pocketing the $1,500 payout for the win on the second night. Radcliffe isn't expected to compete Friday.

But that doesn't mean the night will be lacking stars, especially with big money on the line.

Cranston is excited about his chance to race close to his home in southwest Kansas and in front of many of his sponsors. Plus, he's ready to keep the momentum going from winning one of two events last Saturday night in Norton with the Heartland Sprint Series.

"We had a chance to run in Norton last week and got to blow the dust off of it," he said. "We've got a new car and are trying some new things out."

For more information about the United Rebel Sprint Series, visit For more information about Liberal Fairgrounds Speedway or Beaver County Raceway, visit