Tulsa, OK | December 21, 2017 – A 17-year old wheelman who bursted onto the micro sprint scene this year and a 15-year old Developmental Driver for one of the nation’s most revered midget teams walk into the Tulsa Expo together… This is no joke, however, this is Brad Coleman’s reality. Entering next week’s 33rd edition of the Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout, this Indiana trio will be arguably the most polarizing team in the pit area. With an incredible amount of raw talent and future possibilities that could be endless, Craig Ronk and Zeb Wise will be two of the most-watched individuals next week, and rightfully so. Forming a two-car tandem with Brad Coleman, Ronk and Wise, who have been competing side-by-side for years as they’ve grown up, will join together as teammates in the Winged Outlaw division at next week’s Shootout.
“Craig is a great kid and very humble with everything, I honestly couldn’t ask for a better driver,” Coleman said on his partnership with Ronk. “As far as Zeb goes, him and Craig raced each other for wins a lot when Craig first drove for me and they raced very hard yet very clean. I gained a lot of respect for Zeb throughout that year, I don’t think him and Craig touched once.”
For Coleman and Ronk, this pairing is just business as usual. Since last year’s Tulsa Shootout, the owner-driver combination took it to another level and quickly became a force to be reckoned with at the nation’s biggest events. Starting the season with an 11th-place bid at the Shootout, Ronk and Coleman followed that with three victories in the POWRi 600cc Outlaw Micro League. However, their biggest splash of the season came at the $10,000/Win High Banks Hustle at Southern Illinois Raceway. After taking an impressive victory in Friday’s preliminary feature, Ronk led over half of Saturday’s main event and was engaged in a late-race battle for the victory when a heartbreaking last-lap incident eliminated him from contention.
“We are staying humble with our hopes entering next week,” commented Ronk. “The plan is to get into Sunday’s main event and make a run, but we understand it requires a lot of good luck to get in the big show alone. I’m just excited to be able to compete against the best micro racers in the country, and to do with Brad at that.”
The second part of this equation comes in the form of a very quickly rising Zeb Wise. A 15-year old native of Angola, Indiana, Wise made his mark throughout the midwest in 2016, but truly made waves at last year’s Tulsa Shootout as he became the youngest driver to start all four Stock/Outlaw features in the same event. Joining Clauson-Marshall Racing as a Development Driver, Wise rose to national prominence throughout 2017 as he took to the midget ranks. After winning his first-career event at Montpelier Motor Speedway in July, business only picked up from there as he continued to turn in stellar runs with the POWRi National Midget League. Most recently, Wise became eligible to compete with the USAC National Midget Series and he did not disappoint. Earning “Rookie of the Race” at the Turkey Night Grand Prix, the young man charged from 15th-to-5th during the grueling 98-lapper at Ventura Raceway.
“I think there is no question that I can use what I’ve learned this year to help me transition back,” Wise noted on returning to micros from midget racing. “I think knowing what the track is going to do and having a better idea of where to be will be huge. I had a really great first year at the Shootout, so I’m looking forward to seeing if we can grab a Golden Driller this year!”
Along with racing for Coleman in the Winged Outlaw class, Wise will be attempting the other three primary divisions as he prepares for quadruple duty lineup. Driving the CMR Development No. 39Z in Outlaw Non-Wing, Stock Non-Wing and A-Class, Wise will look to improve his career-best finish of 3rd place while chasing a historic Golden Driller.
Beginning on Thursday, December 28th with practice and heat races, the 33rd edition of the Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout will run through Sunday, December 31st when a new batch of Golden Driller winners are crowned. Walkapedia will continue our Tulsa Shootout coverage all week long with countless previews leading up to the race as we highlight this year’s contenders.