Collinsville resident Brian Parker was named Rookie of the Year by the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Parker regularly races at Salina Highbanks Speedway, a NASCAR-sanctioned dirt track in northeast Oklahoma. Many current and retired NASCAR stars — Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and A.J. Foyt to name a few — once drove dirt cars on a regular basis at small-town tracks similar to the Highbanks.
Parker took the Grand National division championship at Salina; he won seven features and totaled 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 19 starts. He totaled 479 points, beating Vince Quenneville of Brandon, Vt., by 28 points.
“All we wanted to do this year was go out and win races,” Parker said. “We didn't expect this much success.”
Outside the dasherboards
*Next time you attend a Barons game, make note how the American Hockey League team honors former Oklahoma City players who made the NHL. Players from the original Blazers (1960s, 1970s), Stars (1980s) reborn Blazers (1990s, 2000s) and Barons (current) are listed on the arena walls located between the upper and lower bowls. Oklahoma City has a rich hockey history that rivals many minor pro teams in traditional markets in the north and east.
*A decent start to the season for Edmond native Matt Donovan, who plays for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. The New York Islanders prospect on defense has a goal and 11 points in 25 games. He's plus-4.
*No bouncer will be necessary at the Gecko's nightclub in Oklahoma City. The proprietor is former Oklahoma City Blazers forward Ron Aubrey. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Portland, Maine, native was the enforcer for several teams during a 24-year playing career. Aubrey had more than 500 fights, which included parts of two seasons with the Blazers' Central Hockey League franchise. He's also dabbled in professional boxing since retiring from hockey 13 years ago.