BOBBY THOMPSON WINS FIRST LATE MODEL FEATURE AT NATURAL BRIDGE VIRGINIA SPEEDWAY- MAYS MAKES IT 2 IN STREET STOCK
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The Any Car division took center stage at Natural Bridge Speedway last Saturday night and provided fans with two 20-lap features full of fender-banging, side-by-side racing that had spectators on their feet from flag to flag.
The points standings in all six divisions were jumbled by Saturday’s results as drivers continued to vie to be in the top 5 at the end of July’s action. At that point, the top five pilots in each class will be given eight points while other drivers will start with zero as track championships will be determined by the outcome of August and September races.
Jason Bryant of Amherst picked his way through the 20-car field to garner the checkers in the opening 20-lap Any Car feature. Bryant moved into the top 5 on lap 4 and had moved to second place behind Lexington’s Fred Clark on lap 14. Bryant took the lead with a daring inside pass on turn 1 on lap 18. Clark’s machine rolled slowly into the pits on lap 19, leaving Bryant to sprint handily to the checkers. Roy Reaves ran second followed by William Beavers, Derrick Ayers and division points leader Jamie Wright.
The finishing order for the first Any Car feature was inverted to provide the running order for the second 20-lap event. Once again, the Any Cars were not about to let anyone or anything get in their way, which made for exciting, close racing and lots of caution flags.
Starting from the rear, Bryant worked his way once again to the front and passed under the checkers first. Alas, he was disqualified for being light. As he said, "I forgot to allow for the weight I lost burning all that gas in the two features. I should have put some more gas in after the first one." Apparent second-place finisher Mike Lawhorn was DQ’d for the same reason. Points leader Wright was the fortunate beneficiary of the weight problems and was awarded his third win of the season. which extended his pre-Super 8 points lead to a whopping 32 points over runner-up James Campbell. Darren Ayers and Vincent Helmick finished second and third, respectively, in the Any Car nightcap.
Late Model driver Ricky Knight of Gladstone was in the hearts and prayers of his fellow drivers and NBS fans. Knight was seriously injured the previous Saturday as he returned home from the track and was struck nearly head-on by the vehicle of an oncoming driver who had suffered a fatal heart attack behind the wheel.
Concord’s Bobby Thompson, who had chalked up multiple Street Stock victories in past seasons, earned his first Late Model victory, carving out a masterful pass of Waynesboro’s Lewis Hudson exiting turn 4 on lap 17, then pulling away to grab the checkers. Hudson rolled home second. Reigning track champion Gerald Wolfe, Jr. took sole possession of the 2005 points lead with third-place finish after rolling away11th on the starting grid. Shawsville’s Damien Wilson continued his steady performances with a fourth-place outcome, and Millboro’s Timmy Simmons completed the Late Model top 5.
The Lee’s Auto Repair Sportsman Division points standings were knocked topsy-turvy as previous points leaders Richard Wells and Chris Barger were unable to start due to an injured ankle and an injured motor, respectively.
Buchanan’s Danny Hylton, who was disqualified for illegal shocks after an apparent win the previous week, shook off his disappointment and moved to the point on lap 2 and maintained his lead to take the checkers. Earl Brooks, Jr. grabbed runner-up honors. Two local drivers, Tim Stalnaker of Natural Bridge and Buena Vista’s Shad Cooper moved into a first-place tie in the points battle by finishing third and fifth, respectively. Shipman’s Mike Bryant ran fourth.
Stephen Campbell of Amherst earned his first win of the 2005 season, running away from the rest of the field in the Mini Stock race. Michael Cromer, the son half of the father-son Cromer team, finished second. Mike Cromer, the Dad part of the Durbin, W. Va. combo, placed third after winning two of the last three Mini features. Mike Cromer and Campbell are now tied for the division points lead.
The Pure Stock drivers put on another thrilling show for the fans as Michael Bryant won his first Pure Stock feature, joining brother Jason, who won the first Any Car feature, on Victory Lane.
Lexington’s Coray Brown showed early strength, leading the 18-car pack through the first 10 laps. Brown, though, was sent to the rear of the field when he spun out a car at the rear of the field while trying to pass it, allowing Bryant to move to the lead. Points leader Rick Mayberry of Spout Spring followed Campbell into second position and put tremendous pressure on the Amherst driver throughout the remainder of the race. However, he was unable to make the pass, although the two vehicles got side by side on laps 22 and 23 of the 25-lap event before Campbell shut the door to claim the checkers. Buck Gunter grabbed third followed by Brian Campbell and Seth Whorley.
Clifton Mays made it two in a row in the Street Stock division, making a daring pass of division champion David Brogan on lap 19 to set up his win in the 25-lap feature. After starting sixth, the Madison Heights driver had dropped out of the top 5 after six laps before beginning his steady move to the front. The consistent Fincastle veteran, Brogan, finished second, marking his fourth consecutive top 3 finish of the season. Venerable Tom Guthrie finished third. Points leader Troy Fitzgerald finished fourth after losing a lap while getting caught in the pits during a caution. Clifton Forge’s Ricky Higgins finished fifth.
June’s schedule of Saturday night dirt-track racing will commence with racing in all six classes including a special 50-lap Late Model feature. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with the first green flag scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.
Natural Bridge Speedway Points Standings
(through May 28 races)
Late Model – 1. Gerald Wolfe, Jr., Covington, 130; 2. David Sibold, Lexington, 126; 3. Damien Wilson, Shawsville, 123; 4. David Bennett, Covington, 117; 5. Lewis Hudson, Waynesboro 109.
Sportsman – 1 (tie). Shad Cooper, Buena Vista and Tim Stalnaker, Natural Bridge, 108; 3. Earl Brooks, Jr., Madison Heights, 107; 4. Mike Bryant, Shipman, 95; Terry Dame, Natural Bridge, 93.
Street Stock – 1. Troy Fitzgerald, Lexington, 94; 2. David Brogan, Fincastle, 91; 3. Clifton Mays, Madison Heights, 90; 4. Tom Guthrie, Lynchburg, 78; 5. Ricky Higgins, Clifton Forge, 76.
Pure Stock – 1. Ricky Mayberry, Spout Spring, 101; 2. Seth Whorley, Amherst, 84; 3. Toby Stalnaker, Natural Bridge Station, 80; 4. Ronnie Martin, Jr., 79; 5. Todd Garrett, Evergreen, 78.
Mini Stock – 1 (tie). Mike Cromer, Durbin, W.Va., 90 and Stephen Campbell, Amherst, 90; 3. Michael D. Cromer, Durbin, W.Va., 85; 4. Kenny Clark, Lyndhurst, 63; 5. Robert Falls, Goshen, 62.
Any Car – 1. Jamie Wright, Lexington, 119; 2. James Campbell, Roseland, 87; 3. James Fitzgerald, Lexington, 83; 4 (tie). Scott Hostetter, Lexington and Jason Bryant, Amherst, 82.