RAMSEY, BARGER GRAB FLAG-TO-FLAG WINS; 2 OF 3 FOR REAVES ; MAYBERRY AND BROGAN RUN IN TOP 3 AGAIN ON HOT DIRT TRACKING NIGHT AT NATURAL BRIDGE (Virginia) SPEEDWAY
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It all boils down to one last week of racing action prior to the award of the Super 8 points to the top five drivers in each division’s current points standings at Natural Bridge Speedway.
The desire for that valued eight-point advantage should be huge heading into the final eight-week championship dash. The top five drivers in each class will begin with eight points each while all others will start from scratch. The final eight features will be scored as usual with the season titlists to be determined at the end of the Sept. 24 show.
Thrilling, door-to-door racing on last Saturday night’s slick, dry surface, and some bad racing luck encountered by a few deeply involved in Super 8 battles should lead to some door-to-door racing for the bonus points in Saturday’s upcoming final Super 8 preamble.
The Any Car pilots commanded center stage last Saturday night and they did not disappoint in either reel of their double feature. The night saw the continuing emergence of a talented, humble Any Car driver from Coleman Falls and an airborne accident involving previous division points leader Jason Bryant. The resilient Amherst driver emerged unscathed from his mangled machine.
Bryant’s flight red-flagged the 20-lap feature on lap 13 with Roseland’s James Campbell leading Derrick Ayers and a fast-closing Roy Reaves. On the restart, Reaves surged past Ayers. Reaves looked inside and outside of Campbell, but the Roseland driver, kept his Coleman Fall foe at bay, keeping Reaves from making it back-to-back Any Car wins. Lexington’s James Fitzgerald claimed third; Ayers rolled home fourth, and Scottie Hostetter completed the top 5.
The finishing order from the first feature was inverted to set the starting grid for the second 20-lap Any Car shoot-out. Jamey Wright, who had been tied for first in the division points race with Bryant prior to finishing last in the first feature, started on the pole and led for the first seven circuits. On lap 8, Wright and Clark tangled, and the ensuing caution sent both to the rear of the field with Brian Rowsey taking the point. After starting 15th, Reaves had wheeled his way into second place by lap 8 and had pulled nose-to-nose with Rowsey as they passed the flag stand at the end of lap 14. Reaves took the lead for good on the following lap, and Clark rolled past Rowsey on the same lap. Reaves held off a late Clark charge to make it two wins in his last three starts. Trailing Clark and Rowsey to the finish were Ayers and Hostetter.
Wright, Bryant and Clark have locked up Super 8 points bonuses while Ayers, Fitzgerald, Hostetter, Reaves and Campbell will battle it out for the final two awards of eight valuable points next Saturday night.
For the second consecutive week, Lexington Late Model pilot Larry Ramsey engineered a sterling qualifying effort to earn the pole for the evening’s 35-lap Late Model feature. Unlike the previous week, he did not let his hard-earned qualifying advantage slip away and led flag-to-flag to commandeer his second checkers of the campaign. Lexington’s David "The Flying Hippie" Sibold put some late pressure on the victor, but was unable to defeat Ramsey’s command of the second racing groove.
Millsboro’s Reed Vess qualified and finished a strong third. Covington’s David Bennett ran second for most of the race, but drifted high during a late restart and fell back to fourth. Shawsville’s Damien Wilson completed the top 5.
Seven drivers entered Saturday night’s Lee’s Auto Repair Sportsman feature within five points of the points lead. Chris Barger’s flag-to-flag victory leapfrogged the young Buena Vistan to the top of the division points tussle with one first-round Super 8 points race remaining. Barger took the lead from the green and held it throughout over Terry Dame of Natural Bridge, who ran a strong flag-to-flag second. Buchanan’s Danny Hylton finished third followed by Shad Cooper and Tim Stalnaker of Natural Bridge, respectively.
Entering next Saturday’s final race before the award of the Super 8 bonus points, Barge leads the Sportsman points list with 291 tallies. Dame stands second with 290 markers. Stalnaker and Cooper are tied for third with 288 points each. Hylton is fifth with 287, and Earl Brooks, Jr. is sixth with 281.
The first five laps of the 25-lap Street Stock feature showed the fans a five-car train involving Clifton Mays, points leader and two-time division defending points champion David Brogan of Fincastle, Tom Guthrie, Troy Fitzgerald and Lee Brooks, driving the Ray McIntosh machine.
While leading on lap 11, Mays slid high in turn two, falling back to fifth as Brogan took the lead. Guthrie and Fitzgerald battled for second behind Brogan until Fitzgerald grabbed the runner-up slot on lap 18, pulling Mays along with him into third. On lap 20, the car of the 65-year-old Guthrie barrel-rolled several times out of turn two, but the intrepid veteran reported himself to be fine shortly thereafter. After the race was restarted, Fitzgerald pressured Brogan several times, but was unable to complete the pass. Completing the top 5 behind Brogan and Fitzgerald were Brooks, Mays and Ricky Higgins. Brogan finished in the top 3 for the 12th time in 12 starts this season.
The Pure Stock starting grid back markers made their way to the front and put on quite a show for the NBS fans Saturday night in the 25-lap Pure Stock feature, which was marked by five lead changes and capped off by a three lap door-to-door sprint between eventual winner Seth Whorley and runner-up Rick Mayberry. Mayberry’s finish enabled to match Street Stock pilot Brogan with 12 top 3 finishes in 12 starts this season.
Whorley started 12th before working his way to the checkers while Mayberry began in the 13th slot. Third-place finisher Toby Stalnaker of Natural Bridge Station started 14th in the grid, and fourth-place finisher Gerald Hostetter rolled off 15th. Fifth-place finisher Buck Gunter started fifth. Ricky Hostetter led the first eight laps before spinning out, allowing Stalnaker to lead for a few laps. Whorley took the lead on lap 15, and then yielded the point to Mayberry on lap 20, setting up the memorable battle between the two over the final four laps. Whorley beat Mayberry to the checkers by half a car length for the win.
Waynesboro’s Kenny Gibson racked up his third win in five Mini Stock starts, rolling to a dominating win, establishing himself as a force with which to be reckoned in the forthcoming Super 8 Shootout. Michael Cromer of Durbin, W.Va. finished second. Robert Falls of Rockbridge Baths claimed third while Larry Branham and Stephen Campbell finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Gates will open Saturday at 4 p.m. Racing, which will include a special Sportsman feature, will commence at 7:30 p.m