SUPER 8 BONUSES AWARDED AT NATURAL BRIDGE (Virginia) SPEEDWAY; DAMIEN WILSON DOMINATES LATE MODEL FIELD
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The Super 8 bonus points were doled out following last Saturday night’s racing action at Natural Bridge Speedway after four months of highly competitive competition.
The top five drivers in each division’s points standings were awarded eight points, which they will carry into next Saturday’s Ben Cross Memorial races, while all other drivers will begin anew with zero markers. Normal scoring will continue as the season heads down the backstretch in pursuit of crowning the 2005 track champions in each of the speedway’s six divisions.
Last Saturday night saw outstanding racing on the dry, slick track with the checkers being earned in an assortment of ways. Street Stock pilot Troy Fitzgerald suffered severe heartbreak when his car broke two turns shy of his sixth win of the year, allowing Fincastle’s David Brogan to slip by to claim his sixth win of the campaign. Any Car victor Fred Clark chased down the leader on the next-to-last lap. Attrition sent much of the field to the pits in the 40-lap Sportsman feature won by the comeback kid, Ricky Wells of Gladstone, who has won three features despite missing over two months of action with a broken foot.
Late Model winner Damien Wilson qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag in claiming his second win of the season. Coray Brown started on the outside of the front row in the Pure Stock feature. He took the lead on the first lap and never looked back on his way to victory. Waynesboro’s Kenny Gibson continued to serve notice of his commanding presence to the rest of the Mini Stock drivers by rolling to fourth win in just six starts this season, marking him as a real threat as the final drive to the championship begins next Saturday.
Fitzgerald displayed a strong ride from the drop of the green, wheeling from his sixth-place starting position to third on the first trip around the dirt oval. By lap 3, he was running second behind leader Keith Nelson. After Nelson spun out in turn four of lap 7, Fitzgerald powered to the front, and it appeared that no one had anything to match the Lexington driver. However, coming down the backstretch on the white flag lap, Fitzgerald’s car slowed and drifted to a near halt as Brogan, Tom Guthrie and Ricky Higgins surged past the disappointed Fitzgerald. With the win, Brogan kept alive his streak of having finished in the top 3 of every Street Stock race this season.
Wilson demonstrated his strength early by earning the Late Model pole with a dominating qualifying lap. The affable Shawsville driver broke to the front with the drop of the green and never looked back. Millboro’s Reed Vess qualified second and stayed there throughout the 35-lap feature, but had nothing on this night for Wilson’s hot rod. Lexington’s David Sibold finished third after qualifying fourth. Larry Ramsey made a strong move through the field, crossing the finish line fourth after starting ninth in the grid. Waynesboro’s Lewis Hudson completed the Late Model top 5.
Much was on the line in the Super 8 competition as the Sportsman machines rolled to the green for their 40-lap feature, and there was much juggling of the top 5 order as a result of the race’s outcome, though the top 5 names remained the same. Terry Dame had early troubles that forced him from the race and dropped him from second to fifth in the points. Buena Vista’s Chris Barger’s car was engulfed in flame, ending his night early and dropping him from first to third in the points.
Ricky Wells was able to avoid the wrecks and mayhem and moved to the lead on lap 19 after Buchanan’s Danny Hylton had to drop out while leading due to mechanical problems. Wells held the lead thereafter though Shad Cooper, Tim Stalnaker and Mike Bryant continued to pressure the Gladstone pilot. Stalnaker and Cooper entered the race tied for third in the points. Cooper finished second one slot ahead of Stalnaker, which moved Cooper to first place in the points heap, one marker ahead of the veteran Stalnaker.
Brown provided the fans with a dominating performance as he powered away from the rest of the large Pure Stock field, taking the lead on the first lap and never looking back. Buena Vista’s Ronnie Martin, Jr. also displayed a strong ride and ran a strong second to Brown for the last 24 laps of the 25-lap feature, but could not mount a charge on the victorious Lexington driver. Toby Stalnaker of Natural Bridge Station finished third, holding off a valiant late race run by Rick Mayberry, who finished fourth, ending his streak of top 3 finishes at 13. Pole sitter Ricky Hostetter of Lexington finished fifth.
Lexington’s Brian Rowsey led from lap 2 to lap 18 of the Any Car feature as much shifting of position occurred behind him. James Fitzgerald, William Beavers, James Campbell and Roy Reaves ran in the top 5 early on. Reaves, Fred Clark and Beavers got together on lap 7 and went to the rear of the field. Clark quickly worked his back to the lead pack, moving to fourth behind Rowsey, Fitzgerald and Campbell. Clark was second for a lap 18 restart and passed Rowsey on the high side between turns three and four on lap 18 and blasted away to the win. Rowsey was disqualified for refusing post race inspection. Thus, Derrick Ayers finished second followed by Scott Hostetter, Donald Keesee of Evington and Campbell.
Gibson and Campbell battled head-to-head throughout the Mini Stock feature. Campbell commanded the first half of the event with Gibson taking over for the half including the checkers. Mike Cromer of Durbin, W.Va. ran third with Crozet’s Tim Gibson rolling home fourth followed by Michael Cromer of Durbin.
The five drivers with the most points in each division through the end of July will start Saturday night’s Ben Cross Memorial races with eight points each. All other drivers will start with zero. Fans are invited and encouraged to bring their motorcycles Saturday night as a tribute to the late Cross, a motorcycle enthusiast. The bikes will be displayed and used for a parade lap before a race. Gates open at 4 p.m. with the first green flag scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.
The following drivers have qualified for the Super 8 points bonus with their efforts through the first four months of the racing season. Points will be awarded as usual for the remainder of the racing season to determine the 2005 track champions in each of the six divisions. Drivers are shown with the number of points that earned each his Super 8 bonus.
LATE MODEL: 1. Damien Wilson, Shawsville, 435; 2. Gerald Wolfe, Jr., Covington, 431; 3. David Sibold, Lexington, 417; 4. Lewis Hudson, Waynesboro, 390; 5. David Bennett, Covington, 382.
SPORTSMAN: 1. Shad Cooper, Buena Vista, 326; 2. Tim Stalnaker, Buena Vista, 325; 3. Chris Barger, Buena Vista, 323; 4. Danny Hylton, Buchanan, 321; 5. Terry Dame, Natural Bridge, 320.
STREET STOCK: 1. David Brogan, Fincastle, 318; 2. Troy Fitzgerald, Lexington, 307; 3. Tom Guthrie, Lynchburg, 273; 4. Ricky Higgins, Clifton Forge, 269; 5. Timmy Downey, Clifton Forge, 246.
PURE STOCK: 1. Rick Mayberry, Spout Spring, 318; 2. Seth Whorley, Amherst, 256; 3. Toby Stalnaker, Natural Bridge Station, 245; 4. Todd Garrett, Evergreen, 240; 5. Gerald Hostetter, Buchanan, 230.
MINI STOCK: 1. Stephen Campbell, Amherst, 277; 2. Michael D. Cromer, Durbin, W.Va., 264; 3. Mike Cromer, Durbin, W.Va., 255; 4. Robert Falls, Rockbridge Baths, 249; 5. Kenny Gibson, Waynesboro, 123.
ANY CAR: 1. Fred Clark, Lexington, 285; 2. Jamie Wright, Lexington, 271; 3. Derrick Ayers, Lexington, 263; 4. Jason Bryant, Amherst, 246; 5. Scottie Hostetter, Lexington, 244.