The 2005 champions were crowned in each of the six racing divisions at Natural Bridge Speedway last Saturday night, and not a single one of the six backed into his title.
Five of this season’s track champions made certain of their points victories by grabbing the checkers in Saturday night’s final races of the year, while the sixth was the first regular NBS pilot to cross the stripe in a race that included a host of drivers visiting from other tracks.
Covington’s David Bennett made it two Late Model crowns in the past three seasons with a thrilling victory in the 35-lap Late Model feature. Bennett took the final green of the campaign with a slim one-point edge over Shawsville’s Damien Wilson, who started alongside Bennett on the front row on Saturday night.
Wilson burst to the lead on lap 2, passing Bennett on the high side in turn two. The Covington veteran bided his time, staying right on Wilson’s rear deck until he was able to regain the lead by passing Wilson on the front stretch at the completion of lap 16. Bennett lengthened his lead for the rest of the feature as Wilson worked hard to hold off onrushing 2004 champion Gerald Wolfe, Jr. to finish second to Bennett. Following third-place Wolfe to the finish line were Lexington’s David Sibold and Millboro’s Reed Vess. Rounding out the top 5 in the final points tally behind champion Bennett and runner-up Wilson were Sibold, Wolfe and Timmy Simmons, respectively.
Buena Vista’s Chris Barger took the checkers in the Lee’s Auto Repair Sportsman division with a slim one-point edge over Buchanan’s Danny Hylton and a four-point lead over Tim Stalnaker and Shad Cooper. Barger immediately grabbed the lead and maintained a slim edge over Hylton through the race’s first 10 laps. However, on lap 10 Hylton suffered the misfortune of a flat tire and was forced to the pits and, subsequently, the rear of the field. Cooper moved into the second slot behind Barger and held the position for the remainder of the 25-lap feature. Ricky Wells came home fourth followed by Earl Brooks, Jr. and Shipman’s Mike Bryant, respectively.Barger is the son of Joe Barger, who won multiple track championships during his racing days. Finishing second in the points tussle was Cooper, who claimed a one-point margin over third-place Hylton, who finished sixth Saturday night. Stalnaker and Terry Dame completed the final points top 5.
Fincastle’s David Brogan captured his track-high 10th checkered flag of the season and 64th of his career with his victory in Saturday night’s 25-lap Street stock finale. The win cemented Brogan’s back-to-back-to-back titles in the Street stock division. Brogan finished in the top 3 in every race this season. Clifton Forge’s Ricky Higgins mounted a strong second-place run Saturday night in his Don Lugar-owned machine. Ray McIntosh rolled home third followed by Lexington’s Troy Fitzgerald and Madison Heights’ Clifton Mays.
Fitzgerald finished second in the Street Stock points competition behind Brogan. Completing the points top 5 were Tom Guthrie, Higgins and Skye Reynolds, respectively.
Spout Spring’s Pure Stock pilot Rick Mayberry clinched the Pure Stock title, duplicating the feat of his father, Alan, who won a track title in 1976. Mayberry led flag-to-flag in picking up his second win of the season and securing the division championship. Fincastle’s Michael Brogan posted his second consecutive second-place finish in Saturday night’s 35-lap special feature. Lee Brookes finished third followed to the flag by Evergreen’s Todd Garrett and Buchanan’s Brian Campbell.Completing the final points top 5 behind Mayberry were Garrett, Brogan, Gerald Hostetter and Ronnie Martin, Jr., respectively.Amherst’s Mini Stock driver Stephen Campbell found himself in competition Saturday night with a trio of strong visiting cars from Winchester, but Campbell wrapped up his claims to the 2005 Mini Stock championship with a strong fourth-place showing. He was the first NBS regular to cross the stripe behind feature winner Mark Digges of Winchester, who claimed his second win at NBS in two visits this season. Visiting drivers Scott McCartney finished second followed by Delmas Moreland of Stephens City. Following 2005 Mini Stock champion Campbell to the line was Spout Spring’s Barney Gunter. Robert Falls of Rockbridge baths finished second in the points battle. Rounding out the points top 5 were Gunter, Mike Cromer and Michael Cromer, respectively.
Fred Clark made another of his patented late-race passes, surging past Lexington’s Jamie Wright out of turn two on lap 19 of Saturday’s final 20-lap Any car feature. Clark’s ninth win of the campaign sewed up the division points title for the Lexington driver. Following Clark and Wright to the checkers Saturday night were Roy Reaves of Coleman Falls, Derrick Ayers and Chris Nicely.
Completing the Any car points top 5 behind Clark were Wright, Ayers, Allen Fitzgerald and Jason Bryant.
The annual championship awards will be distributed Saturday night, Oct. 1, at the championship picnic, which will be held in the speedway infield. Advance tickets, which cost $10, are available by calling the speedway office. Tickets may be purchased at the gate for $15. A buffet dinner will be served at 5 p.m. with the trophy presentations to follow. A dance featuring music by Soul Survivor will begin at approximately 7 p.m. and continue until 10:30. Attendees should bring lawn chairs and whatever they wish to drink. All else will be provided by NBS.