Buggay Barrels Down on First Five Flags Allen Turner PLM Victory at Whataburger Night of Champions
As always, Dwayne Buggay is busy when you reach him by phone.
On this day, the entrepreneurial businessman by day and weekend late model driver, is “showing some wheels” on his Cartersville, Ga., lot that boasts more than 2,500 diesels, such as Duramax and its competitors.
You patiently hold for a few minutes and when Buggay returns to the line, you offer to call back, terrified you might run off a potential suitor.
Buggay won’t have it, though. He’s eager to discuss this Saturday’s Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series season finale on the Whataburger Night of Champions at Five Flags Speedway.
Because winning races is just as important to Buggay as closing deals. They sort of go hand-in-hand, don’t they?
Buggay, much to his dismay, has never closed the deal at Pensacola’s high banks.
After impressing with a runner-up finish at last week’s Blizzard Series finale for the Super Late Models, Buggay seems poised to snatch that elusive win at the final regular season date at America’s Favorite Home Track.
“I’ve been second twice, third twice, but never won,” he said. “I want to say I’m not gonna give up this sport ’til I win in Pensacola, but that might bite me. Certainly it’s on my mind that I can’t quit ’til I conquer that racetrack.
“There are two main competitors out there in Pensacola: the racetrack and the 31 other drivers you’re battling. Getting from start to finish and finishing every lap and having a car under you, that’s the No. 1 goal for success at that racetrack.”
That’ll be the recipe for all drivers competing on a special Saturday night at Five Flags.
Buggay, who sits second in the PLM points standings, hopes to have a solid show while Mike Garvey takes a victory lap for his first career track title in Pensacola.
Fresh off some strong recent runs on NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, local girl and 2010 Snowball Derby champion Johanna Long is set to make a homecoming appearance Saturday in what promises to be one of the strongest PLM fields across the nation this season.
Separated by just 14 points, Steve Buttrick will try to wrestle away the track championship from current points leader and defending champ Brannon Fowler.
A similar scenario exists for the Modifieds crown as Donnie Hamrac leads Chris Cotto by just 24. Gary Goodwin is staring down a second straight Butler U-Pull-It Bombers track title while Brandon Burks is hoping for a miracle to spoil the charter fishing boat captain’s catch.
The gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday and admission to the grandstands is as follows: $15 Adults; $14 Seniors; $12 Military/Students (12-17); $5 Children (6-11); Under 6 is Free. Passes to get into the pits are $25.
Because of the unique racing night, the schedule has also been tweaked. Qualifying, occurring for all divisions, begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with the championship features slated for 7 p.m.
“I think we’ll see the stands full just like they typically are,” Buggay said of the Saturday night change. “Friday nights are tough to get off work, getting families together and getting out to the track. But you know this is leading up to Derby, championship races, fans around there know what’s coming.
“The fans at Five flags Speedway are the most loyal fans that you’ll find in the country. They know they’ll get a good show every time they come out. There will be no lack of excitement, I promise you that.”
Buggay has had his shares of fireworks this season. After posting a pair of top-five finishes in the first two PLM races this season, he has fallen outside the top 10 in the last two 100-lap features.
Sometimes results don’t tell the whole story, Buggay is quick to remind.
“I led 10 or 15 laps on the last race and I was second for 55 laps,” he said. “On the last three laps, I got taken out. The time before that I had engine problems. I think we’ve got it worked out. I really feel like I can be a contender this week, and I’m especially confident thanks to that last (Blizzard) race.”
Salesmen rarely show their frustrations or disappointments and embrace their stewardships to reflect positivity.
An attitude most race car drivers adopt, too.
“Nobody has a crystal ball, and nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Buggay said. “But the team is pumped up, I’m pumped and I think we have the cylinders hitting on all eight. I’m going to give it my all and not give up.”