What an Opening Day: Moseley Dominates Inaugural Outlaw Stock Feature; Three Other Winners Crowned
By Chuck Corder
Corbitt Moseley is proof that stock car racing isn’t just for the kiddos.
As a youth revolution continues to invade NASCAR and every level of racing, the 60-year-old Moseley just keeps winning at short tracks across the southeast.
But the Panama City driver had never won a feature at Five Flags Speedway in his 40-plus years of racing.
Moseley broke his career-long drought on a special Sunday afternoon Opening Day at Pensacola’s famed half-mile oval, which will celebrate the 50th annual Snowball Derby this December.
“Glad be able to run a race and finally win one here. I appreciate the fans and everybody running clean,” he said. “We had a great time, but, for sure, we’ve got a few more things we can do with the car.”
Moseley got his first win at Five Flags at the track’s first 50-lap Outlaw Stock feature, leading from Lap 3 against a 14-car field. The Faith Chapel Outlaw Stock division is a new series at Five Flags that resembles many of the same elements fans see in late models and is encouraging local racers.
Pensacola’s Kody Brusso, 24, took home runner-up honors while Alabama driver Wesley King rounded out the podium.
Brusso was the fast qualifier during time trials, but had little for Moseley’s dominant No. 26 car.
Moseley’s biggest sweat of the afternoon came near the halfway point of the 50 lapper when he and Brusso came upon lapped traffic.
It was two-wide in front of the leaders, causing Moseley to be picked and allowing Brusso to make up ground on what was at one-time a straightaway lead.
Just as she was approaching Moseley’s bumper, the wily veteran dove deep to the inside in Turn No. 2. He split the lapped cars with a nifty pass and once again shot off like a rocket from the rest of the field.
“Second’s not where we want to be, but it’s OK,” said Brusso, holding herself to a high standard after capturing the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series state title of Louisiana in 2015.
“We bobbled on a couple of restarts, so we know what we need to do next time. We’ll get it.
Brusso was just making her second career start at Pensacola’s high banks. Her father, Donnie Brusso, was a late model regular for much of the 1990s and the early 2000s.
She’s eager to bring her sharp-looking No. 7 to Victory Lane, but took solace in knowing that it was just the inaugural race of the season and series.
“Thankfully, we brought it home in one piece,” Kody Brusso said. “It would’ve been a lot more fun if we won, but it’ll do.”
She showed her fierce determination late in the race to reclaim second from King. On Lap 40, Brusso executed a deft move around King, finally timing the pass to perfection after a few missed opportunities on earlier laps.
Beef “O” Brady’s Pro Trucks
The moment was all too much for Colt James.
As he accepted backslaps and heartfelt congratulations all through Victory Lane, the impact of his first-career victory at Five Flags Speedway washed over him.
The 33-year-old driver from North Carolina, by way of Texas, took the lead on Lap 2 and didn’t surrender it for the remainder of the 50-lap Beef “O” Brady’s Pro Trucks class.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” James said. “I’ve been coming to the (Snowball) Derby for 20 years. I’ve been dreaming about winning at Five Flags forever.
“This is one of those tracks. There are four or five prestigious short tracks in America, and this is one of them. This is amazing. I can’t tell you how this feels.”
Alabama driver Steven Davis finished runner-up and Molino’s Jarrett Parker, the class’s reigning Derby champion, took home third in the 19-car field.
James smoothly took the lead from polesitter Rick Pollaro — who led the first official lap of 2017 at the famed half-mile asphalt oval — in Turn No. 2 on Lap 2 and wasn’t significantly challenged the rest of the way.
James dodged two bullets with precision. On Lap 20, a truck he was lapping came across James’ No. 15 and spun. James was able to keep his truck straight despite the incident.
With five laps remaining, lapped traffic became an issue when two cars in front of James denied him a lane to pass. Instead of growing frustrated, James backed off, regrouped and found the crease he needed shortly after.
“We weren’t bad, but we were not good enough to outrun (James),” Davis admitted. “Second ain’t ever where you want to finish. Sometimes it is what it is.”
Parker surely hoped for a better encore to his Derby victory three months ago, but the effervescent 21-year-old remained upbeat.
“We’re ready for this year,” Parker said. “We couldn’t be more happy. Granted, we’d like to finish second or first, but the truck’s in one piece.”
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
Brannon Fowler knows how to make up for lost time.
Despite earning a feature win in 2016, Fowler missed most of the year at Five Flags Speedway after an early-season wreck forced him into the shop for major repairs.
He was able to recover and race toward the end of the season, but it was hard to salvage any moral victories.
Fowler got a real victory, bested a nine-car field Sunday and snagging a 25-lap feature win in The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen division.
“We were really kicking ourselves for the Snowball Derby because we found some issues with the car afterward,” Fowler said. “I could really tell the difference coming out today. The car’s been great. I couldn’t have been done it without a great deal of support.”
Fowler took the lead in Turn No. 3 on Lap 2 and was able to withstand the repeated charges from runner-up Mark Barnhill. Steve Buttrick took third.
“We’re going to try to make more races than I did last year,” Barnhill, a past feature winner at Five Flags, committed to. “It’s kinda hard on Friday nights, but I’m gonna do my best.”
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stock
Emotions were running high at Five Flags Speedway on Sunday.
After Beef “O” Brady’s Pro Trucks winner Colt James struggled to choke back tears in his speech in Victory Lane, Mobile’s Johnathan Day was wiping them away before climbing out of his No. 11 in the winner’s circle for the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stock class.
Day scored his first-career win at the famed half-mile asphalt oval Sunday, outdueling fellow Alabama driver Robert Loper in the season opener for the newly-minted division. Pensacola’s Robert Balkum, who was runner-up in points last season, took home third.
Day, whose cousin Jay Jay Day competed in the Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks opener Sunday, enjoyed a celebratory moment in the car as he held his head in disbelief after his milestone 20-lap feature win against an 18-car field.
“I can’t thank these guys I ran against enough. Y’all got your money’s worth today,” Day joked with the jam-packed house. “We started off tight, got loose, got tight again. The car just hit the track yesterday. I’m still trying to get used to it.”
Day and Loper waged a terrific battle, far-and-away the most exciting bit of racing Sunday at Five Flags, for the last half of the race with Day finally pulling ahead on Lap 16.
Day, who had been glued to the inside of Loper for the previous four laps, cleared the former Pure Stock Snowball Derby champion on the back straightaway. It was a spirited battle that saw each driver own the lead with paint being swapped.
“That was a great race,” Loper said. “I love that it was Jonathan I was getting to race. I love to race the best.”
Balkum enjoyed his first step toward an elusive track championship.
“This is a pretty good way to kick it off,” he said of his podium finish. “We didn’t work on the car much after the Snowball. We pretty much took it off the trailer this morning.”