Aramendia Scores Third Modifieds of Mayhem Victory in Last 3 Years; Day Makes it 3-for-3 in Pure Stocks
By Chuck Corder
Joe Aramendia made those 11 hours and 700 miles count.
The Seguin, Texas, makes regular visits to Pensacola and Five Flags Speedway to race Modifieds and Late Model driver against the best competition.
Aramendia made a triumph return Friday to the famed half-mile asphalt oval, setting the fast time in qualifying (17.503 seconds) and, then comfortably winning the 50-lap Modifieds of Mayhem Tour feature.
It was Aramendia’s third feature win at Pensacola’s high banks in as many seasons, as the 53-year-old veteran took home checkered flags the previous two Augusts, on the same night when the track hosts its annual Demolition Derby.
Before the cars made it technical inspection, Aramendia’s fellow Texan Bayley Curry took home runner-up honors and Alabama’s Donald Crocker rounded out the podium.
“That was a lotta fun, and a lotta fun racing with Bailey and everybody else here from Texas,” Aramendia said.
Once the cars were inspected, though, Curry’s No. 072 was disqualified, moving Crocker to second and Indianapolis’ Tyler Porter was bumped up to third.
In addition to Porter, eight of the 17-car field for the 50 lapper were drivers from Texas.
Aramendia took the lead from Curry for good with 21 laps complete following a late restart. Aramendia exacted a small modicum of revenge for December’s Modifieds Snowball Derby when he spun the tires and surrendered the lead on a restart.
“I don’t know if it’s redemption. There’s still a Derby out there,” Aramendia joked. “If I wouldn’t have gotte (Curry) on a restart, I don’t know if I would’ve caught him. If I didn’t hurry up and get by him, it was going to kill my tires.”
Curry started on the pole following a redraw with Aramendia starting to his outside. Aramendia was content with riding behind Curry for the first 20 laps of the race, but knew he had to come when the cars cooled their tires during a caution.
Aramendia opened up a huge, 10-car lead for the last half of the race and only lapped traffic caused him to sweat with Curry cutting into his deficit in the stretch run.
“I wish we could have had five more laps to maybe finish one better,” Curry said. “It is what it is, though. We’ll come back again and get a win.”
The race saw two cautions, including a big one on Lap 8 that collected multiple Snowball Derby champion Donnie Hamrac, Mike Maddox and Dillon Spreen.
Hamrac was the only car to drive away from the scene, but his car wasn’t right the rest of the race.
Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks
Charlie Skipper waited five long years for this moment at Five Flags Speedway.
With Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks polesitter Kody Brusso in the pits early in the race for mechanical issues, it opened the door for Skipper who started outside of Row 1.
Skipper, the veteran driver from Panama City, took the lead on the opening lap and never relinquished his advantage for the rest of the 35-lap feature en route to Victory Lane. It was Skipper’s first win at the famed half-mile asphalt oval since September 2012.
“We’ve been working on this thing hard and it finally paid off,” Skipper said. “Back in Victory Lane again. Man, I love these Outlaw Stocks.”
Texan driver Brandon Spreen, who was the fast qualifier with a track record time of 17.881 seconds, finished runner-up and Gary Sutton came home third.
“It was a pretty good weekend,” Spreen said. “We got the rrack record, but just fell a little short in the feature.”
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
No driver gets a bigger kick out of running on older tires than Steve Buttrick.
It’s a source of pride for the Cantonment driver who has won five Sportsmen Snowball Derby championships and several track titles.
But, on Friday, Buttrick had a free set of his tires at his disposal and he made the most of it. Buttrick got his first The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen 25-lap feature victory of the season, holding off a hard-charging Brannon Fowler. Fowler, the series points leader, finished second and Lee Reynolds rounded out the podium.
“I use two of (tires) tonight and it helped the car out a bunch having right sides on there,” Buttrick said. “I felt Brannon. But he always runs me clean, and I enjoy racing with him.”
Fowler, who now has one win and two seconds in three features this season, made several valiant attempts to slip past Buttrick, but the wily veteran was up to the task of blocking and closing the door on each attempt Fowler made to pass.
The friendly rivals and two of the more decorated champions at Five Flags in recent years, Buttrick and Fowler race side-by-side for the lead on Lap 13. Buttrick didn’t budge, though, and he maintained his lead.
Fowler made another push to get under the No. 33, but Buttrick pinched the No. 00 down and refused to give Fowler the lane. Fowler
“I gave it all I got,” Fowler said. “The car was fast. We gave Steve a couple good runs there, but I couldn’t quite make it happen.”
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Johnathan Day kept his unblemished record intact Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
The 28-year-old Mobile-area driver won the first two Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks 20-lap features last month.
On Friday, he not only won his third consecutive 20 lapper, but also captured a heat race earlier in the night to run his record at the famed half-mile asphalt oval this season to a perfect 4-0.
Day took the lead from Tommie Blocker, who led for much of the race, in Turn No. 4 on Lap 18. Blocker came home second and Jonathan Smith finished third.
“We worked so hard on this car every single day,” Day said. “I couldn’t do it without the people around me. We stay on top of it.
“(Blocker) was trying his hardest to hold me off. I can’t blame him. He’s getting so close every week to getting a win.”
Blocker, who had a handul of podium finishes last season at Five Flags, added another to his resume Friday night.
“It’s was real exciting,” he said. “I hate to give it up to Johnathan there at the end. I didn’t want to let him have it.”
Day and Robert Loper penned another chapter in their budding rivalry. The pair exchanged paint several times, with Day being sent to the back of the pack earlier in the race when he spun Loper.
With Day restarting in front of Loper, the pair steamrolled their way into the top-five as the feature reached the halfway mark.
Day had climbed to second by Lap 12 when Loper began falling way off the pace and had to pull it into the pits for good.