Packed House For Crashers and Winners
The regular drivers in the Modifieds of Mayhem series were no match for Augie Grill on Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
Grill, a two-time Snowball Derby champion, made his first appearance in the series this year and led the final 34 of 50 laps for an easy victory.
It came before a packed house at the track, many of whom where there to see the Demolition Derby, which was won by Kurtis Bailey after 10 minutes of mayhem between 11 cars.
But the fans got to see a dominating performance from Grill in his familiar 112 car.
“That’s the best Modified I’ve sat in,” Grill said. “They gave me a great car to drive.”
Fastest qualifier David Capps started on the pole, but Adam Crawford took the lead on the opening lap with an outside pass in turn 3.
Grill started sixth and worked his way to second place. He went low in turn 2 on lap 16 and took the lead. It was over at that point.
After victories at Five Flags in Super Late Models and Pro Late Models, Grill was happy with an open-wheel win.
“These cars are fun to drive,” Grill said. “A win’s a win. I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
Korey Ruble finished second and Crawford finished third.
“I didn’t have anything for Augie,” said Ruble, who won a Modified race here in June. “My car was too free and Augie was on tonight.”
It was the first time Crawford had led laps in a Modified race.
“We had a good night and we had a fast race car,” said Adam, the son of 1989 Snowball Derby champion Rick Crawford. “They knew we were here.”
Andrew Johnson needed a break for a chance to catch Pro Trucks points leader Jay Jay Day and he got it on Lap 31.
Actually, it came one lap earlier when the caution came out. That allowed the field to bunch up and Johnson took advantage to make the pass and win his second feature of the season. And as he made the pass, Johnson crowded Day.
“I had to give him a little bit of loving to get past him,” Johnson said. “It was good, hard racing. The caution helped me. The tires cooled down and I was able to make a run.”
Shanna Ard, who finished third and was looking for his first victory, led the first 23 laps.
“I almost forgot what it was like to lead a race,” he said. “We got a little more tweaking to do.”
Day had passed Johnson on Lap 17 to take second. Then Ard got loose and Day took the lead, looking for his seventh win of the season.
But that late caution changed everything.
“At least it was a good points night,” Day said.
Mark Barnhill won his second straight Sportsman feature, taking the lead early and pulling away.
Twice, he was set to take the lead from polesitter Jimbo Walker and a caution would come out. But on the third try, Barnhill shot ahead on the outside.
Even on a later restart, Barnhill easily pulled away from runner-up and points leader Brannon Fowler.
“I know Brandon was lurking back there,” Barnhill said. “I didn’t want to give him a chance to catch me.”
Fowler might have had a better chance, but midway through the race he slapped the outside wall.
“I’m disappointed in myself,” he said. “I hit the wall for the second time in a row.”
Jason Huffmaster finished third.
Johnathan Day won his seventh Pure Stock feature race this season, but it was tiring work.
Outside polesitter Robert Balkum took the lead on opening lap and Day slipped into second. From that point, Day tried to pass Balkum high and he tried to pass Balkum low. He even tapped Balkum from behind, but backed off.
“I wasn’t just waiting; I was trying,” said Day, who was out of breath after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane. “Robert was doing what he was supposed to do.”
Finally, on lap 15, Day squeezed below Balkum on the backstretch to get the preferred low position and took the lead on Lap 16. A caution came out shortly after that to put the two drivers side by side.
But on the restart, Day pulled away for the win, while Tommie Blocker – by virtue of being behind Day – slipped inside Balkum to take second.
“That second-place trophy is really Robert’s,” Blocker said, “but I’ll take it.”
Balkum was left to hold the third-place trophy. “It was a good race,” he said. “I just didn’t have anything for him at the end.”