Crocker Captures Outlaws for 2 in a Row, Barnhill in Sportsmen and Burkett in Pure Stocks Again!
Kids Steal Show During Annual Bike Races; Crocker, Barnhill Notch Back-to-Back Victories
By Chuck Corder
The night saw a trio of drivers winning for second and third times Friday at Five Flags Speedway.
But the evening belonged to 60 drivers who were looking for win No. 1 at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
Youth from ages 4 to 12 brought their helmets and bikes to Pensacola’s high banks for the track’s annual kids bicycle races. Four-year-old Colton McClendon, son of “Magic Man” motorcyclist Rob McClendon, won the tykes’ division; Lipscomb Elementary student Sergio Hernandez captured the 6-9 class; and Landen Smith was victorious in a thrilling finish for the 10- to 12-year-olds.
In Victory Lane, Five Flags trackside reporter Dave Pavlock asked little Colton who is favorite driver was.
“Me,” he said not missing a beat.
Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks
Donald Crocker is in dangerous territory that he surely welcomes.
The Citronelle, Ala., driver not only enjoyed his third 25-lap feature victory of the season Friday, but it marked his second consecutive appearance in Victory Lane at Five Flags Speedway.
That means if Crocker were to win the next Outlaw Stocks feature in late July to make it three in a row, the hotshoe will have a bounty placed on him. Ah, the joys of success.
“It’s been a pretty decent hot rod,” Crocker said with a wry smile. “We made a good race out of it.”
That it was. Uncharacteristically, Crocker had a rough start from the pole and immediately yielded the lead to Pensacola’s Kody Brusso.
Brusso had a tremendous start at the drop of the green flag, as she shot to P1 from the outside.
Crocker rebounded and began inching toward the back of Brusso’s No. 7. She shut the door on Crocker’s first attempt at a pass on Lap 8 and again on Lap 15, but Brusso never pulled away from the Tracy Goodson No. 1 that Crocker steers.
Brusso finally surrendered the lead back to Crocker on Lap 16.
Pensacola’s Jeremy Pate continues to impress in his first year competing in the Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks class. An accomplished late model driver, Pate finished runner-up Friday night after coming home third in his debut race last month.
“This is fun,” Pate said. “There are a bunch of good racers in this class. But I had a little chip on my shoulder after kind of being treated like a rookie by a bunch of rookies in the driver’s meeting. We’ve been putting a lot work into it.”
After a tough start, Bubba Winslow’s late pass of Brusso to claim third-place honors was important to protect his narrow points lead over Brusso.
“I shot ourselves in the foot with a slight adjustment that I thought we needed to make,” the defending Outlaw Stocks Snowball Derby champion said. “But, we finished on the podium and it’s in one piece.”
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
Mark Barnhill is having the time of his life.
The Theodore, Ala., driver continued to run roughshod over The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen division Friday at Five Flags Speedway by picking up his third 25-lap feature win of the season and second in as many races.
“This is just a blast,” Barnhill said in Victory Lane.
Barnhill took the lead from Pensacola’s Jim Pokrant on the second lap and didn’t have to break a sweat the rest of the way despite some restarts following cautions.
Milton’s Shanna Ard is happy to be back in a Sportsmen car. The former two-time track champion of The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen division, Ard raced the WCI.com Pro Trucks class the last two seasons.
He has returned to the Sportsmen series this year and Friday finished second with Jimbo Walker rounding out the podium.
“I thought the car was gonna be better than Mark’s, but, hey, this was fun,” Ard said. “We’ll come back and do it again.”
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Caleb Burkett is becoming a polished driver in various facets.
The 17-year-old driver, who just completed his junior year at West Florida High School, has fine-tuned his skills behind both a steering wheel and a microphone.
That’s what multiple trips to Victory Lane can do for a young hotshoe.
Burkett won his second Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks 25-lap feature Friday at Five Flags Speedway, distancing himself from runner-up David Johnson and third-place finisher Robert Balkum.
“I still felt like I made a lotta mistakes,” said Burkett, who seemed more calm and collected in Victory Lane than his first career win last month. “David was coming, and I saw him. When I pushed, he’d be right there.
“It’s a dream come true again. This one felt good. If I start on the front row, lead flag to flag, I guess it’s bound to be.”
As Burkett crossed under the checkered flag, he extended his left index finger out the window, ensuring everyone knew who No. 1 was on this Friday.