Williams Becomes First Repeat Winner
Race fans and drivers alike didn’t mind the cooler than normal temperatures Saturday night at Natural Bridge Speedway. Two of the first four events of the new season had been rained out prior to Saturday night’s action. Natural Bridge Speedway hosted five divisions of racing plus the Virginia Sprint Series made their first appearance of the season. Justin Williams and Lee Brooks became the first repeat winners while Todd Campbell, David Brogan, and Mike Lawhorne went to victory lane for the first time in 2012.
The late model drivers and the sportsman drivers competed in hot lap qualifying to kick off the night’s racing program. Justin Williams top the charts for the late models with a lap of 16.426 seconds with a speed of 83.283 mph. Williams then drew a number six for the inversion meaning he would start outside of row number three for the feature event. Michael Taylor was the fastest qualifier in the sportsman division. Taylor made the trip around the 3/8ths mile oval in 17.305 seconds at just over 79 mph. Taylor’s number was much better for the inversion. Taylor drew a number two and started the feature from the outside pole.
Philip Woods and Doug Jones brought the late model field to the green flag. Jones grabbed the lead from the outside front row to lead his first lap of the season. The time at the front of the field was short lived for Jones as he would suffer a flat left rear tire and head pit side on lap number two. Woods inherited the lead and held the point until Chris Barger took command on lap six. Meanwhile, Williams was also making his way to the front. Williams took over the runner-up spot from Woods on lap eight. Barger and Williams seemed to have equally prepared machines and both drivers were on top of their game. However, lapped traffic would come into play in deciding the outcome of this feature event. With just seven laps to go Barger made an inside move to lap Ted Keher. While Barger went low, Justin Williams blasted around the top of the speedway to take the lead away from Barger. A late caution gave Barger on last chance at Williams but Barger could not regain the lead. Williams went on to pick up the victory to become the first repeat winner of the season. Barger was second and JR Overstreet had an impressive run to finish third. Ricky Wells was fourth while Doug Jones recovered from his flat tire to finish fifth.
Two of the sportsman racers suffered mechanical failures in practice and were not able to take the green flag. Scottie Sorrells and Ronnie Martin broke in practice and were finished for the night. Todd Campbell and Michael Taylor raced into turn one with Campbell getting the lead. Though the top two remained the same throughout the twenty-five lap feature, positions three through five were up for grabs. Eric Groah lost his power steering in the opening laps and wrestled his race car to the top three. Ken Nelson, Eddie Gibson, and Robert Steen all took turns in the top five. Up front, Taylor chased and at times pressured Campbell for the lead but Campbell was determined to hang on for his first win of the season. Campbell crossed the stripe just over a second ahead of Taylor. Groah muscled up and held on for third while Ken Nelson and Eddie Gibson rounded out the top five.
Attrition was the key factor in determining the winner of the street stock feature event. Of the nine starters only three were running when the checkered flag fell. Early in the event RW Armstrong and Jason Thompson slammed the outside wall and suffered heavy damage to their machines. Bobby Thompson, Skye Reynolds, and Keith Nelson were also all involved in accidents damaging their cars, forcing them to retire from the event. That left David Brogan, Ted Miller, Tom Guthrie, and Charles Wyant to settle it for the win. Wyant and Brogan engaged in a battle for the lead until the two touched in turn four and spun to bring out the caution. The two went to the back of the four car field. Brogan led the charge back to the front and regained the lead on lap eighteen. Brogan pulled away the remaining five laps to pick up his first win of the season. Guthrie, Wyant, Miller, and Nelson rounded out the top five.
Lee Brooks, Howard Hall, and Todd Garrett put on a whale of a show in the pure stock feature. Hall led laps one through 20 until Lee Brooks made a daring move on the outside to overtake both Hall and Garrett for the lead. Once out in front it was clear sailing for Brooks who went on to pick up his second win of the season. Hall held on for second and Garrett took home a third place finish. Robert Tyree and Ben Hamilton were the only other cars to finish on the lead lap respectfully.
It took Mike Lawhorne just under nine minutes to pick up his first win of the season in the All-American feature event. Lawhorne led all twenty laps and held off the father-son team of Glen and Corey Almond for the win. Glen Almond crossed the stripe just over a half second behind Lawhorne. Corey Almond, who won on opening night, recorded another solid top three finish. Jeff Mays started sixth and advanced two spots to finish fourth. Nick Magliochetti recorded his second top five finish of the season.
In Virginia Sprint Series action, Tony Harris of Harrisonburg, VA picked up the victory in the twenty-five lap feature event.