Campbell Captures Sportsman Special Event
Temperatures were unseasonably cool this past Saturday night at Natural Bridge Speedway but the racing action was sizzling hot. The cool temperatures made for a blistering fast racing surface that had all drivers searching for more grip and horsepower. The sportsman drivers were the featured division competing in a 50-lap special event. Four other divisions also were on hand making for a full night of exciting racing action.
Both the late model and sportsman divisions took to the speedway first for hot lap qualifying sessions to help set the starting line-up for their feature events. In the late model division Justin Williams once again proved he was the man to beat and sent a message to the rest of the field when he ripped off a lap of 15.887 seconds, with an average speed of just over 86 mph to claim the top spot. In the sportsman division, Todd Campbell turned a lap of 16.812 seconds to earn a spot at the top of the speed charts. Both Williams and Campbell would go on to win their feature events later in the night but it would not be easy for either driver.
The sportsman drivers stepped up their game this week with $500 on the line. Lexington’s Shad Cooper started on the outside pole and quickly grabbed the lead from Eddie Gibson as the field raced into turn one. Michael Taylor followed Cooper to the front and immediately began to pressure Cooper. Cooper would have none of it and kept a two to three car length lead throughout the early stages of the event. A caution on lap twelve slowed the field and gave the drivers a chance to catch their breath before heading into the second half of the race. Once back underway, it was Cooper who again would be able to pull away by several car lengths over Taylor. Meanwhile, Todd Campbell, who had won two straight entering the extra distance race, was running a consistent third ahead of Eric Groah. Cooper maintained the lead even as Taylor began to apply heavy pressure the last ten laps.
On lap forty-six the two front runners entered turn one and slammed off of each other. Cooper went spinning as Taylor continued on. Under caution, track officials informed Taylor he would be sent to the rear for making contact with Cooper. Taylor parked his machine the final four laps. Todd Campbell inherited the lead and went on to claim his third checkers in a row. Campbell, Groah, Cooper, Ronnie Martin, and Taylor were the top five finishers. Campbell took the points lead away from Taylor with his victory.
The best lap of the late model feature was the first. Two-time defending Steel Block Bandits champion Walker Arthur and defending track champion Justin Williams brought the field to the green flag. Both drivers drove into turn one like it was the last lap. The door to door battle continued down the back stretch and into turns three and four. Williams finally cleared Arthur for the lead off of turn four. Once out in front Williams immediately began to open up a comfortable lead. In just four laps, Williams had nearly a three second lead over Arthur. A caution on lap nine was the only thing that could slow Williams down. Williams went on to lead flag to flag to capture the win and extend his points lead over Chris Barger. Barger turned in another solid performance and brought his machine home in third behind Arthur. Last weeks winner David Bennett was fourth, followed by Gladstone’s Ricky Knight.
David Brogan, who struggled to find victory lane just a year ago in the street stock division, is clicking on all cylinders in 2012. Brogan inherited the lead when Keith Nelson and Ted Miller made contact on lap number four. Both Nelson and Miller were sent to the rear and Brogan took command of the feature. Brogan set the pace and opened up a huge lead but a late race caution on lap 22 bunched the field up for a three lap shootout. Tom Guthrie did all he could do to but came up short in his quest to score the upset win. Brogan captured his third straight checkered flag. Guthrie was second, followed by Miller, Nelson, and Scottie Hostetter.
It took just over eight minutes for Lee Brooks to return to victory lane in the pure stock division. Brooks suffered mechanical problems early in last weeks feature event and finished several laps down. This week was a different story. Brooks jumped to the lead over Howard Hall from the outside pole and the two front runners checked out from the rest of the field. Hall stayed within striking distance throughout the entire caution free event. Hall closed to the back bumper on the final lap and made one last attempt at a pass but came up short. Brooks picked up the win followed by Hall, Todd Garrett, Seth Whorley, and Ben Hamilton.
Four of the top five point leaders in the All-American division started and finished up front in the twenty-lap All-American feature. Mike Lawhorne started on the pole and lead flag to flag to pick up the win. Brandon Link also started on the front row and finished where he started. Last week’s feature winner, Nick Magliochetti, started sixth and advanced three positions to finish third. Current point leader, Corey Almond, was the hard charger of the race. Almond started back in the ninth position and finished fourth. Derrick Ayers, who is running a part-time schedule in 2012 scored a top five finish. Honorable mention goes to Greg Austin who did not one, but two complete 360 spins during the course of the event and never stopped to bring out the caution.
Coming up this Saturday night Natural Bridge Speedway will host Federated Auto Parts night. Long time NASCAR driver Kenny Schrader will be on hand to compete with the AMRA Road Warrior Challenge Series. Schrader will pilot his own open wheel modified competing against a strong contingent of AMRA modified drivers. Schrader will hold an autograph session for the public from 4:30-5:00. Gates will open at 3:00 this coming Saturday night, with the driver’s meeting scheduled for 5:15. On track activities will begin at 5:30.