Arthur Picks Up First Victory of Season
It was a beautiful night for racing this past Saturday night at Natural Bridge Speedway. The speedway hosted five regular feature events, celebrated Father’s Day, and brought smiles to many youngsters in attendance when several drivers gave rides around the speedway to ten lucky children. The speedway saw one of its larger car counts of the season and fans would not leave disappointed as the action heated up on the race track.
The feature everyone will be talking about this week was the late model feature. Fifteen late models signed into the pit area to do battle. Ricky Wells was the fastest qualifier in hot lap qualifying but that would be the only bright spot for Wells on this night. First he drew a number five inversion pill which moved him back to the inside of the third row for the start of the feature event. Next, Wells found trouble while battling Justin Williams for position early on in the event. Wells was pinched down by Williams and had no choice but to spin to avoid crashing both he and Williams. A few laps later Wells retired from the event.
Wells was not the only driver to have trouble in the thirty-five lap late model event. After three attempts to start the late model event, track officials made the decision to start the field single file. It was on the third attempt at a start when things really heated up. Walker Arthur and Williams started side by side in row two. The two drivers refused to give each other any racing room and the two slammed off each other several times at the drop of the green flag. Williams pulled a slide job in turn number four only to push high and open the door for Arthur to come back to the inside. Again the two touched and Arthur went spinning in front of the entire field. Miraculously no one was collected in the spin and the caution waved. Under caution the two engaged in a heated discussion about the incident but cooler heads prevailed and racing resumed.
The single file start gave Ricky Knight the lead as the Gladstone, VA driver settled into his groove and led the opening nine laps. On lap number ten, Arthur had worked his way to the front and used and inside move off of turn number four for the lead. All eyes were also on Natural Bridge’s own Tim Stalnaker who turned the fuel up this week and early in the event seemed to be the fastest car on the speedway. However, Stalnaker’s charge to the front stalled out after reaching third and he settled for a third place finish. Once in front Arthur distanced himself from the field and at one point opened up a ten second lead over second place Knight. A caution on lap thirty wiped out his huge lead but Arthur once again flexed his muscle on the restart. He crossed the line nearly three seconds ahead of Knight. Knight, Stalnaker, Williams, and Gerald Wolfe rounded out the top five. Wolfe, making his first start of the season, had a strong car all night and turned in a solid performance. The victory was Arthur’s first win in 2012.
It took just under ten minutes for Todd Campbell to complete the twenty-five lap sportsman event. Campbell started on the outside front row and grabbed the lead away from Steve Landrum on the opening lap. As each lap clicked off Campbell’s lead would grow. The event ran caution free and Campbell went on to pick up his fourth win of the season. The win also helped extend his point lead over Ronnie Martin and Eric Groah. Shad Cooper finished in the runner-up spot once again. Groah settled for third this week. Landrum slipped back to fourth and Ronnie Martin completed the top five. Robert Steen was unable to start the event after flipping his machine in hot laps. Steen was uninjured in the accident.
Street stock drivers are going to have to do their homework this season if they plan to compete with David Brogan. Brogan has picked up numerous feature wins already this season and seems like he can win no matter where he starts. Tom Guthrie led the opening laps but Brogan was on the move. He started sixth, was third by lap five, and took the lead on lap number seven. Ted Miller gave it all he had to stay with Brogan but Brogan was just too strong. Brogan raced away with the checkers with only four cars completing the twenty-five lap event. The top five were Brogan, Miller, Earl Brooks, Jr., Guthrie, and Keith Nelson.
Although Earl Brooks, Jr. didn’t win the street stock event, his son Lee Brooks picked up the victory in the pure stock feature. It was a special Father’s Day celebration in victory lane as Brooks dedicated the win to his father. Brooks had his work cut out for him the first half of the event. RL Tyree took the lead at the drop of the green flag and held the lead until lap fourteen when he pushed high off of turn number two and opened the door for Brooks. Tyree had been flawless and looked as if he could pull the upset and pick up the win. However, Brooks was waiting to strike when Tyree made a mistake and Brooks made the winning move. Following Brooks to the checkers were Howard Hall, Tyree, Todd Garrett, and Daniel Shuey.
The All-American feature was nothing short of a marathon. The caution filled event never found a rhythm and competitors were forced to settle for short green flag runs. Mike Lawhorne used his front row starting spot to take the lead and avoid trouble to capture the victory. Corey Almond ran in the runner-up spot most of the event. His second place finish helped extend his point lead over Nick Magliochetti. Magliochetti used every groove on the track to try and find away around Brandon Link for third but Link was able to hold off Magliochetti. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Kassab.
Coming up this Saturday night, Natural Bridge Speedway welcomes the stars and the cars of the Three State Flyers super late model series to the historic 3/8 mile dirt track. The Three State Flyer super late model series will make their only visit to Natural Bridge Speedway in 2012 this Saturday night, June 23. Drivers from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina are expected to invade the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to compete for the $3,500 winner’s check. Gates will open this weekend at 4:00 p.m., with hot laps scheduled for 6:15 p.m.