Streak of First Time Winners Continues at NBS
Natural Bridge Speedway hosted five divisions of racing last Saturday night. Over the course of the past three weeks, no less than six first time winners have graced victory lane. That streak continued Saturday night as Robert Steen and JR Overstreet brought home the checkered flags for their first victories of the 2012 racing season.
The street stock division kicked off the racing action with a twenty-five lap feature event. David Brogan has dominated this division so far in 2012. This week several new competitors were on hand to take their shot at Brogan. Charles Wyatt jumped to the lead from his outside pole starting position and led the first four laps. However, Bobby Thompson was the man on the move. Thompson was up to second by lap two and took command of the race on lap five. Once out in front, the only thing that could slow Thompson was the race’s single caution flag on lap twelve when Ted Miller lost control and spun in turn four. On the restart, Thompson raced away while everyone else battled for the second position. In the end, it was Thompson claiming victory with Wyatt in second and Earl Brooks, Jr. coming home third. David Brogan could do no better than fourth this week, while Miller recovered from his spin to round out the top five.
For the second week in a row, luck was not on Eric Groah’s side as he suffered misfortune while leading. Robert Steen jumped out to the early lead but immediately started to feel the pressure from Groah. Groah worked Steen over and finally made the pass for the lead coming to the crossed flags at the halfway point. Groah began to pull away from the field and seemed poised to take the checkered flag. However, Groah’s machine started to slow with an apparent flat tire with just three laps to go. Groah tried to nurse the car to the checkers but the tire exploded on the white flag lap. Steen worked his way around Groah in turn two and scored his first career victory. Groah completed the event and settled for second place. Rounding out the top five were Ken Nelson, Jr., Shad Cooper, and Todd Campbell. Steen climbed from the car to a thunderous applause from fans and competitors alike joining in to help celebrate his first career win in six years of competition.
JR Overstreet has seen his car destroyed in early season crashes the last two seasons. Earlier this season Overstreet demolished his car in a crash on the front straightaway. After missing several weeks, Overstreet returned and charted several solid top five finishes in recent weeks. Saturday night Overstreet finally put all the pieces together and scored his first victory of the season in the late model division. Ricky Knight took the lead as the field entered turn one. Knight held the top spot over Timmy Stalnaker before Overstreet made his way around Stalnaker in the second half of the race. Once in second Overstreet began to close the gap on Knight. On lap thirty-two, Overstreet dove to the inside of Knight in turn three. As the two raced through turns three and four, Knight’s machine lost traction and spun around. Stalnaker was collected in the accident but able to continue. Overstreet inherited the lead and held off Stalnaker in a green-white-checker finish. Last week’s winner, Chris Barger finished third. Gerald Wolfe was the fastest qualifier but had to settle for a fourth place finish. Knight recovered from his spin to finish in the top five.
Seth Whorley and Ben Hamilton brought the pure stock division to the green flag with Hamilton grabbing the lead. The top five drivers were mixing it up all battling for the top spot. Hamilton was strong on the outside and held the lead until just after the halfway point when Daniel Barbour worked his way around Hamilton in turn number one. Barbour was pulling away until the caution flag flew on lap number twenty-one. Hamilton had one last shot at Barbour on the restart but Barbour was too strong and went on to score his second victory of the season. Hamilton scored his best finish of the season with a runner-up finish. Lee Brooks, Worley, and Dustin Ferguson rounded out the top five.
The All-American division was the third feature event of the night to be settled in the final two laps. Robbie Barger grabbed the early lead while Mike Lawhorne and Ryan Kassab battled for the second spot. After a short battle, Lawhorne took sole possession of the runner-up spot, when Kassab suffered a flat tire, and went to work on Barger. Lawhorne used a restart on lap eight to dive to the inside of Barger and take the lead coming off turn two. Brandon Link was also steadily marching his way to the front of the field. Link came on strong the second half of the race and closed to the back bumper of Lawhorne when the caution flag flew in the closing laps. Lawhorne led the field back to green with Link in tow. The flagman signaled two to go with Lawhorne the race leader. However, as Lawhorne exited turn number two his machine lost power. The field blasted passed Lawhorne and Link inherited the lead with one lap to go. Link held off James Newton for the win. Newton scored his best finish of the season with a runner-up finish. Barger, Kassab, and Corey Almond finished out the top five.
The Virginia Sprint Series returns to Natural Bridge Speedway for the final time in 2012 this coming Saturday night, Aug. 18. All five weekly divisions will also be on hand to complete the racing program. Gates are scheduled to open at 4:00 pm; driver’s meeting at 6:00 pm, and on track activities will begin at 6:15 pm.