Beachler Tops Stout Late Model Field
The sound of football pads crashing together and the sight of yellow buses on the road could only signal one thing, fall is just around the corner. With only six point races remaining in the 2012 season Natural Bridge Speedway is preparing to bring the season to an end. This past Saturday night the speedway hosted five divisions of racing plus the Virginia Sprint Series. The night’s winners were Billy Beachler, Eric Groah, David Brogan, Lee Brooks, and Mike Lawhorne. Tommy Humphries was victorious in the Virginia Sprint Series.
Both the late models and sportsman drivers competed in hot lap qualifying prior to the nights racing action. JR Overstreet turned the fasted lap among the late model drivers with a time of 16.417. Overstreet drew a number six for the inversion which placed him back in row three on the starting grid. Todd Campbell was the fasted qualifier of the eight competitors on hand for the sportsman event. Campbell clocked in at 17.939 seconds with an average speed of just over 76 mph. Campbell drew a number four for the sportsman inversion which put Shad Cooper and Randy Gardner on the front row.
The street stock division was the first feature of the night. Only five competitors were on hand for the feature but all five have spent time at the front of the field this season. David Brogan has had an awesome season thus far and entered the night with a huge fifty-six point lead in the standings. Brogan started on the pole and was never challenged during the twenty-five lap event. Bobby Thompson started fifth and worked his way into the runner-up spot on lap seven. Initially, Thompson started chasing Brogan down but Brogan turned the wick up the second half of the event and drove away from the field. Brogan won the caution free event by 3.776 seconds over Thompson. Earl Brooks, Ted Miller, and Scottie Hostetter rounded out the top five.
The last two weeks have not been kind to Eric Groah. Groah has seen victory slip away each of the past two features when misfortune has struck the second generation driver while leading the event. This week Groah dominated from the drop of the green flag and led every lap to finally return to victory lane. Shad Cooper and Todd Campbell battled the entire twenty-five laps for the runner-up spot with Cooper taking the spot in the final rundown. Campbell briefly held the second spot when he used a lapped car to block Cooper and take second. Several laps later, Cooper used the same move to retake second. Last week’s winner, Robert Steen, finished fourth and Randy Gardner rounded out the top five. The event ran caution free and took just over 7 minutes to complete. Groah’s margin of victory was nearly twelve seconds over Cooper.
After the initial start of the pure stock feature, eventual winner Lee Brooks found himself sitting pit side with a flat tire. After contact with Todd Garrett on the opening lap Brooks rolled to a stop to bring out the caution. The caution on lap one meant it would be a complete restart. This time Brooks shot from third to first down the front straightaway. Brooks immediately began to pull away from the field. The best battle on the speedway was for the second spot. Howard Hall and Todd Garrett raced door to door lap after lap. The two made contact several times but each driver corrected their machines and maintained control. The battle came down to the last lap when the two made contact coming to the white flag. Hall went spinning across the start finish line while Garrett continued on. Brooks’ margin of victory was well over a half lap. Last week’s winner, Ben Hamilton, finished second. Jennings Vest was credited with third when Garrett was penalized for making contact with Hall. In the final rundown, Hall was fourth and Garrett was fifth.
Mike Lawhorne used his front row starting spot to take command of the All-American feature. Lawhorne was chased by Corey Almond and Brandon Link during the course of the event. At times Almond and Link could close the gap but each time the two closed within striking distance, Lawhorne would find another gear and pull away. Lawhorne’s win tightens up the All-American point’s battle. Almond, Link, Ryan Kassab, and Robbie Barger were the top five finishers.
Former Natural Bridge Speedway and Eastside Speedway sportsman standout Tommy Humphries won the Virginia Sprint Series feature. Humphries scored numerous feature wins in the eighties and nineties running in the sportsman division.
Natural Bridge Speedway will host its five weekly divisions plus the open wheel modified drivers will be on hand for the third time in 2012. Gates are scheduled to open at 4 and on track activities beginning at 6:15. The season is quickly coming to a close but there is still plenty of racing action remaining in 2012. The open wheel modifieds, the Steel Block Bandits, and the Sunoco Fall Classic are among the remaining events.