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Thunder roared back to the valley this past Saturday night as Natural Bridge Speedway held opening night for the 2015 racing season. This season NBS will host six weekly divisions of racing as the mini modified class has been added to the weekly program. It was a cool, crisp opening night but fans filled the historic hillside surrounding the 3/8ths mile clay oval.
Lee Herring led the first lap of 2015 as the street stock drivers were the first division to take to the speedway. Herring grabbed the lead over Jarret Rae and Earl Brooks. As the field took the halfway flags, the machines of Jarret Rae and Keith Herring both went up in smoke bringing out the caution flag. At the halfway point in the feature the running order was Lee Herring, Earl Brooks, and Mike Lawhorne. The running order did not change during the final thirteen laps. Lee Herring led flag to flag for his first win of the season.
The mini modified drivers have joined the weekly racing program in 2015. Dustin Fisher and Jacob Curry led the field to the green flag with Fisher taking command. Kullen Wade moved up to the runner up spot on the opening lap. Wade was glued to the rear bumper of Fisher when the car of Randall Gibson went up in smoke on lap seven. Wade challenged early but as the laps clicked off Fisher started pulling away. Fisher went on to score the victory by 2.697 seconds over Wade and John Cruz.
Defending track champions josh Lilly and Michael Taylor started on the front row of the sportsman feature event. Taylor used the outside line to blast by Lilly heading into turn one. Taylor’s lead was short lived as he broke an axle on lap two. Lilly inherited the lead over Timmy Mays and Kevin Harvey. Though Lilly changed his color scheme for the new season it did not change his winning ways. Lilly dominated the feature and cruised to the victory by nearly a straight-away over Mays. Harvey scored his best career finish with a third place finish.
Late Model fast qualifier Justin Williams drew a number two inversion pill and started on the outside pole. Greg Roberson started on the pole and took the lead coming to the green flag over Williams and Eric Groah. Roberson took the early lead but Williams would not let him get away. Using the high line Williams chased down Roberson. A caution on lap nine allowed Williams to close to the back bumper or Roberson for the restart. The caution gave Roberson a chance to cool his tires and he easily pulled away from Williams. Roberson was in a league of his own and opened up a three second lead over Williams. However, the caution flag came out with just three laps remaining when Eddie Gibson slammed the front stretch wall. Williams dove under Roberson with two laps to go but Roberson was just too strong and held on for the win. Joey Coleman slipped by Groah in the closing laps for third. Groah and Tim Stalnaker rounded out the top five finishers.
Frankie Drewry and Derek Wright started on the front row of the pure stock feature. Drewry pulled ahead of Wright and was leading when the caution waved on lap five. Howard Hall started pressuring Drewry and Wright for the lead. Hall moved to the outside of Wright and took over the runner-up spot on lap nine. Hall immediately went to work on Drewry. Drewry spun off of turn four on lap thirteen and Hall inherited the lead. Hall held a slim lead over Wright and Doc Vest as the laps clicked off. Hall and Wright raced door to door and nose to tail until lap nineteen when the caution came out for a second spin by Drewry. Hall hit his marked the final six laps and held on to pick up the victory over Wright and Vest.
The All-American drivers rounded out the night’s racing action with a twenty-lap feature. Lloyd Wright held off a hard charging Glen Almond to score the flag to flag victory. Almond was challenging Wright for the lead when Dustin Ferguson went for a wild ride off of turn four. Ferguson barrel rolled a number of times but was uninjured in the accident. Almond tried nearly every lap to make a pass for the lead but Wright was on his game on opening night. Wright, Almond, and Mason Rhodes were the top three finishers.
Natural Bridge Speedway will host its first go-kart race of the season this Friday night, April 10th. Dirt track racing continues on Saturday night, April 11 with six divisions competing in regular point’s events. Gates will open both nights at 5:00 pm. Fans may visit www.nbspeedway.com for more information.