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The curtain fell on the 2014 racing season this past Saturday night at Natural Bridge Speedway. Despite cool, damp conditions speedway officials made the call to hold the final event of the season as scheduled. Heading into the final night the champions in each division had already been determined. Few positions in the final standings could change no matter what the outcome was in the last race. This night would be all about fun and the love of racing.
The father-son team of Lee and Keith Herring started on the front row of the street stock feature with the elder Herring taking the lead on the opening lap. The caution flag came out on lap two for Mike Lawhorne. Lawhorne hit the outside guardrail on the backstretch and nearly flipped his machine. The 2014 champion, David Brogan, suffered a suspension failure on lap three and retired from the event. Brogan’s point lead was fifty-seven points heading into the final feature so his championship was secure. Lee Herring led flag to flag to score his third win of the season. Keith Herring edged Troy Fitzgerald by a nose at the line for second.
Only five drivers took the green flag in the sportsman feature. The 2014 track champion, Josh Lilly, started on the outside of row one and took the lead over Mike Bryant on the opening lap. Michael Taylor, fresh off his win in the Sunoco Fall Classic, quickly moved into the second spot and started closing in on Lilly. Lilly led the first six laps before Taylor moved past him off of turn four on lap seven. Taylor stretched his led out over the course of the twenty-five lap feature for his ninth win of the season. Taylor is also the current point leader at the Eastside Speedway with just one race remaining. Lilly finished 2.993 seconds behind Taylor and Mike Bryant came home third.
All Joey Leavell had to do was start the late model feature to lay claim to the 2014 late model track championship. Fred Bryant and Joey Coleman brought the late model field to the green flag. Fred Bryant took the lead as the field raced into turn number one. Cautions on laps two and three kept the field bunched together. Philip Woods, who was second in the point’s standings, retired from the event on lap two with a broken rear suspension. Woods still had tallied enough points to maintain second in the standings. Justin Williams, the night’s fastest qualifier, was on a rail and overtook Leavell on lap five and moved into the runner-up spot. Bryant slipped high on lap twelve and slammed the outside guardrail and rolled to a stop. On the same lap, Leavell moved back past Williams. With Bryant out of the race, Leavell inherited the lead. Once back out in front Leavell pulled away from Williams and the rest of the field. Leavell capped off his championship season in grand style by winning the final race of the season. The teammates of Williams and Mark Parks finished second and third.
Derek Wright took the lead over Lee Brooks on the opening lap of the pure stock feature. Wright, Brooks, Howard Hall, and Frankie Drewry, and Ben Hamilton raced nose to tail most of the twenty-five lap distance. Brooks started to fade on lap five, first giving up a spot to Hall and then to Drewry. Wright held the lead over Hall and Drewry at the halfway point. Hall closed to the back bumper of Wright on lap fifteen and started looking to make a move. Hall pulled alongside of Wright several laps but each time Wright would hold off Hall. Wright held on for his eighth win of the season. Hall finished second and Drewry third. Lee Brooks finished sixth and picked up the 2014 pure stock track championship.
Brandon Link wrapped up the All-American championship a few weeks and started on the front row of the feature. Link jumped out to the early lead over Mason Rhodes and Lloyd Wright. Kevin Mays spun on lap four and collected R.L. Tyree. Both cars suffered heavy damage and were finished for the night. Link led flag to flag for his seventh win of the season. Glen Almond moved past Rhodes on lap thirteen but could not catch Link. Rhodes held on to finish third.
The Natural Bridge Speedway banquet of champions is tentatively set for early January 2015. The 2015 racing season will kick off in March of 2015 with two open practice sessions. Fans may visit www.nbspeedway.com for more information.