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The largest fields of the season were on hand this past Saturday night in both the late model and sportsman divisions at Natural Bridge Speedway. Fourteen sportsman drivers signed into the pit area to battle in the thirty-five lap, $600 to win special event. The primary sponsor of the sportsman division, Quality Fleet Maintenance of Virginia, put up an extra $50 in bonus money for the fastest qualifier and the leader of the race at the halfway mark making this one of the biggest races of the season for the sportsman drivers. In addition to the big sportsman field, fifteen late models competed in the $1000 to win late model feature. Several newcomers showed up at NBS this past weekend but at the end of the night it was all familiar faces that graced Victory Lane.
Bud Stinson and Roger Robertson, Sr. started on the front row of the sportsman feature after fast qualifier, Michael Taylor, drew a number three to invert the top three drivers. Stinson took the early lead but Shaun Wetzel took over the top spot on lap four. Stinson spun on lap six to bring out the first caution of the race. The spin by Stinson moved Taylor into the second spot for the restart on lap seven. Taylor had quickly moved past five drivers in the races first six laps and was running third when Stinson brought out the caution. Wetzel and Taylor raced nose to tail through the middle portion of the race. Taylor used the low groove while Wetzel positioned his car in the middle groove. Wetzel held the top spot until the two leaders encountered lapped traffic on lap twenty-three. Taylor positioned himself in the right spot when Wetzel was pinned behind a slower car and pulled ahead of Wetzel with just twelve laps to go. Taylor had to survive to late cautions and a green, white, checkered finish to score his biggest win of the season. Fourteenth starting Josh Lilly slipped past Wetzel on the final lap to finish in the second spot. Wetzel settled for third.
Walker Arthur, driving crew member Eddie Groome’s late model, started on the front row of the late model feature and led the first eighteen laps before suddenly slowing going down the back with a flat left rear tire. As Arthur slowed the field came bearing down on his crippled machine and drivers scattered trying to avoid Arthur. When the dust settled Gerald Wolfe, Philip Woods, and Ricky Almond were piled up with heavy damage in turn three. Roberson, who started eight, inherited the lead and went on to score his seventh win of the season. Roberson won by nearly five seconds over Justin Fulton. Timmy Stalnaker turned in a stellar performance to come home in the third spot. It was the second time in 2015 Fulton finished in the runner-up spot behind Roberson.
Newcomer John Goin started on the front row of the street stock feature and led the races first thirteen laps. Goin seemed poised to pick up his first win of the season at NBS in his first start at the speedway in 2015 but a caution on lap thirteen changed the complexion of the race. The caution gave Michael Lawhorne an opportunity to cool his tires and mount a challenge on Goin. Lawhorne nailed the restart and made the winning pass on Goin with an inside move off of turn four coming to complete lap fourteen. Lawhorne went on to claim his fourth win of the season. Lawhorne, Goin, and Lee Herring were the top three finishers.
Pure stock driver, Derek Wright, graduated from Amherst County High School early Saturday morning. As most seniors load up and head to beach week, Wright loaded up and headed to Natural Bridge Speedway. The trip to the race track paid off as Wright scored his fifth win of the season. Wright took the lead from Brandon Link on lap eight and never looked back. Link finished 8.193 seconds behind Wright. Troy Dowdy finished in the third spot. Dowdy recovered from a practice crash to compete in the feature event.
The All-American feature saw four of the seven starters lead at some point during the twenty-lap feature. Glen Almond was the fourth and final leader. Almond picked up his second win of the season over Jonathan Burnette and Michael Demmers. The race saw a twenty-five minute red flag when Brian Newton’s car dumped transmission fluid all the way around the speedway. Driver’s and fans patiently waited for the clean-up to see Almond hold off Burnette in a two lap shootout for the win.
Natural Bridge Speedway will be back in action this coming Saturday night, June 6th. The speedway will host regular feature events for all five weekly divisions. Gates will open at 5:00 pm with on track activities starting at 6:45 pm. Fans may visit www.nbspeedway.com for more information.