HEMRIC HAMMERS IT HOME FOR GREAT RACE 125 WIN
The best of the best were on display on Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway as the stars and cars of four divisions put on an action-packed show and delivered six different winners.
From Daniel Hemric’s victory in the Super Late Models to Jonathan Smith’s breakthrough in the Demolition Derby, Saturday night provided a little bit of everything for stock car racing fans at Alabama’s Fastest Half-mile.
Southern Super Series Late Models
The distant future of stock car racing was on display Saturday night as Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek raced side-by-side for most of the final seven laps of the Great Race 125 at Mobile International Speedway.
The duo swapped the top spot on several occasions in the closing laps but at the end, it was Daniel Hemric scoring his second-consecutive Series win and second in as many days, sweeping the Gulf Coast.
Hemric was named the winner of Friday’s Pepsi Max 125 following Augie Grill’s disqualification for an improper fuel mixture discovered during post-race technical inspection. As a result, Hemric spoke all day Saturday about wanting to win the right way (crossing the line first) but Nemechek nearly stood between him and that desire.
“Yesterday, we may not have deserved it, but today I can promise you we did,” Hemric said. “That’s all I had. The whole team never gave up. I cannot thank (team owners) Jake and Deanna Carswell enough for believing in me and the whole team for having faith. That’s the team motto — never give up.”
If not for a twist of fate, neither young prospect would likely have contended for the win. A midrace invert had placed championship leader Bubba Pollard on the point and he checked out on the lap 75 reset.
And with a six second lead on lap 109, he lost his engine and was forced to retire from the race.
With Pollard eliminated, Nemechek and Hemric would restart on the front row but Hemric taking the lead into turn one. But Nemechek would storm right back a lap later and retake the lead, holding it until seven to go, when the excitement really ramped up.
Hemric got to Nemechek’s back bumper and took the point in the center of turns one and two. The pair swapped the lead twice with five laps to go and would remain side-by-side until taking the white flag. This was the moment Hemric ultimately cleared Nemechek off of turn four, winning by two car-lengths.
“It’s really emotional,” Hemric said. “It’s one of the biggest wins of my career. These are the best people to race against, these guys in the Deep South. They don’t mess around. They’ve been doing this a long time.
“It took us a couple races to get into the habits of what it took and what the tires were like but nobody ever gave up. It feels good to be in victory lane, holding the checkered flag and to do a back flip down here in the Deep South.”
Hunter Robbins, Casey Smith and Donnie Wilson completed the top-five.
Praytor Realty Super Stocks Race No. 1
It took several late restarts and holding off several challengers but Randy Thompson survived to win the make-up race for the Praytor Realty Super Stocks on Saturday afternoon.
The first of two Super Stock features served as a make-up date for the June 8 rainout and the roster delivered.
When Michael Sanford spun off the turn four grass and stalled it on the front stretch, it began a series of four consecutive cautions that would ultimately decide the race. The first of those restarts saw second-place Bubba Winslow spin entering turn one and two, giving up all his track position.
This gave Okie Mason two shots, on two consecutive restarts to beat Thompson but it still wasn’t mean to be.
On the final restart, Mason drove deep into turn one over Thompson but couldn’t make it stick. This allowed Thompson to sail away coast to the victory and also allowing Jessie Reid to steal the runner-up spot from Mason.
The race was marred by several accidents but none worse than the final caution on lap 22 that saw Darin Matthews run Bario off the turn two hill when the latter stalled off the restart. Both exited the race with considerable damage.
Thompson took home top honors with Reid, Mason, Winslow and Sanford completing the top-five.
Praytor Realty Super Stock Race No. 2
Bubba Winslow took the lead on lap 11 of the second Praytor Realty Super Stocks feature and never looked back. The race featured no cautions and none of the shenanigans of the first feature earlier in the afternoon.
Winslow won over Michael Sanford, Jessie Reid, Okie Mason and race no. 1 winner Randy Thompson
Island Motors II Bombers Race No. 1
Jimmy Day passed B J Leytham on lap 14 and held off teammate Jayme Corry in a frantic green flag finish to the end of Saturday night’s first Island Motors II Bomber feature.
As with the Super Stocks, the first of two Bomber features served as a make-up date for the June 8 rainout.
Leytham had dominated most of the first half of the race but slowly dropped back to the field. A lap 11 yellow for debris in the center of turns one and two closed the gap between the leaders completely. And once the race resumed, it was all Day Racing Team.
Day made the pass on the entrance of turn three on lap 14 and Corry followed him into second. The trio would run nose-to-tail until two laps to go when Leytham again lost touch with the leaders.
A season-record 21 cars started the race and it went surprisingly well and clean with single car spins and debris on the track drawing the caution.
Day was driving a stuck throttle for the entirety of the race and had to apologize to Corry for making contact with him earlier in the race.
Island Motors II Bombers Race No. 2
Collin Kraft led 14 of 20 laps to win the main event and final Island Motors II Bomber feature of the evening.
Kraft started the race from fifth, quickly assumed the lead and exchanged it with Jayme Corry on two occasions before taking the spot for good on lap 8 when Corry had a mechanical issue. Jimmy Day was on Kraft’s back bumper for much of the race but just couldn’t complete the pass — a fact that amazed Kraft.
“I knew Jimmy was there and I can’t believe he didn’t pass me,” Kraft said. “I thought he would to be honest.”
BJ Leytham took the runner-up spot in the closing laps and Day fell to third — two podiums in one night.
Pitts and Sons Demolition Derby
Jonathan Smith celebrated a victory in the Pitts and Sons demolition derby by jumping on his already-dented roof and shouting as if he had just won the Sprint Cup. For him, it was an equally prestigious performance, surviving 13 minutes of crashing and bashing plus a red flag at the six-minute mark to win his first career Demo Derby bash at Mobile International Speedway.
Southern Super Late Model Series: 1.) Daniel Hemric 2.) John Hunter Nemechek 3.) Hunter Robbins 4.) Casey Smith, Donnie Wilson
Praytor Realty Super Stocks Race No. 1: 1.) Randy Thompson 2.) Jessie Reid 3.) Okie Mason 4.) Bubba Winslow 5.) Michael Sanford
Praytor Realty Super Stocks Race No. 2: 1.) Bubba Winslow 2.) Michael Sanford 3.) Jessie Reid 4.) Okie Mason 5.)Randy Thompson
Island Motors II Bombers Race No. 1: 1.) Jimmy Day 2.) Jayme Corry 3.) BJ Leytham
Island Motors II Bomber Race No. 2: 1.) Collin Kraft 2.) BJ Leytham 3.) Jimmie Day
Demolition Derby Winner: Johnathan Smith