IRVINGTON, Ala. (August 16, 2014) – After winning the first of two planned features for the Pro Late Model division on August 9th, Mike Garvey was eyeing a sweep of both of them. Mother Nature had other plans, however; as a downpour of rain forced the postponement of the remainder of the festivities until the next weekend – giving Garvey a whole week to think about it.
Starting in the seventh position for the 30-lap feature on Saturday after the lineup was inverted from the first race; the former NASCAR driver appeared to have his work cut out for him. In just six laps, however; his familiar No. 1 Chevrolet was already up to the third position and setting his sights on the leaders.
By lap 15, and after dispatching Elliott Massey for the second position, Garvey was on leader Dustin Smith’s bumper for the race lead. Following a masterful pass of the young driver exiting turn two, Garvey assumed the lead one lap later and checked out.
With a clear track in front of him, Garvey opened up a sizeable lead and was able to cruise on to score a clean sweep of the delayed PLM doubleheader as the veteran driver prepares for the Lee Fields Memorial later this month.
“We came out here to use this as a test for the Lee Fields Memorial in a couple weeks,” said Garvey. “There’s going to be a lot of cars here and we are just trying to fine tune the Buddy’s Home Furnishing car.”
“It was fun. I like 100 lappers better, but that’s the format that we have, and thanks everyone for coming out.”
Smith, who led a majority of the race, would finish second – followed by Wayne Niedecken Jr., Josh Bragg and Massey. Albeit delayed, if Saturday night’s race was any indication of what to expect during the 100-lap Lee Fields Memorial, fans and drivers alike will be treated to a fantastic show.
The drivers of the Pro Truck division at MIS got the racing action started on Saturday night in what was a hotly contested battle that wouldn’t be decided until the very end.
From the very start, Howard Langham and his familiar No. 1 truck took control of the lead and would remain a consistent threat for most of the race—but a rash of accidents behind him would keep him honest.
Shortly after the top three drivers went three-wide down the frontstretch – and Michael Vice coming out of it with the lead—the major turning point of the race took place just seconds later. After making contact with Jay Jay Day, Vice was sent up and over the hill in turn three – causing yet another caution and inflicting heavy damage to the right-front of Day’s No. 98.
On the following restart, Day was able to clear Langham for the lead despite the damage to his truck and the rising water temperature as a result.
Holding off the pack on a lap 13 restart, Day was able to hold off Langham to score the win – beating him to the line .089 seconds to score his third victory of the season.
“I thought we were going to blow (the truck) up there at the end,” said Day. “The water temperature was 280 and Dad said ‘screw it, blow the motor up’”.
“They’re whining because I went and cooled my motor off. If you think they’re cool because they’re whining about cooling my motor off so it wouldn’t blow up, that’s fine. Whatever.”
Having started in the second position, points leader Okie Mason was the early favorite to score yet another win on the season and cushion his points lead. Saturday night was a different story for the Kushla (Ala.) native, however. After pitting on two separate occasions during the race, he was only able to muster a fourth-place finish.
With the division’s dominant driver – Dave Mader III — participating elsewhere, Saturday night offered the opportunity for a different driver to visit victory lane in the Super Stock division.
Starting from the second position, it took second-place starter Bobby Baria just five laps to take the lead from pole sitter Jason Johnson as the two navigated down the backstretch. With a clear track ahead of him, the Grand Bay (Ala.) driver appeared to on his way to a win – but two caution flags in the remaining 15 laps would keep him honest.
Able to clear Johnson each time on those restarts, however; Baria was able to cruise on to capture the win and make a celebratory lap around the half-mile track with the checkered flag waving out his window.
“My heroes who I watched race here did that,” explained Baria in victory lane. “That’s the way you do stuff. I told Logan that we were going to do it tonight.”
Despite a challenge for the second position, Johnson was able to come home second, followed by Wesley Barnhill, Brandon Tipton and Zachary DeMour.
Leading to the Sportsmen division by 42 points leading in to Saturday night’s 25-lap feature, Brannon Fowler of Molino (Fla.) had firm control of the Sportsmen division points standings. Although it first appeared that he would cushion his lead even more after a win on Saturday night, his night took a turn of the worst after the race.
Taking the lead from the dominant driver of the race, Jonathan Langham, on lap 16, Fowler was able to capture his sixth win of the season – or so we thought.
Shortly after celebrating the win in O’Reilly Auto Parts victory lane, Fowler’s No. 00 car was found to be too low in post-race technical inspection and was disqualified from the race and awarded no championship points for the night’s efforts – which has the possibility to severely inhibit his championship aspirations.
Continuing the unexpected news in technical inspection, the second-place finishing car of Langham was also disqualified for an improper ignition box – handing the win over to third-place finished Jason Smith of Gulfport, Miss in the most unexpected of ways.
Quite possibly the winningest driver in the Southeast at the moment, BJ Leytham’s absolute dominance of the Bomber division at Mobile International Speedway looked to be coming to an end last weekend at MIS – at least until the rain came.
With his car suffering from engine problems, Leytham was the only driver in the division who was actually hoping it would rain and force a postponement of the race on August 9. Continuing his good luck streak, Mother Nature delivered for the Mobile (Ala.) driver in a big way.
One week later, though, Leytham would start from the third position on Saturday night – and once again, he would have to face adversity in a big way.
After going up and over the hill in turn three on the opening lap, many in the garage area saw their opportunity to strike as the driver’s ability to resume the race was in question. Like he has done all season, however; Leytham’s relationship with Lady Luck saved the day for him once again as he was able to emerge from the run-off area behind the turn and return to the track.
Due to the drivers being unable to get a lap in, the field would have a complete restart – allowing Leytham to get his second-place starting position back.
After being afforded a second chance, Leytham would assume the lead just moments after the restart and would cruise on to his 18th consecutive win in the Bomber division and extend his already massive points lead even more.
Leytham’s teammate Gene Denmark and Matt Jackson would round out the podium.
“Yeah, 18. That’s a lot of wins,” said Leytham following the race. “I want to thank (my team) for letting me drive this car – it fits my driving style just perfect. Anything it does, they bounce right back and change something.”
“I thank Mother Nature for looking out for us last week. We had some motor problems and we were the only ones who wanted it to rain. Thank god for that.”