JONES AND BRAGG WINNERS IN THE PAIR OF PRO LATE MODEL FEATURES
night of heats — both literal and metaphorical — ended with David Jones in Sunoco Victory Lane in the Midwest Cooling Towers Pro Late Model division on Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway.
He wasn’t the only driver to win in the division however, as the feature portion of the night also opened with a Pro Late Model race won by defending division champion Josh Bragg.
In all, 11 races (six of them heats) were contested on Saturday night, providing a multitude of chances for victory one week after this exact show was postponed after persistent thunderstorms passed through the area all week.
But the rain stayed away this weekend and fans were rewarded with competitive action and numerous side-by-side finishes at Alabama’s Fastest Half-mile.
Midwest Cooling Tower Pro Late Model Race No. 1 (20 Laps)
Defending champion Josh Bragg captured his first victory of the season on Saturday night, running away from the field in race No. 1 of the Pro Late Model doubleheader.
Bragg won by 2.3 seconds over Junior Niedecken and was also his first victory since switching to a Grill Family Grand American Race Cars chassis.
Bragg first took the lead on lap four, pushing polesitter David Jones up the racing groove, followed by championship leader Bryce Dulabhan. The field went single-file by lap 10 and Bragg cruised to the uneventful victory.
“I can’t thank Augie and Frankie Grill enough for the race cars,” Bragg said. “This is our first win in this chassis and I’m just so impressed with it.”
Midwest Cooling Tower Pro Late Model Race No. 2 (30 Laps)
David Jones scored his first victory of the season in the second race of the Saturday night doubleheader, leading wire-to-wire despite a consistent and furious charge from Josh Bragg.
A caution on the first lap one eliminated Dulabhan from the hunt, leaving the battle for the win down to Jones, Bragg and Niedecken. When a final caution dropped with two laps to go, it gave Niedecken the chance to challenge Bragg for second and allowed Jones to get a clean restart.
Niedecken disposed of Bragg fairly quickly and got side-by-side with Jones but couldn’t complete the pass off the final corner.
“Everyone worked really hard,” Jones said. “We haven’t raced since we wrecked the car two months ago in Pensacola and I just want to thank everybody who got me back out here so fast.”
Bragg appeared poised to pass Jones before the caution fell but just didn’t have the restart needed to chase down Jones — and Niedecken capitalized.
“Bragg just didn’t get going,” Niedecken said. “I don’t know what happened there. He gave me a little bit of room and honestly, I’m happy to run second against this field.”
Bobby Baria and Elliott Massey completed the top-five.
Praytor Realty Pro Trucks
Okie Mason had one of the most dominant drives of his legendary career on Saturday night, winning the Praytor Realty Pro Truck feature in expert fashion.
JayJay Day led for much of the race, from the pole, but Mason was never far behind. Mason had the clear faster car but appeared to be unwilling to push him up the race track. Mason was fastest in the middle of three and four and used the drive off to pass Day on lap 18.
Mason completed the pass and was able to keep Day behind him, despite a dive bomb attempt by the latter on the final lap.
“A lot of people help make this happen,” Mason said. “And I appreciate the help. It was a good clean battle and I had a lot of fun out there.”
Chopper Stagner, Howard Langham and Christopher Brownlee completed the top-five. Stagner set a new track record in pole qualifying prior to Taras Hodivsky, Jr. and Mason picking up victories in their respective heat races.
Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman
Steve Buttrick placed himself at the back of the field for the start feature race, saying that he just wanted to have some fun and pass cars after dominating the first half of the season.
On Saturday night, Buttrick was able to pass every car but one, delivering the win to Mark Barnhill.
Lee “Red Dog” Reyolds and Barnhill started the race on the front row and led the opening stages before Reynolds suffered a mechanical failure on the second lap. It continues a theme of ‘feast or famine’ for Reynolds who has continually either won or failed to finish.
On the restart, Buttrick made quick work of those in the back of the field and was up to sixth by lap six. But with stronger competition and no cautions, Buttrick ran out of time and could only muster a second-place finish to Barnhill.
It was the third feature victory of the season for Barnhill.
“I’m not sure we could have held him (Buttrick) off we had a late caution but we caught some breaks.”
Despite coming up just short, Buttrick had a lot of fun coming up through the field.
“That’s the most fun I’ve had in a while,” Buttrick said. “I chose to do this and no one raced me too hard or dirty — there’s a lot of class in this division and I had a good time.”
Langham, Michael Ledlow and Modified ace, Donald Crocker rounded-out the top-six.
Barnhill and Ledlow won heat races earlier in the night.
Island Motors II Bombers
BJ Leytham led the first 17 laps of Saturday night’s 20-lap Island Motor II Bombers feature without accident and nearly had it taken away from him in an instant.
Leytham had a several car-length lead over second place Jayme Corry when Robert Barber drove right into Leytham and turned him around from the lead.
Track officials sent Barber back into the pits for over-aggressive driving and allowed Leytham to regain his track position for the restart.
With just three laps to go when the race resumed, Leytham cruised to the victory — his second of the season.
Corry, David Johnson, Derek ‘Kane’ Long and T.J. Thompson completed the top-five. Corry ran the race in the car driven by his teammate, Jerry Goff after the Corry car broke head gasket in their heat race.
Goff and Wesley Barnhill won heat races earlier in the night.
Mobile International Speedway returns to action next Saturday, July 27 with one of the most star-studded cards of the season. The Southern Super Series Late Model Tour returns to Alabama’s Fastest Half-mile, backed by the Alabama Pipe and Supply Modifieds, Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman, Island Motor II Bombers and Halls Motorsports Motorcycles.
Daniel Hemric leads the Southern Super Series standings but will be joined by title rivals Bubba Pollard, John Hunter Nemechek, Mike Garvey and more as the Gulf Coast starts to decide the final championship standings throughout the summer months.
Visit http://www.mobilespeedway.net/ throughout the week as more information is released.