Hemric Prevails in Three-Wide Finish As Pollard Wins SSS Title on MIS Championship Night

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IRVINGTON, Ala. (Sept. 9, 2014) – Daniel Hemric emerged as the winner of Saturday night’s championship deciding Sunoco 125 at the Mobile International following a three-wide finish at the line edging Augie Grill and Jeff Choquette.
Entering turn three on the final lap, Hemric would make contact with Choquette – allowing Grill to close in on the two drivers as they would make the final dash to the finish line. Hemric would prevail on the high line, however; as Grill’s extra momentum would not be enough to secure the win and sweep the weekend’s Gulf Coast doubleheader.
Edging Grill and Choquette by .008 seconds at the line, he scored his second series win of the season in dramatic fashion and thrilled the fans in attendance by completing a burnout on the frontstretch that ultimately blew his engine.
The emotion and thrill of the win was evident for the Kannapolis, North Carolina driver in victory lane.
“That’s what short track racing is all about,” he said. “I’m just honored to be out here in the Southern Super Series and to have the opportunity to win. The future of this series sure is bright and it’s just so cool to be racing here at Mobile.”
Trailing series points leader Bubba Pollard by 16 markers when the race started, Hemric did everything he needed to do in order to score a second consecutive series championship – and it still wasn’t enough.
Needing to finish sixth or better to secure the title, Pollard finished the night in the fourth position and edged Hemric by 7 points to score the title just one year after losing it by a single point.
“We had a good year,” he said as he reflected on the season as a whole. “We had our ups and downs, and the last two races have been pretty rough for us. We were biting our finger nails.”
“The car didn’t have enough for (Choquette and Hemric), but I just can’t thank my guys enough that stick behind me and support me. That was one of the best races I’ve ever seen here.”
The Georgia native also scored the Gulf Coast championship after winning the Miller-Lite and Blizzard Series track championships at Mobile and Pensacola respectively in addition to his overall series honors.
Local racing from the Sportsmen division kicked off the championship nights festivities at Alabama’s fastest half-mile – and it was just as exciting as Southern Super Series race.
Starting from the pole, Jason Smith led the first 21 laps of Saturday night’s 25-lap feature as he was able to hold off the advances of a hard-charging Lee Reynolds up to that point.
As the top four drivers raced nose to tail, Smith finally had to give up the ghost as Reynolds sailed his No. 32 machine to the inside and somehow got the car to stick. James Patrick and Mark Barnhill would follow him through as well – as Smith quickly found himself back to fourth in less than a lap.
Entering the night with a sizeable points lead over Patrick, Barnhill only needed to keep his car in one piece and finish the race. That didn’t stop the Irvington native however, as he would Pass Patrick on the penultimate lap to finish second behind race winner Reynolds.
“The main thing I wanted to do was win for Luke (Courtney),” Reynolds said in victory lane after donating his winnings to the young boy who is battling cancer.
Having already clinched the Island Motors II bomber title, Saturday night’s championship feature for the division was all about having fun for Mobile’s BJ Leytham – and that is exactly what he did.
Starting fifth, it took Leytham all of two laps to take the lead from his teammate Gene Denmark in turn two and set sail with the lead in hand.
Losing the lead just briefly on lap five, he would take back the top spot for the final time two laps later.
Holding off the pack on a total of three restarts during the race, Leytham and his No. 8 machine would not waver – scoring their 12th win of the season out of 13 starts at MIS and end their dominant championship season in victory lane.
“I don’t know what else to say,” he explained in victory lane. “It’s been a phenomenal year. I just can’t thank my sponsors enough. I’m not sure what my fate is with this team for next year, but I sure love driving for them.”
Ending the championship night festivities was a 25-lap feature for the drivers of the Pro Truck division.
Entering the race as the championship points leader, Okie Mason only needed to stay out of trouble and finish – but that didn’t stop the veteran from putting on a show for the fans in attendance.
Charging from his the fourth-place starting position, Mason would take the lead exiting turn four on just the second lap of the race.
A lap eight restart following a caution for Jason Johnson and Anthony Lott kept Mason honest, however; as he would have to hold off the advances of the snarling pack behind him. Although he pulled away from the pack when the green flag waved, the re-stacking of the field allowed Donald Crocker to get back into contention and have the opportunity to go for the win.
The young driver did just that and more as he was able to pull to the inside of Mason on lap eight – spurring a side-by-side battle that would rage on for the next two laps.
Finally clearing Mason for the lead on lap 10, Crocker remained out front for the remainder of the event – scoring his second win of the season in the division.
“We had a really good car,” he said after the race. “What a heck of a race for the Super Late Models. I wish we could have put on something like that for the fans. I can’t thank them enough for coming out tonight.”
Finishing in the second position, Mason easily held on to score the division’s championship over Ricky Vice in addition to the track’s Modified division title that he had won one week prior. A long-time competitor at Alabama’s fastest half-mile, Mason has further added to his legacy at the track where his late father was inducted into the Hall of Fame in late August.
With the 2014 season at Mobile International Speedway now in the books, those who emerged as champions in their respective divisions will have plenty of time to reflect on their seasons during the offseason. They can’t waste too much time, however; as the attention of their fellow competitors shifts to the 2015 season as they attempt to dethrone them.
About Mobile International Speedway: Mobile International Speedway is the longest continuously operating sports facility in Mobile County.  It was built in 1964 and has presented weekly motorsports events every year since then.  As an indication of increasing community acceptance and enthusiasm, both the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Mobile Sports Authority became MIS partners beginning in 2013. 
Family attendance and participation have been the keys to the track’s continued success. Kids five and under are always admitted free to the grandstands.  Family nights and family-oriented shows have always been staples of the annual MIS schedules. Over 30,000 people will attend the 14 scheduled MIS events in 2014.

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