Jr. Niedecken and Josh Bragg scored victories in the Pro Late Model division in the Back to School Bash at Mobile International Speedway. In addition to four of the most exciting classes competing in heat and feature races, kids were also allowed to take rides around Alabama’s Fastest Half-mile in bomber and sportsman cars.
Champions were also crowned as Bragg and Jay Jay Day secured top honors in the Pro Late Model and Pro Trucks divisions respectively. Their celebrations highlighted one of the hottest night in recent memory, both on and off the track.
Pro Late Feature No. 1
Defending Midwest Cooling Tower Pro Late Model champion Josh Bragg led wire-to-wire in the first (20 lap) feature of the evening, finishing 2.5 seconds ahead of second-place Bryce Dulabhan.
David Jones started in second but his outside starting lane betrayed him, allowing third-place starter Dulabhan to take second before the first lap was even completed. That would amount to the only passing up front as the three ran 1-2-3 for the entire race, equal distance from each other.
“I didn’t want to use my equipment up but when you’re on the pole, you have to go,” Bragg said. “We’re not going to be on the pole for the second race so we’ll really see what we got.”
With the entire 10-car field remaining on the lead lap, a complete invert was ordered for the second race per the MIS rulebook, meaning that Bragg would start that race from the tail-end.
Pro Late Feature No. 2
Jr. Niedecken wonders “what could have been” in regards to the season championship after winning his second race of the season on Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway.
Wayne Niedecken Jr. has been competing at the Speedway for years and is the recipient of several titles but believes he could have earned another one with this car if he had run the full schedule.
“Who knows where we would have finished if we had ran more races,” Niedecken said in victory lane. “I thought we had a good race, made some contact when things bunched up but it wasn’t intentional. I don’t race that way — it wasn’t how I was brought up.”
Things were bunched up more often than not during the second Pro Late Model feature and the final result was a major accident late in the race. Several contenders — and both championship drivers — were eliminated on lap 24 when a three-car accident brought out the red flag.
It began when Bragg turned David Jones and collected Dulabhan into the melee. Bragg and Jones spun in a synchronized fashion and Dulabhan, at speed, had nowhere to go. The accident left Niedecken with no clear challenge and he ran away from the field with a restart with six laps to go.
The Bragg and Dulabhan DNFs left Bragg as the undisputed and two-time Pro Late Model champion at Mobile.
Praytor Realty Pro Trucks
One week after capturing the Super Stocks championship, Okie Mason won the Pro Trucks feature on Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway. But another champion was crowned as Jay Jay Day finished fifth and captured his own championship in the Pro Trucks division.
“I just want to thank the good lord,” Mason said following the race. “It was another good run and we’ve had good equipment all year. It’s just been a good year and I’m thrilled to win races. I’m just an old man.”
Mason led every lap of the feature while Day slowly dropped from his front row starting spot to fourth, enough to maintain his championship lead.
Okie Mason was the first leader of the race, having dived under both Chopper Stagner and JayJay Day who had started on the front row. The pass was made just before Brandon Tipton went over the turn three hill to bring out the first caution.
Day maintained third for most of the race before a hard-charging Howard Langham took the final step of the podium on lap 20. Despite a crash in qualifying and a truck that coughed up positions late in the feature, it was enough to score Day his first driver’s championship at the Speedway.
“We did it,” an exalted Day told the MIS website following the race. “We destroyed the truck in qualifying but the team rebuilt it in one hour and we made the heat. At the end of the day, I’m just proud and excited that we were able to do it.”
Pro Trucks Heat No. 1
Ricky Vice used an outside front row starting spot in heat race no. 1 to take the lead off of turn two of the first lap and never looked back and scored the victory in the opening race of the evening. Chopper Stagner peeked under Vice twice on the final lap but ultimately chose to save his equipment for the feature, securing a one/two finish for the pair.
Jay Jay Day finished third, a solid comeback given his issues in qualifying where he overshot turn three in time trials, crashing and breaking a ball joint. He was able to make repairs, start in the back and had adequate speed.
Pro Trucks Heat No. 2
Howard Langham powered by Greg Leachman at the entrance of turn one and had the spot by the exit of turn two, just as Chad Robinson, making his season debut in the division, spun behind him on lap four.
Christopher Brownlee tailed Langham on the restart but just didn’t have the muscle to complete the pass. Langham spent the remaining four laps gapping the rest of the field.
Leachman and Brandon Tipton did not finish the race.
Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman
Mark Barnhill picked up a victory in the Bob’s Speed Shop division on Saturday night, holding off a hard-charging and season dominant Steve Buttrick to do it.
Jonathan Langham led for the first 14 laps but gave way to Barnhill after a two-lap where Barnhill worked him over. Langham had survived the challenge of Lee Reynolds earlier in the race, when the veteran had yet another mechanical failure knock him from contention.
But Barnhill’s charge against Langham was more successful.
Mark Barnhill dived under Bob Bryant near the end of the second lap of the first Sportsman heat, took the lead and would hold it for the remaining four laps to score a preliminary victory. James Myres Jr. started on the pole but couldn’t get going and Bob Bryant and James Patrick took them three wide. That’s where Bryant took the lead.
Meanwhile, the season’s dominant car of Buttrick’s No. 33 was steady in his progression but only had time to finish third.
Island Motor II Bombers
BJ Leytham crossed the line first but a post-race disqualification declared Jayme Corry the winner of the Island Motor II Bombers division feature on Saturday night. The disqualification negated what had been Leytham’s third-consecutive win of the season.
The updated results Corry winning over Collin Kraft, Donnie Phillips, Wesley Barnhill and Gene Denmark.
Bomber heat no. 1
BJ Leytham used a masterful restart on lap three to dive under the Matt Jackson and take the lead. He spent the remainder of the race in the top spot and was left unchallenged.
Jackson jumped out to the lead on the start but a caution on lap two of the six lap heat allowed the field to come back to him.
The major storyline to come out of the race occurred on that second lap when the championship leader, Jayme Corry stalled in turn three. The car was ultimately able to refire and the scoring tower gave him a two-lap penalty for drawing the caution.
He would finish fifth, at the rear of the field
Bomber heat no. 2
Donnie Phillips inherited the lead when the leaders, TJ Williams and Gene Denmark tangled in front of him — he’d never look back. He held off 11 of David Johnson on a final restart and cruised to the easy victory.
The finish was perhaps foreshadowed by the accident on lap two between the leaders with 33 and 88 crashing from the top two spots. 33 slowed and 88 ran into the back of him. That sent the two to the back per the MIS rulebook, placing 71 in the top spot.
Lee Crawford made his first career start at MIS in this race and started from the pole before quickly deferring to his more experienced competitors. He logged laps and had an uneventful race but brought the car to finish, undamaged.
Midwest Cooling Tower Pro Late Models Race No. 1: 1.) Josh Bragg 2.) Bryce Dulabhan 3.) Wayne Niedecken Jr.
Midwest Cooling Tower Pro Late Models Race No. 2: 1.) Wayne Niedecken Jr. 2.) David Jones 3.) John Thompson 4.) Garrett Jones 5.) Elliott Massey
Praytor Realty Pro Trucks: 1.) Okie Mason 2.) Chopper Stagner 3.) Howard Langham 4.) Jay Jay Day 5.) Ricky Vice
Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman: 1.) Mark Barnhill 2.) Steve Buttrick 3.) Jonathan Langham 4.) Bob Bryant 5.) James Patrick
Island Motor II Bombers: 1.) Jayme Corry 2.) Collin Kraft 3.) Donnie Phillips 4.) Wesley Barnhill 5.) Gene Stephen Denmark