By Kyle Brandt
IRVINGTON, Ala. (May 24, 2014) – The year was 2006. The song “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley had taken the country by storm and the Nintendo Wii game console had just burst onto the scene. Although it was just eight years ago, it seems longer that- but probably feels like a century ago to Donnie Wilson.
Eight years ago, Wilson, a native of Oklahoma, scored his first Super Late Model win at Mobile International Speedway. After eight years of making the 12-hour trip to Mobile since just to come up empty handed time and time again, he put the long winless streak to an end on Saturday night by winning the Miller Lite 125.
Despite a disappointing starting position, it took Wilson only 18 laps to make his way to the front and pass Bubba Pollard for the race lead- and he would remain there until the competition caution on lap 75.
After exiting the pits with four fresh Hoosier racing tires, the 40-year-old shook off Pollard on the ensuing restart and would never look back. Despite a hard charge from 17-year-old Anderson Bowen who was nipping at his heels in the closing laps, Wilson scored the second Southern Super Series victory of his career and season.
“The car we unloaded today was good,” said Wilson in victory lane. “We thought it was pretty good in practice, and we didn’t think it was THAT good, but it was pretty dominant in the race.”
“Honestly, I just thought they were laying back waiting for the last 50 (laps). I just ran as hard as I could, and that’s just the way this race is all the time over here in Mobile.”
Bowen, who caught Wilson in the closing laps but ran out of time, finished in the second position.
“He was getting super loose, but we were getting super tight towards the end,” said Bowen after the race. “(Wilson) was dominant all weekend here and he’s had a fast car.”
“You know, we haven’t had the finishes here in the past, but we finally finished and need a little more improvement.”
Island Motors II Bombers:
The 2014 Island Motors II Bomber division season at MIS thus far can be summed up using just one name: B.J. Leytham. The winner of all five of the division’s races so far this season, a bounty was placed on him one month ago- but it very well might have made him better.
With $200 up for grabs to the driver who cleanly beats him, Leytham and his team might as well have painted a target on the back of their orange and white Chevy as everyone was aiming for them.
After starting on the pole Saturday night, Leytham, who calls Mobile (Alabama) home, quickly took the lead when the green flag waved and looked to be virtually bulletproof. In an odd caution-free event for the bombers, Leytham would score his sixth consecutive win of the season, and has inched his way closer to collecting his own bounty money.
“I was really at a disadvantage tonight,” explained Leytham after the race. “The way those guys put it on me last week- these are six-week-old tires we are on and everybody had been on them until now. Tonight they all had new tires.”
“Luckily the 88 and 23 were fighting back there and it allowed me to get away.”
Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman:
Coming in to Saturday night’s race third in points, Irvington’s Mark Barnhill was in desperate need of a strong run in order to make up ground on his foes.
With this in mind, Barnhill wasted no time when the green flag flew for the division’s 25-lap feature, and by the time he finished his second lap, he had taken over the lead. With an exciting four-way battle for second between Brannon Fowler and others, Barnhill was able to pull away to a sizeable lead- but a caution on lap seven stacked the field up once again.
On the ensuing restart, Barnhill wouldn’t be denied- as he once again set sail as a hotly contested battle between Fowler and James Patrick raged on behind him once again. With a sizeable advantage over second-place, he easily cruised on to his second win of the season, and made up valuable ground on his championship rivals.
“It was pretty good,” explained an ecstatic Barnhill in victory lane. “I mean, with the weather being hot, I thought I was going to have a little more. The deal is, the second and third-place cars were back there battling and I was able to pull away.”
Leading the division point standings by a scant five markers over Bobby Baria, Dave Mader of Irvington (Alabama) looked to Saturday night to cushion his lead.
Despite starting on the pole, Baria would start right next to Mader- setting up a 25-lap showdown between the two top guns of the division.
When the green flag waved, Mader quickly assumed the lead, but Baria of Grand Bay (Alabama) didn’t give him any room to breathe.
By the time the race’s first yellow flag flew on lap seven, Mader and Baria had left the field in the dust as they had by far the two fastest car of the night- but another duel between the two on the ensuing restart had the potential to create fireworks.
The two continued to duel with Baria riding in the tire-tracks of Mader’s No. 33, but on lap 18, the fortune of the then second-place runner would turn. After the right-front tire of his car went flat, Baria came to a stop on the backstretch- virtually handing the win over to Mader.
On the resulting restart, Mader easily took off to a sizeable lead and would cruise on to yet another victory for the 2014 season, and achieve the goal of cushioning his points lead.
“We’ve been working really hard on the car,” said Mader. “T.J. (Williams) has given me pretty much what I need to work with. I’m just having a lot of fun, and I’m certainly glad to be able to carry T.J. and his sponsors. It’s a blast!”
After setting a new track record in qualifying, and winning the pole as well as his heat and the feature the last time out, it was safe to say that all eyes were on Jay Jay Day Saturday night as the team’s recent performances had turned heads in the pits.
Starting from the fourth position, Day, who calls Theodore (Alabama) home, wasted no time making his charge to the front- and by the time he completed his fourth lap, he was already up to the second position. Five laps later, and after passing the likes of Howard Langham and Ricky Vice, he caught Okie Mason for the lead.
After quickly dispatching Mason, Day took the lead on lap nine and would remain there until the yellow flag was displayed just two laps later.
On the following restart, Mason, the division points leader, reassumed the lead after a brilliant pass of Day on the outside- albeit short-lived.
Just one lap later, Day would take over the top spot once again, but with two laps to go, his No. 98 truck would slow as a result of a mechanical failure- allowing Mason to take the top spot once again and cruise on to the victory.
“Jay Jay (Day) had a hot rod, but it was just meant to be for me tonight,” explained Mason after the race. “My crew- they have worked and worked.”
Despite the disappointment, Day was able to finish in the second position, with Vice finishing third.
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 5 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.