GPS Week-1 Recap 3/4/2017
GPS Opening Weekend Race 3-04-17
By Matthew Henson
The opening weekend at Greenville-Pickens Speedway kicked off on a bright but brisk Saturday afternoon, and as the sun began to set behind turn one and qualifying came to a close, all eyes were on the first of the two fifty lap races for the late model stocks. The first lap qualifying times dictated where the drivers would start for the first race and their second lap in qualifying would determine where they started for the second fifty lap race later that night.
Cody Haskins in the number 2 car won pole for both events and started strong in in the first race, leading for the first thirty or so caution free laps until Blair Addis in the 1 car spun between turns one and two. After a scuttled restart attempt, Haskins battled with Trey Gibson in the 12 and lost the lead only to take it back in the waining stages of the race and walk away with the first victory of the night.
Two things had become apparent in the first race: the bottom lane on the new asphalt was clearly the fastest line around the track and it took a few laps for the tires to really come alive in the cold night air that was quickly dropping below 40 degrees.
The popular and ever-growing FWD 4-cylinders division hit the track next for fifteen laps in their event. An expertly set up pass by Tommy Davis Jr. in the 69 car in the late stages of the race gave him the race win as he battled the bitter cold in his car from having a steel grate in place of a windshield on his vehicle.
The limited late models started their own fifty lap feature with Sam Mayer in the Hawk-McCall 41 car jumping out into a significant early lead but a mid race caution bunched the field back up. On the restart, the youngster spun the tires, giving Andrew Cordell in the black 33 the lead. Sam Mayer showed tremendous composure however, and set up the pass on Cordell with just a handful of laps remaining, earning him the victory and a ton of respect in the pits.
Cody Haskins took the P1 position again to start the second and final late model stock fifty lap event. This time around though, the race was even more competitive as three drivers ran in a pack up front for nearly the entire race: Haskins in the 2, Kason Plott in the 51, and Jeremy Burns in the 5. The three car battle came to a head with just about a dozen laps remaining when all three cars came up on a group of three soon-to-be lapped cars. In the ensuing slip-sliding melee Cody Haskins emerged the leader, muscling his way through the crowd and opening up a sizable lead. The loser in the exchange unfortunately was Jeremy Burns who cut a tire and retired late in the race. Haskins defended his position from Kason Plott after a late restart and pulled off the double as he, his family, and his team held up deuces in the Bryan Ramey Victory Lane to celebrate.
Super Stocks followed with their twenty lapper and after some initial confusion on a reattempted start, the race was under way with Jason McDowell out front, and a slew of other cars in hot pursuit. However, all eyes were on the 57 of Chris Mienders who tangled with Ken Guthrie in turn two, causing the veteran Guthrie to spin and bring out the first of many cautions for the division. Next, Josh Sams battled up front but spun out of four and slammed hard into the outside wall driver-side first in a scary accident. Josh walked away with a bit of a limp, but was checked out by Bowers EMS and released. His father, Tim Sams in the 71 also had a scuffle with Mienders and that exchange ended up with Tim hitting the wall hard enough for the roof panel of his car to almost completely shear off.
At the end of the onslaught, the tightly contested race boiled down to three drivers: the new leader Ricky Stephens in the 70, rookie Austin Samero in the 99, and the ever-competitive Jason McDowell in the 30. Despite several late race charges by Samero, Ricky Stephens held on to win the first super stock race of the year.
The long enduring renegade division took to the track for their event quickly afterwards. Bobby Emory in the 56 led for the first part of the race but his good friend Ricky Burnett in the 15 stalked him all night and made a clean pass at the half way point and came away with a dominant victory.
Finally, the pure stocks wrapped up the night, and with a few retirees prior to the race the field was relatively small, but the race was as closely fought as ever between Buck Simmons in the 71, Zack Mienders in the 1, and Drew Moser in the 01. After some shuffling of positions, the 12 lap race come to a close with Drew Moser in the top spot, the last winner of the night.
Despite the cold and the wind, the backstretch tiers were packed and the bonfires blazed away until Drew Moser closed out the night of exciting races and on-track drama. Next week on March 11th, the Mulligan Power Trucks will be the main event of the evening with the late model stocks taking the week off. Everyone else, including limited late models, will be in full points-paying competition for the night.