GPS Week 6 Recap 4/15/2017
Greenville Pickens Week 6 Race Review (4-15-17)
By Matthew Henson
A week after the NASCAR K&N Pro race, Greenville Pickens Speedway returned to local lower division points paying racing and the ever-popular Bandit Big Rig Series served as the headliner for the night. As qualifying concluded, fans looking to nab a spot on the Dale Earnhardt Memorial backstretch were backed up all the way to Highway 123. A slight delay was put in place before the first event of the night, the Bandit Big Rig heat races, to allow fans to file through the ticket lines and get to their seats in time.
The first of two eight lap heat races determined the starting order for the 25 lap feature later that night. The heat races went off without incident, but two twelve lap challenge races (one for each half of the field) served as the preliminary events to give fans a taste of what to expect later. The 14 rig of “Ravishing” Ricky Rude ran a master-class race going uncontested for the top spot for the entire twelve lap race. However, as the checkers came out, the 63 of Trevor Kruckeburg had a hard crash into the outside wall of turn two. The accident completely totaled the front suspension of his rig and a tractor had to be brought out to remove the rig from the track.
In the second challenge race, the 17 of Justin Ball, winner of his heat race, had a bad start and the 88 of Mike Morgan took the lead and never let go. This time, the race ran completely clean and Morgan made a point of driving on the upper groove of the track for the back half of his race, the only driver to make the high groove produce competitive lap times.
The Renegades returned to the track and with them the 56 of Bobby Emory was back in competition. Fast Eddie Ray in his black and gold 14 car won the pole position and he and Emory ran door handle to door handle into turn one, only to have Eddie Ray come out with the lead in turn two. As the 56 fell back, the 50 of Wayne Waters challenged to the inside and got into Emory. As the 56 spun and tried to collect his vehicle, he hit Wayne Waters as he tried to pass and the 50 jumped the inside wall and found himself perched on the wall with no way off. After the CITY wrecker crew pulled him off and back to his pit, the race restarted with the 15 of Ricky Burnett within striking distance of Eddie Ray, but he would have to pass Bobby Emory first. The two friendly competitors battled fiercely until Ricky Burnett got the better of Emory and brought the 88 of Alex Breazele with him, but by the time he made the pass, Eddie Ray had pulled away along with the 31 of Tyler Woodring. Although Woodring would get within a car length of the 14’s back bumper, Eddie Ray would ultimately claim the victory.
For the first time this year, mini stocks took to the track and two cars stood head and shoulders above the rest of the field the 21 of BJ Thrasher, and the 71 of Ben Kay. The two battled throughout the night, with the 71 closing the distance consistently until his engine let go and he slowed on the backstretch. Althought the 7 car of Ryan Howard would close the gap quickly, he was unable to catch BJ Thrasher before the twenty lap event came to a close.
The Bandit Big Rigs took off on their main event of the evening with $10,000 on the line and an entire purse in excess of $50,000 throughout the whole field. On the very first lap in the initial scramble for position, the 3 rig of Allen Boles, one of the fastest vehicles all night, body slammed the inside wall in turn two and spread fluid all over the track which lead to a red flag and a lengthy clean-up. On the restart, Ricky Rude and Justin Ball battled hard for the top spot, running side by side with the 6 of Rob Decker and the 88 of Mike Morgan in close pursuit. Ricky Rude finally cleared the 17 of Ball and never looked back. Even through lapped traffic, Ricky Rude never let off the gas pedal, consistency putting up the fastest laps in the field and taking the turns sideways as he drifted past lapped cars. At the end of the night, he was ten grand richer and the fans showed their admiration for the fast trucker.
The nightcap of the weekend was the four-cylinder race. Once again Don Tavernia took the pole position and on the start, all eyes were on his 3 car to see if he had fixed the transmission troubles that had plagued that car for the past two events. Once the green fell, those questions were answered and Don took off with no issue. On lap seven, the 6 of AJ Davis made a slow spin that started in turn three and didn’t conclude until the start of turn 4. AJ’s car was undamaged but the caution came out for the stalled car, and on the restart, Don showed his flawless start was no fluke and took off once again with no problems. On lap nine the 1 car of Bradley Williams had his engine explode like a grenade at the start-finish line and flames came out from under the engine bay as he quickly put the car in part right next to emergency crews in turn two and Crosswell Fire Department got into action for the first time this year. No one was hurt and the flames were quickly put out. After a multi-car accident in turn one on the first restart attempt, the next green flag would go the distance as Don Tavernia now had the ever-dominate Tommy Davis Jr. to his outside. From the restart to the finish on lap fifteen, the 3 and 69 ran side by side with neither driver giving an inch. Coming out of four, Don Tavernia had the lead but an outside run and whole lot of rubbing up to the finish line by Tommy Davis Jr. secured his sixth straight win, but only by a fender.
Fans that stayed after the Bandit Big Rigs were given a real treat by Tommy Davis Jr. and Don Tavernia and those two, as well as the rest of the four-cylinder division, with be in competition next week along with all the other lower divisions and limited late models where Tasha Kummer looks to go back-to-back.