2014 Autumn Classic – SNMP

IMG_5412Lucama, North Carolina – New date same great race! The best Late Model Stock Car drivers in the region loaded their haulers up and headed south just outside of the little town called Kenly.

Another $10,000 cardboard check to hand out to the one driver that can outlast all the others. Now lets be honest, the heavy favorite to win this race was the two-time National Champion, Lee Pulliam of course. What wasn’t expected was Nick Smith taking the pole away from Pulliam for the feature. Another name going into the 200-lap race I was looking out for was Tyler Ankrum. Proven to be a strong wheelman, had to go to the rear of the field due to a last minute engine change.

In a race I would not deem as exciting in my opinion, but it was certainly memorable. Four of the top five finishers I am pretty sure could not even drive personal cars to the track they are so young. Don’t get me wrong, not taking anything away from these drivers, if anything that should be more of a compliment. At fourteen and fifteen years old I was only sitting in the stands wishing to wheel a car, now we are finding more and more in the top five!

The green flag was displayed to the field and they were set free to wage war for 200 laps. Well actually in races of those magnitude most of the time they are set free to ride around for 150 or so laps then get down to business towards the end. Just like any 200 lap race it was all tire management early on. Other than Pulliam making it by Smith to take the lead the first forty or so laps were cars riding it out, getting some heat in the tires, getting the feel of traffic.

We only witnessed the yellow flag three times throughout the day; the fourth and final caution came for the halfway break. Where the most interesting turn of events took place. Pulliam took the yellow and slowed up behind the pace car to work their way around the speedway, Pulliam was unable to make it back to pit road under his own power. Push trucks came to his rescue, brought him down pit road where he climbed out of the car. We learned a broken transmission was the culprit, and with only ten minutes given to crews between segments, there was not enough time for the crew to make the swap, Pulliam’s day was done.

Another disappoint moment in the first half of the race was the lack of performance from two of Langley Speedway’s best. Now before someone comes after me with a pitch fork, both drivers in a car they have never sat in before, both trying to work the cars into their driving styles. What was interesting was when Edwards ran into the back of Waltz ultimately bringing his day to and end and not making things any better for Waltz.

As the cars were wrapping up their ten minute pit session, South Boston regular Matt Bowling was lucky enough to inherit the lead from Pulliam while Myatt Snider decided to use the cone and line up on the outside for the second half of the race. The two stayed side by side for 3/4 of a lap when Bowling got the advantage off of two which allowed Lemons, Jr to slide in there – little contact was made with Snider and Lemons that sent the #2 car up the track but we were able to stay green.

I am going to go out there and say this; the most impressive part of the second segment was the incredible drive through the field young Tyler Ankrum had, the other being that 100 laps were run with no cautions! I have a very good reason to believe if we would have had a caution or two Ankrum would have been a solid contender to take home his second LMSC win!

Okay I take that back the second most impressive thing in the second half of the race was the top four sometimes five cars were all within at least a car or two of each other. Kaz Grala, the young gun who shocked us in the heat races at Martinsville, looked just as strong now as he did then. Grala for sure had Bowling looking into his mirror and worrying just where he was going to stick his nose. Though just like in Martinsville, I believe Grala just pushed the car a little to hard to make it do things she wasn’t able to do. He would eventually fall out of the hunt for the top spot.

Haws & Gilliland both made their move around Grala and set their sights on the leader, #83 Matt Bowling. It wasn’t until lap 161 that Haws was able to finally make the move around Bowling for the lead and the rest as they say it is history. Once Bowling was passed it was like someone in the stand hooked a fifty-pound anchor to his machine because he started to fall back and fast!

With a new front man to follow and only twenty-five laps to make his move Gilliland tried all his might to catch the bumper of the #41 machine but this time lap traffic was not in his favor. Either the back markers did not want to get out of the way or he just caught them at the wrong time. Either way, this allowed Haws to secure about a two second lead and with worn tires all but wrapped up on of the biggest wins YET in this young mans career.

“I’m just completely speechless right now,” Haws said during his victory lane interview. “Who would have though a 15-year-old would of come out here and win this event. My spotter Lee McCall the whole time saying ‘Save Save Save’ even with fifteen to go.” A completely star struck Brayton Haws went on in victory lane to thank his crew and family members for being there for him as well as everyone else that shows support for him. Now I am no historian, and would need a little bit of help clarifying this but, that should make Brayton Haws the youngest driver to hoist the trophy and take that huge (in more ways than one) check home in the races history.


Southern National is not done just yet this season as they have two more events schedule to take place this month. The Mason Dixon Meltdown where the PASS Super Late Models hit the track to put a wrap to their season. Followed by the ever so popular Thanksgiving Classic to feature 50 laps from the IMCA asphalt style mods as well as 150 laps of Limited Late Model action. For more information head over to their Facebook –> Southern National Motorsports Park

Official Results

1. #41 Brayton Haws
2. #98 Todd Gilliland
3. #1 Jamey Caudill
4. #31 Kaz Grala
5. #8 David Garbo Jr.
6. #83 Matt Bowling
7. #58 Tyler Ankrum
8. #27 Tommy Lemons Jr.
9. #38 Ricky Jones
10. #2 Myatt Snider
11. #14 Mike Darne
12. #28 Jonathan Findley
13. #46 Brandon Gdovic
14. #7 Michael Hardin
15. #10 Nick Smith
16. #64 Rick Gdovic
17. #90 Terry Carroll
18. #91 Justin Carroll
19. #02 Austin Thaxton
20. #68 Brandon Brown
21. #18 Quinn Houff
22. #19 William Byron
23. #23 Payton Ryan
24. #5 Lee Pulliam
25. #34 Matt Waltz
26. #67 Greg Edwards
27. #9 Thomas Burbage
28. #54 Michael Fose
29. #77 Alex Yontz
30. #4 Nick Leitz

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