Four Winners Crowned in Opening Night of the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic

Sun setting over SNMP as the Chargers open up the 15th Thanksgiving All-Star Classic. Photo: Andy Marquis/SNMP)

Sun setting over SNMP as the Chargers open up the 15th Thanksgiving All-Star Classic. Photo: Andy Marquis/SNMP)

Now that everyone has had time to digest the pounds of food that we all ate the day before, it was time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful night at Southern National Motor Speedway. Continuing their time honored tradition of hosting its annual “turkey race” – better known as the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic. A three-day, ten-race event to kinda put it all on the table and prove whom the best is. The opening night hosted four division’s – Bandos, Street Stock, Chargers, and Mods – for a total of 145 laps of racing.

Bandos

Blaise Brinkley lead wire to wire in the 15-lap INEX Bandolaro division after sitting on the pole. Picking up in similar fashion at the Classic as he has in the past at Southern National, this win however, did not come as easy as those in the past. Cole Bruce, a regular competitor in the Bando division at Langley Speedway, made sure that Brinkley did not get to far ahead of him for the entirety of the race. Only falling back as much as five car lengths at any given time. Lap traffic did almost play in the favor of Bruce as it allowed him to close on the rear nerf bar of Brinkley as the laps wined down. Was a little bit to late though, Brinkley cruised to the victory and the pay day; winning all the money on the table – Pole Award, Halfway Award, as well as the winners purse.

Street Stock

A division that I have really grown to like throughout my travels down to North Carolina. Old school looking cars, big motors, and big tires, always seems to bring on great racing. Twelve cars were on hand this weekend to help kick off the All-Star Classic, however, only ten were able to take the green flag. Jesse Council, a front runner week in and week out at his home track of East Carolina, was fast early in the afternoon but was not able to start the race. His team citing issues with the power plant.

Street Stock WinnerJeff Melton, a regular competitor in the Mid-Atlantic Street Stock (MASS) series, lead wire to wire in their 40-lap caution filled feature. The yellow flag waved early and often as cars went for loops on corner exit. It wasn’t all that bad really in the long run because just as Melton started getting to far away from the field the yellow would come out, bunching the field up yet again. Each restart Melton would elect to use the low line while Ledbetter tried his luck up top. There were plenty of times the two would sail of into turn on neck and neck. Just so happened Melton was able to get out of the corners a tad better.

Melton was the second driver in a row to go wire to wire and take home all the money on the table – Pole Award, Halfway Award, and the Prize Money. Ledbetter was able to hold onto a second place finish with ease. Greg Barnett – was actually the cause of one of the late race cautions as he spun off turn four with a flat right rear tire – was able to battle back to a third place finish as the attrition rate in this race was above average. Kevin Benton had to settle with a fourth place finish after being shuffled back late. Drew Stallings held on for a top five finish.

Chargers

Robert Arch was able to bounce back after having an ill handling car earlier in the morning to not just win the 40-lap charger feature, but to do it in dominating fashion. Arch, for reason I was not able to confirm, started shotgun on the eight-car field. Missing the mayhem that took place down in turns three and four at the start of the race. With the help of the ensuing restart, Arch was able to work his way up through the field and to the second spot just ten laps in.

Charger WinnerJust as Arch took the second position we had a great battle shaping up for the fifth position. Mike Jones had it but Robbie Allison – making his first start in a full size stock car – wanted it pretty bad. As Allison was peaking his nose under Jones the the two touched sending Jones around, bringing out the caution, and making race control send Allison to the rear. Just as you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Allison would have bigger problems off two just laps after the restart bringing out another yellow. He was able to nurse his ride back to pit lane where crewmembers found something in the suspension that ended his night.

With A+ restarts, Arch was able to keep his machine at the front of the pack as more drivers ran into troubles. Brian Pulley being one of those drivers and coming to a stop up high in turn one to bring out yet another yellow flag. However though, he was able to drive right away – something that really gets under my skin at local short tracks. Originally we thought he was given a one lap penalty for baiting a caution but later learned after the race he was awarded the second place finishing position after fighting his way back through the field. No one in a 25 mile radius had anything for Robert Arch as he cruised his way into victory lane.

Modified WinnerJimmy Humblet qualified on the outside pole for the modified feature but only took him three quarters of a lap to take the lead and run with it! Slaten fell back to third early as it was the Jimmy and Chris show at Southern National. At one point Jimmy’s lead was as large as three seconds over his son before the motor or something expired on the 20 machine of Chris Humblet, bringing out the races only caution. Mastering the ensuing restart, Jimmy Humblet dropped the hammer and cruised to an easy victory breaking Chris Johnson’s (not in attendance) unbeaten streak at the Classic. Humble goes home with the halfway bonus as well as the winners purse thanking his crew for all their hard work, citing he wouldn’t be in victory lane without all of their hard work.

The All-Star Classic continues on Saturday with the Bojangles’ Limited Late Model feature, the 25 lap INSCO U-CAR feature, the 40 lap Bojangles’ Mini-Stock Mayhem feature and a Legends race that could pay up to $900 to win with a bounty that was placed on Dillon Spain. Qualifying and heat races will be held which will set the field for Sunday’s 200 lap Late Model Stock Car as well as qualifying for Sunday’s 125 lap Super Late Model race. Gates open at 2pm, qualifying starts at 3pm and racing begins at 4:15pm.

 

Results

Bando
P1 #24 Blaise Brinkley
P2. #31 Cole Bruce
P3. #51 Ethan Johnson
P4. #12 Savannah Beasley
P5. #14 Conner Jones
P6. #1 Hailey Wilson
P7. #06 Cameryn Rice
P8. #18 Emily Day
P9. #42 Jacob Bradley
P10. #17 Parker Frazier
P11. #3 Tyler Roberson
P12. #2 Kaleb Bradley
DNS. #51 Holden Haddock

 

Street Stock:
P1. #6 Jeff Melton
P2. #32 Gary Ledbetter, Jr.
P3. #8 Greg Barnett
P4. #1 Kevin Benton
P5. #44 Drew Stallings
P6. #32 Jody Jones
P7. #75 Mack Parker
P8. #80 Mike Keith
P9. #3 Travis Roberson
P10. #17 Jessica Guslier
DNS #00 Jesse Council
DNS #42 Stephen Sharp

 

Chargers:
P1. #16 Robert Arch
P2. #61 Michael O’Brien
P3. #77 Nicholas Fulgham
P4. #6 Mike Jones
P5. #68 Brian Pulley
P6. #06 Alton Coombs
P7. #12 Robbie Allison
P8. #16 Steven Marshburn

 

Modified:
P1. #11 Jimmy Humblet
P2. #44 Robbie Babb
P3. #5 Andrew Fortin
P4. #49 Todd Whitesell
P5. #77 Hunter Slaten
P6. #20 Chris Humblet

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