Lucama, NC – Not a cloud in the sky for the final day of racing in the 2014 edition of Thanksgiving All-Star Classic. A weekend plagued with temperatures barely breaking 50 degrees we were certainly in for a warm up. We were literally and figuratively in for a warm-up, by 9am temperatures were already in the mid 50s with a forecast of 64 degrees for the drop of the green flag. All the practice was complete, drivers put in their best lap for time trials and played the chest game that we call heat races. Today was the day to ‘Put up or shut up’ as they say.
A feature that had normally been part of the Saturday program at The Park got their own time to shine after owners Jerry Brown & Mike Diaz decided to move the Late Model program to their own date. Nineteen limited’s packed their haulers and headed to Kenly, North Carolina for a chance at $4,000 and the opportunity to put their name in the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic history book.
Tony Grady – yes the same Tony Grady that went for an unexpected ride through the catch fence just a few weeks ago – was the man to beat for most of the weekend. Kind of ironic that he was close to packing things up and heading home stating the car was so bad Friday during the test. Granted, isn’t that what just about all these drivers say when the car is –quote, unquote – bad? Hats off to the entire crew for figuring things out because Grady was bad fast all day Saturday, in fact, the only car to post a time in the 15.6 second window. He would also go on to win his heat race, locking up the Sellers Racing Pole Award.
TWR Starting Five;
1. #4 Tony Grady
2. #21 Joey Throckmorton
3. #15 Clay Jones
4. #16 Rusty Daniels
5. #98 J.D. Eversole
Kenly, NC – LIVE for Day 2 of the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic here at Southern National Motorsports Park. Make sure to join us for lap-by-lap coverage of on our Twitter account (@theweeklyracer). Two divisions running today, UCARs for 50 laps followed by 150 lap Limited Late Model feature. The track invites all those in attendance on the front stretch for an autograph session from 12:20 PM till 1:20 PM. On track activities get under way at 1:30 PM.
Lucama, NC – Chris Johnson made it two in a row at Southern National in the 2014 edition of the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic. Johnson took the lead away from Humblet in the almost caution free feature on lap 33 and immediately put two cars between the two. Early, it looked like Jimmy Humblet was going to be the car to beat, when the green flag was displayed Humblet hit the gas and the nitrous button at the same time.
Not but five laps in Humblet had built himself all but a full straightaway lead over Johnson, you had to look back another eight cars to find third place Shawn Balluzzo. I really wish there was something more interesting to talk about this race but there really wasn’t. Only other interesting thing I learned after the fact was the #77 of Hunter Slayton showed up with his huge motor pretty much to shake things down for the Snowball Derby next weekend – he would pull his machine off at half way and leave it up to everyone else.
The nights one and only caution came from the solo, untouched, random spin of none other than Chris Humblet. Which, has earned him last nights “D’oh Moment of the Race Award” – honestly I am pretty sure this puts him at the top of the list for the entire weekend! By this time in the race all but the top three were the only ones left on the lead lap leaving Humblet & Balluzzo the only ones eligible for the cone, no one took the bait creating a single file, green-white-checkered.
Lucama, NC – A cold night to say the least down in North Carolina to kick off the annual Thanksgiving All-Star Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park. While some were up bright and early to stand in line and fight for their right to buy the $300 TV, others were packing up race car trailers and heading to North Carolina for some racing.
The ever popular Street Stock division was the highlight of the evening running a 50 lap feature. Jeff Melton set the fast time in qualifying with a time of 16.605 (86.721mph) only to be waisted 500 feet past the stripe. As the field took the green flag outside pole sitter Mike Keith must have spun the tires and immediately hooked left. Melton & Keith had a crash course with the inside retaining wall that took both cars out of contention. Mike Keith would attempt to return to the speedway but the damage was too much for the car. This would allow Ledbetter and Barnett to move up to the front row.
As the green flag was displayed to the field Gary Ledbetter nailed the gas – as most race car drivers do at that time of the evening – and took off into turns one and two with Greg Barnett on his flank. These two would build a pretty large over Ganoe and Council, who spent a good amount of laps nose to tail working on each other before Council finally got around him for third spot.
Things were pretty smooth sailing for the first half of the race as I would imagine some drivers were trying to save tires. Remember this was a little bit longer of a race than what some of these guys are used to. Greg Barnett was finally able to make the pass for the lead on lap 27 after hanging on to the rear bumper of Ledbetter. Just four laps later we got the nights first caution as the #10c of Chris Conner went for a solo spin in turn two.
Lucama, NC – Thanksgiving weekend caps off not only Southern National’s season but also a very fast pace, interesting, and crazy Rookie year for The Weekly Racer. Three straight days of action packed racing rolls into town to help shake off all that turkey and pumpkin pie that we have consumed the day before. In years past this event was headlined by a 200 lap Late Model Stock race, with plenty of supporting divisions to enjoy. After moving the LMSC event to its own event for very obvious reason, this year Limited Late Models will cap the weekend of with 150 laps Sunday afternoon.
Not to worry, there is plenty of racing for all kinds. I am talking full body full built race cars, good ole fashion street stocks, open wheeled, Legend cars! If there is a division of racing you like Southern National has it. We are working on getting a schedule of what races we are covering. Of course we will be covering the action over on our Twitter page (@theweeklyracer). If you do not have one I suggest you create one, don’t worry its FREE. That way you can follow along, post your pictures, and talk with all of our fans.
I want to take a moment to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving! Bellow you will find a brief schedule of what is on deck including ticket prices:
Newport News, VA – “Tyler Ankrum didn’t win the Autumn Classic. Wait wasn’t that race like a week or two ago,” were probably the words that came to mind when reading that headline right? Yes I know things have been a little behind this off-season, yes The Autumn Classic is in the books, and yes you probably missed the Hard Charger section of the title. However I believe 100% if there was a late race caution you would have had to keep your eye on that black #58.
Due to a last-minute engine swap, Ankrum was forced to take the green flag from the rear of the field. In a field stacked with loads of talent one could say the odds were no longer in his favor. However, if Tyler is anything like myself at that age, I found myself working harder towards those things people said I would never accomplish.
Lucama, 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.