Billy Melvin Reigns Supreme in Late Model Victory; John Thomas Leads Flag-to-Flag in Open Wheel Modifieds on Buster’s Bait and Pawn Night at Huntsville Speedway

By Kevin Neal

08/19/2017

Beautiful weather set a scene for hot racing action with a packed out pit area and outstanding crowd on hand in the grandstands as the Late Models and Open Wheel Modifieds took center stage on Saturday night at Huntsville Speedway for a night of action that featured augmented purses for all divisions thanks to the fine folks at Buster’s Bait and Pawn Shop who sponsored the event.

FAST TIME QUALIFYING

In qualifying, Johnny Brazier (13.796) in the Late Models, John Thomas (13.914) in Open Wheel Modified, Todd Cagle (15.521) in the Super Stock, and Doug Emerson (15.326) in the Mini Modified captured the Fast Time Qualifying Awards.

LATE MODEL

Fast time qualifier Johnny Brazier did everything he could to make it an easier evening for himself as he rolled a one on the inversion dice, placing himself on the pole alongside veteran driver Gary Nix of Warrior, AL for the 50 lap feature that saw 15 Late Model machines take the green.  Brazier would pace the field until lap 14 when caution flew for a spin involving the number 116 of Zach Johnson from Nashville, and the number 11 Riverchase KIA car of JoLynn Wilkinson from Hueytown. On the restart, Nix would pounce, taking the lead from Brazier and clearing him down the backstretch. Nix would hold on to the top spot until lap 30 when caution would fly again for a spin in turn 1 involving the number 71C of Ray Clemens. Nix would maintain the point through the restart, but disaster was looming. Before another green flag lap was completed, Nix and Brazier, racing side by side down the backstretch, would collide, sending both cars careening into the wall and ending both of their evenings. This reset the field and placed the number 2 machine of Jaxon Bishop on the point alongside the number 145 of Billy Melvin of Trussville, AL. Bishop would get an excellent start, but entering turn 1, sparks began to emerge from the rear of Bishop’s car. Melvin would take the lead, as Bishop began to slow through the field, bringing his car to the pits at lap 33. A final caution would slow the pace as the number 19 of Larry Ardry of Columbia, TN and the number 9 of Brian Bentley made contact in turn 3. Melvin would maintain the lead on the ensuing restart, clearing William Hale of Nashville, making his impressive debut at Huntsville Speedway. Hale would then fall into the clutches of Taft, TN driver Austin Aker who would take the bottom groove away and take the runner-up spot with it at lap 43, relegating Hale to third. At this point, Melvin has set sail, leading the remainder of the laps to pickup the victory, followed by Aker, Hale, Larry Ardry, and Keith Rankin to round out the top five finishers. Unfortunately, three of the Late Model competitors on hand were unable to start the feature due to mechanical issues that developed during the afternoon practice sessions. Bobby Castleberry, Canon Cochran, and the returning Brittany Finley were all forced to watch the action from their pit stalls after suffering irreparable failures.

OPEN WHEEL MODIFIED

The Open Wheel Modified drivers put on an absolute clinic in their 50 lap feature, running caution free for the entirety of the race. Fast time qualifier John Thomas of Harvest, AL rolled a one on the inversion dice, keeping his pole position and starting alongside Troy Gray in the number 74. At the drop of the green, Thomas sprinted away into the lead as the top three cars separated themselves from the remainder of the pack. Phillip Price in his number 51 machine would challenge Troy Gray for second on multiple occasions, but was unable to seal the deal. Justin Bonnett, making his racing debut at Huntsville Speedway, duked it out with Jeremy Williams and Billy Melvin, doing double duty in his number 16 Open Wheel as they battled for fourth through sixth. Thomas would maintain his lead for the entire 50 laps, followed by Gray, Price, Williams, and Bonnett, who comprised the top five at the checkers.

SUPER STOCK

In the Super Stock division, Fast Time Qualifier Todd Cagle would flip the script as his roll inverted the entire field placing the Bama Parts number 1 of Austin Thornton on the pole alongside multiple race winner David Dean, Jr. Thornton would fend off all challenges for several laps before making a scrub against the frontstretch wall and dropping back through the field. Austin Evans of Jasper, AL would make his move to surpass Dean, Jr. to take the lead right at the end of the race, with Todd Cagle also making a pass on Dean to take the runner-up spot. Evans would hold on for the win followed by Cagle, David Dean, Jr., Junior Jordan, and Austin Thornton. Shane Jones was primed to make his debut in the Super Stock division driving the Bama parts number 192 machine, but after a rear end failure in practice, was unable to start the feature.

 

MINI MODIFIED

Fast Time Qualifier Doug Emerson suffered an evening of what could have been in the Mini Modified 20 lap feature. Emerson rolled a 6 on the inversion dice, but could start no worse than fifth, due to returning race winner from earlier in the season Jacob Hill being relegated to the sixth starting position. This put the number 21 car of Steve Looney on the pole alongside the brand new number 18 car of Kassey Rogers, making a move from a Buzz car to Mini Modified. On the start, Looney would take the lead, as the fourth place car of Charlie McKee dropped to the tail of the field. Kevin Harrison would challenge for the top spot, but the bees were swarming, and it didn’t take long for Emerson, who had a very fast hot rod, to make his way to the lead with the number 19 of Jacob Hill in tow. Hill would challenge Emerson for the lead, and even take the top spot on three occasions, only to be relegated back to second due to cautions for debris and stalled cars. Jeremy Davis would try to better his fortunes by virtue of the cone, as his team continues to work on their new number 85, the former car driven by Jerry Mills. Emerson held on to the top spot until the last turn of the last lap when he and Hill collided, spinning Emerson and leaving Hill to cross the start/finish line to take the win. The Speedway’s Spin Rule is not applicable once the white flag flies, so Hill captured the win, followed by Davis, Kevin Harrison, Doug Emerson, who recovered to finish fourth, and Steve Looney rounding out the top five. Both Tommy Robinett and Jeremy Williams were also on hand with their Mini Modified machines, but were unable to start the feature due to engine failures during practice.

BUZZ

Shane Jones is making a habit of visiting Victory Lane, capturing his fourth Pro Buzz victory of the season in his Steam Master Carpet Cleaning/Lowery’s Tactical Firearms number 192, followed by Roger Wood, Jr. who put on an outstanding performance, maintaining the lead until the final couple of circuits in the race when it appeared his right front tire might have begun to fail, allowing Jones to maneuver underneath him to take the lead and the win. Courtney Gibbs, Floyd Brown, and Mathew Robbins rounded out the Pro Buzz portion of the field. Cameron Choate claimed victory in the Amateur Buzz race, besting Michael Forsythe for the win.

HOT SHOT

Jamie Bradford and Josh McElhone started on the front row for the 15 lap Hot Shot feature, but it didn’t take long for previous winner Jeremy Price to maneuver his way through traffic and slide to the point. Price was able to time his approach on McElhone exiting turn 4 and slide underneath for the lead, but the two played bumper tag for the final two laps with both cars crossing the start/finish line sideways at the finish. Price was the winner followed by McElhone, Bradford, Brandon Moman, and Allen Gunter.

Huntsville Speedway will return to action next Saturday night with races featuring the STAR SuperTrucks, Sportsman, Pure Stocks, Super Stock, Pro Buzz, Buzz, and Hot Shot divisions along with round two of Kid’s Bike Races. Pit gates will open at 2PM with practice starting at 3PM, followed by driver’s meeting at 5:30PM, qualifying at 6PM, and racing at 7PM.

Late Model:

  1. 145 – Billy Melvin
  2. 07 – Austin Aker
  3. 25 – William Hale
  4. 19  -Larry Ardry
  5. 24 – Keith Rankin
  6. 116 – Zach Johnson
  7. 11 – JoLynn Wilkinson
  8. 9 – Brian Bentley
  9. 43 – Jonathan Goolsby
  10. 71C – Ray Clemens
  11. 2 – Jaxon Bishop
  12. 99 – Gary Nix
  13. 71 – Johnny Brazier
  14. 05 – Nathan Davis
  15. 59 – Rocky Rogers
  16. 14 – Bobby Castleberry (DNS)
  17. B36 – Brittany Finley (DNS)
  18. 12 – Canon Cochran (DNS)

Open Wheel Modified:

  1. 47 – John Thomas
  2. 74 – Troy Gray
  3. 51 – Phillip Price
  4. 81 – Jeremy Williams
  5. 12 – Justin Bonnett
  6. 16 – Billy Melvin
  7. 5H – Michael Halbrooks
  8. 56 – Craig Bell
  9. 116 – Ricky Sanford
  10. 2 – Mark Ellenburg
  11. 85 – Jason Davis
  12. 0 – Jordan Key
  13. 25 – Kyle Moore

Super Stock Division:

  1. 19 – Austin Evans
  2. 98 – Todd Cagle
  3. 21 – David Dean, Jr.
  4. 29 – Junior Jordan
  5. 1 – Austin Thornton
  6. 192 – Shane Jones (DNS)

Mini Modified Division:

  1. 19 – Jacob Hill
  2. 85 – Jeremy Davis
  3. 31 – Kevin Harrison
  4. 5 – Doug Emerson
  5. 21 – Steve Looney
  6. 22 – Patrick Christian
  7. 18 – Kassey Rogers
  8. 121 – Charles McKee
  9. 9 – Tommy Robinett (DNS)
  10. 05 – Jeremy Williams (DNS)

Pro Buzz Division:

  1. 192 – Shane Jones
  2. NF1 – Roger Wood, Jr.
  3. 99 – Courtney Gibbs
  4. 84 – Floyd Brown
  5. 48 – Matthew Robbins

Amateur Buzz Division:

  1. 82 – Cameron Choate
  2. 107 – Michael Forsythe

Hot Shot Division:

  1. 00 – Jeremy Price
  2. 01 – Josh McElhone
  3. 46X – Jamie Bradford
  4. 02 – Brandon Moman
  5. 15 – Allen Gunter