David Wright, Jr. Captures Emotional Victory in Open Wheels; Ty Roberts Clinches His First Late Model Win

By Kevin Neal

09/30/2017

The final night of racing for the 2017 season kicked off Saturday night under the lights at Huntsville Speedway as race fans and crews donned their red, white, and blue attire to show respect for our great country and gratitude for those who serve.

 

 

FAST TIME QUALIFYING

In qualifying, Billy Melvin (13.921) in the Late Models, John Thomas (13.730) in Open Wheel Modified, and Ronnie Binkley (14.608) in the Baby Grands captured the Fast Time Qualifying Awards.

OP EN WHEEL MODIFIED

Fast time qualifier John Thomas rolled a two on the inversion die placing him on the outside of row 1 alongside Troy Gray in the number 74. Thomas and Gray battled side by side in the first two laps with Thomas finally getting the better of the exchange and taking the lead, with Gray settling into second while Jeff Letson lurked in third. The first caution would come at lap 7 for a spin involving the number 38 of Wesley Schuffert. In the meanwhile, the brand new number 4 car of Dave Wright, Jr. had drifted to the rear of the field after starting fourth, while the returning Jim Wall had surged from his seventh place starting position into fourth behind Letson. Caution would fly again at lap 18, again for a spin involving the number 38 of Schuffert, bringing the 777 car of Jimmy Schutt and the number 17 of the returning Chuck Tuck to the attention of their crews. On the restart, contact between the 74 of Gray and the 131 of Letson resulted in a flat tire on Gray’s car that produced debris down the frontstretch, bringing out another quick caution at lap 19.

All the while, the 4 of Dave Wright, Jr. was creeping back up through the field, finding himself back up to third by lap 21. Thomas and Letson continued to wage war at the front of the pack until lap 31, when the two collided exiting turn 4, bringing out caution and sending both cars to the rear of the field after pit stops for the 38 of Schuffert, the 74 of Gray, and the 47 of Thomas. The final caution flew at lap 33 for a turn 2 crash between the 777 of Schutt and the 85 of Jason Davis. Now in the catbird seat, sat Dave Wright, Jr. Wright would execute a masterful restart at lap 34 to take the advantage over Jim Wall who was now racing in the runner-up spot. Wright would continue to hang on to the lead with Wall nipping at his rear nerf bar, as the fans began to notice another element coming into play. The cars of John Thomas and Jeff Letson were knifing their way through the field as the laps wound down, with Thomas pulling around Wall to take second with just 2 laps remaining. On the final lap, Thomas would pull alongside Wright and the drag race was on exiting turn 4. At the checkers, Wright would edge Thomas at the line to capture the victory, and to honor the memory of his infant son Liam, and the charitable effort Laps4Liam that adorned his new machine. Wright was followed by Thomas, Jim Wall, Chuck Tuck, and Jeff Letson to round out the top five finishers.

John Thomas is the 2017 Open Wheel Modified Track Champion.

For more information about Laps 4 Liam, please visit https://www.facebook.com/Laps4Liam.

LATE MODEL

Fast time qualifier Billy Melvin rolled a four on the inversion, placing Lee Hansard of Tyrone, Georgia on the pole alongside Justice Evans in a brand new number 99 car for the 50 lap Late Model feature. Evans would take the advantage over Hansard at the green, claiming the lead, while a rapidly advancing Billy Melvin would move to second by lap three, with the 07 of Taft, Tennessee driver Austin Aker in tow. The race would make it to almost the halfway point before the first caution flew at lap 24 when the 145 of Melvin and the 07 of Aker made contact exiting turn two while racing for common ground, causing significant damage to both machines. Aker would retire from the event, while Melvin’s crew, helmed by Bob Massey, would make repairs to allow Melvin to continue, although an ill-completed repair caused Melvin to spin exiting turn 4 at lap 27, again sending him to the rear of the field.

Meanwhile at the front, Evans was overtaken by a hard charging Ty Roberts of Vestavia, AL who would claim the lead at the halfway point. At lap 28, JoLynn Wilkinson of Hueytown, having her best run of the season in third, was surpassed for the position by Daniel Bradford, making his late model debut in the Midsouth Plumbing and Electric car previously driven by Chuck Tuck. Bradford would go on to have a stellar run, taking second from Evans, and challenging Roberts for the lead until lap 43 when the man on a mission, Billy Melvin, made his way back up through the field and passed Bradford for second. Melvin would make a final run at Roberts, but was unable to take him out of the top spot, leaving Ty Roberts to win his first Late Model feature at Huntsville Speedway. Roberts was followed by Melvin, Bradford, Hansard, and Evans to round out the top five finishers.

Billy Melvin of Trussville, AL secured the 2017 Late Model Track Championship.

 

SUPER STOCK

In the Super Stock division, David Dean, Jr. returned to his old familiar number 21 car and started on the pole for the 20 lap feature alongside the number 98 of Todd Cagle. Cagle and Dean duked it out side by side lap after lap until Cagle’s machine slid back, opening the door for Zack Smith to make a run at Dean in his number 24 car. Smith would give it his best effort, sliding the nose up alongside Dean at one time, but was unable to seal the deal, giving David Dean, Jr. the victory, followed by Smith, Brandon Walker, Joel Falls, and Guile Hornbuckle rounding out the top five.

David Dean, Jr. is the 2017 Super Stock Track Champion.

BABY GRANDS

Fast Time Qualifier Ronnie Binkley would start the 25 lap Baby Grands feature in fourth, alongside Chris Willis, while Joseph McCloud would start on the pole with Justin Shanes to his outside. Willis would waste little time working his way around McCloud while Binkley would follow in his tire tracks to fall into second. Willis would pace the field for the entirety of the event with Binkley running in his tire tracks, but unable to mount a pass for the lead. Chris Willis was the feature winner followed by Binkley, Shanes, McCloud, and Trent Key.

Christopher Willis is the 2017 Baby Grands Track Champion.

BUZZ

Shane Jones captured another Pro Buzz victory in his Steam Master Carpet Cleaning/Lowery’s Tactical Firearms number 192, followed by Courtney Gibbs’s number 99 car. Dennis Lane was able to capture the win in the Amateur Buzz division followed by Allen Gunter, doing double duty in both Buzz and Hot Shots, Mark Appleby, Shawn Garmon, the winner of the last Amateur Buzz race, and Jaclyn Barnett, who continues to improve with every race.

Floyd Brown is the 2017 Pro Buzz Track Champion.

Kaylea Cox is the 2017 Amateur Buzz Track Champion.

HOT SHOT

Josh McElhone started on the pole for the 15 lap Hot Shot season finale and the result was much the same with McElhone going on to pick up the win with Allen Gunter finishing second, and Jamie Bradford finishing third.

Josh McElhone is the 2017 Hot Shot Track Champion.

This concludes the 2017 racing season at Huntsville Speedway. On behalf of all of the staff and management at Huntsville Speedway, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the drivers, the fans, the sponsors, and all of the supporters who make it possible to keep racing alive in the Rocket City. It is no less than a Herculean act to operate a racing facility for 28 events, as I know our track owners Robbie and Karen Edger can attest to better than anyone, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and sincerely hope that you did as well. Please stay tuned to the Huntsville Speedway website at www.huntsvillespeedway.com and the Huntsville Speedway Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hsvspeedway for information about our upcoming Champions Celebration and for news about the 2018 season. It will be time to race again before you know it! Until then, please enjoy a safe and prosperous offseason. See you in 2018!

Open Wheel Modified:

  1. 4 – David Wright, Jr.
  2. 47 – John Thomas
  3. 91 – Jim Wall
  4. 17 – Chuck Tuck
  5. 131 – Jeff Letson
  6. 101 – Cameron Berry
  7. 54 – Jacob Stephens
  8. 5 – Michael Halbrooks
  9. 74 – Troy Gray
  10. 85 – Jason Davis
  11. 777 – Jimmy Schutt
  12. 38 – Wesley Schuffert
  13. 0 – Jordan Key

Late Model:

  1. 50 –Ty Roberts
  2. 145 – Billy Melvin
  3. 17 – Daniel Bradford
  4. 89 – Lee Hansard
  5. 99 – Justice Evans
  6. 11 – JoLynn Wilkinson
  7. 19  -Larry Ardry
  8. 36 – Brittany Finley
  9. 114 – Brian Malone
  10. 07L – Lonnie Watson
  11. 07 – Austin Aker
  12. 35 – Keith McReynolds

Super Stock Division:

  1. 29 – David Dean, Jr.
  2. 24 – Zack Smith
  3. 18 – Brandon Walker
  4. 38 – Joel Falls
  5. 27 – Guile Hornbuckle
  6. 2 – Butch Rogers
  7. 98 – Todd Cagle

Baby Grands Division:

  1. 08 – Christopher Willis
  2. 25 – Ronnie Binkley
  3. 24 – Justin Shanes
  4. 15 – Joseph McCloud
  5. 18 – Trent Key

Pro Buzz Division:

  1. 192 – Shane Jones
  2. 99 – Courtney Gibbs

Amateur Buzz Division:

  1. 14Y – Dennis Lane
  2. 17 – Allen Gunter
  3. 91 – Mark Appleby
  4. 424 – Shawn Garmon
  5. 17B – Jaclyn Barnett
  6. 107 – Michael Forsythe
  7. 14B – Danny Mason
  8. 41 – Matthew Mason

Hot Shot Division:

  1. 01 – Josh McElhone
  2. 15 – Allen Gunter
  3. 46 – Jamie Bradford