Bradley Carter Takes First Win of the Season in Open Wheel Modifieds

By Kevin Neal


The Late Models, Open Wheel Modifieds, and Baby Grands returned to action on a full moon Saturday night at Huntsville Speedway with hotly contested racing across all divisions.


In qualifying, Johnny Brazier (13.921) in the Late Models, Troy Gray (13.908) in Open Wheel Modified, and Chris Willis (14.707) in the Baby Grands captured the Fast Time Qualifying Awards.


Johnny Brazier returned to action in fine form in the Late Model division after a brief absence to capture the Fast Time Qualifying Award for the division. Brazier rolled a six on the inversion placing the 00 car of Jeremy Price on the pole alongside the 71C of Ray Clemens. At the drop of the green, Price and Clemens were under siege from Keith Rankin and Brazier who quickly took advantage of the high groove to advance to second place. Rankin took the lead, folled by Brazier and Brian Bentley. Both Clemens and Price would retire from the race at lap 11 and 12 respectively. At lap 14, Johnny Brazier was able to make the move to the inside of Keith Rankin to surpass him for the lead. Brazier continued to maintain the lead until lap 27 when caution flew for Logan Berry, making his first late model start of the season, when Berry’s car made hard impact with the turn 2 wall, ending his evening prematurely. On the restart, Rankin once again put up a valiant effort, battling side by side with Brazier for the top spot until Brazier decisively gain the advantage. Caution at lap 34 for a spin involving the number 9 machine of Brian Bentley, set up another side by side duel with Brazier and Rankin, but a new player entered the mix when Nathan Davis nosed his number 05 machine underneath Rankin to take second. Rankin would also fall to Bill Melvin for third before caution flew at lap 39 when Melvin’s car spun in turn 2. Melvin would also be involved in the next caution at lap 41 with a flat right rear tire. The final caution of the evening flew at lap 47 for early race leader Keith Rankin when he spun into the outside wall in turns 1 and 2. The ensuing three lap shootout saw Brazier hold off Davis and Melvin for the victory.


Bradley Carter picked the perfect Saturday night to return to Huntsville Speedway, starting on the pole alongside the number 131 of Jeff Letson after Fast Time Qualifier Troy Gray rolled a four on the inversion. Carter and Letson put on a clinic at the front of the field, battling side by side for several laps before falling in nose to tail with Carter leading. Troy Gray would retire early from the race with what appeared to be rear-end or transmission issues at lap 13. Caution flew at lap 28 the the number 47 of John Thomas and Jeff letson made contact battling for second. Thomas would take advantage of the sportsmanship clause, taking credit for the incident and returning Letson to second. Caution would again find the 47 when he and Phillip Price tangled at lap 42 sending both cars to the rear. The most volatile caution of the night fell at lap 46 when Phillip Price and Garret Finley made contact on the frontstretch while racing for fourth. There were heated moments in the pits between both teams over responsibility for the incident, but fortunately both cars and drivers were unharmed. Bradley Carter was able to maintain his advantage for the remaining three laps to capture his first Open Wheel Modified victory of the season, followed by Letson, Chase Oliver, John Thomas, and Garrett Finley rounding out the top five.


The Super Stock division 20 lap feature saw Brad Malone capture back-to-back wins after starting in the rear following his win last race. Caleb Thornberry and Austin Thornton comprised the front row on the start with Todd Cagle making his way into second at the drop of the green. Cagle would race side by side with Thornton, taking both cars to the outside wall in turn 4 as Cagle’s car broke a right front hub. Cagle would be forced to retire from the race at that point, with Thornton continuing. On the restart, David Dean, Jr. would use the cone to advance his position to second and challenge Thornberry until the next caution at lap 6 for a single car spin involving Junior Jordan. On the next restart, Dean, Jr. and Brad Malone would kick Thornberry to third and launch their own fierce battle for the lead, with the two bumping and grinding down the frontstretch. Malone took the lead down the frontstraightaway, and Dean, Jr. spun entering turn 1 setting up a battle between Malone and Thornberry. Thornberry was dispatched by Junior Jordan, racing his way back up to second, before Dean, Jr. would reclaim the runner-up spot on the last lap.


The super-fast Baby Grands made their second trip to Huntsville Speedway in 2017 but the scene was déjà vu as Chris Willis once again picked up the 30 lap feature win and the Fast Time Qualifying Award, closely pursued by Joe McCloud in second, Justin Shanes who made an impressive effort to finish third after a qualifying crash that left his ability to start the feature in question, and Ronnie Binkley who arrived late to the track after a flat tire on his hauler impeded his trip from Nashville. Willis is now two-for-two in starts at Huntsville.


Saturday night looked to finally be Charlie McKee’s night as he start on the outside front row for the 20 lap feature alongside the number 11 of Mark Sabin. McKee took his Buster’s Pawn Shop number 121 to the lead after a poor initial start, and was opening up a lead on the field when caution flew at lap 12 due to Sabin’s engine expiring in turns 1 and 2, creating a red flag period for extended track surface clean-up. Restarts once again posed challenges for McKee causing him to drop back in the running order and opening the door for Tommy Robinette to take the lead. A final restart saw a poor restart for the race leader, Robinette, when he failed to maintain pace speed on the start. The next restart met muster and Robinette was able to hold off Doug Emerson, Lance Campbell, and McKee for the victory.


Mathew Robbins was able to hold on from the pole to take the Buzz victory over Floyd Brown and Courtney Gibbs, returning to action in the Dakoda Emerson car after her high impact crash two weeks earlier. Kaylea Cox captured the win in the Amateur Buzz portion of the event.


Jeremy Price set sail this week in his number 13 machine, holding off Josh McElhone and last race winner Jamie Bradford to take home the victory in this week’s Hot Shot feature.

Huntsville Speedway will return to action next Saturday night with races featuring the STAR SuperTrucks, Sportsman, Pure Stocks, Super Stock, Mini Modifieds, Pro Buzz, Buzz, and Hot Shot divisions. 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. 71 – Johnny Brazier
  2. 05 – Nathan Davis
  3. 59 – Billy Melvin
  4. 9 – Brian Bentley
  5. 24 – Keith Rankin
  6. 7 – Logan Berry
  7. 00 – Jeremy Price
  8. 71 – Ray Clemens

Open Wheel Modified:

  1. 23 – Bradley Carter
  2. 131 – Jeff Letson
  3. 5 – Chase Oliver
  4. 47 – John Thomas
  5. 37 – Garrett Finley
  6. 51 – Phillip Price
  7. 12B – Ronald Bailey
  8. 101 – Cameron Berry
  9. 56 – Craig Bell
  10. 74 – Troy Gray

Super Stock Division:

  1. 15 – Bradley Malone
  2. 21 – David Dean, Jr.
  3. 29 – Junior Jordan
  4. 14 – Caleb Thornberry
  5. 1 – Austin Thornton
  6. 98 – Todd Cagle

Baby Grands Division:

  1. 08 – Chris Willis
  2. 15 – Joe McCloud
  3. 24 – Justin Shanes
  4. 25 – Ronnie Binkley
  5. 52 – Steven Polley
  6. 51 – Tommy McPherson
  7. 33 – Darrell Fudge
  8. 18 – Trent Key

Mini Modified Division:

  1. 9 – Tommy Robinette
  2. 5 – Doug Emerson
  3. 29 – Lance Campbell
  4. 121 – Charles McKee
  5. 11 – Mark Sabin
  6. 88 – Dewayne Vintson
  7. 85 – Jeremy Davis (DNS)

Pro Buzz Division:

  1. 48 – Matthew Robbins
  2. 84 – Floyd Brown
  3. 99 – Courtney Gibbs

Buzz Division:

  1. 14 – Kaylea Cox

Hot Shot Division:

  1. 13 – Jeremy Price
  2. 01 – Josh McElhone
  3. 46 – Jamie Bradford