The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Models headed to Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Georgia, on Saturday, July 16th, for the “Racing Radios 100” event, the first time the series raced on the newly-configured and renamed track. While series regular Andy Loden dominated the event up front, a late yellow allowed series invaders Bubba Pollard and Augie Grill a shot at the top spot. At the checkered flag, Pollard was able to earn the victory by just 0.021 seconds over Grill, earning his first-series victory.
“I enjoy racing with the PASS guys,” said Pollard in victory lane. “Hopefully we can make more of their races.”
A total of 25 Super Late Model drivers took time during the qualifying session, which was held early in the evening. Loden turned a time of 16.511 seconds around the half-mile facility, but that was only good for second fastest as Pollard earned the top honors with a lap of 16.345 seconds. Loden was second fastest, followed by Grill, Jay Fogleman, Stephen Nasse, Paul Kelley, Donnie Wilson, Preston Peltier, Steven Legendre and Landon Cling. After the redraw, Legendre and Loden would start from the front row, followed by Peltier, Wilson, Kelley, Pollard, Nasse, Cling, Fogleman and Grill.
Legendre and Loden took the green flag with Loden getting the lead on the first lap. Wilson was able to drop into the third position, followed by Pollard and Blaney. By lap 15, Pollard had worked his way up to third while Grill was up to fourth.
The first yellow flag flew at lap 19 as Russell Fleeman went around in turn four. He was able to drive off after coming to a stop by the wall. The top five at the yellow was Loden, Legendre, Pollard, Grill and Wilson.
Loden went to the lead once again on the restart, but Pollard was able to shoot through for second with Grill following him through in third. Legendre was fourth with Blaney fifth. At lap 25, Grill ducked low going into turn one, taking the second spot from Pollard as he tried to run down Loden for the lead.
Just past the halfway mark, Nasse worked his way to the fourth position with Peltier in fifth. Ahead of them, Loden still held the top spot ahead of Grill and Pollard.
With just 25 laps remaining in the race, Loden had close to a four-second lead over Grill with Pollard riding in third. Peltier was able to get around Nasse for the fourth position with Nasse rounding out the top five. By the time the field had just 20 laps remaining, only seven cars were on the lead lap.
After a long green-flag run, the second yellow flag flew at lap 96 with just four laps to go as Legendre went around on the backstretch. At the yellow flag, Loden was ahead of Grill, Pollard, Peltier and Nasse.
On the restart, Grill was able to get a good restart, taking the lead going into one. Loden tried to get back to the lead, but couldn’t quite get there as the caution flew on lap 97 for an incident in turn four, which included Randy Gentry and Cling. The new top five for the restart was Grill, Loden, Peltier, Pollard and Nasse.
The final restart had Grill and Loden side by side for a lap on the restart. Loden tried to keep his car going on the high side, but ended up sliding back through the pack, moving Pollard into the runner-up position. On the white-flag lap, Pollard went low under Grill as the two battled hard for the top spot side by side, all the way to the checkered flag. Getting just enough grip on the low side, Pollard was able to beat Grill back to the stripe to win the event.
“We had a good car all weekend,” said Pollard. “The race track did something tonight opposite that it usually does in the past years. We freed the car up thinking it was going to get tight and the track greased up and we were free.
“We wouldn’t have had a shot there at the win right there. The #29 car (Loden) was awful good out front, but the fastest car doesn’t always win. We knew if we cooled our tires off there we had a shot at it with four to go.”
Pollard and Grill are used to racing against each other in the south, and had to battle for the win over the final few laps.
“It is fun racing with Augie,” continued Pollard. “I know it is killing him and he hates it (not getting the win). I enjoy racing like that. We can race like that and race clean. We got into each other a little bit, but with less than five to go, I am sure he understands.
“Over there in three there are a lot of bumps. When you drive the car off hard down there the car is going to bottom out and move you up the hill. Luckily he moved up with me and we were able to get straight up off the corner.
Grill looked like he was going to win the event on the final restart, but was snake bit at the checkered flag.
“I knew on one restart we had a shot at it,” said Grill. “This place you can hustle it on the outside for a few laps. I got by him (Loden) and a quick caution came out. I was lucky enough to get by him again and Bubba got under me the next lap. I am kind of frustrated I didn’t win.
“I tried everything I knew how to do (to keep the lead). I could have wrecked him, but I am trying not to race him like that, so we will take a second. I have a complete race car to take home and work on, so I will take that. It was a good race for the fans, and thanks to them for coming out. That is why we do this.”
Peltier didn’t make much noise during the race, but he was able to maneuver his way to cross the line in the third position.
“We started our pressures a little too low,” said Peltier. “It took a little bit for them to come in. Once they did, the car took off; it was a rocket ship. I was definitely faster than them guys through the center. I just couldn’t get a good run up off the corner. If I could have carried the momentum on the outside I could have gotten by them.”
Nasse and Loden rounded out the top five.
The PASS South Super Late Model Series will take about a month break before returning to action at South Boston Speedway (VA) on Saturday, August 20th. For more information on the Pro All Stars Series, go to www.proallstarsseries.com.
Unofficial Results: Racing Radios 100 at Gresham Motorsports Park (GA)
1.#18 Bubba Pollard (100) 2.#112 Augie Grill (100) 3.#26 Preston Peltier (100) 4.#51 Stephen Nasse (100) 5.#29 Andy Loden (100) 6.#82 Donnie Wilson (100) 7.#23 Jimmy Weller (100) 8.#4 Jay Fogleman (99) 9.#98 Justin Wakefield (99) 10.#10k Paul Kelley (99) 11.#33 Roger Lee Newton (99) 12.#10 Ryan Blaney (99) 13.#91q David Quackenbush (99) 14.#29c Landon Cling (99) 15.#75 David Odell (99) 16.#56 Gus Dean (98) 17.#2 Gray Gaulding (98) 18.#29k Allen Karnes (98) 19.#91 Heath Hindman (98) 20.#20 Steven Legendre (94) 21.#36 Rodney Benefield (59) 22.#10h Greg Simpson (45) 23.#101 Jason Hogan (29) 24.#98f Russell Fleeman (18)
DQ) #09 Randy Gentry (94)