David Jones Back in Victory Lane at Mobile
Pro Late Models Kick off 2011 With First 100 Lapper
by Chuck Corder
There’s a Demolition Derby set for Mobile International Speedway in June.

It got a head start in Midwest Cooling Towers Pro Late Models 100-lap feature at MIS on Saturday.

A brutal finish to an otherwise clean race left just six cars of the 17 that began the race on the half-mile oval.

When the debris settled and after the sixth and final restart with 96 laps completed, David Jones had just enough in his Alabama Pipe and Supply Ford fusion to hold off 2010 Track Champion D.J. VanderLey.

Jones is the Senior member of the Midwest Cooling Towers Pro-Late Model division and enjoys racing against the young up and comers. Saturday night’s victory was his first win at MIS since 1995. In 1995 the driver he passed for the lead, Thomas “Moose” Praytor, was 5 and DJ VanderLey, was 2. “These kids are really good and they have pushed me to make our car better and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a long time.”

“This’ll help our confidence all year long,” Jones said. “I like it. Beatin’ and bangin’. That’s what short-track racing is all about. I wanna see sparks fly.”

It was certainly a race that tested not only one’s physical stamina, but their mental toughness as well.

Jones displayed some savvy racing all night long. He was content to hang back, especially during the multiple cautions late in the race, and it proved wise.

Jones was the beneficiary of keeping his nose clean and on the final restart he found himself out front. VanderLey started third on the final restart and vaulted up to second to put a charge into Jones, but could never get his nose under Jones’ bumper and attempt a pass.

“With four to go, I had a left rear flat and I thought I had lost the race,” Jones said, “but we got to put a tire on. D.J. drove me clean and here we are.”

VanderLey and Mike Garvey exchanged leads for most of the night until VanderLey finally took the lead back from the veteran driver just before the night took an unexpected, yellow-plagued turn the late in the race.

Garvey took exception with VanderLey’s move to the front. But VanderLey thought it was a modicum of payback for the way Garvey has raced him this season.

“Mike Garvey has wrecked me, he’s turned me,” the 19-year-old Auburn freshman said. “I didn’t wreck him. I didn’t turn him. I just touched him and they were ready to fight. Moving Garvey was a perfectly good, racing move.”

Soon after Garvey and Steven Davis decided to trade paint for position and Josh Bragg had no place to go, but through them. That’s what Bragg ultimately did, ending his night and Garvey’s in the process.

Davis returned only to have his night end on a frightening wreck that saw him get pushed into the outside wall down the front straightaway and turn his front end into an accordion. Davis walked away OK despite having the wind knocked out of him.

VanderLey held the lead as cars fell by the wayside until the third Lap 96 restart when John Thompson spun him on the restart before the green even dropped. VanderLey had to work his way back up from the back of the pack.

“John Thompson cost us the race. All hell broke loose at that point,” VanderLey said. “Guys lost their heads. They wrecked us on the restarts. They wrecked us going into (Turn) 3.”

Jones benefited.

Soaked with sweat and exhausted, Jones climbed out of his car with a wide, celebratory smile.

He celebrated with a trophy. He celebrated, like all of Saturday’s feature winners and a handful of fans, with tickets to next week’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Speedway.

He celebrated with a long overdue victory.

Pro Late Models � 1. David Jones, 2. D.J. VanderLey, 3. Chris Davidson, 4. Thomas Praytor, 5. John Thompson, 6. Michael Pitts, 7. Mike Garvey, 8. Hunter Robbins, 9. Josh Bragg, 10. Steven Davis, 11. Clifford Darby, 12. Eric Courville, 13. Donald Crocker, 14. Greg Poole, 15. Donnie Hamrac, 16. Elliott Massey, 17. Kris Kahalley

Racing returns to MIS on Saturday, April 23 when the Alabama Pipe and Supply Modifieds race 55 green laps, while the Bob Speed Shop Sportsmen and the Island Motors II Bombers continuing their respective seasons. There will also be a bicycle race and in time for the holiday, the Easter Bunny will be at the track handing out Blue Bell Ice Cream.

David Jones got back into victory lane in the first 100 lap Pro Late Model event of the season at Mobile.