On Saturday, April 2, 2011, Montgomery Motor Speedway played host to round one of the third season of the “Show Me the Money Series”. A large field of 26 Pro Late Model drivers from across the South converged on the high-speed, high-banked half-mile oval for 100 laps for fast paced, door-to-door action. The field included last year’s series Champion John Bolen, 2009 Champion Augie Grill, as well as Josh Hamner, Bubba Pollard, and past “Show Me the Money” race winner Jason Young.
Grill won the pole, but Young started the race at the front thanks to the Dice Roll Invert. Grill rolled a six, putting Young, the 2009 season opener winner at MMS, on the front row alongside John Bolen.
Chief Starter John Midkiff gave the field the green flag as Young led to the start/finish line. Just past start/finish, Young squeezed up into Bolen. Bolen scraped the outside wall, and in doing so bunched up the field behind him causing a 13-car pile-up going into turn one, on lap one.
“It was just a little tiny nick, I didn’t really feel it and didn’t think much of it until they said everyone was stacking up behind me,” said Young. “I feel bad that some good race cars got wrecked early in the race, but it’s just one of those racin’ deals.”
Also involved were Mobile International Speedway’s Pro Late Model Champion D.J. Vanderley, Josh Hamner, Chris Serio, Bobby Knox Jr., Chase Knox, Bryan Barrett, Kristen Wallace, Bobby Ruese, Jeff Leston, Clay Alexander and Gulf Coast Series Points Leader Bubba Pollard. Vanderley’s and Pollard’s nights were done before the completion of lap one.
“These Show Me The Money races are always kind of tough,” said Pollard. “It seems like a lot of these guys that race these races, don’t race often. It also seems like they are a little inexperienced at times. I guess it’s one of the ‘racing deals.’ The 27 (Young) came up on the 2 (Bolen) before we even got to the flagman’s stand, and the 2 didn’t give any and turned him. I didn’t have anywhere to go and it’s a tough deal.”
The turn one melee brought out the red flag, the first of three during the night. Augie Grill and Hunter Robbins led the field to the green and took off like rockets at the restart, Grill in dominant fashion. That was the story for the majority of the race. A caution would bunch up the field, and Grill would jump out to huge lead with Robbins lurking not far behind.
“It was a wild night, that’s for sure. Wild and long,” said Robbins.” We just rode with these tires for 100 green flag laps and just tried to conserve as much as we could. I wanted to stay on Augie’s bumper pretty much the whole race but I didn’t want to have to abuse my stuff to do so. He drives hard but he is also very very smart; he knows exactly what he’s doing to make people burn their stuff up and I didn’t really want to do that tonight.”
Following the lap one pile up, Young restarted at the tail of the field for causing the yellow but fought hard to join the battle for top five with Chris Serio and Kyle Sirizzotti. Bolen, who continued on with his damaged car, only lasted another five laps until he lost a right front tire and hit the turn three wall at full speed, his racer bursting into flames in the process. Bolen escaped the burning heap unharmed, but was done for the night.
After a lap 61 yellow for Kyle Benjamin spinning in turn four, Josh Hamner found himself in third position. On the restart, Hamner’s charge to the front came to an end as the damage from various contact throughout the night caused a right front tire to go down, sending the Chelsea, Alabama driver into the turn three wall.
“[We] drove back up to third and we felt like we had a pretty good car to run up there with 112 and the 18, but the fender braces broke and cut down the right front; that ended our night.”
The next 35 laps would be more of the Augie Grill show as the field strung out around the half-mile oval. Grill was building on a 3.675 second lead over the field when the race’s final yellow flew on lap 96 for contact between Bobby Knox Jr. and Brandon Hall in turn two. The yellow set up a dash to the finish between Grill and Robbins.
Robbins challenged hard at the restart, but Grill once again began to pull away. However, on the final lap, Grill had a tire go down and Hunter Robbins was on Grill’s bumper in an instant, and was able to maneuver around him to cruise to his third career Show Me the Money Series victory. Grill would limp to finish seventh.
“I just wanted to pace myself the whole race but I didn’t want him to be able to just ride the whole race too,” said Robbins. “We had a long green flag run there at the end and he was far enough ahead that I had to drive really hard to back to him and I couldn’t so I just told my guys that we need to just back off in case there was a green-white-checkered and then there was.
“The car was really good and I thought we were going to be able to get by him without him having any problems then there at the end he had a mechanical problem and we went on to the victory. I hate it for Augie but things happen; things like that have happened to us over the past couple races so to finally get everything together and come out with a victory makes me really proud of all my guys and I’m just ready to go to the next one.”
Jason Young, after causing the races first accident, and restarting from the rear of the field, was able to fight his way to a second-place finish.
“It was tough starting off like that; got collected with the 2 car and it backed the field up a little bit, then I had to restart at the back after coming in to make some repairs. Coming from the back I was patient and we had a pretty good car. We still have a little work to do, but all and all to battle back like that was good for everybody.”
Chris Serio, from Hoover, Alabama, survived the carnage and raced solid in the top five all night finishing third.
“For the most part tonight was about survival. This was the first race in a new car and it was a learning experience for us tonight. The car kind of went away from me at the beginning but the cautions and red flags helped me cool the tires and bring it back to me and we made some brake adjustments that brought to the car to me more but with 20 laps left I had burned the right rear off of the car and just didn’t have anything left for them.”
Officially, there were only two leaders and one lead change on the night, which had nine cautions, three of those brining out the red flag.
The next round of the “Show Me the Money” Series is set for May 7, 2011. Hunter Robbins will go into that race as the point leader with a 5 point lead over Jason Young.