Augie Grill found himself in prime position to capitalize on a situation that was for most an aggravation. After finishing second in a PASS South Super Late Model event at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson (GA), Grill headed west to Montgomery Motor Speedway for the fourth round of the Show Me the Money Series last Sunday afternoon. After working on his Pro Late Model until after 5:30 in morning, Grill showed up at the speedway mere minutes before qualifying. With no practice, Grill was able to survive a caution filled race to score his second win of the 2011 season at Montgomery.
Foul weather wreaked havoc with the Southeast and on Saturday track officials fought the battle with Mother Nature all day long, but ultimately succumb, and postponed the Show Me the Money 100 to Sunday. The news traveled to Grill, who discussed making the trip with his father, Frankie Grill, during the ride back to the Grand American Race Cars shop.
“We heard about it just before our race at Gresham, and kind of thought about it,” said Grill. “There was a good bit of work left to do to this car so I didn’t give it much more thought. We kind of talked about it after the race and was like, ‘no, there’s too much left to do.’ Then me and my dad were on our way home in the truck and talked about it again and decided let’s just do it. We need to come down here and support Montgomery so we made a few phone calls and actually had a few people at the shop before we got there. Half the work was done when we got back and stayed up to about 5:30 this morning, loaded up and headed over.”
The heat of the Alabama sun mixed with a field of 19 cars that were originally setup for night racing led to nine caution flags and one red flag as cars spun one after the other, mostly in turn four. An eight car pileup in turn four on lap 10 thinned the field and brought out the red flag. After the red was withdrawn, and the field was coming to take the green, Kyle Benjamin spun while scrubbing his tires on the backstretch. The incident collected four cars, including Grill, who suffered the most significant damage.
“We were lined up to go green the next time by, and bam, he ran into the side of me,” said Grill. “The hit peeled the door back and I had to come into the pits and to have it taken the rest of the way off. I thought it was going to hurt the car more than it did, but I didn’t feel a difference other than feeling more air come through the car.”
Grill worked his way back through the field, taking the lead on lap 60 and leading the remaining 40 laps in route to the victory. In the tech shed after the race, Benjamin met up with Grill where he apologized for the incident. The two exchanged laughs and shook hands, putting a cap on a very eventful day.
SOUTH HAMMER DOWN WITH HAMNER
Justin South credits his impressive second place finish to the hard work of his crew. South ran in the top five all day, and took advantage of a late-race restart to jump into second, passing Jason Young on lap 83. This was the first race with the help of Josh Hamner in the South pit. Hamner helped the team with setup information and coached South during practice. Additionally, the Justin South race team is now running out of Hamner’s shop.
YOUNG IN TIGHT POINTS RACE
Jason Young was a contender throughout the race but fell short of the victory. He said that while the car was good, maybe the setup changes from racing at night to in the day didn’t work. With his third place finish, Young keeps the points battle tight, only one point behind Hunter Robbins in the standings.
PRE-RACE FAVORITES FACE TIRE WOES
Kyle Benjamin was the hands-on favorite coming into the weekend at Montgomery. Benjamin is on the cusp of victory, showing speed and promise at each event he participates in. After pacing practice, and turning the fastest lap in qualifying, Benjamin was poised to become the next first-time winner of 2011. Troubles plagued the young phenom however, with a spin during caution on lap 10 and a right rear tire failure late in the event. Benjamin fought back, salvaging a fifth place finish.
Hunter Robbins also saw his day turn south at the hands of a tire failure. Robbins was one of the fastest cars on track all weekend long. On lap 13 of the race, he shot through a very narrow hole, passing both Jason Young and Augie Grill in turn two to take the lead. After leading the next 39 laps, the Montgomery driver had a tire go down, forcing him to pit. Robbins worked his way back to a fourth place finish.