Brandon Odom may be one of the quieter competitors in the garage area. He’s a hands-on driver and takes a very active role in preparing his family-owned racecar. At the age of 14, Odom became the youngest (at the time) driver to compete in Pro Late Models at both Five Flags Speedway and South Alabama Speedway on a regular basis. He’s had several feature wins and been in the championship hunt at both tracks.
On May 21, 2011 Odom spoke the loudest he ever has in his career by winning round two of the 2011 Viper Series at South Alabama Speedway, the Diamondback 100. The win was Odom’s first Late Model win of 100 or more laps and he accomplished the feat by leading all 100 laps on Saturday night.
“The car was hooked up,” said Odom. “I couldn’t ask for a better car, especially on the long runs. On the short runs the car was a little loose and that allowed some guys to get to me on the restarts, but that’s racin’. It’s all about the long runs. It feels pretty good to be able to save my tires and to lead all 100 laps. It means a lot to me.”
The Diamondback 100 winner didn’t have much time in Victory Lane to celebrate. Following his win in the Viper Series race, Odom climbed into his Street Stock and placed second after leading several laps in the 25 lap feature. Odom hopes to carry the momentum gained from his dominant run in Opp to the next Pro Late Model 100 lapper at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on June 10, 2011.
Another driver gaining momentum in South Alabama is Dakota Stroup. 2011 hasn’t been very kind to Owensboro, KY native. In March, Stroup was involved in wrecks in both The Rattler 250 and The Pro Rattler 125. The bright spot going into this weekend was a pole and top five in a Late Model race at Beech Bend Raceway (KY) in April. In the Diamondback 100, Stroup’s first goal was to finish. He accomplished that goal by running strong in the top five all night long and finishing second.
“We started out really good, but I kind of abused my stuff off the get-go,” said Stroup. “I wish I had saved it a little more. Thankfully, we got that red flag there at the end and the car came back to me and we got by Bubba (Polalrd). I think he had a tire go down.
“We raced everybody clean all night, our car is in one piece and we got something to build on. We’ll go to Nashville next weekend (for the Ken Ten Late Model series’ season-opener), then come back here. We got stuff to build on now. I’m just happy to get this finish, turn our luck around and get our season going the right way.”
There was plenty of white-knuckle action throughout the pack during the 100 lap Pro Late Model event. Six yellow flags kept the action up front tight and included some notable drivers. On lap 90, while trying to keep from going a lap down, Sam “Shanky” Smith’s car broke loose on the exit of turn four in front of Brandon Odom and Bubba Pollard, who were battling side-by-side for the lead. Smith spun, and Pollard was in jeopardy of losing his second place position.
Race director Kevin Chance initially called for Pollard to be sent to the rear for causing Smith’s spin. However, race officials could not prove Pollard touched Smith. Chance and SAS promoter John Dykes reviewed video footage for several pace laps, and even stopped Smith on the frontstretch to speak with him. Smith insisted that Pollard did not touch him, and with the video too close to call, Pollard kept his position on the race track.
“I think Pollard hit Shanky, but since I can’t tell from the video and Smith wants to claim it was his own fault, I have to give Bubba the spot,” said Chance.
After the race, Pollard wasn’t very impressed with Smith’s actions on the race track.
“He’s been racing long enough that he should’ve realized a lapped car should be out of the way with 15 to go, you just don’t race like that.”
On the ensuing restart Hunter Robbins broke a rear end gear and dumped oil around the race track. After a 26-minute red flag to clean the race track, the leaders faced a 10 lap shootout to the finish.
Bubba Pollard’s bid at two straight Viper Series wins was cut short by a flat right rear tire. He faded from second, but held on to finish fifth. That opened the door for both Dakota Stroup and Korey Ruble to slip by.
Third-place finisher Korey Ruble was happy to have salvaged a top three result.
“We didn’t have too good of a race car. We were too free, too loose up off the corner the whole race. The car got a little bit better on the long run but it was still too loose. It just wasn’t our night, but we were able to salvage a third place after a few people dropped out in front of me. We’ll take it.”
As the drama unfolded behind him, Brandon Odom pulled away to win the Diamondback 100 and take the lead in the Viper Series points standings. With strong field of 19 cars, this was perhaps one of the most competitive Viper races at South Alabama Speedway in recent years and looks to be a positive sign as the 2011 season rolls forward. Round three of the Viper Series is the Timber Pro Late Model 100 on June 11, 2011.