KITTLESON CARRIES THE SOUTH AT MASON-DIXON MELTDOWN
Rear End Problems Drop #88 Team to Seventh After Leading Five Times During the Race
For most of the Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston Speedway (VA), Florida native Travis Kittleson held down the fort for the Southern Super Late Model contingent. He was the only driver to lead laps for the South and he did that with style – putting the #88 Bob Steele Chevrolet out front on five different occasions during the 250-lap event.
Travis Kittleson uses his stopwatch to check out the competition at the Mason-Dixon Meltdown. (51)
But towards the end of the race, Kittleson was struck down by a faulty rear end. He went from leading the race with less than 20 laps to go, to finishing seventh when the #88 started running erratically.
“I think we had something starting to come apart in the rear end,” said Kittleson. “It was making the car really inconsistent and crazy on us. Mike Rowe and I were racing together and my car was going from tight at the beginning of the run to loose, then back to tight, then tight-loose. We tried to make adjustments on the pit stop to help it out and I really thought we had them there for the end of the run. At the beginning of that last run I thought we were going to be able to dominate, then I started to think we could hold those guys off at the end.
But then with about 12 to go, as soon as I jumped on the brakes I just about spun out.”
Kittleson was passed for the lead by Johnny Clark on lap 233 of 250 and it wasn’t pretty.
“Johnny ran me up to the fence,” said Kittleson. “I didn’t appreciate that, but I’ll remember it. It’s going to be spectacular the next time me and him race. At the end of that run, especially after that pass, I tried to get a little more aggressive and tried to stay in the top-five. I jumped on the gas with a few laps to go and the rear end blew up. I just tried to get to the finish line.”
The wild closing laps were in stark comparison to a calm first half of the talent-rich race.
“At the beginning of the night, the race was a little more gentlemanly. I accidentally got into the #47 [Corey Williams] and I want to apologize for that. He actually let the leader go and tried to fill the hole behind him, which was smart, but I was there.”
Kittleson finished the event in the seventh position and was still the highest finishing Southern driver in the race.
Kittleson won’t have to wait long for his next chance at a big victory. He’ll return to his homestate of Florida on Wednesday to sign in for the 39th annual Snowball Derby at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway.
Travis Kittleson's #88 Chevrolet
“The way we came out of the race, we had a couple of problems, but for the most part it’s about as fun as racing gets to have to hustle to get a car turned around to go racing just a few days later,” said Kittleson. “I love it. It’s just fun because it’s a challenge to get stuff done and do it right in a short period of time.”
At this year’s race, Kittleson hopes to be able to add his name to the prestigious list of Snowball Derby winners, such as Butch Miller, Darrell Waltrip, Donnie Allison, Rich Bickle, Ted Musgrave, Gary St. Amant and the late Charlie Bradberry.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good shot,” said Kittleson. “We’re coming off a good run at South Boston. Every race we’ve been to this year, we’ve been in contention for the win it seems like. We’ve got a brand new rear end and a brand new motor in it so we’ll just have to have everything last, but I think we’ve got a pretty good chance at winning the Derby.”
The Snowball Derby features three days of practice and preliminary events that lead up to a 200-lap feature on Sunday, December 3rd. The race will go green at 2:00pm CT.