Pope spun on his first qualifying lap but still timed his way to the 24th starting spot in his second lap. In the feature Pope was caught in a lap-13 incident when Chris Cable and B.J. Holley collided. Left with nowhere to go, “The Wild Child” piled into the melee and suffered heavy front end damage.
“I saw that the #34 (Cable) and #35 (Holley) touched and I tried to get on the brakes as the two spun out,” said Pope. I hit the 35, then somebody hit me from behind and got me into the 35 even harder. There was nowhere I could go. We got the radiator and water was pouring out of it so we didn’t want to risk hurting the motor.”
“We were running pretty well before that happened, too. It felt really good and it was staying on the bottom just like I wanted it to.”
LEFTOVERS: GAS AT ANDERSON by Matt Kentfield
Bubba & Austin GAS It While Others Have Night Go South
KITTLE STEAMED AT ELLIOTT
David Elliott was on a mission to get back to the front of the field after spinning out of second place on lap 55. Elliott passed cars at will and was determined to be one of the contenders again. On his way back through the pack, he was involved in a heated battle with Ronnie Kittle.
“We had been pushing him (Kittle) pretty hard,” said Elliott. “I had a couple of chances to get around him. One time in particular about five laps earlier I had him passed on the outside coming off of turn four and evidently his spotter didn’t give him the message. I had to jam on the brakes just to avoid getting run into the wall. I didn’t have a whole lot of patience at that point and I just got into him a little bit.”
Kittle’s night was over after the incident, while Elliott soldiered on to a seventh place finish.
“WILD CHILD” HAPPY TO LEAVE ANDERSON
Anderson Motor Speedway is a tough little racetrack, especially with a pack of 29 GAS Late Models racing around it. Michael “The Wild Child” Pope had some laps around Anderson before in a Legends car, but in his #44 Late Model Saturday, Anderson became a whole different beast.
“Right now we’re working on the communication between me and Tim and focusing on getting familiar with one another,” said Austin. “With the tires and all the expenses with running the Pro Cup car we’re coming here and running some Late Model races. We’ve got some other stuff in the works, but for now we’re just focused on getting experience and bonding with the crew chief.”
Austin had a real education on the limits of the racecar in his second qualifying lap as he nearly slapped the wall off turn-four trying to correct a mistake earlier in the time trial run.
After racing for a top-10 spot for several laps, Elliott and Kittle made contact in turn-two, causing Kittle’s car to contact the inside wall on the backstretch and ending his hopes for a top-10 run.
“That’s two weeks in a row that the #15 (Elliott) has tagged me,” said Kittle. “I was coming off the corner and got a little loose but he hit me. It wasn’t a tap, it was a knock-me-out-of-the-way deal. He was being very impatient. He needs to realize that if he got beside me I would’ve let him go.”
Elliott, however, saw the incident as a result of hard racing with neither driver giving an inch.
Ronnie Kittle was not a happy camper when he climbed from his racecar (51 Photos)
Chase Austin is a Hendrick Motorsports Development driver.
The "Wild Child" did not have a good outing at Anderson.
“After two frustrating races in a row, Pope is looking forward to the GAS Series’ next race at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, GA on April 15th.
“I’m ready to go to Cordele. That’s my home track and I’m just happy to get out of this place.”
AUSTIN USES ANDERSON AS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Chase Austin had a difficult decision to make before Saturday night’s racing action. Does he go to Montgomery, AL to participate in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Southern Division race or bring his #111 Late Model to Anderson?
After struggling in his first two Pro Cup starts this season, Austin and his team, led by former NASCAR Busch Series crew chief Tim Shutt, decided to get some more seat time in the Late Model rather than doing it with the added expense of running the Pro Cup Series.
"I don’t know how to explain it," said Matt. "I guess it’s just bad luck. Everything I’ve tried to do this season has backfired on us and it's not a lack of preparation or hard work, it's just stuff you can't help. It's frustrating but we can and will bounce back in a big way."
Hawkins’ problems began when hit the track for qualifying. He immediately noticed a problem with his car. Matt's team informed the GAS officials that the car was suffering the effects of a faulty rev limiter chip that the series supplied them.
The officials allowed Matt to requalify with a new chip and
Matt Hawkins' #22 was fast at Anderson.
“That second lap I messed up in one and two and I tried to make up for it in three and four. I got on the gas pretty hard fully knowing I shouldn’t do it but I was getting greedy. It just got sideways on me. If I would’ve let off I would’ve lost more time than if I had just stayed in it so I just turned it right and stayed in it. Luckily I didn’t get into the wall or spin out.”
Austin qualified 22nd for the 100-lap feature and stayed out of trouble in an event where that would have been easy to do with all the cautions. Austin raced his way to a hard-fought 13th.
“On those short runs, and that’s what they all pretty much were, we were getting killed out there. I couldn’t come off the corner the first 10 laps, but after that my car was great and I was just as fast as the leaders. But it doesn’t make any difference if you’re way in the back.”
BAD LUCK WEEKEND FOR HAWKINS
Matt Hawkins was the victim of mechanical problems, leading him to a disappointing 27th place finish at Anderson on Saturday night.
BUBBA BREAKS OUT TWO-BARREL FOR SECOND PLACE
Bubba Pollard took a break from his Super Late Model schedule to break his #36 two-barrel car out of the shop and make a return to the GAS Series. The move paid off as the former Roush Racing Driver X contestant finished second in his first GAS race of the season.
Pollard certainly had to earn his runner-up finish. His car was damaged on both the front and rear ends but the wrinkles could not keep him from chasing Fredrick Moore at the end of the race.
“It seems like it doesn’t matter if we finish in the front or the back, we have to put a new nose on it every week,” said Pollard. “We had a good car but I don’t know if we had a car that could win. I’m happy with how it turned out but I sure wish I could’ve won though.
Bubba Pollard made his return to GAS.
“We needed long runs tonight. My car was better 20 or 30 laps into a run and I could’ve caught Moore if we had more of those. We only had one or two long runs so it was frustrating to have the guys in the back bringing out the cautions. I think we could’ve won this thing if the cautions hadn’t come out so much.”
STILL NO LUCK FOR KELLEY
Paul Kelley was noticeably emotional after getting knocked out of the lead in the final corner of the first GAS race of the season at Lanier earlier this month. He was determined to bounce back at Anderson, but instead it was another frustrating result for the youngster from Snelville, GA Saturday night.
Kelley was involved in a lap-70 crash that left his front end destroyed. The team of his #23 car attempted to fix his car on pit road but the damage was too severe and Kelley was relegated to a 23rd place finish.
“I rode all night and in the last 30 laps I decided that it was time to go,” said Kelley. “I guess everyone else thought the same thing because two guys got together up ahead of me and I had nowhere to go.
We saved our stuff all night and I thought I was in a pretty good spot to bounce back from our tough finish last week in Lanier. To have this happen to us again it just breaks my heart.”
UNEVENTFUL NIGHT FOR SENTER
After providing one of the most electric finishes in GAS history at Lanier, Joey Senter had a night in Anderson that was the exact opposite. Senter hung in the top-10 all night long but was never able to compete with the lead pack because of an ill-handling car. He settled for a sixth place finish but after winning last time out, Senter was expecting quite a bit more.
“Our night was a little disappointing and it started in qualifying,” said Senter. “We’re not allowed to scuff tires and on the second qualifying lap the stagger grew three inches. You can’t tell what the tires are going to do, you can just get it the best you can. We knew we had a good car and we just had to bide our time. I had to run it real hard just to get what we could get. At the end we were just holding on.
“The car definitely dropped off as we went along. We had to use it so hard to get up to the front. The leaders were just saving their stuff I think and there was nothing I could do with them at the end.”
he put the car solidly in the field. Hawkins started 14th and worked to the seventh spot within the first 20 laps. Matt was able to pass cars at will on a track that was especially tough to pass on.
His great run was ruined on lap-23, however, as series officials deemed Matt's car to be leaking fluid. Matt brought the car to the attention of his crew where they realized that the rear end of the car had a terminal problem. It was another disappointing end to a great run, but Matt is determined to rebound from these setbacks starting at the next GAS event in Cordele, GA on April 15.
“This year has started out terrible. Last year started out a lot better than this. But the thing of it is we’ve had a much better car than we ever had last year but we haven’t had any luck. Here we moved all the way up to seventh just 13 laps into it and I know we could’ve had a top-five at least. We may have even contended for the win.”
Richie Etheridge was all smiles after timing the pole position for the Anderson race. When he drew the outside pole starting spot, he was still just as happy that he wouldn’t have to start further back in the pack on a track that was nearly impossible to pass on. His smile quickly disappeared at the drop of the green flag as Etheridge was bounced around several times and finished a disappointing 17th.
“We were really good in qualifying,” said Etheridge. “We were good in the race too but this is one of those “run in there and bump people” tracks. There’s no passing without hitting. Every time we’d get bumped we’d get passed by about five or six guys. It was frustrating.”
Etheridge was still clinging on to a top-10 finish on the white flag lap, but found himself sliding back to 17th at the drop of the checkers.
“On the last lap I ran off in there and hit a pothole and about hit the wall. That dropped us out of eighth back to 17th. I had probably a top-five car tonight.”
After a top-five run in the season opener at Lanier and winning the pole at Anderson, a 17th place finish was not what Etheridge was expecting Saturday night.
“I hate losing. I hate finishing 17th. The plus side is that we don’t have a single scratch on the car and not a lot of guys can say that tonight. But I hate getting beaten around. I’m going to be the beater not the beaten next time at Cordele.”
Paul Kelley's bad luck continued in South Carolina.