Second to Hawkins was GAS points leader Fredrick Moore. While Moore was unable to bring home the win, he was happy with a second place finish, but he wasn’t quite so happy with the lapped cars that may have prevented him from getting up to Hawkins.
“Lapped traffic was a problem tonight,” said Moore. “It seems to be that way sometimes. I don’t know, I guess I am old school racer. If you are a lapped a car and the leaders come up on you I think you should give them respect and get out of the way. One day the tides will turn and it might be the other way around.
“Lapped cars messed me up a couple of times, and I
HAWKINS DOESN’T LET ANYONE GET IN HIS WAY by Amy Hayes
Youngster Claims First Career GAS Win at Peach State
Lapped cars were the name of the game Saturday night as the Georgia Asphalt Series returned to their home track of Peach State Speedway (GA). There were 37 cars that started the race and the majority of those 37 cars would end up a lap down by the end of the night.
The threat of rain pushed the start of the race ahead and had the drivers scrambling to get into their cars in an effort to get the race in to beat a band of looming thunderstorms.
better car, at the end I was just putting around and I still think that I was pulling away. It was great.
"Mike really lets me drive the car; he doesn't necessarily give me tips on the track, just gets the car right and I really like that. He doesn't tell me anything about driving. He just asks me about the car and what it is doing and I don't think we turned a wrench on it all weekend. We practiced Friday and we didn't even turn anything on it then. It was just awesome right off the trailer.”
While Mike Garvey is a famous, and sometimes even infamous, name in the short track racing world, Garvey attributes all the credit to his driver.
"I just watched the kid drive,” said Garvey. “It's awesome to bring home the first win with Matt. It always makes you feel good when everything comes together and they had everything, we had all the pieces and all of the parts and just little things here and there that we could help out with while he was racing and Matt drove a great race.
"We can only make the car better by what he tells us what he wants, and if he can't tell us what he wants then we can't make it better. Matt gives you great feedback and he does a great job of driving and this is the end result."
The next 10 laps were marred by restarts and with only 60 laps left in the race, there never was enough time for Sanders to recover and get back up to the front of the field. Had the gas can not been stuck in the car he still would have been behind eventual winner Hawkins but how this would have worked out we will never know, but he was still able to bring home a fifth place finish.
“I took the lead and I thought I was going to be all right,” laughed Sanders. “We had to go to the back because they left the catch can stuck in it. Then I used up the tires, I had to pass a lot of good cars to try and get up there. Matt (Hawkins) looked like he got his car better during the pit stop. We had a good car but we just used
While the race started off early, so did the trouble. The first trouble of the night afflicted the 2005 Georgia Asphalt Series Champion Joey Senter as he made contact with the inside wall on lap 12. This set up the theme of the night as the lapped cars would be pretty much everywhere that the leaders were throughout the night.
But no matter how hard they tried, the lapped cars couldn’t stop the fast machines of the leaders as it was Matt Hawkins who took home his first ever GAS win, in only his second race with team consultant Mike Garvey.
"With Mike Garvey as my team consultant, it's just awesome,” said Hawkins. “I couldn't have asked for a
Matt Hawkins is flanked by his parents in Victory Lane at Peach State Speedway. (51 Photos)
Matt Hawkins's #22 at speed on the Peach State track.
ended up spinning one of them out. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do but it just happens. You just have to go especially with only ten to fifteen laps left in a race. You don’t need to be sliding around in front of the leaders, you just have to get out of the way.”
The majority of the race was led by Doug Stevens. Stevens earned the pole award and was able to dominate the race from the first lap all the way up to lap 82 when he lost the lead to Ronnie Sanders.
Once Stevens fell into traffic, his car was never the same. He eventually fell back and finished third, despite having the dominant car for much of the race but he didn’t let that get him down.
“I was really happy with the way the race turned out,” said Stevens. “The car was really good at the beginning of the race and it just got a little tight towards the end. I have been out for a couple of weeks and this was a really good way to come back and it’s really nice to run and not have the pressure of points.”
It wasn’t just the lapped cars that ruined it for some, in some cases bad finishes were the result of just plain old-fashioned bad luck.
All throughout the race Ronnie Sanders had a dominant car. When Stevens was up front Sanders was the only one who could give him a run for his money. But the pit stops on lap 90 proved to be the downfall of Sanders as he left pit road with a catch can stuck in his car. His penalty was to start at the end of the longest line.
the tires up. We’ll be ready for the next one here. The car is still in one piece so I can look at it that way”
Or maybe the lap cars did have some affect.
“The lapped cars were terrible,” added Sanders. “There was one car that we were lapping him every three laps. It’s not going to do him any good to stay out there. They need to have a minimum speed. They’ve got just as much right to be out there as we do, but they ought to run a little bit harder.”
The pit stops on lap 90 were when Hawkins made his move. After an excellent pit stop by his team, He was the first car that pitted off of pit road. The car of Alan Happel didn’t pit and was in front of Hawkins on the restart, but once the green flag run’s began it wasn’t more than a lap before Hawkins had passed Happel and claimed the lead.
It wasn’t entirely smooth sailing as Hawkins had to dodge several bullets of lapped traffic all the way to 150-lap finale, but he was able to get through it to bring home the win.
“I don’t know if they should have started so many cars,” added Hawkins. “The lapped cars were a little crazy. The car was really loose around the lapped cars too, but once I got around them and out by myself it was awesome and just a great way to turn our year around."