Sunday, Grill was once again a dominant force, leading the race’s first 150 laps after grabbing the pole on Saturday night in qualifying. This time though, Grill failed to take the checkers due to some handling problems late in the race.
“It was a wild one,” said Grill. “I don’t know where to start. We had a really good car. We led until around lap 150 or so, when we had a tire start going down. I just hung on as long as we could. I finally lost it off of (turn) two. Then, we pitted and had to work on coming back through the field.
“I think we were in good shape after that. We just made a couple of bad moves in traffic and we wheel-hopped
THE RATTLER LEFTOVERS By Jeremy Troiano
Bradberry, Turner, Smith, Grill and Many More Short Track Stars
NICE RUN FOR RICKY
Most people would be happy to have finished just a couple of tenths of a second behind Ryan Crane in Sunday’s Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway. That would make for a solid second-place run and a good payday.
The gamble nearly paid off, as Turner ripped through the field and made it all the way up to the bumper of Crane’s car before the checkers fell.
“It was just a tire game out there tonight,” said Turner. “These tires don’t last long. If you have a little bit of an advantage, it is huge and you have to take it. All the leaders came in and pitted with 75 to go or so and I thought that was way too early. We had planned to come in with about 50 to go to put our last ones on. They all came in and we stuck to our game plan. We almost got it, but we couldn’t
“We got what we got. It is a second place today. We’ll try and get them next time.”
BRAZIER EVEN CLOSER, RUNS OUT OF GAS
While Ricky Turner had a car that looked to be a race winning car at the end of the day on Sunday, Johnny Brazier’s car might have been even better.
Ricky Turner (51 Photos)
But Brazier, who was flying through the field and had made it up to second with less than 20 laps to go, never got a chance to go for the lead. Instead, on one of the late cautions, Brazier’s car came coasting to a stop, out of gas.
He had to come in to get some fuel, which put him at the back of the lead lap cars. By the end of the race, he had only made it back up to ninth.
“It is big time disappointing,” said Brazier. “I felt like we had a winning racecar. I got by Charlie (Bradberry for second) when the caution came out and Ryan (Crane) wasn’t a whole heck of a lot better than Charlie. My car
Not Ricky Turner though. Turner was disappointed with his second-place run.
“We only made it to second though. It sucks,” said an excited, yet disappointed Turner after the 250-lap race on Sunday. “I’m doing this for a living now. I wanted that $10,000. I wanted it bad. I worked hard for it. It is a lot of work just to get this far. If we keep working hard, we’ll get our fair share one of these days.”
Turner played his strategy right on Sunday. When the leaders pitted with about 75 laps to go, Turner decided to stay out on the track and save his last set of tires for a later pit stop.
was a rocketship up off the corner. All of the cautions killed me there at the end and meant my downfall.
“We just didn’t get he car full enough there on that last pit stop. We didn’t get it topped off. We messed up in the pits. That was about it. We knew it wasn’t topped off. We thought we still had enough to make it though. And I felt like we would have had it not been for all of those cautions there at the end. There were a lot of cautions that didn’t count.
“We were worried about it, but at that time, it was too late to try and come it. We had to gamble.”
BRAZIER, HOGAN TANGLE
Before flying through the field at the end of the race, Johnny Brazier ended up having one eventful race, thanks to Jason Hogan, among others.
Hogan and Brazier got together, not once, but twice during the event. However, despite the two tangles, neither driver was overly upset with the other.
“It was rough out there for sure,” said Brazier of the race, which featured 21 cautions. “No one was cutting anyone any slack. There was a whole lot more taking than giving. It was pretty rough out there.
“Jason (Hogan) got me a couple of times. I don’t know what he was doing. He was a little wild today. I guess when he got back there in that stuff, he got aggravated too.”
Johnny Brazier's #71 goes around after getting a little help from Jason Hogan in the #92.
Hogan felt bad about the incident, but said nothing was intentional.
“I like Johnny a lot,” said Hogan. “He and I have raced together for a bunch of years now. The one thing people have to remember is that 99-percent of your racing accidents are nothing but that, just accidents. I drove under Johnny one time going into three and we were just going for the same position at the same time. That is just something that happens. You run out of room quickly. I’m not sure what happened on the front straight the second time.
“They are just racing deals and he is probably mad at me. We’ll go on to the next race and we won’t have any problems. That is the way it is with these guys. That is how classy they are, including guys like Johnny.”
Brazier wasn’t free from other accidents either, and he was the first to admit that.
“I got me a couple myself too,” said Brazier. “I got the 07 (Jeff Scofield) car. I got under him a couple of times and he chopped me off. Down the backstraight, I thought I was plenty under him, but I guess not.”
SMITH HAS SUCCESSFUL RETURN AT OPP
A couple of years ago, Casey Smith was one of the brightest up-and-coming drivers in the country. In fact, Smith still is an up-and-coming driver, but somewhat fell off of the map when the ASA National Tour folded.
Since thing, Smith has been looking for a niche to get back into the limelight. He raced a few NASCAR Southeast Series events. He’s also run some Super Late Model and USRA races around the Texas area.
Smith has been a little quiet as of the last few months, but he is making noise once again after finishing an impressive fourth on Sunday in the Rattler 250. Smith had a race-winning car all night long and even led for 17 laps just past halfway.
“It’s one of the best cars I’ve had in a long time,” said Smith. “I’ve always run well here. I like this track a lot.
Casey Smith wheels his red #99 on the outside of a crowed pack of cars.
We got here and people said it was bad on traction. And man, it really is. It is worse than Pensacola I think. I love slick racetracks like this though, so I think that is why we ran so well.”
Once Smith got the lead, he came in to pit with the rest of the leaders. Unfortunately, several drivers stayed out, putting Smith and the rest of the guys that came in to pit mid-pack on the restart. The ensuing restart saw a lot of beating and banging, which eventually took its toll on Smith’s #99.
“I thought we were going to win it,” added Smith. “The caution fell too early to get tires, but everyone came in to get tires so we did too. A couple didn’t and it paid off for them. We tightened it up a little too much.
“After the deal when I was in the middle, three-wide, someone took a hard right into my left front. It knocked the toe around and probably messed up the caster and camber a little bit. It was rough out there and after that, the car just wasn’t as good as it was earlier.
“All in all, I’m happy to come here and lead the race and finish fourth.”
BRADBERRY NOT HAPPY WITH THIRD
“A racecar driver wants to win. If he doesn’t, he shouldn’t even show up at the racetrack,” those words of wisdom by NASCAR Nextel Cup veteran Mark Martin. But, that same philosophy is engraved in the work ethic and determination of Charlie Bradberry.
That’s why his third-place finish in The Rattler at South Alabama Speedway on Sunday was so disappointing. Bradberry did everything he could to win his second Rattler. He was in perfect position to repeat his 2002 performance, but his tires wouldn’t allow him to be where he wanted to be late in the race. After leading more than 60-laps in the closing stages, Bradberry was forced to settle for a podium finish.
“I love to win so much, that if I finish second or third or anywhere else, I am disappointed,” said Bradberry. “I’m happy for my guys, but me personally, I’m upset. All the cautions killed me. If I could have kept going and kept my pace up, I could have won it.”
Bradberry (#78) gets passed for the lead from eventual winner Ryan Crane. (#10)
When Bradberry qualified third, he put the entire Rattler field on notice that he had a car to contend with. Bradberry and his crew debated whether or not to come in for service around lap 170 or wait out a couple more caution periods before making a stop. The risk of staying out with the rest of the leaders on fresh tires was too great. Bradberry came in to the attention of his crew, but in hindsight it may have cost the young Alabama native a shot at victory.
“We might have pitted too early. We were in third and we were worried if we didn’t come in and pit when the leaders pitted, there might be a long green flag run and we could go a lap down. So we decided we’d do whatever the leaders did. I wanted to stay out, but we just had no choice but to follow them. I think if we would have stayed out a couple of more cautions, we would have won it.”
After the service, it looked like Bradberry made the right decision. He quickly came through the field, while his fellow leaders struggled through traffic. Bradberry worked his way to the lead with about 75 laps remaining. He continued to lead as the laps clicked off, but numerous caution flags allowed Ryan Crane to have his shot at Bradberry for the race lead. With just 10 laps to go, Bradberry’s tires were going away and that allowed Crane to put a nose to Bradberry’s bumper to take the lead.
“I saw Ryan coming. He got into me there a little bit and got me out of the way. I would have probably done the same to him. He was going to get by me at some point anyway. I had slowed down. The last set of tires we freed the car up some. The car was just too loose there at the end. Still, if we had some long green runs, we could have stayed out front.”
NO WIN THIS TIME FOR DOMINATING GRILL
In typical Augie Grill style, the Alabama native was once again dominant at Sunday’s Rattler.
Just two weeks ago, Grill dominated the Early Bird 100 at Birmingham (AL), leading the final 96 laps, before getting thrown out in post-race tech for weight issues.
Grill's battered #112
that #8 car (Brandon Sager). The car was still alright, it just bent something in the front end. I couldn’t get off the corner after that.
“I had fun though I guess. It was a hard fought battle at the finish. I can load it up without too much work. That is more than some people can say.”
Grill finished eighth.
WILD AFTERNOON FOR HOGAN
Jason Hogan went into the Rattler at South Alabama Speedway as the defending winner. After 250 laps of craziness and carnage, he was lucky to leave the track with a sixth place finish.
little smarter than some of them out there. I had a brain fart every now and then. I just had an ill handling racecar and didn’t really know what to do with it.”
Hogan didn’t have a perfect racecar under him. He was very strong in practice, but the handling of his ride changed for Sunday’s feature.
“We just need to figure out what we need to do to get these cars better. We were awesome in practice. I don’t think there were any cars here better in practice. Come race time, we weren’t very good. I have to give it to the team for keeping up with it.
“They wanted to park it and I said ‘No, we are going to figure out what it wrong with it.’ We were not going to figure out what was wrong with it sitting in the pits. We lost a lap and I was just hanging on. That hurt us because we could have had one more set of tires later in the race. We got our lap back and just rode to the finish. There at the end, I think we did figure it out and the car was decent.”
NEW BODY? FOR POLLARD, THAT’S A YES
“We’ll take it. The car is roll-able. We just have to put a new body on it.”
Hogan probably used up a season of bad luck in the race. He got caught in multi-car accidents, he had a tire go flat and he spun… a couple of times. But Hogan and the #92 team never gave up. They made up a lost lap and were knocking on the door of a top-five finish as the laps ran out.
“The car is pretty much in one piece and we salvaged a sixth-place finish out of it,” said Hogan after the race. “That is pretty good I’d say. It was really rough. We spun out twice, blew a tire and got into three or four fender benders. All of that and we still finished decent. A lot of guys didn’t use their heads real good. I
am not going to say I wasn’t one of those guys, but I was
By the sound of it and by making comments like that, it would sound like Bubba Pollard didn’t have a very good night at the Rattler.
In fact, Pollard finished an impressive fifth.
“It was rough out there for sure,” said Pollard. “I figured it might be after last night (Saturday night’s Pro Late Model feature). If you look at all of these racecars, I think all of them need body work. This track is so rough and it eats up the tires so bad, 10 laps on tires can make a huge difference. When you have old tires on compared to new tires, it can change your times up to a second. You run
up on each other so quick everyone gets bunched up and
that causes all of the problems we had here tonight.”
Pollard might have finished better than fifth had things went his way earlier.
“We stayed out and ran around 125 laps on our tires. Then, with about 60 to go, we came in and got new tires and the thing took off there at the end. The car was really good at the end.
“We just had a rough time getting back to the front. You hate to boot them out of the way, but I guess that is what it takes sometimes.”
NO DOUBLE THIS TIME FOR DAVID HOLE
Saturday night, David Hole took the checkers in the Pro Late Model 125-lap race at part of the Rattler weekend. He was then hoping that after Sunday’s 250-lap Super Late Model Rattler, he could make it a two-for-two weekend.
After 125 laps, it was pretty evident that it wasn’t going to happen. That is because Hole’s #0 sat idle on the infield, while’s its driver stood on the pitbox watching the remainder of the event.
“I don’t know what was wrong,” said Hole. “The front brakes were locking up on me. I went around there and took out my buddy Jason Hogan. I didn’t mean to. We were just racing. We are good friends. I went in there and my brakes locked up and spun him out. I went out off the track on that one. Then, later, there was another wreck in front of me. I hit the brakes and it just locked up and I went out of the park again.
“I tried to get my lap back with new tires and I couldn’t. We are going to take this car to Nashville in a couple of weeks, so we thought we’d just park the car and keep it in one piece.”
Hole finished 25th.
Donald Long has one of those days. Yes, he had a “long” day.
The veteran, who has come very close to winning the Rattler in the past, finished 12th after running as high as third in the event. He fought through flat tires, spins and a car that resembled more of a street stock than a Super Late Model at the end for the top-15 finish.
“We were really tight on the first set of tires,” said Long. “On the comp caution, we changed just left side tires. Then we had a restart and we had a right front tire go flat, so we had to come in and change that. We worked our way back up there and were running fourth or fifth when the last set (of tires) came in.
“We pitted with the leaders and got stuck on some heavy traffic. One of the restarts, everyone got bundled up. The #112 (Augie Grill); I don’t know what he was thinking. A car got underneath him and I was following that car through and (Grill) came across the nose of my car. That pretty much killed me. It was ridiculous.”
Why all of the beating and banging?
“I think a lot of it was frustration. Some of the cars felt like they were decent cars but where out of pit sequence and some of them got a lap down. They got their new tires and were pretty rough to get their laps back before they lose tires. A lot of times, a lot of people drive racecars over their head. A car is only going to go as fast as it is set up to go. A lot of people overdrive it and tend to be over aggressive. That is what you get out here then.
“This is a greasy track and a fun place. That is what you get from this place. I don’t really care for this track, but we always run well here.
“And it was three- and four-wide at times. I think the people who were watching probably liked it.”
Hogan gets sent to the rear of the field by race officials.
Pollard keeps his #26 on the outside of the #18 car.