Russell Fleeman Cools Off With GAS Win at Watermelon Capital
GAS Point Leader Back On Track with Third Win of the Season
Fleeman's winning #98 machine (Elgin Traylor Photos)
“We came down here and tried some new stuff,” said Fleeman. “We had the engine problems last time out. The car was good, and it feels great to win here again.”
Last year, Fleeman scored his first-career GAS win at Cordele. Since that day, Fleeman has been the man to beat on the tour. With eight top-10 runs in nine events this season, Fleeman found himself increasing his already-impressive points lead by winning Saturday night.
“This is a prestigious track, Watermelon Capital. We got our first win here and we always run well, but we’re not thinking about the points yet. We just want to win races.”
Fleeman’s night started by winning the Atlanta Freightliner Fast Qualifier award. The redraw put him behind some stiff competition, including weekly frontrunners Bubba
Pollard and Greg Motes. Motes took the lead from the pole and led the opening five laps before Pollard drove underneath him in turn one.
The two leaders then played a game of cat and mouse, each trying the high side and low side, looking for any advantage. The leaders’ battle allowed Fleeman to catch up and follow in a close third early.
On the restart after a lap-32 caution, Fleeman found the opportunity he needed to pressure Pollard for the lead. After battling for two laps, Pollard washed up a little too high in turn two, giving the low side for Fleeman. The 98 went to the point, setting sail for the win on lap 35.
One of the traditional summer pastimes is eating watermelon on a hot day. In the Georgia Asphalt Series, however, winning at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, GA, on a hot night makes up for the lack of the actual fruit in victory lane. For Russell Fleeman, a taste of Watermelon Capital Saturday night was far better than the sour feeling he had due to engine problems in the most recent GAS event, as the veteran racer and GAS point leader held off Greg Motes for his third victory of the year.
Just after halfway, a red flag would come out for a blown engine by Jay Dunham. In the wake of the oil dropped from Dunham’s car, last week’s GAS winner, Fredrick Moore, was sent spinning out of fourth place and local favorite Ronnie Sanders spinning from seventh. Both would continue and score top-ten runs. Some of the top runners also had oil on their windshields.
Greg Motes could barely see out the right side of the car due to the oil on his windshield, but they stayed on the track and took second back from Pollard on the next restart. The final restart on lap 75 was the last shot for Motes. He got a great start only to have the door slammed on him in turn one. Motes would power his #9 machine hard into turn three right to the back bumper making contact with Fleeman.
The pressure would continue and the two would trade paint again in turn four. The following lap saw Motes drive deep into turns three and four again, only to come up short. Fleeman would then pull away to score the win, with Motes second and Pollard, David Elliott, and Sanders rounding out the top-five.
“We were so close,” said Motes. “I had a little run on him after the caution, but I couldn’t do anything with him. I wanted to get this car in victory lane real bad. We tried not to use it up early, but the 98 was good.”
Fleeman didn’t have any negative feelings about the hard racing.
“It’s just typical racing; if I was in Greg’s shoes I would push the issue as much as I could,” Said Fleeman. “I think he was trying his best, and had a good enough car to overcome what he had for me.”
The next Georgia Asphalt Series event comes Saturday, June 23rd, at Peachstate Speedway in Jefferson, GA. The GAS stars have already raced twice at the fast half-mile. Bubba Pollard and Fredrick Moore scored the wins in the first two of a total of six GAS points event at Peachstate in 2007.