Korey Ruble Holds off Fleeman’s GAS Three-Peat Bid at Cordele
Ruble and Fleeman Battle in Qualifying and the Feature, but Ruble too Strong in the End
Korey Ruble cut into Russell Fleeman's GAS domination at Cordele. (51 Photos)
The Ruble-Fleeman rivalry started early, in qualifying, when Fleeman grabbed the fast qualifier spot by the narrowest of margins. After being pushed back to the fifth- and sixth-place positions in the post-qualifying inversion, the two put on quite a show in the opening laps by weaving their way back to the head of the pack.
“Russell beat me in qualifying by three one-thousandths of a second, so I guess I didn’t quite get enough out of the car,” said Ruble. “The car was good, and I knew in the race I had to get to the front as quick as possible. That’s what I did, as soon as we got there, I just tried to ride.”
Once Ruble had the lead, however, Fleeman would not give up the fight. He attempted to grab the top spot when his tires were the coolest, on each of the night’s restarts, but to no avail. There were eight cautions on the night, including one for a six-car pileup in turn four, and another extensive one for oil being put on the track by Taylor Satterfield’s car. The number of cautions ensured that Fleeman’s car, dubbed the Ford “Confusion,” would have plenty of opportunities to challenge.
“Naturally, we were trying to wait until the car came to us, and it finally did,” said Fleeman. “Korey had such a good car that I couldn’t keep up. My only shot was on the restarts, when his car washed up a little.”
The two battled side-by-side a couple of times during the race, including during a string of laps after a lap-55 restart, which energized the packed crowd that showed up to the 3/8-mile speedway in Cordele, GA.
After only two weeks of racing prior to Saturday night’s running of the Georgia Asphalt Series 100-lap race at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA), there was one question on every competitor’s mind: Was anybody going to be able to beat Russell Fleeman? Korey Ruble answered that question with an unequivocal ‘yes’ by holding off multiple challenges from Fleeman to claim his first victory of the 2007 season.
Fleeman had won the first two GAS races of the year, but he didn't have enough to make it three-for-three.
“Every time we got a caution, he was a little bit better than me on the restarts for about two or three laps,” explained Ruble. “We were a little tight in the center and after a few laps it would come to me. It looked like he was a little tight coming off of turn four, and that’s where I got a run on him and got around him.”
Fleeman, who had convincing wins at both Birmingham International Raceway (AL) and Five Flags Speedway (FL) to start the season, tried in vain to hold off Ruble and finally relinquished the lead for good on lap 63.
“I knew it was only a matter of time until he’d get me back,” said Fleeman. “I gave it a shot, and he raced me clean.”
Fleeman reflected on his positive start to the 2007 season.
“We went to Birmingham, had a good car and won; went to Pensacola with a good car and won; we came to Cordele, and we’ve always had a good car here,” said Fleeman. “We won last year. We unloaded Friday and weren’t quite so good. We made several changes to the car on Friday and made a few more today. We set the fast time in qualifying. We expected a good car and had it, but that good car came up a little bit short.”
The win marked Ruble’s third at Watermelon Capital Speedway in the past year. The celebration this time was bittersweet, though.
“I really want to dedicate this win to one of my number-one fan club members,” said Ruble. “Her dad passed away yesterday, and I just want to dedicate this win to them.”
Saturday night’s victory also sets the stage for yet another showdown between Ruble and Fleeman, at the Georgia Asphalt Series’ next event at South Alabama Speedway in Opp, AL, on Saturday, April 7th.
“Russell won the first two and we got this win, and we’re going to Opp next,” said Ruble. “We’re really strong there. Maybe we can even up the score.”
The Georgia Asphalt Series’ visit to South Alabama on April 7th will mark the Pro Late Model touring division’s first-ever trip to the famed track.
March 24, 2007
Watermelon Capital Speedway
1. Korey Ruble
2. Russell Fleeman
3. Fredrick Moore
4. Greg Motes
5. Bubba Pollard
6. Michael Pope
7. Taylor Satterfield
8. Scotty Ellis
9. Kevin Stephens
10. Shane Nalley
11. Jacob Grizzle
12. Kyle Fowler
13. Wayne Norris
14. Dakota Stroup
15. Jimmy Garmon
16. Joe Click
17. Billy Chancy
18. B J Holley
19. Mallory Harvey
20. David Elliott
21. Chase Austin
22. Roger Delp
23. Mike Ezell