Paul Kelley Shows the Way for GAS Stars Once Again at Lanier
Kelley May Not Be a GAS Regular, but He’s Up Front with Regularity
Paul Kelley has gotten familiar with GAS victory lane over the years. (51 Photos)
Kelley’s third career GAS win seems even move impressive when considering that those three wins have come in just 12 starts. Kelley’s first GAS win came in 2005, and the young driver has been a consistent top-five runner in the series since. He nearly pulled off the win at Lanier last March, but was bumped out of the lead late by Joey Senter, who went on to take the win. This time out, however, nothing was going to get in Kelley’s way.
Kelley’s stellar night started with the Atlanta Freightliner Pole award. After the pre-race redraw, 14-year-old rookie Kyle Fowler was on the pole at the drop of the green flag. Everyone in the field had to dodge Fowler’s slowed racecar on the start, as the young driver missed a shift, bottling up the entire field.
“We came out of the turn, and I went to pull second and it went into first,” said Fowler, who hung on to finish 12th after the early mishap and a mid-race spin. “That was my fault. I am just glad the guys in this series are good enough so they don’t run over me when something like that happens.”
Fredrick Moore would grab the top spot and looked to rebound after his poor run the previous week in South Alabama. Moore had the advantage over the first half of the race, with Kelley and Pollard in tow.
But shortly after halfway, things got a little wacky up front for the leaders.
On lap 52, Tyler Williams got out of shape in turn one after his hood blew back onto the windshield, blinding him from the other cars. Coming back to the caution, the leader Moore checked up and nearly got turned around in turn four. Moore lost several positions, but because the yellow had already come out when he spun, GAS officials placed Moore back to the top spot.
When the field took the green on the ensuing restart, Kelley took a look to the outside, pulling even with Moore in the first turn. Moore’s car then drifted up a lane, opening the bottom for Pollard to pull even down the backstretch. Kelley slipped back to third, as Pollard would inch out in front of Moore as they came off turn four.
Moore’s chances for victory would end shortly thereafter, however, as he was sent spinning out of second place off of the fourth turn. Even though Pollard was ahead at the caution, scoring reverted to the last completed lap, giving Kelley the lead.
After the restart, Kelley held off Pollard’s advances over the final 40 laps. Pollard did all he could, driving his car deep into the corners, but Kelley was too strong. Kelley sailed under the checkered flag with Pollard in second, Greg Motes in third, Kevin Stephens in fourth and Joey Senter in fifth.
Paul Kelley may not compete full-time on the Georgia Asphalt Series, but when he does break out his Lakeshore Drywall-sponsored number-23 Chevrolet, especially at Lanier National Speedway (GA), it’s never too hard to spot it – it’s usually at the front of the field.
Once again on Saturday, April 21st, Kelley showed the way in the 100-lap Georgia Asphalt Series race at Lanier. He scored his third career GAS victory by holding off a hard-charging Bubba Pollard in the final half of the race.
“The car was good tonight; we were better on the short runs,” explained Kelley in victory lane. “We ran here two weeks ago and we got killed on the short runs, so the changes paid off.”
The win was the first time in this year’s Georgia Asphalt Series that a Ford engine was not in victory lane. The first four events were all won by drivers using a sealed Ford engine. Out of fairness of competition, GAS officials mandated carburetor spacers to be applied to the Ford motors. That decision made for one of the most exciting and equal fields in Late Model racing so far this year.
“I guess Micky (Cain, GAS Director) is doing the right thing with the rules; this is the first win of the year for a Chevy, and we’re real happy about it,” added Kelley about the engine rules.
Even the Ford racers that were affected by the rule change did not mind the call too much.
Before the green flag at Lanier, GAS officials announced that the May 12th event, originally scheduled for South Alabama Speedway in Opp, AL, has been moved to Peachstate Speedway in Jefferson, GA.
The GAS series will waste little time before getting back to action, as they will make their first visit of the year to Senoia Speedway in Senoia, GA, for a 100-lap event on April 28th. Pit gates will open at 2pm, grandstand gates open at 5pm and racing will begin at 7pm.