Kelley is “GAS-Whacker” and Fleeman Is Crowned Champ at Peachstate
First-Lap Crash Clears the Way for Kelley and Fleeman to Celebrate
“It does feel really good to win,” said Kelley. “I guess you can call us the GAS-whacker. We have run like five or six times and were in the top three every time. It feels real good to get a second win this season.”
Just like his victory in the World Crown last season and his win earlier in 2007 at Lanier National Speedway (GA), Kelley’s path to the checkered flag was not a smooth one. The path may have been even tougher, but a first-lap crash took out many contenders including GAS standouts Bubba Pollard, Dwayne Buggay, Michael Pope and Ronnie Sanders.
When the pack roared to life, the transmission locked up on Michael Phelps’ car and that set off a chain reaction wreck that collected a total of eighteen cars.
After a long red flag, the field took the green with Russell Fleeman and Fredrick Moore swapping the lead in the opening laps. Jimmy Garmon took a turn at the top spot before Bobby East charged from his sixth starting spot to move into the top spot. East pulled away until the tires started to fade.
Kelley took the lead from East on lap 87, and then East spun after the pass was made to bring out the yellow again. On the restart, Kelley sailed away to take the trophy.
“We finally got this win and that does put us on to the next race. We always run good here. It just feels good to know that we are in the World Crown.”
Kelley was followed across the line by Russell Fleeman, who locked up the 2007 Georgia Asphalt Series points’ title. Fleeman has five victories on the season with nine top-five finishes.
“It’s been a strange year,” said Fleeman. “We have had a great season with five wins. The crew has worked hard, and I am just proud to have it. I was worried a bit when we came around and the track was blocked; I was thinking about everyone behind me. I learned a long time ago if you go out and points race, you’re going to back up. If you focus on winning races, the points will just come to you, and that’s what we did this year.”
There was plenty on the line in the September 22nd Georgia Asphalt Series race at Peachstate Speedway. With 32 cars descending on the Jefferson, GA, half-mile for a final tune-up before the World Crown 300 at Peachstate November 9th-11th, every driver was hoping to gain an automatic starting spot into the World Crown with a Peachstate victory on Saturday. Also at stake was the 2007 GAS series’ championship, which Russell Fleeman had a comfortable, but still not safe, lead of 184 markers over defending series champ Fredrick Moore.
While 32 drivers tried, only two drivers attained their goals on Saturday night. Paul Kelley, a part-time GAS competitor, scored his second Georgia Asphalt Series victory of the season in the Coles Buick Pontiac GMC 100. In order to do so, the defending winner of the World Crown event avoided an early crash that wiped out many contenders and held off Fleeman at the checkers to add his name to the list of drivers locked into the World Crown. Fleeman’s second-place finish secured his first GAS Championship, even with one race remaining in the 2007 GAS season.
The "GAS-Whacker," Paul Kelley, scored GAS victory number-two at Peachstate this season (top), while Russell Fleeman and his crew celebrate their first Georgia Asphalt Series Championship (bottom). (51 Photos)
Fredrick Moore, who entered the race second in the points, was third with rookie Kyle Fowler in fourth and Joey Senter in fifth. Moore hands the title over to Fleeman after winning the honors in both 2004 and 2006.
At the start of the event, the first-lap pileup began when Michael Phelps’ transmission broke on the start. He got hit from behind and barrel-rolled down the frontstretch. The track was blocked as Bubba Pollard, Michael Pope, Ronnie Sanders, Ronnie Kittle, and Dwayne Buggay all piled in.
The infield crowd and crews gather to assess the carnage from the first-lap melee.
“I couldn’t count how many times I went over,” said Phelps. “I got out of the car as fast as I could cause I didn’t know if there would be a fire.”
Ronnie Kittle had three cars in the race and all were torn up in the lap-one melee.
“I told everyone I was going to ride for the first part of the race,” said Kittle. “I saw Bubba (Pollard) get turned and I went low, but they all came down and I went into the wall. I think we’re looking at probably twenty-five thousand dollars worth of damage.”
All of the drivers that were involved in the wreck walked away.
While the Georgia Asphalt Series Championship has been decided, the rest of the stars of the series will be hoping to improve their spot in the standings in the final points’ event of the 2007 GAS season, October 13th at New Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA.