Gary Sanford Jr., Wins FIrst Birmingham Super Series Event by Amy Hayes
12 Car Field Leaves Questions To Be Answered
While Pro Late Model racing was alive and well at tracks all across the Southeast this past weekend, the new Birmingham Super Series at B-I-R in Alabama barely had a pulse. In fact, one competitor told Speed51.com ‘off the record,’ “You are going to regret being here.”
That driver claimed nobody was going to show up, and while that may not be true in a literal sense, it was nearly the truth if you look at the car count for the all-new series. All told, 12 cars showed up for the Birmingham International Raceway Pro Late Model race.
If the car count didn’t scare anyone away, the lackluster race may have. That too could be contributed to the car count as well. But in the end, it was BIR reigning champion Gary Sanford Jr. who found himself in victory lane.
It wasn’t necessarily a hard battle for Sanford; he had the second quickest time and after the inversion, he started on the pole. From there he set sail for any easy cruise around the normally difficult 5/8 of a mile racetrack for the 100-lap distance. His toughest competitior, fast-time qualifier Larry Speakman, was parked due to mechanical issues before the green flag even flew. So Sanford beat the ten cars remaining to claim the inaugural victory for the series. Even Sanford fessed up to the lackluster feel of the event.
“We started on the pole and led all the laps,” said Sanford. “There wasn’t a lot of racing. We just had a really good car and didn’t have to worry about too much. I knew that we had a good car and that I could just kind of cruise a little bit.”
Jeff Letson finished second, but nobody was able to get up front and really challenge Sanford for the lead.
“There wasn’t much going on in the race, I didn’t see too much excitement. But as along as you are up front, it is good though no matter what goes on behind you,” added Sanford. “You need some nights like that, they might be far and few between.”
Dennis Reno, who builds Sanford’s shocks for his Late Model, finished five spots behind his teammate in sixth.
“There wasn’t too much going on during the race,” said Reno. “It wasn’t too exciting, especially for me. I freed my car up too much; I am surprised I didn’t wreck out there. I build his shocks and stuff for him and we work a lot together, so it was good to see him up front.”
It wasn’t the full field that the spectators or competitors expected, but despite the lack of car count, Birmingham International Raceway’s Ray Tennyson is optimistic about what the future holds for the Birmingham Super Series.
“There were a lot of reasons that the car count was down,” said Tennyson. “We lost
several cars to damage at Pensacola. Several drivers just didn’t have their stuff ready
to race. With the points system the way it is, drivers can throw out one bad finish or
one did not start and that is what several of them chose to do this week.
“It is a new series; we had 12 cars there and it will only get better. There is no where to go but up.”
Hopefully that holds true for the good of the newly formed Birmingham Super Series. The survival of series such as this one is only good for short track series as a whole.
Gary Sanford Jr. was the man to beat Saturday at Birmingham.
It was a quiet infield at Birmingham International Raceway.