Grill Cruises To Victory at Mobile by Steven Neeley
Veteran Martin Has Wild Ride Through The Trees
The sky was the limit for Grill's #112 Super Late Model at Mobile this past weekend. (51 Photos)
Since the start of the 2007 racing season, Augie Grill’s evenings at the track have been feast or famine. After starting out the year strong with a win in The Rattler 250 and crossing the line first in the first Blizzard Series event, things have pretty much gone downhill for the Alabama native. That is, until Saturday night, when he capitalized on some rare good fortune to claim a much needed win in the third event of Mobile International Speedway’s Miller Lite Series.
A quick check of the notes, in reverse chronological order, will explain his season to date. In Friday night’s Blizzard Series race at Five Flags Speedway, he got turned and spun down the frontstretch when he checked up for a slower car. In the Blizzard Series’ second event in May he spun twice and had a flat tire en route to a 21st-place finish. He was collected in an early wreck in the first Miller Lite Series event in April, again slowing for a competitor trying to save his car.
Even in the two races where he crossed the line first, he’s had problems. He got disqualified in the first Blizzard Series race due to an illegality in valve angle, and his car had to be towed to victory lane in South Alabama after he crashed hard into the retaining wall at the checkers.
“Finally, I think we got this monkey off of our back,” said Grill. “I really do hope so. We’ve been very fast, and have run well everywhere we went, but always seem to run into stuff. Tonight I knew the car was going to race good.”
In fact, Grill claimed the outside pole and got past polesitter Richard Fincher coming out of turn two for the lead on the restart after a red flag due to a heavy wreck on the frontstretch that collected a total of nine cars on the initial green flag. It was clear sailing for Grill until he was pressured and eventually moved up the track by the winner of the first Miller Lite Series race of 2007, Steven Davis, about one-third of the way through the event.
“Yeah, we touched,” said Davis when asked about the move. “I certainly don’t like to race like that, and I know Augie races me clean, so I’m sorry about that.”
The night’s second red flag occurred when the cars of Tim Martin and Gary Sullivan went off the track in turn three. On the subsequent restart, Davis gave the lead back to Grill as his car shoved up into the outside groove of the speedway. A short time later Davis fell out of the race with mechanical problems.
After the night’s final restart on lap 42, Grill’s car checked out to a substantial lead, putting a distance of over a straightaway on second-place Casey Smith.
“The stagger in the rear tires was a little off on the restarts after things cooled off on those red flags,” said Grill. “That’s how Steven (Davis) caught me and passed me, but when we ran five or ten laps, it got better and we got back by. It was great on long runs and I just had to hold on from there.”
Smith Salvages Second After Transmission Woes
Casey Smith was the topic of conversation after the conclusion of Saturday night’s 100-lap event, and for all the wrong reasons. On the initial green flag of the race, he was the
Grill took his second Mobile win.
catalyst of a nine-car pileup on the frontstretch that ended the nights of a couple of top contenders, including Ryan Crane, Dave Mader, Ryan Sieg, and Greg Davidson.
“On that first start, I shifted and the shifter rod broke,” said Smith. “We were just trying to save an ounce going to aluminum and it broke. It’s a shame because nobody wants to have all those cars wrecked on the first lap. I just tried to get in the middle and let them pass me high or low but I don’t think they could react fast enough.”
On lap 42, on another restart, Smith was again the cause of a wreck, when Justin Drawdy got stacked up behind Smith’s car. That sent Matt Merrell’s car off the banking in turn four and into the tire barrier, and also heavily damaged the right-front of Grant Enfinger’s car.
“About lap 40 or so, we lost third gear, and that really hurt us after that,” said Smith. “Augie (Grill) would get such a huge lead on us by the time I got up to speed that I just couldn’t run him down. I felt like we were faster than him but I had to restart and then get back through traffic.”
Martin Goes for Two Wild Rides
The dirt and mud that was on Tim Martin's car showed what kind of a ride he had.
Tim Martin was having one of his best runs ever at Mobile International Speedway, qualifying fifth and moved up to fourth by lap 20. Unfortunately, things went sour in a hurry for the Louisiana native. On lap 30, he made slight contact with another car off of turn two and got his rear tires off the banking, sending his car for a wild, drifting-style slide down the backstretch and down into the turn three grass. Amazingly, he saved the car and except for some minor right-front damage, he escaped unscathed.
Coming from the rear, he was charging back to the front of the field when his second wild ride of the night occurred. This time, he wasn’t quite so lucky.
“There was a line of lead lap cars that were going under the 39 (Gary Sullivan), who was a lap down,” said Martin. “Two or three guys ahead of me got through cleanly, but he came down and clipped us and sent us up the hill. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was told that he was trying to get down to the pits and he just didn’t see me there and turned into me. It sent us off the track and slid through the grass out there, and I hit one
small tree, and then I hit another one which flipped the car over, and it was sliding upside down and went off the bluff down there. There’s about a 15-foot bluff down there.”
Luckily Martin was uninjured in the wreck. Sullivan, however, was taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons. Martin’s car was pulled from the woods with branches strewn across the front end.
“I have this little light-up blinking pacifier that my team gave me since they say I’m such a whiner, but they gave me that for good luck,” said Martin. “The track workers were saying that I was so far out in the woods that the pacifier was all that they could see to find me. I’m taking that pacifier out of the car though.”
Fincher Glad To Be Back In The Saddle
Richard Fincher was back in a car at Mobile International Speedway after more than a year of being out of the saddle. The former ASA driver shut his own team down last year and took some time away from racing. However, he made an impressive return in Mitch Smith’s #33 car, winning the pole for the event. His car ran strong in the first half of the race, but the car lost the handling and he faded back to finish 10th.
“It’s good to be back here, even if it wasn’t quite the night I expected,” said Fincher. “The car was pretty good but the handling went away. I think maybe the driver was a little rusty, a little bit off.”
Fincher said that he expects for this to be more than just a one-race stint in the #33, and hopes to run next weekend at South Alabama Speedway as well as a couple of other races in the near future.
Richard Fincher was back in the saddle at Mobile.