Colt James Stops Jimmy Lang's ASALMS Win Streak at Concord Motorsport Park By Jason Buckley
Four-In-A-Row A No Go For Lang Due To Tire Issues
Colt James survived the mayhem at CMP for the victory Saturday. (51 Sports Photo)
The ASA Late Model Series South has seen one driver dominate this season. Jimmy Lang has been the top driver, taking the last three victories in the series, making anyone wonder if the July 12th Super Sonic 100 event at Concord Motorsport Park (NC) would be the site of his fourth victory in a row. While he did come close, at the conclusion of the event it was Colt James and Drew Brannon taking the top two spots with Lang third after a trip to the back of the pack with a blown tire.
It took just one lap under green-flag racing for the yellow to fly Saturday night as a massive pile-up damaged many cars, including Dustin Dunn, Logan Ruffin, Trent Snyder, Will Hannah and a few others. On the following restart, just one more lap got in the books as Bobby East and Scott Rueschenberg tangled on the track. The early incidents kept the pace slowed down while Brannon and James tried to shake down their cars from the front of the pack.
“It was kind of annoying, to be honest,” said Brannon, who lead early on in the event. “I ran a 200 lapper and a 150 lapper, and this felt longer than both of them.”
James was equally frustrated with the multiple cautions.
“I was getting kind of frustrated in the car because I have run out of gas before,” said James. “Luckily we upgraded to a 22 gallon tank from an 18. I was getting kind of frustrated there because we would go two laps green and 10 laps caution, so I could never get my rhythm. Once I got about four or five laps in, that is when my car seemed to come in. It was really good on the long runs.”
Drew Brannon was one of the best cars on the track Saturday, but came up one position short at the finish. (51 Sports Photo)
By the first quarter mark of the event, James had raced his way up from the fourth position to the back of Brannon’s bumper with Lang lurking in third. In the span of two laps, the top-three positions shuffled as James went to the lead and Lang went to the back with tire issues.
“We got put to the rear for having a right front tire being blown,” explained Lang. “We don’t know what happened to it. Right when they threw the green I went off into one and it made some noise. I slid up the track and the right front was down. I came in and changed it and went to the rear.”
While Lang worked his way back up through the field, Brannon and James couldn’t decide who would lead the event. A lapped car made the choice for them, at least for the moment.
“A lapped car was down really low on the track and he bobbled and came up,” said James. “It was so early in the race I checked up and Drew just went by me (for the lead). He did the right thing; I would have capitalized on the same thing. I had to settle down for a couple laps. I got real hot there. Once I settled down I started hitting my marks and the car came to life.”
With just over 30 laps remaining in the event, James decided it was go time, moving back around Brannon for the lead. Meanwhile, Lang moved his way into the third position, but didn’t have enough left to battle the top-two drivers.
“I burned my stuff up coming up through the field,” said Lang. “I knew I was doing it when I was coming up, but I wanted to get up to the top three. The right front (tire) is gone. If I wouldn’t have blown that tire, who knows where I would have finished.”
The final yellow flag set up a 19-lap dash to the checkered flag. Brannon had to work hard to chase down James over the final laps of the event, but wasn’t able to catch him by the time the checkered flag dropped.
“I was doing everything I could to get after the 15 car (James),” said Brannon. “My car wasn’t the best, so I am pretty happy with a second place finish.”
“That would have been awesome (getting four in a row),” said Lang. “If we wouldn’t have blown that right front it might have been four in a row, but that is racing. I am just going to suck it up and take it, and go on to the next race.”
Jimmy Lang's car was able to survive for third, despite heavy front-end damage. (51 Sports Photo)
Up front, James used tire management throughout the race to get enough of a lead where he could pick and choose where and when to work his way around the lapped traffic – the key to his victory.
“That last restart with 20 to go, my biggest game plan was to get out as far ahead as I could in case we would catch a big group of lappers,” explained James. “I think I hit the lappers in a better spot than he (Brannon) did and it worked for us.
“We have had some good luck, but I was getting tired of second and third. I hadn’t won in over a year, so this was definitely cool with everybody out here from work and family from Texas.”
At the end of the night, a new face took the checkered flag this season in ASALMS competition and Lang’s win streak was broken. Lang would have preferred to be in victory lane, but third was just fine with him, considering his car showed damage from the on-track carnage throughout the event.
Todd Bradberry AKA "Superman" made his appearance Saturday in the ASALMS. (51 Sports Photo)
SUPERMAN MAKES ASA LATE MODEL SERIES APPEARANCE
When a touring series heads to a track, sometimes a local driver will enter the event that normally doesn’t ride with the series. That was the case with Todd “Superman” Bradberry, who entered the ASALMS event at Concord in a second car to Jeremy Gerstner.
“Some guys from Florida called me up and said they needed someone to drive their second car,” said Bradberry. “I am always going to drive something if there is an opportunity to get in it.”
While both cars looked almost identical, Bradberry put the Superman logo on the hood of his car, something the Concord Motorsport Park fans are used to seeing on his cars, including in Chuck Thorne’s Redneck Racing Series car he raced last season.
“Chuck Thorne has always given me everything I have needed,” said Bradberry. “He decided to give it to me (the sticker) so everyone here knew it was me in the car.”
BUTCH MILLER NOT READY TO GIVE UP THE WHEEL – AT LEAST NOT UNTIL 2010
Butch Miller is one of the "seasoned" veterans of the sport. (51 Sports Photo)
There isn’t anyone in the short-track racing world that doesn’t know of Butch Miller. The 56-year-old racer has been around the sport longer than most NASCAR fans of today have been alive. He has raced everything from stock cars on the short tracks across the country up to NASCAR’s top series.
Even though his day job now is outside of the driver’s seat, Miller still finds time to get in a race or two himself, including Saturday’s ASALMS race at Concord – and isn’t ready to give up the wheel any time soon.
“My job right now is competition director at SS Greenlight Racing, which has the #07 and #08 truck teams in the Craftsman Truck Series,” said Miller. “Also we run John Murphy in the ASA Challenge Series. So, that is mainly what my job is.
“I am not retired (from driving) because I have raced in five different decades, and I do plan on racing at least one race in 2010, so that would make six decades. What is nice about what I am doing today is that there is no pressure. If I am not having fun I will just pull it in. If I am having fun I am staying out there.”
At 56 years old, there aren’t many that Miller races against that are older than him, but with 14-year-old racer Logan Ruffin at the track, it really put things into perspective.
“At 14 years old, I am four times his age,” said Miller with a chuckle. “I have been racing three times as long as he has been around. It is kind of a little weird, but I still love doing it.”
A TIRED LANDON CASSILL FINISHES FIFTH AT CMP
Despite being worn out, Landon Cassill finished fifth. (51 Sports Photo)
After finishing 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event Friday night at Chicagoland Speedway, Landon Cassill flew overnight from Illinois to get to North Carolina so he could practice and race in the ASA Late Model Series 100-lap feature. The overnight flight didn’t seem to affect him as he set fast time, but during the downtime outside of the car, Cassill felt the long day and night catching up to him.
“I am very tired,” said Cassill with a laugh before the event. “I am looking forward to this race. If we have a decent enough car we will see what we can do with it.”
Even though he was a little exhausted, Cassill was all smiles before the race started.
“This is kind of where I got my start. I am here to have some fun.”