Augie Grill Declared Blizzard Series Round Three Winner 51Sports / Series PR
John Bolen Crosses Checkers First, but Gets DQ in Post-Race Tech
Augie Grill is trying to become only the second man in the 41-year history of the Snowball Derby to win back-to-back races. To prepare himself for that race, Grill is competing in the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway, where the prestigious event is held every year. And for the first time this year in the series, Grill finds himself wearing the tag of winner.
The defending Snowball Derby champion was awarded the victory Friday night in the Digital USA 100 Blizzard Series feature at Five Flags Speedway, when winner John Bolen was disqualified in post-race inspection for what was deemed to be an illegal chassis adjustment mechanism inside the car.
Bolen of Jasper, Ala., led the final 47 laps to take the checkered flag, but the win was then handed to Grill. It was his first Super Late Model win at Five Flags since his Snowball Derby victory last December.
“It’s getting harder and harder to win these Blizzard races,” said Grill. “Everyone’s getting better and better, but I sure would’ve liked to have been the first car across the finish line. But, we’ll take them any way we can get them.”
Grill had a hard time keeping up with the first driver across the finish line, John Bolen, down the stretch. Bolen put himself in position for his first-ever Super Late Model victory by being the first driver to hit pit road when the first caution flag of the 100-lap feature flew on lap 40. From that point on, Bolen patiently worked his way through the field as the rest of the leaders pitted after him.
John Bolen (#2) shows the way with Chris Davidson (#41) and Augie Grill in tow (#112) at Five Flags. (Jim Carson/Late Model Digest Photo)
"I didn't think pitting that early would work out, but it did," Bolen said in Victory Lane before the post-race inspection.
Bolen inherited the lead during a caution on Lap 53 when Eddie Mercer pitted for fresh tires. He held the lead through one more caution over the final 47 laps. Grill made one challenge for the lead, but fell behind Bolen at the finish.
"I had to race so hard to get to second; I didn't have anything left for him,” said Grill. “John had pitted around lap 40 and just was riding while we pitted. By the time we pitted and came back out, I was about 14th or 16th and just used too much stuff up getting to the front while John was just riding out front. I was sixth on the last restart and I passed the four cars in front of me on the outside. By the time I was up to second, I was already three-quarters of a straightaway back. John had five- or eight-lap better tires than I had and I just couldn’t catch up to him.”
Following Bolen’s disqualification, Donnie Wilson was bumped to the runner-up spot behind Grill, while Casey Smith was third, point leader Josh Hamner was fourth and Ryan Crane took fifth.
The race had three distinct parts. The first 40 laps were run without a caution. Pole-sitter Grant Enfinger and Hamner took turns leading during the long green-flag run.
Five cautions over the next 13 laps slowed the race pace. The fifth caution came out when defending Blizzard Series Champion Scott Carlson, who was leading at the time, and Hamner, who was second, spun out in turn four. After the spin by the leaders, Mercer re-took the lead but quickly pitted to get fresh tires. That turned the lead over to Bolen.
Grill was running third when he pitted for fresh tires on lap 49, but two laps later, he got caught up in a wreck, which slightly damaged his car.
Despite the damage, Grill worked his way through the field. He took over second place on lap 62, but could not catch Bolen on the track before being awarded the victory in post-race tech.
The victory gave Grill momentum going into the final two Blizzard races of the season before he tries to defend his Snowball Derby title this December.
“We’ve had a pretty good car the last two races,” added Grill. “We’re just about where we need to be. My car seems to run better when the weather’s a little cooler. It wasn’t as good as it was the last time out, but I’ll take it.
“I hate it for Bolen, though. We keep their cars up here at our shop. It was just one of those rookie mistakes, I guess, and I hate that he had to get thrown out like that.”
Carlson recovered to finish seventh, while Mercer was eighth. Johanna Long, Pro Late Model regular and daughter of veteran SLM driver Donald Long, made her Blizzard debut and finished 18th in the 28-car field.
The next Blizzard Series event comes on August 15th. Five Flags Speedway will return to action on July 18th for the “Mid Season Spectacular,” featuring the Pro Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks, Sportsmen and Bombers.
Digital USA 100
Five Flags Speedway
June 27, 2008
1. Augie Grill
2. Donnie Wilson
3. Casey Smith
4. Josh Hamner
5. Ryan Crane
6. Scott Carlson
7. Eddie Mercer
8. Mitch Cobb
9. Jeff Fultz
10. Hunter Robbins
11. Michael Pope
12. Ken McFarland
13. Bubba Pollard
14. Dennis Schoenfeld
15. David Hole
16. Chris Davidson
17. Johanna Long
18. Grant Enfinger
19. Jeff Letson
20. Lee Carter
21. Jason Young
22. Ron McDonald
23. Donald Long
24. Jeremy Rice
25. Ryan Sieg
26. Ron Joyner
27. Roger Reuse
28. John Bolen DQ