Wilder Wins Peachstate After Last Lap Surprise by Allison Fulson
Fowler Lead Lap 99, But Thought Eventual Winner Was a Lap Down
Dennis Wilder in victory lane. (Allison Fulson Photo)
Things weren’t quite as they seemed when the Georgia Asphalt Series visited Peachstate Speedway (GA) on Saturday night. The car that dominated the race didn’t win. That wasn’t because of an “off” set of tires, a crash with a backmarker or bad luck though.
"We had a little bit of a communication error there the last few laps. We thought the second place car was the 41 car but apparently he [#2 Dennis Wilder] was on the lead lap and snuck by us there on the last few laps," Kyle Fowler admitted after this weekends GAS Hedman Husler Hedder 100, with a hint of confusion.
A communication error? Not exactly what you'd expect in a championship event.
After leading the most laps, running half a lap ahead of the second place cars, and lapping up to the eighth position, Fowler appeared to have the GAS series finale in the bag. However, after lurking in the top five all night, Dennis Wilder made his move on lap 95 and took over the second position from GAS rookie of the year TJ Reaid then moved on to battle Fowler's #51.
As he approached Fowler on lap 98, the #51's spotter assured Fowler that Wilder was only a lapped car and encouraged him to take it easy and let him go. They crossed the start finish line side by side as they took the white flag and when they returned for the checkers Wilder was in the lead, unbeknownst to Fowler and crew.
"I saw Kyle slowing down and I just kept digging. I said if I get there, I get there. And if I don't, you know we still had a good run. Luckily we got there and he had a little problem there on his tires. Luckily ours held up and we got by him with one to go and it was a good clean race," Wilder recalled.
One thing was exactly as it seemed though. Russell Fleeman earned his #98 the familiar title of "champion." By finishing fifth, Fleeman secured his second GAS Championship and became the first GAS back to back champion.
"We started out the year pretty good and we struggled a little bit. We turned the car over, had some bad luck, but we went back home and regrouped and tried to rebound from it. We've had one first place and several seconds. We came in tonight with a good car and we were going to try and win it but we took it easy and ran a points race. I will take a fifth place for the championship," Fleeman noted proudly.
Instead of the typical banquet, the Georgia Asphalt Series will now host a "Breakfast of Champions" for its top finishers on Saturday morning of the World Crown 300 weekend.