World Crown Leftovers – World Crown 200 Weekend  by Elgin Traylor and Matt Kentfield
Fleeman Wins the World Crown, Crane Wins Super Late Model Race

Russell Fleeman got the big trophy and the big check at the World Crown 200. (51 Sports Photo)

FLEEMAN WINS HIS FIRST WORLD CROWN

The 2008 season has been a good one for Russell Fleeman.  He won his second consecutive Georgia Asphalt Series championship, but something was still missing. 

He had won five races in the 2007 campaign, but scored just one triumph in 2008.  The overall lack of getting to victory lane left a sour taste in Fleeman’s mouth.  

That all changed when Fleeman sailed his #98 under the checkered flag at the World Crown 200 Sunday at Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, Georgia.  The race has long been the biggest show in Georgia and everybody wants to wear the crown in victory lane.   Fleeman’s victory erased the all visions of a down season as he stood tall in victory and added his name to the list of winners that includes Dick Trickle, Mike Eddy, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Gill, and Mike Cope.
“I’ve been racing asphalt for quite some time and we’ve tried to attempt some of these World Crowns,” said Fleeman.  “We’ve had good cars on a couple of them and finished decent on a couple of them, but just were never able to pull it off.  We got off track a little bit this season.  Then all the guys came back and we regrouped.  We came back to this race and this is prestigious.  It makes me feel good that we won it.”

The day almost ended for Fleeman on a lap-52 restart when the car felt funny coming off turns one and two.  It looked as if he had a flat tire and he hit pit road for a quick change.  The team jumped around the car, but did not find any problems.  They sent Fleeman back on the track having lost a lap due to the pit stop.

“Man that was so frustrating,” said Fleeman. “I wanted to kick myself in the tail. You come in thinking you have a flat and you made a bad call.  Then you go a lap down, that made it even more frustrating.  But I knew I had to get up on the wheel and drive and give it all we got.  We made it to 100, which made me feel good.”

After working hard on the inside, Fleeman pulled up past the leader Paul Kelley and got his lap back the old fashioned way.  That gave Fleeman time to pick up spots before the halfway break at lap 100.  When the crossed flags flew, Fleeman had worked his way back to 11th, setting up his run to pass pole sitter Brandon Johnson for the lead on lap 158 for the prestigious victory.

“All my family and friends stand behind me so much and when you can win a prestigious race, it means so much.   I have them here with me and I can hug their necks.  That makes it that much better.”
HOMETOWN HERO SATTERFIELD COMES HOME SECOND

It was a big party on the frontstretch after the race as a Georgia native Russell Fleeman took home the win in the World Crown 200.  The party might have been a little bigger if Taylor Satterfield, who lives just down the road in Commerce, Georgia had pulled into the winner circle.  Satterfield has to wait until next year for his chance to shine at the World Crown, but his runner-up finish gives him nothing but confidence heading into the 2009 season.

“This would have been an awesome deal if we could have come down here and won it for everybody - the whole crowd and our team,” said Satterfield.  “Second place is good.  We knew we had a good car there at the end of the race.”

Satterfield will look to keep his Pro Late Model luck rolling at the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.  Satterfield would love to close out the season with a victory.   

Taylor Satterfield had a great day at Peach State Speedway. (51 Sports Photo)
WORLD CROWN 200? 250? 300?

The World Crown race has had many different formats for how many laps are run to complete the race.  The first ever World Crown race was a 300 lap event and for several years thereafter it was a 300 lapper.  It wasn’t until recently when the race started getting a facelift.  In 2006 it was 200 lap race, in 2007 it was a 250 lap race and this year was a 200 lap race, yet it was called the World Crown 300.  But Why?  Originally there were going to be a pair of 100 lap qualifying races and a final 100 lap event, but that idea was scraped when only 40 cars answered the call for the event.

Like the All American 400 going back to a 400-lap race in Nashville, one can only hope that some day a true 300 lap race will return to the high banks of Peach State Speedway. 


KELLEY'S THREE-PEAT COMES UP SHORT
Paul Kelley was looking to make history at this year’s World Crown 200.  Kelley was going for his third straight win in the prestigious Pro Late Model event and fourth overall.  Things were looking good as Kelley took the lead early on and led right through the halfway break.  When the field went back green, Kelley slipped back to second when part of the fender blew off the right side of his car.

“It sounded like the whole right side blew off of it,” said Kelley. “I could see it when I would look out the right side window and I was like ‘oh man.’  I tried to ride around with it to see if I could keep racing with it and it got really loose getting into the corner.”

Kelley did manage to get the car to pit road during the next caution period.  The crew fixed the flapping door panel and Kelley went back out.  Kelley charged back to the front and got as high as third before he ran into a road block, the 40 of Taylor Satterfield.  No matter what Kelley did he could not get around Satterfield.  In the end Kelley came across the line in third.    
Paul Kelley's bid for another World Crown 200 win blew away in the breeze. (51 Sports Photo)
“I had a really good car all day actually,” said Kelley.  “It was probably better the first half because we just sat around and saved it because we really didn’t have any challenge or anything.  Then the second 100 of it, I think we had a pretty good hot rod and then with the right side blowing up like it did and having to come from the back kind of set us back a little bit.  I had to drive it harder than I wanted to.  That put a little too much wear on the tires and I just didn’t have anything at the end.”  

POLE SITTER HAS SOLID DAY

Every year there are surprises at the World Crown.  This year, Brandon Johnson had to the big head turner as he won the pole for the 200 lap race.  Johnson led several times including a long stretch at the start of the final 100 laps.  In the end Johnson had to settle for a fourth-place finish, which is not bad at all for someone making only his second start at Peach State.

“We stuck around all night,” said Johnson. “We were pretty much focused on trying to save our tires and then that last 100 we decided to see what we had and we went to the front and led about 50 laps. But we burned the right rear up after a little bit and slipped back, but not too bad.”

CRANE DOUBLES UP, WINS SUPER LATE MODEL SHOW ON SATURDAY NIGHT
Ryan Crane (R) won the Super Late Model 100 on Saturday night, he stand in victory lane with driver coach Mike Garvey. (51 Sports Photo)
A new addition to the World Crown weekend was the addition of a 100-lap Super Late Model race on Saturday night.  It turned out being a playground for Ryan Crane, who led all 100 laps on his way to victory.  Crane has had an impressive season with a total of six wins this and several strong runs.

“It has been a real great season,” said Crane. “I can’t say enough for my mom, dad, the Lord and Mike Garvey for helping us.  We’ve made this season a great one and it’s one to remember.”

Crane then jumped in his Pro Late Model on Sunday and rocketed from 19th to fifth in the first 100 laps.  But Crane’s #10 car never really got rolling like the Super Late Model did the night before.  After a long green flag run at the end of the race, Crane maintained a top-five spot, finishing fifth to complete his 300-lap weekend.

“It’s real frustrating to come from a win last night.  I was hoping we could have backed it up today. But it’s just the way it goes.  It’s racing. You can’t win them all.”

POPE'S RUN NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Michael Pope, a former Peach State winner in the Georgia Asphalt Series, thought he’d have a good car for the World Crown 200.  After starting fourth, those thoughts were re-affirmed, but his tires in the 200-lap event did not cooperate.  Pope struggled with the handle of his #44 car late in the race due to the tires, leaving him 11th.

Pope and his Builders Concrete Supply team were hoping for a big payday in the World Crown to fund a trip to Pensacola, Florida and the Snowflake 100 in early December, but now those plans may not come true.

“This was pretty much a bad day.  Now I have to find a sponsor, because we didn't do good enough to pay for Pensacola now.  So if I can't find the money, we won't be down there.
POLLARD HEARTBROKEN AFTER 10TH PLACE FINISH

Russell Fleeman wasn’t the only driver who made up a lap under green.  Bubba Pollard, in fact, did it twice.  Pollard received a one lap penalty for stopping on the race track and causing a caution twice, putting him a lap down each time.  But, Pollard was able to re-gain both his laps under green and worked his way back up to 10th before his tires burned up.  After the race, Pollard was very distorted because he knew he had the best car in field.

“I feel like we could have won,” said Pollard.  “To get two laps down and back, you have something to do that.  The first 100 laps, we got a lap down and got our lap back and drove all the way back up to fifth.  That’s pretty impressive.  We had a skip in the carburetor, then our transmission wouldn’t shift.  That was skipping, too.  It seemed like if it could go wrong, it went wrong.”

Pollard had won two Georgia Asphalt Series at Peach State earlier this season, so it was no surprise that he had a strong car all day.

FIVE FOR FIVE

John Wes Townley’s triple-header weekend was something that few racers would have the time, money or interest to do.  But, because Townley is still gaining experience in his young racing career, going to Phoenix for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Nationwide Series races Friday and Saturday, then flying Sunday morning to Peach State for the World Crown Pro Late Model event, were sure to add many miles to his racing resume.
John Wes Townley (yellow car) completes a weekend that he will never forget. (Jim Carson / Late Model Digest Photo)
But, Townley probably won’t be putting many parts of his triple-header World Crown weekend in his scrapbook.  Instead, most of what he did during the weekend ended up in the scrap pile.

Townley crashed in practice with his primary Truck and then wrecked the backup in the race Friday night at Phoenix.  Then, Townley went through two cars, crashing in qualifying and the race in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event. 

Townley had better hopes for Sunday’s World Crown event, however.  He arrived to the track from Phoenix about two hours before the drop of the green flag.  When the race started, he was swiftly picking up spots after starting last on the grid.  Townley’s run was promptly ended when he was collected in a lap 23 crash that ended the day for his Zaxby’s #09 machine. 

With that end to his weekend, Townley had crashed all five racing vehicles he steered during the weekend. 

GRESHAM GOES THE DISTANCE

In 2007, Max Gresham didn’t make it to halfway at the World Crown.  But what a difference a year can make as Gresham went from not finishing to having a solid run in the top-10 this year.  It was a good day considering how much his car changed thought the day. 

“We were going to play strategy all night, so I had to take care of the tires all night until the end,” said Gresham. We were going to keep lefts on it so we could have good rights at the end.  We took rights at 150 and we were going to see if we could catch them, but we ended up taking them too late.  We started 22nd and worked our way up to eighth by lap 100 and then we fell back to 15th or 20th or something like that.  Then came back to eighth by the end.”

The tire strategy didn’t work in there favor, but many fans will remember him for his late three-wide pass to get into to the top 10.

“Everybody got freaked out there with nine to go.  My spotter said, ‘There is one high and one low, where are you going?’ And I said, “Right up the middle.’  We split the needle and we came out okay.  We didn’t put a scratch on the car all night, so we’re happy.”

"MEDIUM" RUN FOR FOWLER

After coming up just a lap shy of victory in the final Georgia Asphalt Series event of the season at Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, Georgia, Kyle Fowler had his eyes focused directly on revenge on the tricky half-mile track at the 200-lap World Crown event on Sunday

Early on, it appeared that Fowler was going to be in good position to get that revenge he was looking for.  Fowler was flying through the field in the #51F Chevy, but a mid-race jam-up forced him to check up, ruining his momentum towards the front of the field.  Fowler then had to regroup and make his way back up to the front, which he did with a mission, to finish eighth at the checkered flag.

"This is a medium run for us," said Fowler.  "We definitely thought we had a better shot, coming off of the last Peach State race up here. We thought we had a pretty good shot, but overall it’s okay.

"I mean, the car looks the same as when we started the race.  We don’t have any damage on it whatsoever.  A bunch of people did crash out and got a bunch of damage, but I'm okay with how we did tonight.
BIG-AIR PRO CHALLENGE

Peach State Speedway is a high-banked half-mile track, making it almost like a super-speedway for the Pro Challenge Series competitors and their three-quarter scale cars.  Needless to say, with high speeds in the wide-open corners at Peach State, if oil gets dropped on the track, it’s going to make for some wild rides should the drivers hit it. 

Early in the 40-lap Pro Challenge season finale Saturday night during World Crown weekend, several drivers went for that wild ride through the oil, providing the most spectacular crash of the weekend at Peach State.  Oil was dropped by a slowing car in turns three and four on lap four, but track officials did not throw the caution.  As leaders Brandon Williamson and Kyle Plott hit the oil, both went for spins with Williamson’s car backing into the outside wall.  From there, several cars piled in and the #3 car of Trevor Edwards was sent airborne, coming to a rest on top of Chad Finchum’s #151. 

After some work to get the cars off the pile, all drivers escaped unharmed.

The Pro Challenge mess on Saturday. (51 Sports Photo)