Pollard Adds His Name to the History Books with CRA South Point Victory
The lead was not the place to be during the first CRA South point race at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA). Just ask the cast of driver who had it, but ended up losing it to some form of misfortune. Jeff Fultz, Ryan Lawler, Augie Grill and Justin Drawdy all had chances to win, but spins and mechanical problems plagued them while they were in the lead.
Bubba Pollard was on this list too as he lead early on only to fade back through the field. After a few pit stops and adjustments, Pollard raced his way back to the front to battle with the leaders. As each driver found trouble in the top spot, Pollard regained positions and took the lead with five laps to go, driving away on the final restart to score the victory.
“It was a crazy night,” said Pollard in victory lane. “We had a real good car the first 40 laps of the race. The caution came out, the tires cooled off and the car just went away. We came in and made some changes hoping to get it better. The car actually ran the last five laps of the race better then it had the whole night. Sometimes you just have to be lucky. I have lost races this way, but not tonight.”
Sieg and Grill Tangle for the Lead
Augie Grill has been one of the hottest drivers in the Super Late Model racing world in the last year. So, it was no surprise that Grill found himself out in front in the closing laps of the first CRA South Super Late Model event. However, Grill was fading just after the 100-lap mark and Ryan Sieg was reeling him in. Sieg finally got to the back bumper and made a move in turn three. Sieg would slip halfway through the corner and send both leaders for a spin. After the race, both drivers reflected on the incident.
“Ryan Sieg got into turn three just a little over his head and he got sideways and he got into us,” said Grill. “We both spun. I don’t think it’s intentional. I was giving him plenty of room. I hate for it to happen. I don’t know if we could have held on for the win. The car was decent on the high side for a couple of laps. We limped it home to a sixth-place finish and will get ready for the next one.”
Sieg's view was a little bit different.
“I drove it in there a little hard and he pinched me,” said Sieg. “It was too late. By the time we got in there we touched and both went around.”
Sieg would finish the race with a pretty significant tire rub on his car. He managed to cross the finish line third, despite the tire smoke.
“I wasn’t too concerned about the tire,” added Sieg. “I was just driving as hard as I could trying to get back to the front. I was already disappointed, so it couldn’t get any worse.”
Sieg and Grill weren’t the only pair to tangle for the lead. Later in the race Danny Bagwell got into Justin Drawdy while racing for the top spot. Both drivers would go to the rear, paving the way for Bubba Pollard’s victory.
Lawler’s Bid Ends Early
Ryan Lawler had one of the best cars at Cordele, but mechanical problems prevented the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver from finishing the event. After leading the opening three laps and regaining the top spot on lap 51, things looked to be in his favor. However, the car quickly faded with mechanical problem, forcing him to pit under the next two yellow-flag periods. They lost 13 laps to the leaders, but still posted an eighth-place finish.
“I have to thank all the guys,” said Lawler. “They did an awesome job all weekend. We struggled a little bit when we first got here, but we kept working on it and working on it and we got it really good for the race. It’s just a bummer. I really don’t even know what to say. We led some laps and we were going to have a good run, but we had some motor problems.”
Korey Ruble Takes Ill Handling Car to Second-Place Finish
When the green flag came out on the CRA portion of the Twin 125’s, there were four drivers in the field who had won in the GAS series. Those drivers included Ryan Sieg, Bubba Pollard, Michael Pope and Korey Ruble. Ruble entered the Watermelon Capital Speedway having won four previous 100-lap events at the Cordele, Georgia, track. Prior to the race, not many would have given Ruble a chance to finish in the top three after his qualifying run left him at the rear of the field, but never-the-less, he found a way to finish on the podium.
“We were not good at all,” said Ruble. “That was probably the worst car I have ever had here at Cordele. To get a second out of that is awesome because we were just junk. We’re pleased to get a second-place finish. I have had cars a lot better then this and not finished, so it’s good to have it work the other way for us.”
CRA Officials Not Disappointed With Car Count
Some fans and skeptics might look at the entry list of the CRA Watermelon 125 and get disappointed by the low car count. Series owner R.J. Scott didn’t feel that was an issue with the quality of cars that were in the field for the first points race.
“It’s real easy to look at the number and say that’s low,” said Scott. “We also have to understand that we are starting something new and we’re not going to hit a homerun our first time up at the plate. I am really impressed with the quality of the field. Chances are you are not going to see a field with this many heavy hitters until later in the season.”
In fact a former All American 400 Winner (Chris Gabehart), a former PASS South Champion and Winchester 400 winner (Ryan Lawler), a two-time Snowball Derby Winner (Augie Grill), a former three-time NASCAR Southeast Champion (Jeff Fultz) and several other big names in the Super Late Model world made up the balance of the field.
CRA South is expected to have a much bigger car count at the next race in Nashville (TN) on May 3rd at the Fairgrounds Speedway.
TJ Reaid Holds off Shane Sawyer in GAS Race
Last year TJ Reaid won his first ever GAS event at New Senoia Speedway (GA). It already looks like he’s going to win a bunch more this season as he scored the win in the season-opening event at Watermelon Capital Speedway.
One of the biggest reasons that Reaid has come on strong is the addition of former CRA Champion Chris Gabehart to the race team.
“It’s a good feeling to have a car as good as that. I can’t thank Chris Gabehart enough; he’s really brought our team along way,” said Reaid. “It feels good to know that when they start pressuring you that you can out run them."
Reaid had a great back-and-forth battle with Shane Sawyer in the closing laps. On the last restart Reaid and Sawyer went door-to-door for the top spot. When the dust settled, Reaid was the victor.
"He and I have never raced like that before," said Reaid of Sawyer. "He seemed a little upset, but that’s racing.”
Sawyer was a little upset with the last pass in which Reaid drifted up a little off turn four, causing Sawyer to roll out of the throttle.
“We about knocked the wall down because he ran us high," said Sawyer. “If he wants to race like that and he’s happy with winning like, that is his business. I could have spun him out three or four times, but maybe someday the shoe will be on the other foot and someday he’ll be as respectful as I was.”
Shane Sieg Runs Third in GAS Feature
It is not uncommon to see NASCAR Camping World Truck Series part-timer Shane Sieg in Late Models in the South. The Tucker, Georgia, native has made 40 starts in the Truck Series, but also enjoys stepping back to the grass roots of racing, running Super Late Models. This past weekend, instead of the Super, he drove the Pro Late Model to a top-three finish.
“We were just trying something different,” said Sieg. We’re just looking to race anything we can. I had a lot of fun tonight, almost more fun then running Super Late Models.”
Casey Roderick Still Learning the Ropes
16-year-old Casey Roderick is going to be one of the heavy hitters in the Georgia Asphalt Series this season. The season-opening race at the Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA) was no exception as he ran up front with the leaders before slipping back to finish fourth.
“I was trying to save my stuff, then the #38 (Sawyer) went by me and the car got really tight,” said Roderick. “I couldn’t get off the corner real well, so I just hung in there until the end and did the best I could with what I had.”
Roderick plans to run several races with the Georgia Asphalt Series, including the upcoming event at Anderson Motor Speedway (SC) on April 17th.