Veteran Shane Sawyer Wins James Garrison Memorial
Youngsters Try to Dethrone Camp to No Avail
By Elgin Traylor
Shane Sawyer has been racing for nearly 20 years and perhaps this has been his best season to date.   Already having won the Pro Late Model track championship at Lanier National Speedway, Sawyer came into the James Garrison Memorial 100 hopping for another victory.  To no surprise, he held off a pair of teenagers, Casey Roderick and Chase Elliott, for yet another 100-lap victory at Lanier.

“We have had a really dominant car here at Lanier,” said Sawyer.  “We have been fortunate enough to win a lot of races here this year.   I wasn’t around when James (Garrison) was alive, but his wife, his daughter, his son and his family are all good people.  I have proud to win a race in his honor.”

For Sawyer, it wasn’t the only Memorial race he won this season.  He also captured the Matt Hawkins Memorial 100 back in April at Lanier.  He also scored wins in the Ice Cold Shriners Bowl 100 and in a 100 lap event with the Georgia Asphalt Series.  

Sawyer led the most laps and took the lead for good on lap 37 from 17-year-old Casey Roderick who had put up a good fight in the opening laps of the race. 

“We couldn’t get back into the gas tonight,” said Roderick.  “Sawyer could roll through the center a lot better then we could.  We have been really good for the last three week so it’s about time we ended up being a bit off.” 

Roderick was able to take the lead from the outside of the front row on the entail start and lead the opening 16 laps before a caution came out.   Sawyer would return to the lead on the restart, the two would then swap the lead each one more time before the checkered flag. 

“We need to change the transmission in this car,” added Sawyer.  “Casey killed us on the first set restart, we got the hang out it as the night went on and we got a little better at it.  At the start of these 100 lappers, you never know what’s going to happen.  You have to kind of feel it out and pace yourself.  We did that and it worked out well for us again.”   

As Sawyer checked out, Roderick was left to battle with teammate and Late Model Rookie sensation 13-year-old Chase Elliott.   The two drivers went door-to-door for several laps.  Roderick would end up second and Elliott had to settle for third.  Paul Kelley and Jeff Choquette rounded out the top five.

“We got real tight there in the middle part of the race and there is not too much you can do to fix that here at Lanier,” said Elliott.  “I could have gotten into him and got the spot, but teammates running second and third there is no reason for that.  It was a good night, and we look forward to coming back next year.”

Buggay Puts on a Clinic

Lanier National Speedway is one of the toughest tracks when it comes to passing.  Dwayne Buggay didn’t have any trouble with it as he started 17th and finished sixth, making the biggest gain of any driver during the race.

“Our car was just very consistent,” said Buggay.  “I think there cars were going away more then mine was coming in.  We got tight at the end of the race and I think we just wore it out getting up there.  It was still a good rebound from qualifying.”  

Jeff vs. Jeff

Jeff Choquette and Jeff Fultz found themselves racing side-by-side for 30 plus laps in the James Garrison Memorial 100.  Although they never traded paint, they did make for some great door-to-door racing back in the pack.  The two had a good laugh about it after the race.  Fultz, who came home eighth, was fresh off his CRA Super Series Winchester 400 victory.  Choquette kept his recent hot streak alive with another top five finish.

Youngsters Prep for World Crown 300

As Late Model racing takes a brief break in the state of Georgia, all eyes turn to the up coming World Crown 300 at the new Gresham Motorsports Park. Recently several drivers took part in a test at the new track and told us what they though of the facility.

“I had never been there before,” said Jeff Choquette.  “It’s a great fast race track and they have done a great job in making it a great facility.”

“We blistered some tires, but we think we got the combination figured out,” said Casey Roderick.  “That’s going to be a fun racetrack to race on.  I think that’s the nicest facility around.  I can’t wait for November.”

“It’s a very nice facility,” said Chase Elliott.  “They have spent a lot of money making that place a good track.  It should be a lot of fun to race on.” 

Speed Shots

- The second annual James Garrison Memorial was a very clean race as the event was run with only five yellow flag periods, all of which were for minor spins.

-Defending race winner Chris Whorton didn’t have the best of nights, he finished 11th.  The team struggled to get a handle on the car all weekend.

-Max Gresham finished 10th at Lanier after he posted a third at Iowa in the most recent NASCAR Camping World West Series event.

-Jason Hogan started 16th and finished ninth.  He said his car never really came in and others just lost there stuff getting him into the top 10.

-Both Casey Roderick and Chase Elliott pulled double-duty at Lanier by racing in their Legends cars.  Each had a great night by going to victory lane.

-ASA SAT cars were asked to add 50 pounds to their cars for this event.  The drivers who we talked too said that it really wasn’t a factor.

Shane Sawyer took home the big check at Lanier. (51 Sports Photo)
Shane Sawyer chases down Casey Roderick.  (Late Model Digest Photo)
Chase Elliott runs hard in practice. (51 Sports Photo)
#66 Jeff Fultz ran a bunch of laps side-by-side with Jeff Choquette.  (51 Sports Photo)