SpeedFest 2009 Winners Busch and Simpson Enjoy Sunday at Lanier 51 Sports PR Report
300 Laps of Racing Action Concludes With Two Victory Lane Celebrations
Racing in January doesn't happen at many places across the country, but when it does, drivers flock to the racing facility in hopes of being the big winner during the cold winter. That was the case at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Georgia, as drivers from many states made the journey for SpeedFest 2009 to compete in the 100-lap Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS) Pro Late Model event and the 200-lap Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Late Model feature. After 300 laps of racing action, Greg Simpson (PLM) and Kyle Busch (SLM) were celebrating as the big winners of the weekend.
Casey Roderick was on top of the charts as the fast qualifier and pole setter for the CRA Super Late Model 200-lap feature. Throughout the first half of the race, no one could touch Roderick. He kept his Bill Elliott Development Driver #9 machine up front until the halfway break. Meanwhile, Busch was making headway towards the front of the field from his seventh-place starting position. He used the outside lane early to gain a few spots and ended up second to Roderick at the break.
"I think that is about the only time you can do it (going to the high side on new tires)," said Busch. "This track lends itself towards the bottom. On fresh tires, when you have the grip, you are able to access that way, especially when you are able to get up on somebody. They can't really rotate the center that well, but you cannot just jump to the outside after a little bit of a run."
A draw at the 10-minute break inverted the top four, putting Roderick and Busch behind Jason Hogan and Shane Sieg. Busch wasted no time driving to the outside of Sieg for second, then drove around the outside of Hogan for the lead just five laps later. The changes he made during the break seemed to work for the #51 NOS machine.
"We tried some rear steer stuff and some trailing arm stuff. We did a few things up front to try and get the nose to stay down a little bit more," said Busch. "We were just trying to get the car a little more balanced. We weren't bad, but I felt we didn't have the forward bite like the #9 car (Roderick) did, so we just worked on some of that."
Roderick then attempted to make his way back to the top spot, but on a restart, the car slowed and he made the hard turn into the pits.
"On that last restart in the Super race, I pulled to fourth," said Roderick. "It popped in gear, and then popped out and I couldn't get it to go back in. Something broke in the transmission. We had a good car."
Busch ran out the remainder of the laps from the top spot, finishing ahead of Hogan.
"I think this is like six times I have been here in the last six years, and he (Busch) is the only person that has outrun me, so I will take getting outrun by Kyle Busch any day," said Hogan. "We were right there with him, and it was pretty cool to race with him."
Even though his day job is in the NASCAR ranks, Busch still enjoys racing at the local level with the short track warriors. In fact, he brought two different cars to the track and made the right decision on which car to use in the race, as it paid off in the end.
"We were here testing both cars just to get a feel for both and shake them down," said Busch. "This (the NOS car) was a brand new car, so we weren't sure how it was going to run. We wanted to make sure we had that car (the Rowdy Busch car) running well in case something happened to this car.
"Hamner did a great job with the motor all weekend. Jeff was under the hood all weekend tuning on the carburetor, making sure it would run. I have to thank him for that. It was just a solid weekend for us."
Johanna Long, Scott Hantz and Michael Pope rounded out the top five.
The Super Late Model field comes around to take the green flag at Lanier. (Jamie Williams Photo)
The first half of the race belonged to Casey Roderick. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Kyle Busch passed Jason Hogan on the outside to take the lead in the second half of the race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Kyle Busch took home the Super Late Model trophy from SpeedFest 2009. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Brandon Johnson set fast time for the GAS Pro Late Model 100-lap event, but the top three were inverted prior to the start, putting Kyle Fowler on the point. Simpson got the jump on the start, taking the early lead and holding on to the top spot through a series of yellow flags early in the event, which almost cost him a chance at victory.
"I sort of went at this a little different today," said Simpson. "I thought it was going to be a bit cooler, so I put tape on the grill. We had that incident on the first lap and when I rode around, my car got hot. I was worried about the motor and almost decided to pull in. I kept the fans on and kept the motor just cool enough to give us a good start. We overcame that and I got going good there."
Throughout the majority of the race, Simpson swapped the top spot with Shane Sawyer, as the two drivers appeared to be the class of the field. When the caution flag fell with six laps remaining in the event, Sawyer didn't get slowed down, plowing into the back of Simpson's machine.
"Well at first there it was me and Greg again and I thought we might bring it home, but the lights never came on when they threw the caution and I just got into him," said Sawyer. "I hate it, but it's just one of those deals."
On the restart, Russell Fleeman got the jump and got out to the lead on Simpson, but Simpson kept the pressure on. Coming to take the white flag, Simpson got into the back of Fleeman, moving him up the track and out of the lead.
"Russell and I respect each other and we always will," explained Simpson. "I worked so hard there at the end to roll over. It is so easy to do. I have always been a courteous driver and I don't think I did anything to Russell today to affect that. We were rubbing, but we were racing.
"It turned out good in the end. I was a little worried and didn't know who was going to punt or kick. I was in a good spot, so I just rode it out."
"On the double-file restart, I took the outside because I thought I had a chance out there," said Fleeman. "On the last lap I lost a little bite off the corner and Greg got up underneath me. We tried."
Fowler also made the move around Fleeman to take the second position away from him on the final lap.
"Russell is a good guy," said Fowler. "He has helped us out a bunch in the past. I am glad he is a guy that is cool with that (the contact). I got into him a little harder than I wanted to, but he made a great save. He is one of those class-act guys."
Fleeman, Jason Hogan and John Wes Townley rounded out the top five.
CRA Super Late Model - 200 Laps
151Kyle Busch 292Jason Hogan 310sJohanna Long 472Scott Hantz 551sMichael Pope 612Justin Drawdy 767Jeff Fultz 891Heath Hindman 939Ryan Sieg 1008Drew Brannon 1135Matt DiBenedetto 128Eddie Hoffman 1309John Wes Townley 14110Joey Senter 1523Jeremy Rice 1664Griffin McGrath 1705Jeremy Colangelo 184Josh Krug 192Kenny Tweedy 2038Josh Hamner 2131Tyler Millwood 2299Jason Shively 2316Austin Siebert 2429Allen Karnes 2560D.J. Shaw 269Casey Roderick 2715Casey Berenbrock 2810Jack Landis 295Shane Sieg 3020Brian Campbell 318sChris Dilbeck 3249Stanley Smith 3345DeWayne Buggay DQ138Shane Sawyer DNS4nBen Rowe
GAS Pro Late Model - 100 Laps
110Greg Simpson 24Kyle Fowler 398Russell Fleeman 492Jason Hogan 509John Wes Townley 667Jeff Fultz 704Michael Lance 845Nick Potts 92Dennis Wilder 1029James Nailey 1161Shane Nalley 129Casey Roderick 1338Shane Sawyer 1415Cody Smith 15711Max Gresham 1621Ricky Vice 1708Hugh Brannon 1823Dalton Grindle 1952Kevin Stephens 206Chris Whorton 2109Kevin Barrett 2201Shawn Simpson 2315Zach Rearden 2497Jimmy Garmon 2564Griffin McGrath 268Eddie Hoffman 2793Brandon Johnson 2818Billy Fulson 2941T.J. Reaid 3023Paul Kelley 3128Tom Schuette
Greg Simpson (left) and Shane Sawyer (right) battled for the top spot most the race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Greg Simpson nudged Russell Fleeman to get the lead coming to the white flag. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Russell Fleeman lost second place to Kyle Fowler in the last turn of the race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Greg Simpson won the Pro Late Model 100-lap event. (Jamie Williams Photo)