In victory lane of Thursday’s Stan Perry Memorial 110, 18-year-old race winner Derrick Griffin said one of the most over-used clichéd terms in all of motorsports over the Angola Motor Speedway PA system in his post-race interview. While fans in the grandstands may agree or disagree, his credo Wednesday night set the stage for an exciting final lap with more than $10,000 on the line.
“The main thing I learned this weekend is you race people how they race you,” said Griffin in his winner’s interview.
That one statement sent Angola Motor Speedway into a tizzy. Beer cans flew onto victory lane from unruly fans and boo’s and profanities rained down on victory lane like an Indiana Summertime storm. The statement, and the subsequent unruliness by the fans, was all because Griffin, after getting pinched off turn-four with 25 laps remaining by race dominator and local favorite Jeff Parr, rallied back and got into Parr’s rear bumper on the final lap to steal the $10,110 paycheck.
“We just came down the frontsteretch and I was to his door – at least to his door – and he came down,” Griffin told Speed51.com of the incident with 25 laps to go. “From that point on, I knew how I was going to have to win the race because he wasn’t going to let anyone get beside him. We had to do what we had to do (to take the lead on the last lap). It’s not what I wanted to do, but I had to do it.”
Parr had a different opinion of what happened on lap 85 than Griffin. And that different opinion, fueled by Griffin’s post-race victory lane comment added to Parr’s frustration.
“I didn’t put him down there because I never saw him,” said Parr. “He was never up far enough for me to see. I’ve been running for close to 30 years now and I know what they’re talking about. It bothered me my first few years of racing. But you know what? I had to bite my tongue.”
After Griffin saved his #16 from going into the grass from the lap 85 incident, he reeled Parr back as the laps clicked off. With five laps to go, Griffin was up to Parr’s bumper. He tried a few passes on both the low and high sides around Parr’s fading #9 machine, but all efforts were thwarted. That was, at least, until off turn-two of the final lap, when Parr got a tad sideways off the corner and Griffin went in for the KO with thoughts of the lap 85 incident fresh on his mind.
“We came off of two and he got a little loose and slowed up a little more than I thought he was going to,” said Griffin. “I got into him harder than I thought I was going to, but it was just enough to keep me in front of him.”
Parr, on the other hand, wasn’t impressed with the move, to say the least.
“What kicks me in the pants is that somebody else can nail you as hard as he did,” said Parr. “That wasn’t
no love tap. That wasn’t no getting loose or anything. That was, ‘bullseye.’
“I didn’t feel a little tap, I felt a lot. I guess I could’ve spun it, but probably wouldn’t have gotten my spot back like some of them do. You’d think there’d be a little bit better officiating. Anyone can win doing that. I really don’t know what to think. I’m still thinking about it.”
While Parr was left contemplating what could’ve been during this year’s Stan Perry Memorial, Derrick Griffin celebrated his 10-grand-plus payday with his crew, never having even imagined that the race would turn out the way it did.
““It doesn’t even feel real,” said Griffin. “About an hour or so ago we were sitting in the pits hoping to just finish the race and here we are with $10,000 and we still have a racecar.”
Parr summarized his night with one simple statement, just like Griffin did in victory lane.
“(Finishing second) is just like finishing last.”
STAN PERRY MEMORIAL 110 LEFTOVERS
Bobby Blount Wrenches Griffin’s Car to Victory
Bobby Blount is no stranger to short tracks around the Midwest or Southeast. He has owned, driven, or crew chiefed template-bodied Super Late Models, outlaw-bodied SLMs, ARCA cars and just about everything in between. Now, as owner of Indiana’s Plymouth Speedway, Blount focuses on his day job as much as he can, but he started helping out Derrick Griffin not too long ago and the pairing has worked out well. Blount guided Griffin to the CRA Sportsman victory lane during Winchester 400 weekend at Winchester Speedway (IN) last year and was with him the whole way during Thursday’s Stan Perry Memorial.
“I’ve been out of the Late Model racing for a while and we’ve been testing and working and we’re getting caught back up,” said Blount. “As hard as this kid works, he deserves everything he gets. He spends twice the hours in the shop as I can.”
Any crew chief can say that about his 18-year-old driver, but Blount has been around the scene long enough to know when a driver has what it takes to succeed in a higher level. He saw his son Chad get noticed with some big-three rides in years past, so does Blount think Griffin’s got a shot at doing something more?
“He’s really legit. The family’s just normal working people and they can’t really afford to do this. Ray Evernham all but gave me the motor. It’s probably been a long time since a Dodge won a short track race. This is just really special and the kid’s really special too.”
Carlson Drops Out of Victory Hunt
For much of the 110-lap race Thursday night, Dakota Carlson seemed to have the best shot to beat Jeff Parr. The two got door-to-door at times in the mid-to-late stages of the event, before Griffin was even a factor, but Carlson’s chances at victory were dashed when the rear end of his #5 started to fail, putting him out of the Stan Perry Memorial.
Opening Lap Fracas Takes Out Two Favorites
First-lap crashes aren’t rare in short track racing, but to say that the first- and second-place starting cars would each take each other out on the initial start of the race is something that doesn’t happen every night.
A 10-car invert put short track legend and former NASCAR driver Rich Bickle on the pole, but Bickle’s car kept shutting off during the pace laps, so he elected to start at the rear of the field for the start of the race. That left Brian Root and Harold Fair on the front row.
As the green flew, the two front-row starters collided, sending the whole field stacking up behind them. Root and Fair were out of the race before it even started, while several other drivers got a piece of the incident, including Terry Senneker, Jr. who succumbed to a flat tire and never was able to recover enough for a shot at the win for the remainder of the night.
Tumultuous Night for the Hurricane
Scott Hantz lives just a short drive from Angola Motor Speedway. The Angola resident is always a threat to win when he visits his home track, whether it’s in a CRA template-body Super Late Model or an outlaw body car. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Hantz drove his #72 Outlaw car to Angola victory lane in a Main Event Racing Series show.
But Thursday night, Hantz’s night wasn’t as successful as his most recent trip to AMS. Hantz started up front, but never quite had a fast enough car to race with the lead two or three cars. The unhappy racecar left for an equally unhappy driver after a night where the #72 was involved in several incidents during the race.
“Last year, the guys that conserved their cars came on strong at the end of the race,” said Hantz. “So going into the race, that was kind of my mindset. About lap 75, I was going to start turning it on and I ended up getting wrecked. But in truth, my car really wasn’t that good to win tonight anyway.”
While Hantz did not get a piece of the opening-start crash, that incident was the beginning of the end of “The Hurricane’s” victory shot.
“They had that big wreck at the start and I couldn’t believe that. I ended up starting on the pole of the race and got the lead right off the bat. But I kind of wanted to just run second and ride for a while at the start. Then I went through traffic the wrong way and went back to about fourth and that’s where we stayed pretty much all night before we got in another wreck at the end.”
Adding to the List
Derrick Griffin’s victory in the Stan Perry Memorial 110 made it three different winners in as many Perry Memorial events. The inaugural Perry Memorial was won by Stan Perry’s son-in-law, Jack Landis. Last year’s show was won by an underdog, Phil Massuch.
A Tribute to “The Godfather”
On many peoples’ minds at AMS Thursday night was the memory of Stan Perry himself. Perry was known as “The Godfather of the Ohio Posse,” a group of Outlaw Super Late Model racers from the Buckeye State who traveled throughout the Ohio/Indiana/Michigan area all season long, competing for wins at their home tracks and sometimes stealing the thunder from locals when they hit the road.
From Edgarton, Ohio, Perry was a track champion at several local tracks, including Angola. He was the 2006 recipient of the Spartan Speedway (MI) Sportsman of the Year Award and was a member of the Avilla Motor Speedway (IN) Hall of Fame. Perry passed away in 2007 and the Stan Perry Memorial has been held in each of the three years since.
Perry’s son Bud honored his father by competing in both the Modified and the Super Late Model features Wednesday night. While he failed to finish either race, just being a part of the event was meaningful for the entire family.
Bice Takes the Mods
Dave Bice is no spring chicken. The veteran racer has taken a few years off from the competitive racing scene in the Midwest to enjoy himself away from the track, but a phone call from noted Modified car owner Blaine Miller over the winter put Bice back behind the wheel in 2010.
It turned out to be a good decision, as Bice, who himself raced many times with Stan Perry, went to victory lane in the Perry Memorial Modified feature event.
“It’s been about 10 years since I was racing last, taking a little break. Blaine Miller gave me a call last December and asked asked, ‘Hey, you want to go racing again?’ I said I’d exercise the idea. Well, I guess I exercised it and here we are.”
Held Up and Hanging On, Nester Takes Third
Early and often in the Stan Perry Memorial, Brian Nester must’ve been thinking he was trying to pass a Sherman Tank more than another Outlaw Super Late Model. Nester’s #1 machine just couldn’t make his way past a patient Scott Hantz. While Hantz was saving his equipment, Nester tried high, low and just about every way around Hantz’s #72, Nester eventually settled in and waited for someone else to make a hole for him.
It turned out to be a wise decision, as Mike Luberda made his way by Nester and took over the challenge of Hantz. Luberda and Hantz collided, opening the door for Nester, who went through the incident and on to a third-place finish.
“Hantz didn’t give me much room,” said Nester. “I raced him clean, but the next guy didn’t and he took car of both of them, so it kind of worked out in the end.
“It was a good night. We qualified into the show and finished third, but the best thing is that we’ve got an old racecar and we beat a lot of high-dollar racecars today.”