Justin Wakefield turned dreams into reality Sunday winning the 27th-Annual World Crown 300 Super Late Model stock car race at Gresham Motorsports Park.
The Woodstock, GA driver grabbed the lead for the final time on a Lap 290 restart when previous leader Chase Elliott’s car stumbled at the drop of the green. That let Wakefield sprint away from the field over the final 10 circuits to score the biggest win of his career.
“This is awesome, this is definitely the biggest show we have ever won,” said Wakefield in the Hedman Husler Victory Lane afterward. “I thought the last race we won, the Mason-Dixon Meltdown was pretty big a couple of weeks ago, but this definitely tops it.”
At the finish, it was Wakefield followed by Kenseth, Jeff Fultz, Lonnie Sommerville, Paul Kelley, Elliott, Boris Jurovic, Bubba Pollard, polesitter Cale Gale, Dwayne Buggay and Casey Smith. Kenseth was later disqualified for a post-race technical infraction moving all from Fultz on up one position.
Wakefield started the 300-lap short-track classic from the fourth position, one spot in front of what would become GMP’s version of a Talladega ‘Big One.’ In the blink of an eye, a multi-car melee collected the mounts of Saturday’s World Crown 125 Pro Late Model champion Augie Grill, T.J. Reaid, Josh Hamner, Dylan Presnell, Mike Garvey, Buggay, Kenseth, Johnny Henderson and Casey Roderick.
The Lap 8 front-stretch tangle brought out the red-flag and had the GMP safety teams shift into overdrive to remove the wreckage. Unfortunately, the incident ended the day for Grill, Reaid, Garvey, Henderson and Roderick.
“I was in it, I was right in the middle of it.” said Fultz. “I was fortunate because I found a hole and got through. It looked like a couple of guys just couldn’t wait. As soon as the race started, everyone was just diving into the corners driving really aggressive. Then when Hamner spun, they didn’t have a choice – they were in it. We were all in the middle to the back of the pack. Why were they in such a hurry?”
While the big wreck thinned the heard, it didn’t do anything slow Wakefield as he took the point on Lap 26 from Pollard. Wakefield then built the biggest lead of the day - a half-lap margin by Lap 125 – during the long green-flag run.
The caution lights finally came on at Lap 146 and Wakefield led the front runners to pit road. Now fourth on the restart, Wakefield used the next 90 laps to run down new leader Donnie Wilson.
Neither Wilson nor Wakefield was at the point after a caution-flag pit stop with 40 laps to go. That honor went to Elliott, who beat Fultz, Jurkovic, Wilson, Kenseth and Wakefield off the service lane.
Wilson was the first to blink, his engine going up in smoke just short of the finish. That set yet another restart – this one a ‘Sprint Cup’ young guns row as Elliott, the son of Bill Elliott and Kenseth, the son of Matt Kenseth, led the field to the green flag.
The two gifted young drivers had the fans on their feet as they battled side-by-side for nearly five laps before Elliott got the edge. Meanwhile, Kenseth still had his hands full with Wakefield and Fultz behind in fighter formation.
The race seemed to be Elliott’s to win, rolling away to better than two-second lead only to see it vanish when the hard racing between Kenseth and Wakefield resulted with Kenseth spinning in Turn 2 just 10 circuits from the finish.
Remarkably, Kenseth was able to recover and be in third when the field headed to the ill-fated final restart for Elliott and the open door to being crowned “King Of The Short Tracks’ for Wakefield.
“When I get on the racetrack, I feel that I can beat anyone,” said Wakefield. “I guess you are supposed to feel that way. When I’m on the track and the car is handling the way it did today, I felt invincible. I didn’t think we were going to catch Chase at the end. They are an awesome team everywhere they go. I’m glad we got the caution and the final edge on the restart.”
The victory was worth $20,000 to Wakefield.
The World Crown 300 rings down the curtain on the inaugural season of racing at Gresham Motorsports Park. The track, which was completely renovated in 2009, will reopen for the 2011 season on Friday-Saturday, March 18-19 when it hosts the Georgia Electric Vehicle Education Rally.
GMP will feature multiple racing events in 2011 including NASCAR K&N, CRA Super Series and PASS stock car events. The largest event center in Jackson County will also be the site of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, the Opening Ceremonies for the Dizzy Dean Baseball World Series and Bluesfest 2011.
For more information about Gresham Motorsports Park, please access www.GreshamMotorsportsPark.com
World Crown 300 Results (Results are Unofficial Until Monday)
Sunday, November 14, 2010
1. Justin Wakefield
2. Jeff Fultz
3. Lonnie Sommerville
4. Paul Kelley
5. Chase Elliott
6. Boris Jurkovic
7. Bubba Pollard
8. Cale Gale
9. Dwayne Buggay
10. Casey Smith
11. Jerrod Foley
12. Donnie Wilson
13. Eddie Hoffman
14. Rodney Benefield
15. Jimmy Garmon
16. Allen Karnes
17. Russell Fleeman
18. Dylan Presnell
19. Josh Hamner
20. Augie Grill
21. Johnny Henderson
22. Casey Roderick
23. Mike Garvey
24. T.J. Reaid
25. Ross Kenseth - DQ