WILLARD MAKS IT TWO IN A ROW IN THE RATTLER by Mark Chisum
This Time, He Does It On The Track, Not Off
The 28th Annual Rattler 150 at South Alabama Speedway had a different story line that 2003, but the ending was the same. In last year's Rattler, Willard was handed the winner's trophy after Charlie Bradberry was disqualified in Victory Lane. Bradberry was disqualified after passing an object from inside his car to his crew chief. When his crew chief refused to produce the object, Bradberry was disqualified and Willard awarded the win. In this year's edition, Willard left little doubt who was the man as he dominated the event.
The race went green from lap 75 to a planned competition yellow at lap 90 when everybody pitted for their fresh tires and fuel. During this run, three-time Rattler winner Ronnie Sanders was moving forward. Sanders started twelfth but was caught up in the first start melee and had to pit and restart in the rear. Sanders calmly worked his way through the pack and was seventh at the planned stop. Willard led Hole, Bradberry, Hogan, and Loyd to the competition yellow.
When racing resumed, Willard once again pulled out to a comfortable lead. Hogan and Bradberry had a spirited battle for the third spot. After several laps of side by side action,
28 cars and the largest crowd in years at South Alabama Speedway were on hand for the event. David Hole led the way in qualifying with a lap of 16.194, but inversion put Bubba Naumann on the pole with Willard on the outside. When South Alabama flagman Jim Thomas dropped the green flag, Willard jumped out front heading into turn one. Before the field could complete a lap, however, a crash in turn three brought the show to a halt. Ronnie Sanders and Royce Johnston had to pit to repair damage from the wreck and restarted in the rear. On the second start, Willard once again jumped out front and never looked back.
Cautions dotted the early portion of the race and was the only thing that kept the field close to Willard. J.R. Norris moved from his fourth starting spot to second in the early laps, but with each restart Willard pulled out to a comfortable lead. Hole quickly moved up to third followed by Jason Hogan and Bradberry.
The race went green from lap 24-42 with Hogan showing his strength. Hogan moved past Norris on lap 28 and then battled Hole for the
Hogan got the position. On a lap 121 restart, Hogan got past Hole for second. The race went green the rest of the way, but Hogan had nothing for Willard. Willard led Hogan to the checkered flag by eight car lengths. Bradberry was third followed by Hole and Sanders.
Wayne Willard had to do little adjusting to his car at the Rattler on Saturday night. It was near perfect.
runner-up spot. Hogan moved past Hole on lap 32, but that was as far as he could advance. Norris began to fight handling problems and fell out of the top five as the field headed to the half way point. Willard led Hogan, Hole, Bradberry, and Wes Loyd to the crossed flags.
Jason Hogan started his year off on the right foot with a second-place finish.