Barnes, Helton, Hogan, Davidson, Jackson, McFarland & More
Chuck Barnes Jr., the Sunoco Super Series champion, took the pole with a lap of 18.152 seconds. Gary Helton came out just a few spots after him and clocked in the second quickest time, turning a lap of 18.192 seconds.
“All the guys have been here and have been working on this car since Friday and we just put a good lap under us,” said Barnes, winner of one SSS race and four poles in 2004. “We got the car dialed in just right. We ran an 18.15 and I didn’t see that coming at all. The sun went down and the track got faster and it worked out for us.”
The sun was high in the sky when qualifying started, but by the end of the session that included 60 qualifiers, the sun was falling just behind the horizon.
“We practiced and thought we had a pretty good setup for the race,” said Helton. “So we changed a few things for qualifying and I think we pulled out a pretty good lap there. We tired one setup just for qualifying during practice this afternoon. I guess it paid off.”
Chuck Barnes Jr. is on the pole for Sunday's race. (51 Photos)
THE CHAMPIONS HAVE IT
The Sunoco Super Series and Southern All Stars couldn’t have planned it any better. The two series that are co-sanctioning this weekend’s All American 400 weekend (and Sunday’s All American 300 main event) had their respective champions grab the top-two spots in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
As for the two champions getting the first two spots, both Barnes and Helton said don’t read into it too much.
“I don’t think it shows anything just because we are one-two,” said Barnes. “These are two tough series. I just think it means there is going to be one hell of a show tomorrow.”
“There are a lot of great cars just in the top 10,” said Helton. “We are all just about two- or three-tenths a second off. That just shows how many good cars are here. It should make for a great race.”
Gary Helton was the second-quickest car on Saturday.
The top-24 cars were locked into Sunday’s race through qualifying. Georgia’s Matt Hawkins was the last guy to make it on time. The top-24 were separated by just 0.295 seconds.
Two 25-lap last chance races were the last hope for 31 drivers to make the field for Sunday’s All American 300. Only six made it.
so worried about the sun coming out of turn four that I’d taped the windshield too far down and I actually had to squish down in the seat. That caused me to miss my line. It was just a driver mistake. The car is much better than that.”
In the first last chance race, Wisconsin’s Travis Dassow jumped to the lead and led the first 13 laps before mechanical problems dropped the youngster off the pace and allowed ROMCO regular Greg Davidson to grab the top spot. The second- through seventh-place cars ran nearly nose to tail the rest of the race, making for some interesting times.
Biff George and Eddie Mercer got together battling for the third and final transfer position, knocking Mercer out of the event. Then, second place driver JR Roahrig fell off the pace, allowing Southeast Series regular Johnny Brazier to move into the final transfer spot.
Finally, on the last lap, Brazier held off a determined Landon Cassill for the final spot. Cassill drove up beside Brazier on the final turn of the final lap, but spun out, ending his bid to make Sunday’s race.
Davidson, George and Brazier transferred on.
“We should have never have been in that race,” said Davidson. “We’ve been in the top-10 all weekend in practice. We had to qualify on stickers and the stagger was just a little off. Then, I was
Greg Davidson was one of the best all weekend long, but had to come through the last chance race to make Sunday's show.
The second race was less action-packed, with veteran Ronnie Sanders jumping to the lead at the start and taking the checkers. Local driver Mark Day started second and finished second.
“We had a good car yesterday, a real good car, and I just didn’t drive it hard enough,” said Sanders. “The race track was really good. I just didn’t drive it quite right.”
ROMCO’s Brandon Bendele was the “hard luck” victim of the second last chance race. The youngster was running in the third and final transfer spot when mechanical problems dropped him off of the pace and eventually out of the running. That opened the door for Andy Ponstein, a part-time SSS racer, to grab the last spot.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
There have been some legends race in and win the All American 400 over the years. The old Nashville Fairgrounds track has seen the likes of Butch Miller, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Dick Trickle and many others race and win.
Ironically, the two drivers that won the two last chances races were the only two at the track that raced in the very first All American 400 back in 1981.
Now, both are in the field for the revived 400, the All American 300 on Sunday.
“We raced here back in the very first one and I hate to say that because it shows how old I am,” said Greg Davidson, father of NASCAR Southeast Series star Chris Davidson.
“The Southern All Stars and the Sunoco Super Series are doing such a good job at trying to get this back where it was in the day. We ran with them at I-70 and they are a pleasure to work with. I think they are on their way to reviving this to what it was back in the day.”
Johnny Brazier came back from a blown engine on Friday to make the race through the last chance race on Saturday.
“Back in the day, this was the race of all races,” said Ronnie Sanders. “We used to fill the grandstands. This race means a lot to a lot of people, that is why you see so many cars here. It is something when you see about 25, 30 cars go home from one race.
“It is a great race to be in. Just to be in it really means something to you. At least it did back in the day.”
JACKSON MIFFED BY CALLS
One guy on the grounds with a car who didn’t take a qualifying attempt was former SSS full-time driver Evan Jackson.
The "Music City" has been good to Sanders.
Jackson was taking his car through tech before qualifying when a series of calls made by race officials caused him to pack his things up and just sit and watch.
“We were going through for pre-qualifying inspection since we hadn’t all day long,” said Jackson. “We were going to get it checked out, make some changes and then bring the car back through for qualifying tech.”
From there, things went all to hell. To put it simple, one of the tech officials didn’t like what he saw on Jackson’s car. Jackson was told he was going to have to add some weight to his car. A heated discussion followed and Jackson took his car back to his trailer and loaded it up.
“We came here, spent some big money on tires, entry fee and getting our guys in the pits and here we get harassed by one of our own officials (SSS),” added Jackson. “I didn’t need that. We already were having a bad day as it was with some carb problems. We were only 50-something quick in practice, and here they want to add some weight to us. We just decided to load it up. It isn’t he first time this had happened to me.”
“THE REST OF THE FIELD”
Along with the 24 cars that made it to Sunday’s race via qualifying and the six others that made it via the two last chance races, the remainder of the 40-car field was made up by provisional and other quick qualifiers.
Positions 25-30 were made up of the three top points guys from the SSS and SAS series that didn’t qualify in the top-24. Scott Hantz, Eric Wallace, Tim Silba, Chad Brawn, Chris Gabehart and Keith Cahela took up those spots.
The final four spots of the field (after the six from the two last chance races were inserted) was made up of Larry Raines (who made the show as a results of winning the World Cup 300 at I-70 several weeks ago), Travis Dassow (who was the next quickest qualifier who hadn’t yet made the field), JR Roahrig and Dennis Schoenfeld (who were the next two SSS and SAS points pick ups)
Some notable names who missed the race included Florida hotshot Eddie Mercer, Larry Schuler, ASA Late Model Series regular Landon Cassill, Rockford Speedway’s
Ricky Bilderback, Florida’s Donald Long, I-70 Speedway’s Josh Krug, Southeast Series regular Randy Pedley and ROMCO’s Brandon Bendele.
Tennessee’s own Mark Day had a busy one on Saturday. Between practicing and qualifying both his Super Late Model and Late Model Stock cars, he also had to made Sunday’s race through the second “last chance” race and then finished third in Saturday night’s Late Model 100.
Scott Hantz had to rely on a points provisional to make the field for the All American.
There are a couple notable missing names from the cars in attendance at Nashville (TN).
The Southern All Stars Series second-place points man and last year’s Patriot 200 runner-up Ricky Turner is not at Nashville this weekend.
Last year’s Patriot 200 winner, Brian Hoppe, isn’t back for this year’s All American 400, instead, focusing on his NASCAR Elite Division Midwest Series car and its trip out to California for the NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown
Eddie Mercer went home early from Nashville.
next weekend. The All Star Showdown has probably kept several other big-name Midwesterners from showing up in Nashville.
However, one Midwest Series driver, Eddie Hoffman, is at Nashville this weekend. His car came to town in a Terry’s Motorsports hauler.
One of the North’s best, Junior Hanley, is not in attendance in Nasvhille as well. Hanley has a tough second part of the Sunoco Super Series season.
WHERE WOULD HE HAVE WENT ON FOUR TIRES
Jason Hogan had a day full of bad luck on Saturday.
It started when Hogan broke the trailing arm bar bracket just a few laps into the first practice session on Saturday morning, nearly trashing his car.
His team went to work and made a new bracket from scratch.
“These guys really worked hard,” said Hogan. “We did have the brackets that we needed, so we had to do some welding and some cutting to get the bracket that we had to fit. Everything went good and we got it all fixed.”
Then, Hogan went out to qualify and during his warm up lap, the left rear tire started going flat. Hogan stayed on it and still pulled out a qualifying lap that was good enough for 12th.
“Just think what we could have done with four good tires,” joked Hogan. “Na, really, I just hope maybe we used up all of our bad luck today. Maybe we’ll be good now for tomorrow.”
PARSLEY CRASHES FRIDAY
Sunoco Super Series regular Bobby Parsley had intended on racing in Sunday’s event, but crashed hard during Friday practice, ending his bid. He pulled the car out of the event because the damage was too significant.
Jason Hogan's team goes to work on his car after problems in practice.
Kentucky’s Bo Mitchell won the Sportsman 66 in dominating fashion on Saturday night, putting nearly the entire field a lap down. Joe Beaver, from Noblesville (IN), finished second, the only other car to finish on the lead lap.
“It has been a long month,” said Mitchell. “We should have won at Anderson (IN) earlier this year and had no luck and then was going for the lead at Salem (IN) last week and got wrecked. So it is nice to finally win one and it couldn’t come at a better place than here.
“We won a championship in a Late Model back home, so hopefully we’ll be back here next year, but in a Late Model.”
Troy Hall finished third, with Carey Hensel and Chris Foster rounding out the top five.
McFARLAND WINS LATE MODEL 100
The 2003 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Champion Mark McFarland won his third Late Model Stock special event in a row on Saturday night, using a smooth and steady style to make the pass on Clay Grennfield to win the Late Model 100 at Nashville on Saturday night.
It was the last lap though that had McFarland sweating, as he had to hold off Music City Motorplex regular Willie Allen in a side-by-side, door-to-door battle.
“We had a little bit of a challenge there at the end and that was pretty fun,” said McFarland. “My guys said he was running pretty good, then we had that caution and he was able to catch up to me. It was a really good race. We could have wadded both of them up, so I give him credit. He drove me hard and then let me go.”
Mark Day finished third, with Garrett Gray fourth and Wade Buttery fifth.
Mark McFarland won the Late Model race on Saturday night.
17 – The number of states represented with cars in the pits in the Super Late Model class at Nashville.
1 – The number of Canadian providences represented at Nashville. (Ontario, Shawn McWirter)
41 – The number of cars to qualify within a half-second of each other on Saturday.
58 – The number of cars that qualified within one-second of each other on Saturday night.
Scott Carlson (#38s) qualified fifth, while Kenny Tweedy (6n) didn't even make it to qualifying.
15, 17 – The number of Late Models and Sportsman cars that competed on Saturday night at Nashville.