Track has colorful night of dirt racing

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LMS hosts American Air Heating and Cooling All-Star Race

By Mark Huey

Children learn their colors in pre-school, or simply by watching “Sesame Street.” They surely would have learned their colors Saturday night when the American Air Heating and Cooling All-Star Race rolled into the Lancaster Motor Speedway. The race had a little bit of green, some red, even a few shades of blue and yellow aplenty.

The electrician may need to work on the switch on the caution light on the flagstand because it sure was abused Saturday. Also, racing tire sales will definitely increase over at John Page’s this week, as new flower beds will be built, or local fish ponds will pick up some new bream bed structure because a lot of torn-up tires will be put to use.

u The Young Gun class started the feature events. On the first lap, there was a major battle between Chad Adams, Jr., Josh Langley, and Austin Baker – behind Andrew Yandle. The Monroe, N.C. teen (in a yellow car) was in control, while the field scrambled behind him. Adams spun his No. 24 American Air car off turn two, bringing the field to its first yellow. Later, Baker got loose in turn one, when Brandan Blackmon moved to the bottom for a pass.

Baker and Blackmon connected, sending Blackmon head-on into the turn two wall. The No. 28 car was heavily damaged, along with Langley’s Buford Little General No. 7 and Amanda Blackwell’s Deal One Auto Sales No. 1 car. There was a long delay to pack the water from Blackmon’s radiator. When racing resumed, the yellow Paul’s Golf Car Repair No. 33 of Yandle cruised to win. This win, coupled with Blackmon’s misfortune, turned the points lead over to Yandle. Langley returned to finish second, Baker third, Nathan Geist fourth, and Chad Adams Jr., fifth. Amanda Bell finished sixth, with Blackwell and Blackmon rounding out the field.

u In the pure street division, Frankie McGuire and Steve Hinson were the heat race winners in the 19-car field. Hinson and McGuire have provided plenty excitement over the years in the Pure Street division. This night was no different. Both cars are red and they were blazing.

On the first lap, Hinson and McGuire battled side-by-side, but the big story happened in turn three. Randy Greene entered the corner with thunderous speed, but lost control of the car and hit the outside retaining wall, rolling the car over and back upright. He retired to the pits as a result of his crash, but was OK. Meanwhile, as the leaders pulled away, a brutal battle was setting up for third between Jerry Sexton, Jesse Carson, Jason Starnes, and David Price. It was a blockbuster race for the top five, with Sexton again proving he still has it in the little red No. 21 to run up front. Hinson cruised to the win in the Dixie Food Mart No. 10, with McGuire second, Sexton third in the American Air car, Carson in the No. 121 for Rudy’s Lawn Service fourth and Jason Starnes, in the Bomber’s Wings No. 4, finishing fifth.

Up next was the Super Street division, where Brandy Baker and Jody Bigham were heat winners. Bigham had problems on his car after the heats and did not start the main.

This moved up Travis Mosley of Richburg to the front row. This car is a former Frankie McGuire machine, which has won many races at Lancaster. Mosley started to an early lead in the white No. 19 car. Early in the race, a spin by Timbo Mangum in turn three created a parking lot with mangled metal and flat tires. Mangum pitted, Baker pitted and many cars in the rear moved closer to the front of the 15-car field. When the racing resumed, Mosley was setting a fast pace, with McGuire in the No. 54 Leonard Lucas-owned Kickstand car checking under him in every turn, as there were so many racing grooves to choose from on this well-prepared rack. As a side note, this was about the best track surface most have ever seen at any track. The Mud Masters and Lancaster Speedway showed they have it together.

Near the end of the event, the leaders found their way into and out of lapped racers. Many of these drivers would find contact from the lead cars, as they were in the fast lane. The last two laps of racing were about the best laps of racing ever witnessed at Lancaster Speedway in years. Mosley, McGuire, Mangum and Baker, who had moved back into the top five, along with Ricky Taylor quickly moved up on more lapped race cars.

There was nothing more for Mosley to do than ram a slower car up ahead, while fighting to keep the lead. On the white flag lap, these five machines entered turn one all at the same time, since they were so bunched up with the traffic. McGuire just did get into the Mosley car, and it was sent spinning.

While Timbo Mangum crossed the flagstand first, the call was made to credit Mosley with the win, citing a “protect the leader” rule in the LMS scoring rules.

Mangum and his crew did not like the call, but yielded the win to Mosley in the end. Mangum finished second, Baker third, Taylor fourth and Matt Cauthen was fifth. He was followed by McGuire, Tom Megill, Don Burns, Benki Kee and Andy King.

Dustin Sweatt and Jeffrey McGuirt won their heat races in the Stock Four race. It was an intense battle between Sweatt in the No. 1 Chad Gainer-sponsored car and the Red Rocket of McGuirt sponsored by Langley Collision Center.

Wes Helms was scheduled to drive his No. 98 car, but had to go to a back-up car for the main.

Sweatt and McGuirt battled hard in this event, as they were often racing door-to-door through the turns. Helms entered the mix near the halfway point of the race and charged into the top three. Ray Adams and Michael Brown raced for fourth and fifth. Sweatt eventually won, with Helms second, McGuirt third, Adams fourth, and Michael Brown fifth. Blake Rallings finished sixth, with Mike Snipes, Dylan Terlinde, Bill Hyatt and Bill Stutley rounding out the top 10.

Ricky Taylor and Barry Mathis won their heat races for the Crate Sportsman race. This was to be one of the night’s top races, but it really never had a chance to pan out. Multiple cautions and lengthy delays hindered the excitement. Earlier in the night, a mix-up among the lead cars in the heats gave the fans a few exciting moments. A spin occurred in turn one as the lead cars were racing down the backstretch. Ben Watkins and Kenny Ramsey were first and second when the caution light appeared. However, at Lancaster Speedway, they are to race back to the checkered flag when the caution light comes on, if the spin is safely behind the leaders. Taylor knew that. He charged from fourth, bouncing off cars in front of him en route to the heat race win.

Mathis took the early lead, with Ben Watkins pushing the No. 4 Taylor car into turn one. This prompted Taylor to spin in front of the field, causing a hefty pile-up. As more and more cars pitted for flat tires, Mathis knew it was his race to win. Chris Bell was running fifth when all of this happened. He restarted third since Travis Payne, in the No. 29 car, and Shorty Lacey, in the No. 19 car, were damaged from the wreck.

There would be several more cautions and long delays in this event. Numerous cars had problems getting into and out of the turns, prompting track officials to enforce the time limit.

On the next start, Mathis experienced heartbreak, as his car had a flat tire and pitted. However, there was more wrong on his car, as he did not return to the event. The final two laps made up in quality what the caution-filled event lacked in quantity.

Taylor and Chris Bell raced one another very hard, with Kenny Ramsey entering the mix on the final lap. Taylor and Bell raced door-to-door on the track and with a stellar finish.  Taylor was the winner for Webster’s Racing, Chris Bell second for MacD Racing Partners, Ramsey, in the D&A One Stop No. 22, was third, Sweatt was fourth, Tyler Love, driving another Leonard Lucas car, was fifth.

The final race of the night was the highly anticipated NDRA GM Performance Late Model main. Seventeen cars took to the time-clock for a $250 qualifying lap.

The track was very slow at the first of qualifying, but once a groove set in, the times improved. Andy Blackwood was slated to qualify third, but was allowed to wait until the end, due to mechanical problems on his Rogers Grading No. 57 car.

At first, Timbo Mangum held the fastest time and would for several attempts by others. Until the No. 6 Country Omelet car of Ronnie Mosley, of Richburg set a blistering time in the 21.50s.

With all thinking Mosley had the pole, Blackwood came out and amazed everyone with an even faster lap. Blackwood captured the $250 American Air bonus and pole trophy, and secured his starting spot on the front row beside Mosley. Mangum qualified third, Chris Steele qualified fourth, Chris Hargett fifth and Brandy Baker sixth.

Ron Parker and Matt Long won their heat races to set up the rest of the 17-car field. There were two competitors from Augusta, Ga., – Brandon and Dalton Overton. Blackwood bolted up front early, coming into contact with Mosley on the first start. This triggered a chain reaction behind the leaders, with Baker spinning his car, creating a “parking lot” again in turn three. After a lengthy clean-up, the field returned to racing. Another caution forced the field to go single-file. Blackwood led the first two laps, but  Mosley made the pass on lap three and set sail.

Meanwhile, Blackwood had problems in turn one and spun his car around. Hence, another parking lot was created. Finally, after all that was cleaned-up and cars returned to the track after more flat tires, racing settled in. Mosley led every lap of the first 19-lap segment. Chad Adams owns the No. 19 American Air car driven by Chris Hargett. On lap 19, a red flag was displayed, and the leader of this lap was given a $250 bonus from American Air. Three team members were allowed to work on the cars, adding fuel and adjusting tire pressure. The leader was given the option to restart the final 16-lap segment on the inside, or outside front row, since the field was to restart double-file.

Mosley selected the outside front row. The field came back to green, only to find trouble in turn one. Another caution on the second attempt sent the field single-file. This was supposed to give Mosley the race lead, as many people thought, including Mosley. However, the track would imply a rule in the LMS scoring rules about “one-heat race” situations. This rule, when used, gives the winner of the heat race the option of choosing the inside, or outside on the start of the main event. If two cautions force the field to go single-file, then the inside car would be appointed the leader. This rule was used on lap 20 of the feature event.

While it appeared to be rather controversial, Mosley eventually understood the ramifications of his decision and settled into second.

Mangum led every lap of the 16-lap segment. He was the winner – or was he?

Mangum and Mosley were protested by Baker and found legal on Monday after motors were checked at Steve’s Head Shed. Baker finished third.

Parker, who has been protesting virtually everyone that finishes in front of him in the crate division, finished fourth behind Baker. Ray Dockery was fifth.

Mangum in a post-race interview made mention he appreciated the protest from Parker, although the protest was actually filed by Baker. The engines from Mosley’s car and Mangum’s car were detained by track officials and taken to the appointed engine technician, under the guidelines of the NDRA-sanctioning body.

Several weeks ago, Anthony Sanders won the Johnny Arrants Memorial Race under the NDRA sanction. The protest was filed by Parker then, where Sanders was found to be illegal on multiple components.

Racing continues Saturday night at Lancaster Speedway, for a “Labor Day Weekend Show.”

u Track officials thanked Chad and Vicky Adams of American Air Heating and Cooling for supporting Lancaster Speedway and putting on this race. It was a well-planned event, which featured countless T-shirt, special prizes and a nice bonus purse for the drivers.

u LMS has no racing Sept. 12 to honor the running of the I-77 Speedway Chester Shrine Club benefit race. No decision was made on the Sept. 19 race date. A decision will be made about Sept. 19 by this Saturday night. Racing is scheduled for Sept. 26, with the running of the Carolina Clash Super Late Models.

No plans have been set  for racing in October.