EASLEY, S.C. — official track release — Haley Wilbanks photo —
Round three of the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points season at Greenville-Pickens Speedway featured five divisions and six main events, as Twin 75-lap features were presented for the late model stock division.
Trey Gibson won both late model features, with Tim Sams, Freddy Hale, Bobby Emory and Dannon Esco also tasted the fruits in Call Double-Aught Bryan Ramey Victory Lane on Saturday night.
The late model stock class got the evening off to a rousing start with their first of two feature events. 19 cars went to the flags of starter Cary Hardin with 75 laps the scheduled distance. Rodney Howard won the Root’s Tire & Auto Pole Award for being the fast timer so he started up front alongside the No. 28 of Ryan Walker.
Fourth fastest qualifier RD Smith had a motor issue prior to the start and had to pull his No. 16 to the pits, but not before leaking oil on the track, necessitating a cleanup. The track crew went to work and got things in racing shape in short order and action resumed. Smith was able to rejoin the action but had to do so at the back of the field.
Walker took off out front when the green flag waved, and led 55 straight green flag laps. Behind him, Howard ran second for the first 33 laps before a sway bar broke on his No. 16 and he started falling back out of the top ten, eventually dropping out. This left the door open for young shoes Chase Purdy in the Hawk-McCall Motorsports No. 41 and Dylan Hall in the No. 4 to grab second and third and see if they can catch the high-flying Walker.
Slower traffic ended up playing a significant role in the outcome, as Purdy used it to his advantage to pass Walker on lap 56. One lap later, Hall tried to make it four-wide with a daring move into turn one going between three other cars, but the move wasn’t successful as he spun out, bringing out the only yellow flag of the event.
That yellow was exactly what Trey Gibson needed, as he rolled to the outside of leader Purdy and took the lead for good on lap 58. Purdy couldn’t stay with Gibson and had to settle for second. Walker finished third, Anthony Alfredo fourth in his first late model start at the speedway. Hall got back up from the rear of the field to fifth at the checkers.
Next on the card was the renegade division. Bobby Emory started the 20-lap affair from the pole, with Parker Jameson alongside. They ran that way until lap 14 when a debris caution allowed Parker to make a pit stop for a window net repair. He restarted at the tail. That moved Larry Nabors to second, Daniel Jameson third, Joe Allen to fourth and Brandon Ellison rounding out the top five for the restart.
It didn’t take Parker long to get back to fourth, and that’s exactly where he finished as Emory, Nabors and Daniel Jameson finished top three. Parker Jameson finished fourth with Allen and Ellison rounding out the field.
The late models returned to the track for their second 75-lap race of the night, lining up according to the way they finished in the first main event. That put Trey Gibson and Chase Purdy in the front row with Ryan Walker and Anthony Alfredo in row two. Dylan Hall and Landon Huffman started in row three with a total of 19 cars answering the call for the race.
When Cary Hardin waved the green flag, the cars made it through turns one and two but then much of the back half of the field came together on the back straightaway. Among the cars with damage were Ralph Carnes, Lance Gatlin, Tasha Kummer, Rodney Howard, Will Burns, R.D. Smith, Tyler English, Neil Meredith, David Roberts and Don Morgan. All of those cars pitted. Greg Tinsley was also involved but restarted without pitting with minor front end damage.
No drivers were injured in the melee. Howard, Morgan English and Gatlin rejoined the race without losing a lap, as did Kummer in the No. 35. Carnes moved into the Starkey No. 8 as Richard Starkey was not feeling well.
Gibson sped away on the restart and kept distance between himself and the field for the first 22 laps until the second yellow of the race came out when Don Morgan’s Car No. 2 shed some body parts on the front straightaway. At that point, It was Gibson, Purdy, Alfredo, Walker and Hall in the top five.
On the restart Gibson again pulled away, leaving second on back to battle each other. They swapped spots back and forth until lap 30 when it shook out as Purdy second, Hall third, Alfredo fourth and Huffman running in the fifth spot.
Howard raced Huffman for the fifth position and took it away from him on lap 37 as Gibson continued to soar out front. Howard began to close ground on fourth place Alfredo, passing him on lap 42 and closing right up on third place Hall.
Lap 46 was eventful as Purdy caught up to the lapped car of Lance Gatlin and got pinned behind him by Hall, and the mad scramble for position that ensued left Howard in second, Hall third and Alfredo fourth as Purdy fell to fifth.
Gibson had an easy time of it until lap 62 when some debris on the back straightaway brought out a yellow flag and his lead was suddenly gone with the wind. With the “choose cone” coming into play, the restart would see Gibson, Hall, Howard, Purdy and Huffman in that order.
Purdy’s car was slow on the restart, costing him a top five spot. Alfredo managed to make it back by Hall as Trey Gibson took off and finished out the race with a lead of just under a second. At the checkers it was Gibson making it a clean sweep with Howard, Huffman,Alfredo and Hall rounding out the top five.
The pure stock feature took to the track following a short intermission with Freddy Hale and Ashley Granata sitting on the front row. The race went green to checker, and Hale was able to maintain enough of an advantage to hold off all challengers to get the win. Granata had to work for second as Buck Simmons kept the pressure on throughout the race, but at the stripe he settled for a third place finish.
Fourth went to Charlie Meinders, who charged from the back of the field after arriving late to the track. Rounding out the top five was Spencer Morgan in the No. 33.
The super stock field was thin on Saturday after an attrition-filled race last week. Ricky Stephens, Tim Sams, Travis Cox, Stanley Pressley and Adam Rogers answered the bell for the 25-lap main event. Stephens grabbed the lead and had an answer for every trick Sams tossed at him for the first 12 laps but eventually Sams found the way by and left the field behind him for his second win in a row.
Cox chased down Stephens with less than ten laps left and took second. Stephens finished third, Pressley fourth and Rogers fifth.
For the nightcap, the 4-Cylinders put on a tremendous show in their 15-lap race. Dannon Esco led from start to finish but the win was not without stiff challenges from Travis Shelton and then Tommy Davis in the No. 69, who came on late in the race to pass Shelton for second.
Chad Redding also worked his way through the top five and got by Shelton’s No. 2 with a few laps left to finish third. Shelton came across the line in fourth and Don Tavernia finished in fifth.
For the latest updates about Greenville-Pickens Speedway during the week, visit the track website at www.greenvillepickens.com.
RESULTS: NASCAR Whelen All American Series Race Three; Greenville Pickens Speedway; March 19, 2016
Late Model Feature Finish Race One: Trey Gibson, Chase Purdy, Ryan Walker, Anthony Alfredo, Dylan Hall, Landon Huffman, Randy Gentry, Lance Gatlin, Tyler English, Neil Meredith, Will Burns, David Roberts, Ralph Carnes, Tasha Kummer, Don Morgan, R.D. Smith, Rodney Howard, Richard Starkey, Greg Tinsley.
Late Model Feature Finish Race Two: Trey Gibson, Rodney Howard, Landon Huffman, Anthony Alfredo, Dylan Hall, Chase Purdy, Ralph Carnes, Ryan Walker, Greg Tinsley, Lance Gatlin, Randy Gentry, Don Morgan, Tasha Kummer, Tyler English, Neil Meredith, David Roberts, R.D. Smith, Richard Starkey and Will Burns.
4-Cylinder Feature Finish: Dannon Esco, Tommy Davis, Chad Redding, Travis Shelton, Don Tavernia, Scott Parker, Ray Mullinax, Chad Tavernia, Michael Cross, Derek Fowler, Manual Molleda, Neil Meeks, Tommy Davis, Sr., Casey Finley, Travis Barbare, James Coggins, Brian Messer, Dennis Parham, Sandra Tavernia and Hunter Evans.
Renegade Feature Finish: Bobby Emory, Larry Nabors, Daniel Jameson, Parker Jameson, Joe Allen and Brandon Ellison.
Pure Stock Feature Finish: Freddie Hale, Ashley Granata, Buck Simmons, Charlie Meinders, Spencer Morgan, Hank Hutto, A.J. Davis, Dannon Esco and Zach Meinders
Super Stock Feature Finish: Tim Sams, Travis Cox, Ricky Stephens, Stanley Pressley and Adam Rogers.
CREDIT: Greenville-Pickens Speedway