AUDIO/RECAP: Ten-Time Champion Terry Gray Rekindles Spark; Rolls to Second Season Win at Lavonia

Jacob Seelman Audio, Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Other Sprint Cars, Southeast, Sprints & Midgets 0 Comments

LAVONIA, GA – Story and audio by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio, Race Chaser Online and USCS Racing – Chris Seelman photo – You can never keep a champion down for long and once again, wily veteran Terry Gray proved why.

The ten-time United Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N champion from Bartlett, Tennessee powered to the outside of K&N Filters polesitter Jay Dunham in the opening corner of Thursday night’s “Thursday Thriller” 30-lap feature event at Lavonia Speedway and held on the entire distance, despite two early-race red flags, to bank his second USCS feature victory of the 2014 season.

The win was Gray’s 88th career series victory and broke a nearly two-month dry spell for the perennial championship contender and race winner.

“It feels really good to get back here (to Victory Lane) tonight,” Gray expressed in Victory Lane following the event. “I got a little nervous when I couldn’t get by the slower traffic ahead of me there late in the race, and I knew (teammate) Morgan (Turpen) was coming behind me, but I figured if I couldn’t get by them that no one was going to have the steam to pass me. Morgan ran a great race though, and this is a great night for our team.”

The race was slowed twice by red flags for on-track flips. The first red flew when USCS 600 Sprint Series regular Kyle Amerson jumped the cushion in turn three and flipped, landing on all four wheels, and the second came out when 1998 series Rookie of the Year Johnny Bridges spun coming off turn two and turned over after being slammed into by Johnny Gilbertson, who was unable to avoid Bridges’ spinning machine.

In both cases, the safety equipment did its job and the drivers were uninjured. Bridges, who was second in USCS Southern Thunder Tour points coming into the night, was especially disappointed after his night was over.

“I’m not hurt, but my pride is,” a dejected Bridges expressed. “That’s the first time in years I just plain lost it. Just a tough night all the way around for us.”

Following the crashes, the final 26 laps ran green-to-checkered and Gray streaked away from the field while hometown driver Dunham (from Grovetown, GA) made a valiant effort to stay in the top five almost the entire distance, having arguably the strongest run of his USCS career over the course of the evening.

Ultimately, Dunham would fade and Gray’s teammate, Cordova, Tennessee native Morgan Turpen would close the gap to just over a car length at the checkered flag, finishing the night as the race’s runner-up. Charlotte, North Carolina young gun and 2010 Southern Thunder Rookie of the Year Eric Riggins would complete the podium in third, with Chillicothe, Ohio’s Danny Smith, a World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series regular, crossing the line in fourth. Three-time USCS championship runner-up and perennial feature contender Danny Martin Jr., from Sarasota, Florida rounded out the top five.

Dunham would lead the next group of drivers across the stripe, finishing his night in the sixth position. Thonotosassa, Florida driver Collin Cabre came home in seventh and Matt Kurtz returned to the USCS Sprint Car Series for the first time in over a year, ending up eighth. Pendergrass, Georgia’s Brian Thomas took the checkered flag in ninth and Venice, Florida wheelman Kenny Laureno capped off the top ten at the finish.

Gray kicked off the evening’s racing action by winning the Hoosier Tire Speed Dash, and Jay Dunham scored the win in the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat, his first career USCS heat race victory. Gray then rolled to the victory in the Butlerbuilt Second Heat.

Dunham was the provisional polesitter after scoring the most passing points in heat race action, and after a zero came up in the K&N Inversion Draw, Dunham also received the K&N Filters Pole Award.  Danny Smith passed the most cars in the A-main (four) to grab the Willwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award.

The United Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N continues their 2014 schedule on Friday night, July 18th at Boyd’s Speedway with the running of Sprint Car Wars VI.


RESULTS: USCS Sprint Car Series “Thursday Thriller”; Lavonia Speedway; July 17th, 2014

Hoosier Tire Speed Dash: Terry Gray, Eric Riggins Jr., Morgan Turpen, Brandon McLain, Johnny Bridges, Brian Thomas.

Engler Machine and Tool First Heat: Jay Dunham, Kenny Laureno, Danny Martin Jr., Collin Cabre, Danny Smith, Matt Kurtz, Johnny Bridges, Johnny Gilbertson.

Butlerbuilt Second Heat: Terry Gray, Morgan Turpen, Kyle Amerson, Eric Riggins Jr., Brandon McLain, Brian Thomas, Joe Larkin, Nicholas Snyder (DNS).


USCS Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N Thursday Thriller A-main: 30-laps

  1. #10 – Terry Gray, Bartlett, TN
  2. #10M – Morgan Turpen, Cordova, TN
  3. #47 – Eric Riggins Jr., Charlotte, NC
  4. #4 – Danny Smith, Chillicothe, OH
  5. #24 – Danny Martin Jr., Sarasota, FL
  6. #51 – Jay Dunham, Grovetown, GA
  7. #12C – Collin Cabre, Thonotosassa, FL
  8. #92 – Matt Kurtz, Jacksonville, FL
  9. #67 – Brian Thomas, Pendergrass, GA
  10. #36 – Kenny Laureno, Venice, FL
  11. #07 – Johnny Bridges, Cherryville, NC
  12. #21B – Brandon McLain, Indian Trail, NC
  13. #15 – Johnny Gilbertson, Dover, FL
  14. #33 – Joe Larkin, Suwanee, GA
  15. #29 – Kyle Amerson, Montgomery, AL
  16. #116 – Nicholas Snyder, Marco Island, FL (DNS)


Audio with race winner Terry Gray:

Audio with runner-up Morgan Turpen:

Audio with polesitter and 6th-place Jay Dunham:


USCS Sprint Car Series Race Awards:

K&N Filters Pole Award: #51 – Jay Dunham
JE Pistons Top Guns Award: #4 – Danny Smith (4th place)
K&N Filters Podium (3rd place) Award: #47 – Eric Riggins Jr.
Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award: #4 – Danny Smith
Keizer Aluminum Wheels Top Five Award: #24 – Danny Martin Jr.
Saldana Racing Products Super Sixth Award: #51 – Jay Dunham
Pyrotect Racing Cells Lucky Seven Award: #12C – Collin Cabre
DMI/Bulldog Rear Ends Top Ten Award: #36 – Kenny Laureno

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