HAMPTON, Ga. – Audio and recap by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio, Race Chaser Online, USCS Racing and Atlanta Motor Speedway – Chris Seelman photo – The hotter the summer has gotten, the hotter Joey Aguilar has been on the race track.
Aguilar, nicknamed “The Ace” for his cool head behind the wheel and stellar record in sprint car competition, blasted away from the K&N Filters Pole Position and masterfully diced through lapped traffic en route to his third United Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N victory of the season during Friday night’s 2nd annual Wind Creek Casino/Hotel Wetumpka Sprint Car Shootout 50-lap A-main at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The race, contested on the quarter-mile Legends oval built into the Speedway’s frontstretch, took place under the lights following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying and served as the finale to the 2014 USCS “Road to Atlanta” Asphalt Thunder Tour pavement mini-series.
Aguilar, a Tampa, Florida native, started on the pole but had to endure five cautions and several dicey restarts before pulling away during the stretch run to claim an emotional and hard-fought victory.
“Man, let me tell you, last Saturday (our car owner) pulled the car that we won the two most recent USCS pavement races (at Anderson, S.C.) with and we didn’t even think we were going to be able to race this weekend,” a choked-up Aguilar said in www.rockauto.com USCS Victory Lane. “This crew though, they pulled this car, the “Silver Bullet” we call it, out of mothballs and put it together in four days – and look where we are now.
Aguilar said the win was a surreal moment and one that would stick with him for years to come.
“This is unbelievable; it’s by far the biggest win of my career. Thanks to Atlanta Motor Speedway, the fans and the USCS for putting this show on. I don’t even know what to say. Wow.”
Ten-time series champion Terry Gray was held up in lapped traffic with 15 laps to go and was unable to mount a challenge for the win in the closing laps. The Bartlett, Tennessee native chased Aguilar home in the runner-up position, with hard-charging “Hollywood” Michael Miller, from Ocean Springs, Mississippi just behind him completing the podium in third.
Top-ranked female sprint car star Morgan Turpen rebounded from being involved in an opening-lap crash to finish fourth and claim the 2014 USCS “Road to Atlanta” Asphalt Thunder Tour pavement championship.
Turpen becomes the first female champion in any division in USCS sanction history.
“We had to work insanely hard for this one tonight – we got flat spun out on the opening lap and I was a little worried before we got rolling again but we just dug deep, man, and we pulled it out,” a jubilant Turpen said during post-race festivities. “This means everything to me and to my team; it’s my first championship ever but I hope it’s only the beginning.”
Indian Trail, North Carolina driver and 2008 USCS Southern Thunder regional Rookie of the Year Jake McLain was the final car on the lead lap and rounded out the top five at the checkered flag.
Dover, Florida veteran Johnny Gilbertson rebounded from being involved in the opening lap crash that collected Turpen to come home in sixth, with Mooresville, North Carolina pilot Tim Perry finishing seventh. Brandon McLain, also from Indian Trail, ran eighth at the twin checkers. Local favorite Jay Dunham, from Grovetown, Georgia crossed the line ninth and 15-year-old Nick Snyder completed the top ten in his first-career pavement 360 sprint car race.
Snyder’s run was made more impressive by the fact that the young gun, who did not originally plan on competing in last night’s event, and his team prepared the car in less than an hour upon arrival to the track for Friday’s afternoon practice sessions.
Turpen kicked off the afternoon portion of the racing program by setting the KTB Motorsports Fast Time, picking up a $250 bonus for her quick lap of 14.041 seconds. Aguilar scored the victory in the Hoosier Tire Speed Dash, and Jake McLain grabbed the checkered flag in the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat. Tim Perry rolled to the victory in the Butlerbuilt Second Heat.
Turpen was the provisional polesitter after getting her time back from qualifying, but after a four came up in the K&N Inversion Draw, Aguilar received the K&N Filters Pole Award. Brandon McLain passed the most cars in the A-main (six) to grab the Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award.
The United Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N continues their 2014 schedule and Labor Day weekend swing on Saturday night at Harris Speedway in Rutherfordton, N.C. with the running of the track’s inaugural “Sprint Car Wars” event.
RESULTS: USCS Sprint Car Series “Wind Creek Casino/Hotel Wetumpka Sprint Car Shootout”; Atlanta Motor Speedway; August 29, 2014
KTB Motorsports Fast Time: Morgan Turpen, 14.041 seconds.
Hoosier Tire Speed Dash: Joey Aguilar, Jake McLain, Tim Perry, Morgan Turpen, Tom Paterson, Bill Moore.
Engler Machine and Tool First Heat: Jake McLain, Johnny Gilbertson, Terry Gray, Morgan Turpen, Jay Dunham, Bill Moore, Nick Snyder, Joe Larkin (DNS).
Butlerbuilt Second Heat: Tim Perry, Michael Miller, Joey Aguilar, Tom Paterson, Kent Wolters, Jeff Willingham, Brandon McLain, Kris Davis (DNS).
USCS Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N Wind Creek Casino/Hotel Wetumpka Sprint Car Shootout A-main: 50-laps
- #11 – Joey Aguilar, Tampa, FL
- #10 – Terry Gray, Bartlett, TN
- #4M – Michael Miller, Ocean Springs, MS
- #10M – Morgan Turpen, Cordova, TN
- #67 – Jake McLain, Indian Trail, NC
- #22 – Johnny Gilbertson, Dover, FL
- #36 – Tim Perry, Mooresville, NC
- #21B – Brandon McLain, Indian Trail, NC
- #51 – Jay Dunham, Grovetown, GA
- #116 – Nick Snyder, Marco Island, FL
- #12H – Kent Wolters, Tipp City, OH
- #12 – Kris Davis, Burbank, OH
- #28 – Jeff Willingham, Ripley, MS
- #06 – Bill Moore, Mt. Ulla, NC
- #11X – Tom Paterson, Argos, IN
- #33 – Joe Larkin, Suwanee, GA
Audio with race winner Joey Aguilar:
Audio with runner-up Terry Gray:
Audio with 3rd-place Michael Miller:
Audio with 4th-place and Asphalt Thunder champion Morgan Turpen:
USCS Sprint Car Series Race Awards:
KTB Motorsports Fast Time Award ($250 bonus): #10M – Morgan Turpen
Hoosier Tire Speed Dash: #11 – Joey Aguilar
Engler Machine and Tool First Heat: #67 – Jake McLain
Butlerbuilt Second Heat: #36 – Tim Perry
K&N Filters Pole Award: #11 – Joey Aguilar
JE Pistons Top Guns Award: #10 – Terry Gray (2nd place)
K&N Filters Podium (3rd place) Award: #4M – Michael Miller
Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award: #21B – Brandon McLain
Keizer Aluminum Wheels Top Five Award: #67 – Jake McLain
Saldana Racing Products Super Sixth Award: #22 – Johnny Gilbertson
Pyrotect Racing Cells Lucky Seven Award: #36 – Tim Perry
DMI/Bulldog Rear Ends Top Ten Award: #116 – Nick Snyder