Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Tom Hessert wins International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200

As the lap winded down, it looked as though Venturini Motorsports had this race in hand with either Justin Boston or John Wes Townley set to grab the win. However, everything would change rather quickly when the caution flew at lap 58 of 76 when Justin Allison blew a tire and slid up to the track, getting into Clay Campbell and causing him to go around.

The resulting caution put the Venturini Motorsports teammates side-by-side for the restart at lap 64, rather than nose-to-tail as they’d prefer. On hte restart, everyone dropped to the bottom lane which allowed Townley to hold a solid lead.

However, as the lap ticked down the outside lane formed once again as Bobby Gerhart would begin to pull Tom Hessert and Austin Wayne Self towards the front of the field. Gerhart continued to pull the outside lane, getting alongside Townley for the lead with four to go. Gerhart pulled ahead of Townley, though was then split by Townley and Hessert for the lead.

Hessert was able to pull ahead with teammate Self on his bumper and held off the field to the checkered flag for the win. For Hessert, it marks his fourth career win and his first at Talladega Superspeedway. Hessert also becomes the eighth different winner at Talladega in the past eight races there.

“I was able to get by Justin there and big props to Austin as he stayed right there on my bumper on there,” Hessert said. “Bobby is great here. I don’t know how we snuck by him on the outside there. But what a great day!”

Townley would fight back to finish second and thought that he could’ve had a shot if Mason Mitchell would’ve stayed locked on his bumper longer at the end.

“It turned out to be a pretty good day for us – second it isn’t what you want but it’s a good day,” he added.

Hessert’s young teammate Self finished third in his first ever start at Talladega Superspeedway, followed by Mitchell and Gallagher.

“We had a really good day,” Mitchell commented. “Can’t thank the guys enough for working so hard the whole weekend. Had a fast hot rod all weekend and stay up front all day so it was a good solid weekend.”

“When you get out to these tracks, it’s all about timing and I had just about the right timing out there today,” Gallagher said. “My crew did a good job in getting me down pit road and off there. I thought we’d get second from John there, but he snuck by us there. With four wheels on the car and on the ground, I’d call this mission accomplished.”

Derek Lancater would finish sixth and commented post-race that it’s an awesome finish for his small team.

“To come here and finish sixth, I can’t speak. My tongue is tied. I don’t know what to say,” he added.

Bobby Gerhart finished seventh after his late race charge, followed by Frank Kimmel, Grant Enfinger and Buster Graham. Enfinger led till the first green flag pit stop, though would speed and have to come back down to serve his penalty.

“It was disappointing and definitely on my shoulders so I hate it for all the guys,” Enfinger commented. “I really wanted to pull off a win this weekend, but it is what it is. We had a car that could’ve won the race but the driver gave it away.”

Josh Williams finished 11th, followed by Justin Boston, Scott Sheldon, Leliani Munter and Mark Thompson. Thompson made heavy contact with the outside wall on the last lap after Williams got into him a little.

“It was shame early in the race that John got by me,” Boston commented. “I knew that I had to get a good restart and it’s a shame that I didn’t get the push that I needed to get infront of him. We fell back there but were able to get back up there. It was a learning day with a solid finish. It’s not a top five, but I’ll take it.”

After his blown tire early, Justin Allison was able to fight back and still score a solid top 20 finish.

“We started pretty far back and it wasn’t where we wanted to be there, but it was kind of good that we were back there so we could take our time,” Allison said. “First, we got a speeding penalty and then five laps after that, we blew the right front. I hate that we got into Clay, but I’m kind of glad that he was there as that would’ve hurt. We tried to fight back, but we kept having to work on it. It’s not the finish that I wanted, but it’s not the worst finish considering our day.”

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