By Kyle Brandt
IRVINGTON, Ala. (Sept. 14, 2014) – The entire 2014 racing season came down to one race on Saturday night for the drivers of the Super Stock and Modified divisions at Mobile International Speedway (MIS) – and the stakes could not have been higher. On top of the series championship being awarded at the end of the 35-lap features, the winner of each race would go home $1000 richer thanks to Maeco Fabrication in Grand Bay (Ala.).
The Alabama Pipe and Supply Modified feature was the first order of business on Saturday night, and despite starting in the third position, it took Donnie Hamrac less than two laps to take the lead away from polesitter and championship leader, Okie Mason.
Hamrac didn’t have very long to relax, however; as fourth-place starter Donald Crocker was on his back bumper by lap eight. After one more trip around the high banked half-mile oval though, Crocker’s No. 5 machine would take the lead exiting turn four. With a clean track ahead of him, Crocker would pull away to a lead equivalent to the length of the front straightaway by lap 24.
With Hamrac seemingly struggling, and eventually falling back to fourth-place, Crocker would cruise on to score the win and the $1000 paycheck that came along with it to close out the season.
“We had a good car and it has always treated us great,” explained Crocker following the race. “It’s still got spider webs underneath it holding a lot of stuff together, but it just comes out and does good. I sure do appreciate that.”
Meanwhile, championship leader Mason would rally to a third-place finish despite a slow start to the race – which was good enough to claim the 2014 Modified championship over Hamrac.
“I have got to thank God for giving me the ability to do this,” said Mason. “I wish we could have been better tonight. We kind of missed out, but it’s great to win a championship. It’s a year-long thing that you have to go through and I’m relieved that it is over with now.”
Praytor Realty Super Stock
Saturday night’s Super Stock division championship feature was all about damage control for points leader Bobby Baria. What fans were treated to, however; was a slam dunk by the Grand Bay driver.
Starting from the third position, it took Baria less than a lap to inherit the lead following contact between then leader, Jessie Reid, and second-place driver Bubba Winslow.
Having obviously the fastest car during the feature, it didn’t take long for Baria’s red No. 30 machine to pull out to a sizeable lead over the rest of the competition and ultimately capture the checkered flag by the conclusion of the 35th lap.
Saturday night’s result was the icing on the cake for Baria, who ended the 2014 season with a statement by not only winning the championship, but winning the final feature of the year and claiming the $1000 paycheck.
“Man, it’s been a good season,” said a thrilled Baria in victory lane. “Any time you win a track championship in any division, it is hard to do. When you have guys like Jessie Reid and Bubba Winslow coming out, you have to be on you’re A-game.”
Bob’s Speed Shop Sportsman
Serving as the penultimate race of the season for the Sportsman drivers, Saturday night’s feature was certainly a wild one as the $1000 payday to the winner served as extra motivation to the drivers.
A regular in the Super Stock division at MIS, former NASCAR driver Dave Mader III made an appearance in Jason Smith’s No. 0 car and appeared to have not missed a beat in the new-to-him ride.
Starting from the pole, Mader would never relinquish the top spot during the 35-lap feature – but that doesn’t mean that the race was a cake walk, either.
Entering the race weekend as the division’s points leader, Irvington’s Mark Barnhill would start from the second position and would rid right behind Mader until a hair-rising moment would take place on lap 10.
Following an impressive launch off of turn two, third-place starter Lee “Red Dog” Reynolds was able to pull up next to Barnhill on the outside entering turn three. After not budging – and the two cars being separated by mere inches – Barnhill would get loose and clip the restart cone sitting in the grass in turn four.
After riding underneath Barnhill’s car for two laps, the orange cone would eventually become unlodged and land in the middle of the track in turn four and be ran over by Randy Thompson seconds later resulting in the second caution of the night.
Like he had done all race long, Mader would take control of the lead on the following restart – but the real battle would rage on behind him for the second position. Just a few laps after his incident, Barnhill would pass Reynolds for the second position and set his sights on the leader.
Despite a valiant charge to Mader’s bumper, Barnhill would come up short of securing the win. On the bright side, however; he would extend his championship points lead over James Patrick as a result entering the final race of the season next weekend.
Island Motors II Bombers
Just two weeks removed from Gene Denmark’s breakthrough win on Lee Fields Memorial night – and snapping BJ Leytham’s undefeated streak – much of the talk surrounding Saturday night’s 20-lap Bomber feature was about Leytham’s chances of rebounding.
The Mobile native wouldn’t wait long to answer their question.
The fastest qualifier of the night, Leytham would roll a three on the dice prior to the race and start in the third position when the green flag waved – and by the time he made it to the backstretch, his No. 8 would have the lead.
On the lap three restart following an accident involving Derek “Kane” Long and William Nichols; Leytham would once again take control of the lead and pull away.
Despite the race being halted one more time for a caution, Leytham would not waver – pulling away yet again and ultimately cruising on to his 11th win of the season at the half-mile track with his teammate, Denmark, finishing second.
“(My team) gave me an excellent ride,” his explained in victory lane. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
“I would like to thank my Uncle — I know everyone here knows Tiger. He put me in my first ride and I just want to thank him for that.”
Up next at the Mobile International Speedway is the Southern Super Series Sunoco 125 to round out the 2014 season at the facility on Saturday night, Sept. 20 . Along with racing from the Sportsmen, Pro Truck and Bomber divisions – and championships to be decided in each, it will be a night to remember at Alabama’s fastest half-mile.
About Mobile International Speedway: Mobile International Speedway is the longest continuously operating sports facility in Mobile County. It was built in 1964 and has presented weekly motorsports events every year since then. As an indication of increasing community acceptance and enthusiasm, both the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Mobile Sports Authority became MIS partners beginning in 2013.
Family attendance and participation have been the keys to the track’s continued success. Kids five and under are always admitted free to the grandstands. Family nights and family-oriented shows have always been staples of the annual MIS schedules. Over 30,000 people will attend the 14 scheduled MIS events in 2014.