Gray Takes First 2004 USCS Win In Savannah SAVANNAH, GA - Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN parted a sea of lapped cars to thwart a challenge for the lead with five laps to go, and then breezed to victory Saturday night in the 30-lap United Sprint Car...
Gray Takes First 2004 USCS Win In Savannah
SAVANNAH, GA - Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN parted a sea of lapped cars to thwart a challenge for the lead with five laps to go, and then breezed to victory Saturday night in the 30-lap United Sprint Car Series main event at Oglethorpe Speedway Park. The bold move also ended Kenny Adams' quest for a fourth straight USCS win.
The win was the first of the 2004 USCS season for the defending and three-time USCS National Champion driving the Goodson Farms/Wendy's Maxim/Wesmar. Adams tried to follow Gray through the opening, but got his Goodson Farms Shaw/Ott blocked in, and the Malabar, FL driver had to settle for second.
Adams was all over Gray in lapped traffic for most of the race and kept the packed house on their feet watching the battle for the point. On lap 25, Gray came upon a group of six lapped cars. The "Bartlett Bullet" saw an opening through the middle in turn three, went through it, and then on to the win.
"The Malabar Missile" tried to follow Gray through the opening, but it quickly closed up, and Adams fell a half straightaway behind the leader, a distance he couldn't make up in the last five laps of the race, and he had to settle for second. Adams started out the evening on a high note, winning the six-lap Air Flow Research Power Dash.
"I knew that if I hesitated going through the opening between the lapped cars, Kenny (Adams) was going to zoom right by me," Gray said. "I had to go for it, and it was one of those 'win it or wear it' moves."
Short track legend Wayne Reutimann Sr. of Zephyrhills, FL made his first USCS appearance a good one, as he drove the Case Contracting Avenger/Snyder to a third-place finish. Reutimann to the opportunity to compete with USCS to prepare for a run in the Grand Masters Race for drivers 50 years of age and older at Iowa's Knoxville Raceway in June.
Another driver making his first appearance of the season with USCS was Greg Leonard of Tampa, FL, who finished fourth in the All Weather Services Shaw/Fulco Mopar-powered machine. Leonard also won the first eight-lap heat race.
Danny Martin Jr. of Sarasota, FL was fifth, with his Martin Structures, Inc. Schnee/ZRE the last car on the lead lap. The 18-year-old high school Senior also won the second eight-lap heat race, and moved up to third in the USCS National point standings behind Gray and Adams.
Brian Thomas of Auburn, GA finished sixth in the Main Street Auto Parts/Saligo Avenger/Broome Performance. Thomas rode in the top five for most of the race, but faded in the closing laps. Red Stauffer of Winter Park, FL took the seventh spot in the CB Mushrooms Shaw/Ott. Ryan Myers of Eaton, OH started his Garrett Farms Stealth/Garrett 16th, and rallied to finish eighth.
For the second straight race, Myers earned the Huggins Racing Cams Hard Charger of the Race Award.
Tom Winegardner Jr. of Pierson, FL brought the Snap On Tools J&J/WRP home in the ninth spot, and Bill Moore of Denver, NC rounded out the top ten in the Carolina Speedway J&J/Collins. R.J. Johnson of Wesley Chapel, FL was the Rookie of the Race after finishing 12th in the Race Wear/Pin Rings J&J/CRE.
Gray took the lead at the start of the race from the pole, and he beat Reutimann into the first turn. Adams bolted from his inside second row starting hole, and slid up in front of Reutimann to claim the second position in turn one.
The field went under the caution flag on lap 2 when Terry Witherspoon of Jacksonville, FL nosed his Durden Surveying Schnee/Witherspoon into the frontstretch wall, and then spun backwards on the outside berm of the track in turn one. Gray led Adams, Reutimann, Thomas, Leonard, and Martin down for the restart.
Leonard got busy and passed Thomas for the fourth spot on the restart, and then chased down Reutimann to challenge for third. As Leonard pulled along side Reutimann coming off the second turn, Brice Wrenn of Lexington, SC spun to the inside of turn one to light up the caution bulb on lap seven.
The race stayed green after the restart the rest of the way, and Gray was able to maintain a five car-length advantage over Adams until the leaders reached lapped traffic. Adams kept trying the inside groove coming off the fourth turn of the 1/2-mile dirt oval, but Gray had enough momentum to win the drag race down the front chute.
At the halfway point, Leonard got by Reutimann for the third spot, and chased down Gray and Adams to make it a three-way battle for the lead. By lap 20, Leonard got tangled up in lapped traffic, and Reutimann was in the right place at the right time to reclaim show position.
With five laps to go, Gray was holding his own over Adams, but the leader had to check up for heavy lapped traffic going down the backstretch. The lapped cars, and the sixth and seventh place cars of Thomas and Stauffer were racing side-by-side in front of the leader. Gray suddenly accelerated, and went between the cars.
By the time Adams arrived on the scene, the door was closed, and Gray opened up a half straightaway lead by the time Adams worked his way through the traffic jam. Adams tried to make a late race charge, but could only make up half the distance by the time the checkered flag came down.
USCS will return to the pavement next weekend, as the USCS Asphalt Thunder Tour visits Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC on Friday night, and then travels to the Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, VA on May 1.
Adams, who is the defending USCS Hickory winner and the defending USCS Asphalt Thunder Champion, will try to close up the 12-point deficit behind Gray in the USCS National point standings. For the latest USCS news, points, statistics, and schedules, visit the series web site at www.uscsracing.com.
<pre> Official Results Of Round 7 At Oglethorpe Speedway Park On 4/24/04:
POS STRT CAR# DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS 1. 1 10 Terry Gray Bartlett, TN 30 2. 3 4 Kenny Adams Malabar, FL 30 3. 2 00x Wayne Reutimann Sr. Zephyrhills, FL 30 4. 6 94 Greg Leonard Tampa, FL 30 5. 5 00 Danny Martin Jr. Sarasota, FL 30 6. 4 67 Brian Thomas Auburn, GA 29 7. 9 2 Red Stauffer Winter Park, FL 29 8. 16 56 Ryan Myers Eaton, OH 29 9. 14 11 Tom Winegardner Jr. Pierson, FL 29 10. 12 06 Bill Moore Denver, NC 29 11. 15 3 Daryl Smith Riverview, FL 28 12. 13 71 R.J. Johnson (R) Wesley Chapel, FL 27 13. 17 C1 Bruce Cline Apex, NC 26 14. 11 1 Ben Basinger Salisbury, NC 23 15. 18 57 Patrick Sullivan Gaffney, SC 18 16. 10 19 Jerry Jones Clermont, FL 12 17. 7 1w Brice Wrenn Lexington, SC 6 18. 8 43 Terry Witherspoon Jacksonville, FL 1
ENTRIES: 18 LEAD CHANGES: None LAP LEADERS: Gray, 1-30 CAUTIONS: 2
HUGGINS RACING CAMS HARD CHARGER: Myers (started 16th and finished 8th) ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Johnson WELD RACING WHEEL HARD LUCK AWARD: Wrenn
AIR FLOW RESEARCH POWER DASH: 1. Adams 2. Gray 3. Martin 4. Thomas 5. Wrenn 6. Stauffer.
HEAT 1 (8 Laps): 1. Leonard 2. Thomas 3. Reutimann 4. Wrenn 5. Stauffer 6. Basinger 7. Johnson (R) 8. Smith 9. Cline.
HEAT 2 (8 Laps): 1. Martin 2. Adams 3. Gray 4. Witherspoon 5. Jones 6. Moore 7. Winegardner 8. Myers 9. Sullivan.
USCS NATIONAL POINT STANDINGS THROUGH 4/24/03: 1. Terry Gray 976 2. Kenny Adams 964 3. Danny Martin Jr. 796 4. Brice Wrenn 784 5. Tom Winegardner Jr. 754 6. Red Stauffer 750 7. R.J. Johnson (R) 692 8. Curt Michael 542 9. Brian Thomas 526 10. Butch Pendergrass 490 11. Jerry Jones 490 12. Ben Basinger 410 13. Chad Allum 382 14. Bill Moore 372 15. Jim Raptis 356 16. Phil Mott 328 17. Chad Kemenah 294 18. Joey Saldana 290 19. Scott Young 286 20. Josh Weller 278
R -Denotes Rookie of the Year Candidate