Gray Wins USCS Squeaker in Lancaster, SC LANCASTER, SC - Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN held off a hard-charging Danny Martin Jr. of Sarasota, FL in lapped traffic to win the 30-lap United Sprint Car Series main event Saturday night at Lancaster ...
Gray Wins USCS Squeaker in Lancaster, SC
LANCASTER, SC - Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN held off a hard-charging Danny Martin Jr. of Sarasota, FL in lapped traffic to win the 30-lap United Sprint Car Series main event Saturday night at Lancaster Motor Speedway. The defending and three-time USCS National Champion drove his Goodson Farms/Wendy's Maxim/Wesmar to his third win of the season.
Gray held a 1/2-straightaway lead over Martin with five laps to go, but choose not to engage heavy lapped traffic in front of him in the closing laps. Martin closed quickly on Gray, but fell three car lengths short at the checkered flag.
"Danny Martin Jr. drove a fine race tonight, and I knew he would be close at the finish," Gray said. "When I came up on the lapped traffic at the end of the race, I didn't want to take a chance trying to go through them, unless I had to. I had a guy giving me hand signals in turn one, and he let me know how close Danny was getting."
Gray had to make up a lot of ground earlier in the evening, and then depend on some good luck. A bad draw had him starting at the tail of the first 10-lap heat race. Gray rallied to finish third in the heat race, and when the draw for the feature race inversion came up a six, Gray found himself starting second for the main event.
Martin, who put heavy pressure on Gray for the lead on lap 12 and the final lap, had to settle for second in the Martin Structures, Inc. Schnee/ZRE. Butch Pendergrass of Winston-Salem, NC had his best finish of the season with a third-place effort in the Pro Life Maxim/Harp.
Jim Raptis of Marietta, GA took over Andy Stapp's Grissom Honda/Mazda J&J/Chrisco for the Lancaster event, and finished fourth. Brian Thomas of Auburn, GA took the fifth spot in the Main Auto Parts/Saligo Avenger/Broome. Thomas started 18th and earned the Huggins Cams Hard Charger of the Race Award.
Mary Anne Williams of Chester, VA made her first USCS start of the season payoff with a sixth-place effort in the Ray Stillwell Farms Maxim/Grimes. Brice Wrenn of Lexington, SC came back from an opening lap spin to finish seventh in the Stainless Fabricators/Gaerte Racing Engines Hench/Gaerte.
Steven Graham of Sydney, Australia made his first USCS start of the season and finished eighth in the Richard Petty Driving Experience Maxim/RPDE. Chad Allum of Kannapolis, NC lost a top five finish in the closing laps due to an oil leak, and had to settle for ninth in the Heintz Performance Allum/Allum. Bronzie Lawson of Southern Pines, NC rounded out the top ten in the Lawson Construction J&J/Lawson.
When the field came down for the initial green flag, a false start tangled up the cars of Wrenn, Graham, Johnny Bridges of Cherryville, NC, and R.J. Johnson of Wesley Chapel, FL. Wrenn and Graham were able to restart, but Bridges and Johnson went to the pits for repairs.
Johnson in the Race Wear/Pin Rings J&J/CRE and Bridges in the Bridges Motorsports J&J/Hampshire later returned to the race to finish 13th and 14th respectively. Johnson was the Rookie of the Race.
Gray took the lead on the restart from his outside front row starting position followed by polesitter Pendergrass, Bill Moore of Denver, NC, Martin, and Allum. Martin passed Moore for the third spot on lap three, and two laps later was challenging Pendergrass for second.
Shane Nelson of Chattanooga, TN broke a wing mount on his LBR Shaw/Slobuilt and stopped on the front straightaway on lap five to bring out the first caution flag.
Gray led Pendergrass, Martin, Moore, Allum, Raptis, and Williams down for the restart. Thomas had bolted from the 18th starting spot to eighth in the first five laps of the race, while Graham and Wrenn had moved back into the top ten after their spins. When the green flag came back out, Moore got a big run on Martin to challenge for the third spot in turn one.
Moore got into the corner on the inside a little too hot, pushed up the race track, hit the wall, and flipped wildly several times before coming to rest on all four wheels. Moore climbed from the car uninjured, but his Carolina Speedway J&J/Collins was destroyed.
Martin got busy on the restart after the red flag period to challenge Pendergrass side-by-side for the second spot, as Gray opened up a lead. The battle for second was interrupted by the caution flag on nine for debris on the back straightaway. On the restart, Martin went right back after Pendergrass, and passed him on the inside of turn two to take the second spot.
Chris Sutton of Gastonia, NC spun his Twins Top Fish Camp J&J/RPM in turn two on lap 10 for the fourth caution of the race.
Martin was able to keep pace with Gray on the restart, followed by Pendergrass, Allum, and Raptis. Martin looked high and low to make a move on Gray for the lead, and finally made his choice to try the inside in turn one on lap 12. Martin got too low and had to get hard on the brakes to keep from crashing. That enabled Gray to pull out to a 15 car-length advantage.
By the halfway point in the race, Gray began to close in on the cars at the tail of the lead lap. Disaster almost struck the race leader on lap 17 when Gray tried to lap Bobby Courtwright of Evans, GA. Courtwright's K&N Filters Maxim/Victory slid to the high side down the front straightaway, and almost pinched Gray into the wall.
Gray was able to recover, but not before Martin closed in. Once Gray cleared the traffic, Martin got caught behind it, and Gray pulled out to another half straightaway lead on the big half-mile clay oval. Gray got caught by lapped traffic again on lap 23, and Martin pulled up to within a few car-lengths.
Gray slipped through the lapped cars, and this time Martin was caught behind the erratically-handling machine of Courtwright on lap 24. All Martin could do was watch Gray pull away once again to a half straightaway lead. On lap 25, Allum's car began to show heavy smoke while he was running in the fourth spot, and he began to slow off the pace.
With two laps to go, Gray came up on another heavy pack of lapped cars. With his earlier close calls in traffic and a 1/2-straightaway lead, Gray decided to play it conservatively, and rode behind them while Martin quickly closed the gap.
Martin made up half the distance in one lap, and coming on strong to make a bid for the lead on the final lap. The 18-year-old high school Senior gave it his best shot looking inside Gray in turn four with the checkered flag approaching, but Gray had just enough momentum to beat the "young gun" to the stripe at the finish.
Gray also won the six-lap Air Flow Research Power Dash, and the two heat race wins were taken by Allum and Graham.
Jimmy Taylor of Green Pond, SC was the recipient of the Weld Racing Hard Luck Award when he tangled with Martin in turn three during the AFR Power Dash, hit the wall and flipped his Taylor Automotive and Machine Eagle/Taylor. He walked away uninjured, but his race car was done for the night.
The next two events for the USCS Outlaw Thunder Dirt Tour will be on May 29 at Garnertown Speedway in Luray, TN, and on May 30 at Clarksville Speedway in Clarksville, TN on May 30. For more information about USCS visit the series web site at www.uscsracing.com.
<pre> Official Finish of Round 11 Lancaster Motor Speedway in Lancaster, SC 05/15/04:
POS STRT CAR# DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS 1. 2 10 Terry Gray Bartlett, TN 30 2. 5 00 Danny Martin Jr. Sarasota, FL 30 3. 1 11 Butch Pendergrass Winston-Salem, NC 30 4. 9 47 Jim Raptis Marietta, GA 30 5. 18 67 Brian Thomas Auburn, GA 30 6. 11 78 Mary Anne Williams Chester, VA 30 7. 4 1w Brice Wrenn Lexington, SC 30 8. 5 14 Steven Graham Sydney, AUS 30 9. 6 87 Chad Allum Kannapolis, NC 30 10. 12 69 Bronzie Lawson Southern Pines, NC 29 11. 14 17 Danny Mercy Warrenton, NC 28 12. 10 81 Bobby Courtwright Evans, GA 28 13. 13 71 R.J. Johnson (R) Wesley Chapel, FL 24 14. 8 07 Johnny Bridges Cherryville, NC 20 15. 16 25 Chris Sutton Gastonia, NC 14 16. 3 06 Bill Moore Denver, NC 5 17. 15 44 Josh Harris New London, NC 4 18. 17 88z Shane Nelson Chattanooga, TN 3 19. - 4 Brian Smith Mooresville, NC DNS 20. - 32 Jimmy Taylor Green Pond, SC DNS
ENTRIES: 20 LEAD CHANGES: None LAP LEADER: Gray, 1-30 CAUTIONS: 5 (1 Red Flag)
HUGGINS CAMS HARD CHARGER: Thomas (started 18th and finished 5th) WELD RACING TOUGH LUCK AWARD: Taylor ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Johnson
AIR FLOW RESEARCH DASH WINNER: Gray HEAT RACE WINNERS: Allum and Graham
USCS NATIONAL POINT STANDINGS THROUGH 5/15/04: 1. Terry Gray 1566 2. Kenny Adams 1410 3. Danny Martin Jr. 1368 4. R.J. Johnson (R) 1184 5. Brice Wrenn 922 6. Bill Moore 898 7. Butch Pendergrass 894 8. Tom Winegardner Jr. 754 9. Chad Allum 754 10. Red Stauffer 750 11. Brian Thomas 668 12. Jim Raptis 648 13. Ben Basinger 624 14. Jimmy Taylor 620 15. Doug Gold 580 16. Doug Berryman 566 17. Joe Rebman 558 18. Curt Michael 542 19. Will Ragsdale 526 20. Jerry Jones 490
R - Denotes Rookie of the Year Candidate