USCS: Thunder Bowl Nationals race notes

SIDES WINS O'REILLY USCS THUNDER BOWL NATIONALS AT NORTH ALABAMA TUSCUMBIA, AL - Jason Sides of Bartlett, TN returned to the O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series winner's circle for the first time since 2002 on Saturday night after...


TUSCUMBIA, AL - Jason Sides of Bartlett, TN returned to the O'Reilly United Sprint Car Series winner's circle for the first time since 2002 on Saturday night after winning the Thunder Bowl Nationals at North Alabama Speedway. Sides took the lead from Greg Wilson of Benton Ridge, OH on lap 24, and then led the remaining 17 laps in the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim/Gray.

Before bagging his third career O'Reilly USCS win, Sides opened the evening by winning the six-lap Air Flow Research Power Dash. The A-Main win, combined with the AFR Power Dash win, and lap money brought Sides earnings for the night to $4,270.

"It's been awhile since we won an O'Reilly USCS race, and this is the first win we've had all season," Sides said. "It feels good to win close to home, and this track is a great place to race on."

Tim Montgomery of Fredrickstown, MO finished second in the Carry All Service Maxim/Wesmar, and Wilson settled for third in the Tim Hogan's Carpets Maxim/Wesmar. Four-time O'Reilly USCS National Champion Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN was fourth in the C&B Mushrooms/Wendy's Maxim/Wesmar after winning the 15-lap B-Main earlier in the evening.

Mike Ward of Memphis, TN took the fifth spot in the AMC Maxim/McCarver, and 1999 O'Reilly USCS National Champion Marshall Skinner of West Memphis, AR finished sixth in the Parts Plus Maxim/Ott. Danny Martin Jr. of Sarasota, FL drove the Martin Structures, Inc./Food Grade Transport Schnee/ZRE to a seventh-place finish.

Ernie Ainsworth of Bartlett, TN was a busy driver Saturday night, as he missed Friday night's preliminary events, and had to come from the back of the B-Main to make the Big Show. Ainsworth came from 15th to third in the B-Main, and then drove Paul Sides' C&B Mushrooms Maxim/Gaerte to the eighth spot in the A-Main.

Wesley Hale of Memphis, TN finished ninth in the Hale's Forklift Avenger/Dynotech, and Raymond Stull of Independence, MS rounded out the top ten in the Williams Sod Farm J&J/Dynotech.

The race was wild and wooly before the first lap was completed. During hot laps before the A-Main, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Olive Branch, MS, who was set to start on the outside of the front row for the big show, flipped his Fast Effects J&J/Dynotech, and the race car was done for the evening. Stenhouse stepped into Wade Oliver's machine, but had to go to the tail of the A-Main.

That moved Wilson up to the outside of row one for the start of the A-Main, and he took the lead from the K&N Pole Award winner Montgomery. The start was called off for a two-car flip in turn two on the opening lap.

Bruce Cline of Apex, NC in the 31-W Insulation Stealth/Engler tangled with the 2005 O'Reilly USCS National and Mid-South Thunder Tour Champion Kenny Adams of Malabar, FL in the Milk Movers, Inc./Goodson Farms Shaw/Ott. Both cars flipped, with Adams coming to rest on the tail of his machine with the front wheels pointing skyward.

Both drivers were uninjured, but Cline was done for the night, and Adams returned later in the race six laps down.

Wilson again took the lead on the restart followed by Sides, Montgomery, Ward, and Gray. Montgomery moved up to battle Sides for the second spot on lap three, while Gray passed Ward for the fourth position on lap four. Stenhouse was making the best of his borrowed ride in the Oliver Racing Avenger/Slobuilt moving from 20th to 14th by lap six.

Ron Blair of Troy, OH brought out the red flag when he flipped the Double Jay Construction Maxim/Blair in turn four on lap seven. Blair was uninjured in the spill. Wilson led the field down for the restart followed by Sides, Montgomery, Gray, Ward, Martin, Skinner, Stull, Ryan Myers of Eldorado, OH, and Bryn Gohn of Malabar, FL.

The front trio busted out three wide on the restart with Sides on the bottom, Wilson up high, and Montgomery was the meat in the Maxim sandwich in turn one. Wilson held on to the point, while Montgomery got around Sides to take the second spot. Stull spun in turn four on lap eight to bring out the caution flag.

Sides was able to drive back around Montgomery for the second position on the restart, while Wilson carved out a groove to his liking by running turns one and two on the high side, and moving to the inside for turns three and four. That gave Sides some racing room, and he was able to catch Wilson in lapped traffic by lap 10.

Working lapped traffic, Wilson was able to put a couple of cars between himself and Sides, but a spin by Adams in turn four on lap 15 brought out the caution flag to slow the field. Adams' second caution sent him to the pits for the night, and he earned the Weld Racing Hard Luck Award.

Wilson led Sides, Montgomery, Gray, Skinner, Ward, Martin, Myers, Hale, and Ainsworth for the restart. Sides closed on Wilson by lap 20 and began to put pressure on the leader. Sides got by Wilson coming off the fourth turn on lap 24 to take the lead. Wilson began to fade, as Montgomery took over the second spot on lap 28.

The last caution flag come out on lap 33 when Myers spun the Garrett-Myers Farms Clincher/Garrett-Myers in turn four. Sides brought the field down for the restart with Montgomery, Wilson, Gray, Ward, Skinner, Martin and Stull behind him. Sides pulled away during the eight remaining laps to record the win.

Gohn came home in the 11th spot to earn the Robison Racing Products Rookie of the Race Award in the Milk Movers, Inc./Goodson Farms Shaw/Ott. Louie Carufel of Port Huron, MI was added to the field as a Promoter's Provisional and started 22nd. Carufel drove the Timberline Construction Eagle/Fassi to a 12th-place finish to earn the Huggins Cams Hard Charger Award.

During Friday night preliminary action, Montgomery set a new all-time track record during qualifications with a lap around the 3/8-mile high-banked clay oval in 12.294 seconds for an average speed of 109.810 miles per hour. Montgomery then came back and won the Engler Machine and Tool first 12-lap Qualifying Race.

Stenhouse won the ButlerBuilt second 12-lap Qualifying Race, and Ward won the Koolbeans Trophies third 12-lap Qualifying Race.


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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Jason Sides , Kenny Adams , Bryn Gohn , Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , Greg Wil
Teams Williams