SERIES:STOCKS-SAS BIRMINGHAM, AL - RIS - Venerable Fairgrounds Raceway in Birmingham, AL, home to the "Alabama Gang"for many years, bared its fangs Friday night as the Southern All Stars Asphalt Series came to town for the Neil Bonnett Memorial...
BIRMINGHAM, AL - RIS - Venerable Fairgrounds Raceway in Birmingham, AL, home to the "Alabama Gang"for many years, bared its fangs Friday night as the Southern All Stars Asphalt Series came to town for the Neil Bonnett Memorial 100. Fittingly the winner was a racer who competed against the likes of Neil, and Bobby and Donnie and Davey on the 5/8 mile slightly banked oval. After replacing a rear end gear, suffering damage in a collision, and twice coming from the rear of the pack, Dave Mader III took his Hamner Racing Engines/Broad Wheels Chevrolet Monte Carlo into Victory Lane.
"When I was leading the race and we come off turn two, the spur gears tore up," Mader explained in the Winner's Circle. "They had that wreck and the Red Flag, I coasted back around and went in the pits. They changed the gears and we came back out right as they were getting ready to start."
Then they had that wreck and I got hit from behind, and I hit Russell (Bearden), did a three sixty, and kept going." Mader continued. "They fixed the hood and what can I say. After last week and this week, I'm doing something right. The Lord has really blessed me with a wonderful two weeks."
Another driver that charged through the field after a mid-race pit stop to nab the second finishing position was Tony Walls. The fact that Walls was even at the race was due to the benevolence of the people at Broad Wheels who gave him the tires to be able to run.
"After I got around Darrell (Brown), finally, I could concentrate on Mader," Walls responded when asked if he had anything for Mader at the end. I don't know if I could have beat him, but I think I could have pushed him a little bit. It would have been a good race."
"The car felt real good, The car did a great job, my wife did a great job spotting and if it wasn't for Bob Wells of Broad Wheels we would not have even come this week. He gave me eight tires and that was just a blessing to us as we are struggling financially," Walls stated afterwards.
The race got off on a bad note as 1996 SAS Champion Johnny Brazier broke his rear end just as the green flag flew, causing the whole outside row of the grid to take avoiding action. Miraculously, everyone managed to miss the Frogg Toggs/ Moody Monday Thunderbird, perhaps its bright red paint job helped him in this case. However, a complete restart was required and Tony Walls jumped into the lead with Mader right behind him. John Wilkinson II was running third and Dan Beddingfield in fourth with SUNOCO Race Fuels Fast Qualifier Larry Speakman in fifth. Two distinct battles quickly developed with Beddingfield trying to find a way around Wilkinson, and Mader trying to pass Walls. Beddingfield was able to make the pass on lap 5, but Mader was still behind Walls on lap 9 when the first caution flew for a single car spin in turn 2.
When the green came back out, Mader wasted no time and dove inside Walls going into turn one and the two raced through the corner side-by-side with Mader gaining the advantage as they roared down the backstretch.
On lap 14, Keith Cahela tried to lap under the slower car of Stephen Mitchell in turn one and hooked his left front in the crash. He then slid up the track carrying Mitchell with him into the wall. Four more cars piled into the two at the top of turns one and two with one car climbing the wall and sliding along the top to make contact. The cars involved were those of Jackie Curren, Greg Koger, Jerry Goodwin and Shannon Berry. The Red Flag came out and the race was halted as emergency crews were quickly on the scene. No one was injured, but there was serious damage to all of the cars.
Under SAS rules, work is permitted on cars during Red Flag conditions, and Mader had entered the pits and the crew was frantically replacing the spur gear that had broken just as the yellow came out. The work was completed and Mader rolled back onto the track just as engines fired at the end of the red flag period.
Walls was the leader again, with Beddingfield in second, Wilkinson third, Andy Antinoro and Chris Mullinax rounding out the top five as the field got back to racing.
Two laps later Alan Ganaway spun in turn one and in trying to avoid him, Greg Carr hit the turn one wall, rode up and over the top, where a tree prevented him from leaving the track, hit Ganaway's car and came to rest on the top of turn two. The car caught fire, but Carr was quickly out and the emergency crews were there to quickly douse the flames. Once again the red flag was out, while clean up and wall repair was carried out.
Mader had passed eight cars after starting on the rear and now he once again went to the back as he had to fix damage caused by the chain reaction to the accident. The order at the front was still the same and the track crews did a great job of making repairs and the race was ready to restart in a remarkably short time.
As the green flew the car on the move was that of Darrell Brown who passed two cars on the first lap after the green and quickly moved into the top five. By lap 28 Brown was running in third and looking for the second spot.
On lap 46 the caution came out again and many of the leaders chose this opportunity to head for the pits. Wilkinson chose to stay on the track and assumed the lead. The order at the front after the pit stops had Wilkinson followed by Mullinax, Kevin Gillun, Burt Belter and Larry Speakman.
The race appeared to settle down somewhat when Jerry Glanville, who was laps down decide he wanted to get a lap back and drove up under Wilkinson as the cars exited turn 2, The cars touched and Wilkinson was sent spinning into the grass inside the track. Kevin Gillun was the beneficiary of "the Coach's" largess, as he took over the point followed by Belter, Speakman, Tim Fryar, and Brown.
As the cars returned to speed Brown and Mader moved quickly inside the cars ahead and in just a few laps they were running one-two on the track, with Walls coming fast from mid-field. With 30 laps to go Walls was up to fifth while the battle at the front between Brown and Mader continued to be fierce. Both drivers know the track well, and both drove here for many years and experienced victory on this old track.
On Lap 78 Mader was able to get under Brown in turn 2 and take the lead, while Walls pulled up behind Brown to challenge for second. Mader opened a small lead as Brown tried to hold off the charging Walls. When Glanville and Bearden spun in unison on lap 87 to bring out the yellow the front three were still running in order with Gillun and Speakman behind them.
With just four laps to go the final caution of the race flew when Beddingfield spun and that set up a shootout to the finish. SAS rules dictate that the last five laps are run under green so when the green came back out there were still four laps to go.
Walls made a good restart and was able to get under Brown and grab second but Mader again had a two car-length lead and by the time Walls got close enough to try and challenge, the checkered flag came out and Mader took home another win at Fairgrounds Raceway. Walls and Brown followed Mader across the line with Gillun taking a well deserved fourth and Fryar climbing into fifth by the race's end. There were ten cars on the lead lap at the finish.
The track will be closed for renovations beginning next week and new walls and track surface will be put in as well as a rework of the grandstand. The SAS World Classic will be held in October or November depending on when the renovations are completed.
John Kaiser, Racing Information Systems
Fairgrounds Raceway - RIS - Provisional results for the Southern All Stars Asphalt Series, Neil Bonnett Memorial 100: Ps.Ql.No. Driver , Car Laps -- -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- 1 3 11 Dave Mader III Hamner Racing Engnes/Broad WheelsCHEV 104 2 1 81 Tony Walls Walls Accessories/Broad Wheels CHEV 104 3 15 58 Darrell Brown Brown Motorsports CHEV 104 4 28 20 Kevin Gillun Buckeye Plumbing CHEV 104 5 17 61 Tim Fryar Fryar Trucking/Southern Racing CHEV 104 6 23 131 Curtis Gattis Turbo Blue/Gattis Racing (R) PONT 104 7 6 8 Larry Speakman Bestway Services/NES CHEV 104 8 4 59 John Wilkinson III Quality Lube/DAPS/Jim Burke CHEV 104 9 5 44 Dan Beddingfield Boyd Racing Engines/Taylor FarmsCHEV 104 10 13 15 Russell Beardon E & T Converters/Hilltopper M/S CHEV 104 11 19 18 Gary Sanford Jr Sanford Racing CHEV 103 12 8 29 Andy Antinoro Guaranty Pest Control/Comp Eng CHEV 103 13 10 21 Burt Belter AMSOIL FORD 103 14 26 33 Warren McMahan McSpaden Inc/Gautte Appraisal CHEV 102 15 21 181 Jerry Glanville Computer Transport/HBO Sports FORD 101 16 31 17 Roger Scott Panhead City Motorcycles CHEV 100 17 29 Q107 Trab Crews ETP/Town & Country Furniture (R) CHEV 100 18 30 81j Chris Johnson Marty Robbins Roofing/Bat's Body CHEV 100 19 14 00 Jackie Curren Ho Bo Joes Reastaurant CHEV 99 20 25 16 Joey Sims Centerpoint Transmission/NAPA CHEV 93 21 11 5 Shannon Berry Honey Comb Campground/Deans Auto CHEV 87 22 20 25c Jack Collier Head Start Beauty Salon CHEV 72 23 7 5r Chris Mullinax Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q FORD 65 24 18 17c Billy Cantey Quickcar Racing Products CHEV 46 25 32 55 Chad Winters Don'Auto & Tire/Int'l Mobile Hms CHEV 27 26 27 25 Alan Gannaway F&R Construction/Comp Engines CHEV 18 27 24 5c Greg Carr Ducks Unlimited Sptwear/McDonaldsCHEV 18 28 22 12 Stephen Mitchell Great American Loan CHEV 15 29 9 K9 Greg Koger Hardees/Overhead Door CHEV 15 30 16 x2 Jerry Goodwin R.P.M./Coca Cola CHEV 15 31 12 1Y Keith Cahela Y-Mart/Boaz Motorsports CHEV 14 32 2 71 Johnny Brazier Frogg Toggs/Moody Monday's FORD 0 Track Length : 0.6250 Miles John Kaiser RIS/AL