KNOXVILLE, TN - RIS - The Southern All Star Asphalt Series made its first stop of the year at 411 Speedway in Knoxville, TN and Russell Bearden cam away with his third win of the season and retook the points lead in the process. Bearden had the...
KNOXVILLE, TN - RIS - The Southern All Star Asphalt Series made its first stop of the year at 411 Speedway in Knoxville, TN and Russell Bearden cam away with his third win of the season and retook the points lead in the process. Bearden had the fastest car on the track in Quickcar Qualifying with a lap of 13.442 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval to set a new track record. Bearden the rolled the dice and it came up four to invert the four fastest qualifiers and put himself on the second row of the grid. Warren McMahan was the pole sitter as the 22 cars came down for the start.
Outside front row starter, Gary Helton took the lead at the green flag as McMahan had some trouble getting his car up to speed, with Bearden second, Buddy Broome in third, "The Texas Tornado" Tommy Grimes running in fourth as McMahan finally got up to speed in fifth.
Helton, from the Knoxville area, used his knowledge of the track to open a lead over Bearden until the leaders began encountering lapped traffic. Bearden closed in as the two cars came up on a bunch of cars all fighting for position, and when Helton got boxed in by the slower cars Bearden took advantage by jumping to the high side of the track and taking the lead on lap 41.
The middle stages of the race was plagued by cautions and a red flag period when the track got oiled down when Roger Scott exploded a motor. Through it all Bearden stayed on the point and waited for things to calm down.
Bearden continued to run in the lead, but behind him the action became furious as the event entered the last third of the 150 laps. Grimes, who had been biding his time in fourth for the entire race decided to wind up the "Tornado" and head for the front. He passed the third place car of Broome on the outside and closed quickly on Helton. Helton went a little high and Grimes took advantage of the slip and headed for the low line. Helton tried to protect the inside, but spun out trying to do so, no contact was made and that put Grimes in second. Grimes ran Bearden down and made one last attempt to take the lead, but laps ran out and he settled for a career best second place finish. Broomed also had a career best third place as he benefited from Helton's spin. Fourth went to local favorite McMahan and 1996 SAS Champion Johnny Brazier took fifth.
One serious incident occurred when Larry Speakman went high to avoid cars ahead of him that were checking up for slower traffic and Tim Fryar used his right side as a launching pad into the wall. The head on collision almost demolished the car and Fryar was fortunate to emerge unhurt. The crew worked hard to get the car into shape to run a few laps at the end to pick up valuable points in the season long battle.
RESULTS WIVK 150 1. Russell Bearden 2. Tommy Grimes 3. Buddy Broome 4. Warren McMahan 5. Johnny Brazier 6. Chris Corum 7. Kevin Gillum 8. Larry Speakman 9. Curtis Gattis 10. John Trotter 11. Shannon Berry 12. Trab Crews 13. Robbie Brown 14. Gary Helton 15. Morris Bice 16. Sidney Minton 17. Tim Fryar 18. Ronald Walls 19. Heath Hindman 20. Chad Winters 21. Roger Scott 22. Jeff Dillon
1997 SAS Point Standings 1. Russell Bearden 696 2. Tim Fryar 692 3. Larry Speakman 624 4. Kevin Gillum 612 5. Johnny Brazier 574 6. Shannon Berry 568 7. Roger Scott 534 8. Curtis Gattis 532 9. Warren McMahan 488 10. Chris Johnson 476
John Kaiser, Racing Information Systems