Exciting pack racing

First of all I want to thank everyone who lifted up my family in prayer. I was out of town in North Carolina for my uncle’s funeral and our column has fallen behind in the race coverage. There has been so much happening in the racing world over the last two weeks on both the local and national scene.

My uncle’s death touched me and my racing. He was always a big supporter and interested in what I was doing. He was a pit crew member for NASCAR great Harry Gant before he made the move to Cup racing. He also briefly helped Butch Lindley and L.D. Ottinger on their late model Sportsman crews. He will be missed.

Death invaded the NASCAR and ARCA ranks two weeks ago when long-time driver and then car owner James Hylton and his son James Jr. were killed in a traffic accident returning home from the Talladega ARCA race. James was Rookie of the Year in 1966 in NASCAR and captured two victories at the Cup level. He was also a very consistent points competitor, finishing second in the championship several times in a driving career that spanned over 40 years. His crew chief Terry Strange was also seriously injured in the accident. Please pray for his continued recovery.

Two weeks ago the Xfinity and NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series visited the Talladega Superspeedway. This is always exciting pack racing and there is always the threat of the “Big One” crash. There was a flip in the first practice session for the Cup cars. Jamie McMurray flipped and barrel rolled on the back straightaway when he cut down a left rear tire. NASCAR decided to reduce the size of the restrictor plate due to average speeds being in excess of 205 MPH.

First up, the Xfinity cars raced on Saturday afternoon in the Sparks Energy 300. Daniel Hemric drove his RCR Camaro to the first stage win. This was another Xfinity Dash for Cash event and once again $100,000 bonus was up for grabs. Veteran driver Elliott Sadler showed that he wanted that bonus and won the second stage.

The end of the race brought drama as Justin Allgaier appeared to be headed to a victory. There was a blown tire and caution flew with only a few laps to go and Allgaier along with rookie Austin Cindric both ran out of gas as the race moved into overtime. This set up a run to the checkers and rookie driver Spencer Gallagher drove to his first-ever victory in his family owned Allegiant Airline sponsored car.

Brandon Jones finished a close second. And Justin Allgaier fought back to third place after his fuel issues. Noah Gragson finished fourth. Elliott Sadler came home fifth but that was good enough to earn him the 100K bonus bucks. He was the highest finishing qualified driver.

On Sunday, the Cup cars ran the Geico 500. Brad Keselowski was able to win the first stage. Paul Menard showed that the Wood Bros. Ford was strong and he grabbed his first stage win, capturing stage two. The “Big One” crash happened during the final stage of the race and eliminated more than 10 strong cars, including Menard. Joey Logano was able to miss the crash and broke a year-long drought, winning the race.

Kurt Busch finished a strong second. Chase Elliott finished third and continues to knock at the door for that first victory. Kevin Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse rounded out the top five. You never know until the checkered flag waves who are going to win at these exciting restrictor plate races.

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Friday night two weeks ago was our opening night at Elkins Raceway with Test and Tune time. Rain was threatening but everyone got a chance to blow the cobwebs out and turn some laps. The Modifieds seem to be the biggest group this year and there were almost10 cars there for testing.

We took the Mountain School Mud Bus out and proceeded to tear the lift bar off of the rear axle housing and cut down a new tire. It was back to the garage for repairs before opening night. There was a good turnout for testing and we look forward to another great season at our local track. Please make plans to attend each Friday night and see some great dirt track racing action. Remember at the end of the straightaway there’s another left turn!

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