SENOIA – Joe Armistead, Jr. used every bit of the 30-lap feature to secure his second Super Late Model win of the season at Senoia Raceway. After he was forced to the pit area to change a flat tire on lap 22, Armistead charged back to overtake Canton’s Scott Groves in the final turn of the final lap. It culminated a main event that featured a wild twist of events over the final 10 laps.
Mableton’s Ryan Ray also joined Armistead in Senoia Raceway’s victory lane. Ray topped the Hobby Stock feature race for the first time while Newnan’s Lee Owenby also won for the first time in the Bombers. Austin Horton of Grantville returned to victory lane in the Limited Late Models and Whitesburg’s Blant Duke bested the field of B Cadets. Brannon Knight of Lindale was the first winner in the restructured four cylinder racing division.
“It’s been a tough road for us this season here,” said a relieved Ryan Ray. “It feels good to finally have the win.”
Ray had been close a couple of times this season only to have bad luck come his way and knock him from the pinnacle position. Saturday night began with an intense battle between Ray and Hogansville hot shoe Gary Brand. The duo raced side by side through the turns for several laps with Brand always getting the upper hand on the straightaways. Ryan Ray’s fortunes turned on lap 13 when Brand spun on his own exiting turn four.
Ray held off all challenges from current Hobby Stock point leader Sam Carter of Covington over the final half dozen laps to win for the first time at Senoia Raceway. Carter would settle for second ahead of 18-year-old Clyde Alexander of Locust Grove. Carter and Alexander swapped the runner-up spot twice during the final two circuits of the race.
In the Bomber feature, Senoia’s Chris Holt was the race’s initial leader. Holt three-wheeled his way to the lead with Conyers’ Tim Harmon and Zebulon’s Jim Jackson in tow. The unique set-up on Holt’s car lifted the left rear wheel nearly off the ground giving the look of a three-wheel ride through the turns.
Three separate cautions ended the night’s run for Harmon, then Jackson and finally Holt. Lee Owenby, Jr. inherited the lead after Holt’s demise and then held off Jim Jackson for the win. 91-year-old Pappy Powell finished third in what he proclaims to be the final event of his racing career. Powell has raced a number of different types of cars in each of the past eight decades beginning in the 1940’s.
Senoia Raceway made some necessary changes to the four cylinder racing division this past week and the new rules package clearly may be the best direction for the class. Nineteen cars showed up for racing with modified cars matched up against stock cars. The competition is leveled by allowing the stock cars to weigh substantially lesser than their higher powered counterparts.
“We had to do something to try and save the four cylinder racing division,” explained promoter Mayes Massey. “The stock class had five or six cars. The modified class had five or six cars and nobody was talking about building anything new for the class. We combined the cars and we will keep tweaking the rules until everyone has a fair shot to win on any given race night.”
Brannon Knight took over the lead position from Alabama’s Mike Minor with five laps remaining and then set sail for the finish line. Hampton’s Mark ‘Mad Dog’ Newton came home in third place ahead of Villa Rica’s Todd Brewster and James ‘Showtime’ Stansell of Douglasville. Stansell was the top finishing stock four cylinder competitor. The caution free main event had several good battles for position with the competition fairly mixed. Stansell even won a preliminary heat race.
Senoia’s Clint ‘Cat Daddy’ Smith earned the pole position for the Super Late Model feature by edging out Joe Armistead, Jr. by two thousandths of a second in qualifying. That did not seem to matter at the on-set of their 30-lap night capper. Armistead shot out to the lead, building a several lengths command on Smith.
By lap 18, Smith began to close on Armistead and looked to be on trek to overtake him. That soon changed as Smith’s ride began to overheat.
On lap 22, Clint Smith’s engine blew just as Armistead’s rear tire went flat. Both of the race’s leaders, who had lapped everyone but Canton’s Scott Groves, would have to go to the pit area. This crazy turn of events allowed Thomaston’s Shane Fulcher and Meansville’s Maddie Crane to gain back their lost laps and gave Groves the point position.
Groves’ ride was also running hot as the field took the green with Armistead charging back from the pit area. The final restart allowed Armistead to get up on Groves and eventually pass him in the final turn for the victory. Groves would settle for a season best at Senoia Raceway second place. Crane and Fulcher would end up third and fourth.
Armistead’s son, Joey Armistead, came into the night riding a four-race win streak in the Limited Late Models. Just like his daddy, Armistead would lead his feature race at the initial drop of the green flag, but this week Austin Horton had brought an updated gun to the Bull Ring fight. Horton slid under Armistead on lap four only to have the 17-year-old hot shot shoot back and retake the lead. The pair of battling teenagers swapped the lead position twice more before Horton settled in for the chase to the checkers.
Horton would win for the first time since early April ending the streak of Armistead, who would end up in third behind Dennis Hale of LaGrange. Hale passed the most cars on Saturday night as the veteran wheel man started near the back of the pack before charging all the way to second. Fayetteville’s Glenn Morris and Newnan’s Marcus Caswell rounded out the top five finishers in the Limited Late Models.
The Limited Late Models will compete in their second special event of the season this Saturday, June 13, as the Limited Late Model Summer Sizzler is scheduled. The top finishing driver will pocket the $1,500 winner’s share. LaGrange’s Tod Darda won the first ‘bonus race’ of the season for the Limited Late Models back on March 28.
‘Thrillin’ Dylan Knowles was awarded the Crate Late Model ‘bonus’ prize Saturday night after winner Matt Black refused to teardown his engine after a post-race protest. Competitors are allowed to protest various components on each other’s race cars for further inspection after the race. If a driver does not agree to the technical inspection, they forfeit their position, prize money and points for the event.
The Limited Late Model ‘Summer Sizzler” will also feature a full night of racing in the Super Late Models, Crate Late Models, B Cadets, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Bombers and Legends Cars. Race fans will also have a pre-race opportunity to visit with the competitors in the Limited Late Models, as well as, get an autograph or photograph.
The pit gates will open this Saturday at 4 p.m., grandstands at 5 p.m. and hot laps will begin at 7 p.m. with the night’s first race at 7:30 p.m.
Grandstand ticket prices are $12; ages 5-12 are $5; four and under are admitted for free. Access to the pit area is available for $25; ages 5-12 are $12; four and under are free. Trackside parking is available on a first come, first serve basis. Trackside parking is only accessible through the pit area and pit passes must be purchased.
For additional information, schedules, rules and more, visit the Senoia Raceway website at www.senoiaraceway.com. The track also offers an e-mail newsletter (sign-up on the website), Facebook page and twitter feed for social media access to news and information. You can also contact the track directly at 770-59-.6161.