Even the most novice of race fans know that the idea of any race is to get to the checkered flag in front of all the other cars. Saturday’s action on the 3/8-mile clay oval at Natural Bridge Speedway pointed out that it doesn’t hurt to take the green flag on the pole or near the front of the grid.
Fifteen late models put on a roaring good show for the crowd. Late model quick qualifier Phillip Woods, who blazed around the track in 17.21 seconds in qualifying, drew a tough-lick no. 6 pill. Woods’ tough luck was Travis Campbell’s good fortune as the pill pull moved him to the pole of the large field, which included quite a large number of the area’s most successful late model wheelmen.
Campbell took the green flag and the lead with J.R. Overstreet running second and Tim Stalnaker third, respectively for the first five laps. Veterans David Watts and Joey Leavel, who started fifth and seventh, respectively, began to weave their way toward the front of the pack, with Watts passing Overstreet for second on lap 6.
Just when it appeared that Campbell and Watts might run away and hide, Joey Leavel saw his patience pay off as his No. 8 machine burst from the pack and began to run down the front pair.
Campbell, Watts and Leavel formed a three-car train as the 30-lap feature approached lap 20. Watts made several determined efforts to pass Campbell on the low side of turns three and four, but Campbell adroitly protected the low line. The train continued, with Watts and Leavel making last-lap attempts at running down Campbell, but the pole sitter was too strong, completing his flag-to-flag win, Watts and Leavel finished second and third, respectively.
Lexington’s Ronnie Martin Jr. started on the front row of the 25-lap sportsman feature and quickly left the rest of the seven-car sportsman field battling for second. Slowly, Fairfield’s Aaron Bryant and quick qualifier Joey McClung hooked up to pull away in a two-car tussle for second, as Martin continued to stretch out his lead.
On the lap 15 backstretch, however, the racing gremlins visited Martin and a mechanical malfunction sent the disappointed leader to the pits. Bryant surged past McClung to grab the point and win the sprint to the checkers. Shaun Whetzel finished third.
Keith Herring the street stock lead on lap one of the 25-lap street stock feature. As the race passed its hallway point, Adam Breeden, who had started near the rear of the field, completed his patient maneuvering and powered past Herring and Jeremy Pooley to take the lead. Dereck Wright finished second followed by Pooley in third.
Though his car was spewing smoke for the first several laps of the 25-lap pure stock feature, Matt Whitten hung onto the lead, as Nick Magliochetti and Lloyd Wright reeled him in. Whitten and Magliochetti traded the lead back and forth and spent several circuits racing side-side with neither giving an inch. Magliochetti was able to pull away as the race reached its half way point and won in convincing fashion, with Whitten and Wright following the victor to the checkers.
Jonathan Burnett ran near the front of the pack for the first half of the 20-lap All-American feature. Several cautions and broken machines allowed Burnette to move to the front and pick up the trophy. Kevin Mays finished second and early-leader Mac Ayers rolled home third.
Sherry Taylor put on an impressive display of “putting the pedal to the metal” in winning the Powder Puff feature.
Racing continues Saturday with regular points racing and a kids’ bicycle race. Those children wishing to participate in the bike race must have a bicycle helmet and be accompanied to the turn four entrance by an adult. The first green flag should fall at approximately 7:30 p.m.