Overstreet, Drewry, Burnette win at Natural Bridge oval

natural bridge speedwayLate-race heroics sent two drivers to Victory Lane in the sportsman and pure stock divisions, while the winners in the late model, street stock and All-American divisions took commanding leads earlier in their features on the way to the checkered flag at Natural Bridge Speedway last Saturday night.

Eight cars took the green in the 25-lap sportsman feature with Keith Nelson on the pole and Roger Robertson Jr. on the outside of the front row. The field had a difficult time getting the race under way, with three restarts necessary after lap 1 tangles.

When the field finally took the green, Ronnie Martin Jr, of Lexington shot from his fourth-place starting slot and rolled into second behind Nelson before the first circuit was complete.

Martin took the inside line in turn one of lap 2 and passed Nelson for the lead. Martin’s machine pulled away from the rest of the field and led by the full backstretch on lap 7, with division points leader Joey McClung running second and wheelman Bobby Thompson holding his machine in the third position.

A lap 13 caution bunched the field and allowed Thompson to start side-by-side with Martin, but Martin’s machine immediately powered away and led Thompson by nearly two seconds after 16 trips around the 3/8-mile clay oval. Nelson spun out in lap 19, bringing out the yellow and bunching the field for yet another restart.

This time, Thompson stayed tight to Martin’s bumper until he took the lead in turn four of the next-to-last lap by diving inside Martin, then holding on to take the checkers. Martin rolled home second.

The five cars that lined up in the pure stock starting grid gave the spectators their money’s worth, as they battled back-and-forth, side-by-side, three-wide, bumping and banging their way through a 25-lap feature in which of the four of the five cars held the lead at some point.

Joey Hall started on the outside of the front row and took the lead as the cars passed the flag stand for the first time in the 25-lap feature. The field was three-wide at the front of a five-car train as lap 2 was completed. The first yellow came out when division points leader Brandon Link lost control and spun in turn one of lap 3. The restart left drivers running side-by-side, but the yellow waved again when Glen Floyd spun hard into the turn one guardrail.

The front trio continued to battle side-by-side until a spin-out by the leader on lap six forced another restart. Going into turn one of lap 9, Newton drove hard into turn one and was tapped as he edged past leader Hall. Newton made what was arguably the save of the night as he gathered up his wobbling machine and grabbed the lead. Though Link pressured Newton for the remainder of the feature, Newton hung on for the pure stock checkers.

The variety of 2016 Natural Bridge Speedway late model trophy winners continued to add to its list as J.R. Overstreet picked up his first win of the campaign in the 30-lap late model feature. Just one late model driver, 11-year-old sensation Carder Miller, has taken the late model checkers more than once this season.

Overstreet quickly moved to the lead, a position he would hold for the final 28 laps of the race, though he was chased mightily by veteran wheelmen Phillip Woods and Larry Ramsey, who finished second and third, respectively, throughout the event.

Frankie Drewry started on the street stock pole and led flag-to-flag to claim the checkers in the 25-lap street stock feature. Jeremy Pooley ran second for the first nine laps before Lee Herring began to pressure him and finally took over the second slot behind Drewry just prior to a caution on lap 13. Drewry pulled away on the restart and survived his only nervous moment of the night with a nice save after a slight slide in turn four. Lee Herring finished second;

Keith Herring finished third, with Ben Hamilton rolling home fourth.

The All-American division had a difficult time taking the green in its 20-lap feature as several cautions bogged down the race’s start. Division points leader Michael Demers led the first 10 laps. By the time of a lap 13 restart, Jonathan Burnette had moved to the point, and there he would stay for the remainder of the feature.

Racing returns to the Natural Bridge Speedway this Saturday night with a special $500-to-win sportsman feature along with points racing in the other four divisions. There will also be racing in the mini-modified division should a field of at least five cars take the green flag. The first green flag should fall at approximately 7 p.m.


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