By Chuck Corder
Augie Grill swears he hasn’t sweated through any sensitivity training sessions recently.
Yet, it was a kinder, gentler Grill on Friday since the last time he was winning at Five Flags.
Be it the bulldog, intimidating Grill as fans are used to seeing or the cooler, more collected Grill they witnessed this night, the No. 112 just keeps winning.
Grill made it three late model wins in a row with his victory in the Allen Turner Tucson 100 on Friday at Five Flags Speedway. He led the last 60 laps of the race.
“Everybody was running hard early, and I didn’t want to finish back in 10th,” Grill said. “So I decided to run hard later.”
He needed it, as defending track champion D.J. VanderLey and Bubba Pollard made a hard push on the final and fifth restart Friday with 80 laps complete.
VanderLey, on the outside, made a hard push for the lead with Grill. The pair was door-to-door for several laps, as VanderLey would put his nose ahead down the straightaways before Grill reclaimed the lead in and out of the turns.
“It was boring until Lap 80, then it got exciting quickly,” said VanderLey, who finished third. “I just about had cleared him. It was so on the edge, but if I would’ve bumped him I would’ve gone backward.”
All three nearly went backward when Pollard made it three wide at the start-finish line on Lap 85. Instead of pushing for a lead, Pollard thought better of it.
He eventually got by VanderLey for second, as the hottest late model driver in the southeast collected another runner-up.
“Anybody else would’ve stuck it in there,” Pollard said. “But I don’t race like that. Why do that? It’s not worth it. There’s some of these guys that think it’s worth to waste a racecar.
“People don’t know how to race, that’s the problem. Most of these drivers think you can mash the gas and turn left. It takes more than that to win a race.”
He should know. This was Pollard’s 19th top-five finish in 27 races this season.
His rivals knew Pollard was going to make the right decision late in the race.
“I think Bubba thought better of it,” Grill said. “That was the smart thing to do or he might’ve wrecked three perfectly, good racecars.”
Grill had a perfect racecar, both in speed and look mostly. The fast qualifier at 16.935 seconds, Grill had a few black doughnuts on his side panels from leaning on VanderLey in the closing laps.
“He gave me a hard run at the end,” Grill said of VanderLey. “I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we had a better racecar, but it got tight there at the end.”
Through it all, though, Grill remained cool as a cucumber.
Allen Turner Pro Late Models Tucson 100 — 1. Augie Grill, 2. Bubba Pollard, 3. D.J. VanderLey, 4. Hunter Robbins, 5. Kyle Benjamin, 6. Kyle Sirizzotti, 7. Chris Davidson, 8. Dwayne Buggay, 9. Korey Ruble, 10. Jake Moore, 11. Keith Thorpe, 12. David Jones, 13. Brandon Odom, 14. Eddie Craig, 15. Jeremy Mullinax, 16. Thomas Praytor, 17. Matt Smith, 18. Kyle Bryant, 19. Brandon Bendele, 20. Hal Martin, 21. Joe Aramendia, 22. Jason Young, 23. Matt Montineri, 24. Troy Grisaffi
It wasn’t long ago Bubba Winslow was one of the cars to beat in the Sportsmen division.
These days, the Cantonment youngster has the car to beat in the Super Stocks.
Winslow won for the second time this season and took over the series championship lead when previous leader Shannon Jackson finished dead last of the six cars remaining on the track.
Super Stocks 25-Lap Feature Results — 1. Bubba Winslow, 2. Jessie Reid, 3. Darin Matthews, 4. Joe Mahuron, 5. Cory Jones, 6. Shannon Matthews, 7. Mike Moore, 8. Randy Thompson
These boys don’t let you catch your breath.
Brannon Fowler was the eventual win, but not before some wild theatrics took place.
Another seemingly, ho-hum 20-lap victory for Steve Buttrick got interesting in the final two laps.
With a comfortable lead, Buttrick sustained a flat with two to go, setting the stage for a wild finish between Randy Thompson, Brannon Fowler and Jim Pokrant.
Thompson led with Fowler and Pokrant close behind. As the trio came out of Turn 4, Pokrant made his push and took out Thompson down the front straightaway to edge Fowler for first.
Pokrant, though, almost immediately was penalized and Fowler collected his second win of the season.
“I hate what happened to Randy’s car, and Jim and all that, but we’ll take ’em as we can get ’em,” an out-of-breath Fowler said. “Man, I owe so much to my dad and my crew.”
Thompson’s crew will have a lot of work to do before the next race.
His No. 42 went up in a cloud of smoke as he spun from the collision. He got out of his car, leaned inside the passenger side of Pokrant’s No. 7 and the two exchanged a heated conversation that ended with Thompson lunging at Pokrant.
It paved the way for Chris Nielsen to finish second, his best finish of the season.
“I’m getting to old to do this, but I sure love it,” the veteran driver said.
With racing like this, it’s easy to see why.
Sportsmen 20-lap Feature Results — 1. Brannon Fowler, 2. Chris Nielsen, 3. Marty White, 4. Jimmy Goodwin, 5. John Ward, 6. Gary Robinson, 7. Michael Couture, 8. Justin Babb, 9. Daniel Fleming, 10. Paul Mathis, 11. Randy Thompson, 12. Jim Pokrant, 13. Steve Buttrick, 14. Wayne Burkett, DQ. Scott Barbaric
Brandon Burks likes the few out front.
Unfortunately, he won’t likely being staying out there after a post-race disqualification for an illegal chassie gave Kenny Williams his first win of the season.
Burks, who assumed the points lead after being awarded the win earlier this month, initially backed it up on the racetrack Friday with his third trip to Victory Lane this season.
“Man, that’s so much fun,” said Burks, the 18-year-old Milton driver. “The race means a lot because my dad was in town and he doesn’t get to see a lotta races because he works outta town.”
On the racetrack, that is. Technical inspection was a different story.
Bombers 20-lap Feature Results — 1. Kenny Williams, 2. Tracy Soles, 3. Courtney Rodrigues, 4. Robert Balkum, 5. Sam Mellema, 6. Leonard Craig Jr., 7. Gary Goodwin, 8. Hunter Ward, 9. Dayton Sidner, 10. Kenny Bullard, 11. Brandon Sidner, DQ. Brandon Burks