Payne wows crowd to win Spring Championship
By the time pre-race ceremonies ended, the grandstands at Tri County Racetrack were filled with race fans eager to witness the Spring Championship event. More than 70 cars sat in the pit area undergoing final adjustments before taking to the clay oval to compete.
The Street Stock division was the first to line up to take the green. The most recent division winner, Marlin Gunter, kept his momentum going with a front row start and quickly shot to the lead. Gunter battled with Shannon Smith and Drew Bowers for several laps before things finally settled down. Gunter pulled away from the field on his way to his second win in as many weeks. Jacob Lynch made a late race charge for second place and Smith slipped back to third.
In the Modified Hobby/Sportsman division, the repeat theme continued. Charles Devine Jr. and Greg Sudderth brought the field to the green. The battle for the lead was a tense one with Jeffrey Wood and Kenny Taylor joining Devine and Sudderth at the front of the pack. Wood and Devine were forced to the back of the field after bringing out the caution when the two made contact and spun coming off of turn four. On the restart, Taylor powered by Sudderth and took the lead, and eventually the win. Sudderth hung on to second with Danny McLoud crossing the stripe in third.
Jason Deal turned in the quick time in Crate Late Model qualifying to win the pole for the feature. Youngster Sylvan Schuette had the best qualifying performance of his career and took the green from the second starting spot. Deal got the whole shot and pulled in front of Shuette to stop a potential pass on the outside. Sheutte came under attack from Adam Smith and Jacob Anderson and eventually settled into the fourth position. The race was red flagged when the No.49 of Bo Stanley Jr. made contact with Haven Stiles, got airborne and flipped down the front stretch before coming to rest on the front stretch wall. Stanley started moving around inside the car immediately and was out of the car within seconds of it stopping. The ensuing restart put Smith on Deal’s rear bumper but that was as close as he would get. The checkered flag fell with Deal in first, Smith in second and Anderson in third.
Next on the Brasstown Bullring was the Pony Division. Justin Woodard had the top starting spot and led from flag to flag. Jamy Saunooke gave chase to Woodard but was forced to settle for second place with Shannon Jones making a mad dash for third.
Finally it was time for the main event of the night with 14 Super Late Models lining up for the Spring Championship race with $3,000 going to the winner. Pole sitter David Payne was the first on the loud pedal and led the charge into turn one. Payne put his No.8 on the high side and looked to pull away. Austin Smith and Shawn Chastain had other plans however. Smith used the middle lane and Chastain stuck to the bottom as the two ran Payne down. The trio went three wide off of turn four with Smith and Chastain passing Payne to put him in third. That running order didn’t last long as Payne saw on opening and shot between Smith and Chastain at the flag stand and regained the lead in turn one.
The bold move had the fans on their feet and in shock. Just as impressive was the show being put on by Longhorn driver Casey Roberts. Roberts started ninth and worked his way up to fifth before spinning and restarting in the rear of the field. Roberts didn’t remain there long and in the closing laps found himself in a four way battle for the win. Payne and Smith had their machines at the top of the track while Chastain and Roberts chose the low line.
The four horsepower men came off of turn four for the final time with Payne holding on to win, Chastain in second and Roberts edging out Smith for third.
The next event for the track will be Friday, May 20 which will be a regular show plus kids’ bicycle races.