Winners with help from above

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September 29, 2018  |  by Sarah Q. Stevens

Wes Wofford mentioned what I was thinking after the POWRi 305 Sprint Car Race. He mentioned that he prayed that Greg Hodnett would guide him from above in his post -race winner’s circle interview. And as we knew that Royal was the 2018 (last year at Southern New Mexico Speedway) champion, my thoughts immediately went to Jason Johnson. I just knew he was smiling down. Then I did even more thinking. This was my 13th year at SNMS. And it’s hard to imagine that next year when the fair hits town, we won’t be a part of it. It’s also a lot to take in all of those I have met and loved at SNMS; that have gone on. That are now watching us from above. I am a small part of a much larger history. But I am proud to say that if only for a moment, I was a part of this team and racing family.

We would have a healthy field of USRA Stock cars check in for racing action. With 3 heat races and 20 cars. Tyler Beiter would wheel his 81 machine to a 1st place finish in Heat 1. With last night’s winner Zach McCoy in the #46 coming in 2nd. Josh Reynolds piloting the #3 would make his way back out to Southern New Mexico Speedway tonight and to a win in Heat 2. Paul Telles Jr. in the 48T would following behind him finishing in 2nd. Bryan Bennett in the 10B would be victorious in Heat 3. With the “tall cool one” Anton Salopek coming in 2nd. The Main Event would have some bumping and some banging. Donavon Flores would take advantage of the contact throughout the field and creep his way to the front. Towards the last part of the race, we would see some familiar faces along with Donovan up front battling. Lloyd Turner would give up co-piloting the 70 Claimer with son Cole, to hit the track solo tonight. Mark Morris would also find himself back for racing action tonight. And the scoreboard would go back and forth as the 3 would race each other. Ultimately, the 10 of Anton Salopek would make his way up front as well. Donavon would hold off the veteran races to end up winnng the Main Event. Lloyd Turner would take the 2nd place finishing position. Anton would find himself coming in 3rd. Wyatt Loveland in the #97 would come in 4th, with Mark Morris in the 21z rounding out the top 5. If tonight’s action was a preview of what is to come during Fall Nationals, you won’t want to miss a single night of the action.

Next to take the track would be the Casa Nissan Legends, with 17 legends checking in. Heat 1 winner would be no surprise as Josh Jackson would finish almost ½ a track in front of the rest the field. Chelsea Scott would wheel her #4 machine to a 2nd place finish. Heat 2 would belong to the 11D of David Smith. Lucas Ward in the #11 coming in to a 2nd place finish. Main Event racing action would be exciting with some tight back and forth racing up front. It would be little Gunner Harris getting by the 237 of Steven Arellano late in the race to come home in 1st place. Steven Arellano would come in 2nd place in his return to racing action at SNMS. Daniel Blaeser would make his way up to the front to finish in 3rd place. Eli Woody would fall in behind him finishing 4th. And it would be the 48Z of Zach Rodriguez rounding out the top 5.

The Late Models would run 2 heat races next with 11 checking in for racing for the night. Heat 1 would belong to the 59 of Josh Cain who would make his way around Jonathon Ortega in the 22 for the win. Ortega would settle in behind him in 2nd. And it would be Donnie Newcomb in his #88 machine taking the win in heat 2. Behind him would be the 3 of Javier Zapien Jr. The Main Event would only find 8 Late Models taking the start. We would lose the 357 of Oscar Perez in heat 2 to a blown motor. It wasn’t clear what happened with either the G17 of Fito Gallardo or the 29 of Troy Miller. Both would attempt to take a competitive green flag but would be unable to do so. The J17 of Jake Gallardo would not have the same issue or fate. He would find his way to the front of the Main late in the race and bring home the win. Jonathan Ortega in his #22 machine would finish right behind Gallardo. Jonathan would be reluctant to give up the lead he had maintained but would be unable to hold off Jake. Josh Cain would come in 3rd for the night. Rick Ortega would follow in behind Cain finishing 4th. And it would Donnie Newcomb in the #88 rounding out the top 5.

It would be a good weekend overall for Billy Roy Harris. And the first heat of X mod racing would keep that streak going. Harris would win Heat 1 in the #57. Derek Stuhler in the #24 would fall in behind him in 2nd. Justin Allen would be the victor in heat 2 in his #33 machine. Noah Hollingshead would finish 2nd in 3H. John Carney in the #7C would win heat 3. Jake Gallardo would come in 2nd in the G3 X Modified. The Main Event would be rocky from the very beginning. In fact, the first yellow would come out in turns 1 and 2 at the very beginning of the race. Once the pace was set and the race started to smooth out, it would be the 8N of Nick Rivera making his way to the front. But in a last corner last lap pass, the G3 of Gallardo would upset the 8N and take the win. Nick would finish in 2nd place. Billy Roy Harris and his #57 machine would finish 3rd. Greg Gorham in the #93 would finish 4th. And it would be the #33 of Justin Allen rounding out the Top 5. Another noteworthy race that is hopefully a glimpse into the upcoming Fall Nationals race.

Ahh, Sprint Cars. I must take a minute to mention the most memorable lesson I learned at SNMS. It came from Sprint Car racing. Many of you know that I am more of modified chic than a Sprint Car chic. And I will never ever ever forget; NO. You can’t stop them on the back straight away to line them up. No longer an issue since we have moved to the use of raceceivers to communicate with drivers and line them up. It seems like a whole different time. The days of no raceceivers. Even harder for me to think of, long before me... people would hand score races. Let me also mention that I love new technological advances.

In heat 1 racing action, Kohl McCutcheon would find himself in the winner’s circle. Holding off the 40X of Don Grable, who would finish 2nd. Royal Jones in the 131 would be the victor in heat 2. With the returning Cesar Fuentes in his #27 coming in 2nd. Ricky Holden in the #15 would win Heat 3. CJ Hulsey would come in 2nd in the #77. The stage was set to crown a champion. Both the points leader, and the runner up would start in the same row of the main event. And they would battle back and forth from the very beginning. Derek DeMartino would jump out a very strong start. Determined to win the Championship, the 131 of Royal Jones would never let DeMartino out of his sight. They seemed to be attracting each other, neither getting too far out in front or sitting too far back from the other. The night however would belong to Wes Wofford in the #19. He would make a pass on the then leader Royal Jones in turns 3 and 4. And it was Game Over. Royal Jones would win the championship but have to settle for a 2nd place finish in the Main Event. Derek DeMartino would fall in behind him finishing 3rd in his #97 machine. Don Grable would wheel the 40X to a 4th place finish. The 21TX of Brandon Schure would round out the top 5. Congrats to Royal and the entire 131 crew.

We can’t wait for this year’s Fall Nationals, but will enjoy the next 3 weekends off. Time to rest, regroup, and come back for what is slated to be the best we have ever seen.