EASLEY, S.C. — On a sunny South Carolina Saturday, the Greenville-Pickens Speedway unveiled their 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season in front of a huge crowd in a six division, seven feature show headlined by Twin 75’s for the late model stock division, Chase Purdy stole the first of the two 75’s on the last lap from Trey Gibson, but Gibson made sure the youngster never got close in race two as he put his No. 112 in victory lane.
However, a disqualification of Gibson’s car in post-race tech handed the win back to Purdy for the sweep of the two events.
Other winners included Bobby Emery in the Renegade division, Luke Sorrow in Limited Late Models, Tommy Davis in Four Cylinders, Robin Darnell in Super Stocks, and Buck Simmons in Pure Stocks.
In late model race one, Rodney Howard jumped off the outside pole and quickly opened up a healthy advantage. Behind him, Purdy actually fell as far back as fourth as Dylan Hall and Gibson were all in the mix.
Howard maintained his advantage until lap 45 when Hall ran him down and passed him with an inside move on the back straightaway.
With 30 laps left, Hall was now the leader but both Gibson and Purdy started to pick up the pace as Howard fell further back through the field. It took just four laps for Gibson to duck under Hall and take the lead in turn one, and Purdy began to turn up the heat as he took over second.
This was Purdy’s first late model stock start with the Hawk-McCall Motorsports No. 41, and he was determined to make it count. He caught Gibson and the pair made contact a couple of times in the closing laps as the fans roared their approval.
Purdy made a determined move into turn three as the checkered flag was raised, drew alongside Gibson and beat him to the line to snatch the victory on the final lap!
Gibson finished second, Hall was third, Bob Root came on for a strong fourth place finish and the 18 of defending late model stock champion David Roberts finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were Howard, Will Burns, Ralph Carnes, Cody Haskins and Neil Meredith.
The second 75-lap late model stock feature was run just minutes after Purdy took the checkers, and it was started straight up from the finish of the first race which put Purdy and Gibson on the front row.
Purdy took the lead at the drop of the green but three laps later it was Gibson diving underneath the youngster in turn one and unknowingly pulling off the pass for the win. This race was a bit of a different story than the first feature in that the rate of attrition was much higher.
Rodney Howard was the first big shoe to drop as he went to the pits on lap 13 with mechanical problems on his beautiful blue No. 16.
The first yellow flag of the race came on lap 20 when the No. 2 of Haskins broke in turn two and had to be towed to the pits.
Later, on lap 46, a two car tangle in turn three sent Kevin Vasser and Richard Starkey to the pit area for the rest of the night. Dylan Hall, who had run strong to finish third in the first event, struggled in race two and even made a pit stop under a yellow flag for adjustments.
He would return to finish eighth but was not competitive for the duration of the event. Meanwhile, Gibson never let Purdy or anyone else anywhere near him as he dominated the event and scored a convincing win to make up for the one that got away just moments earlier.
Purdy, in a role reversal, finished second. Bob Root made it two top fives on the night with a third place run. Fourth went to a resurgent Tasha Kummer, who charged from twelfth in a spectacular performance.
Rounding out the top five was Roberts with his second fifth place finish of the day. Carnes crossed the line sixth, Meredith seventh, Hall eighth, Lance Gatlin ninth and the Vassar being credited with tenth.
Following post-race technical inspection, Gibson’s car was disqualified, giving Purdy the sweep of both races.
In what was actually the first feature of the afternoon, the Pure Stock division saw fast qualifier Freddy Hale take the early lead in the 12-lap contest with Buck Simmons trailing him closely. Hale led the first seven circuits until Simmons found his way by in turn three.
The only yellow of the event waved on lap nine when Brian Benton slowed suddenly and went to the pits. Hale, running second at the time, had his window net fall down under the yellow.
Because he had to have assistance to put it back up, this was treated as if he’d pitted for repairs and he was sent to the back of the field for the restart. This handed second over to the No. 28 of Ashley Granata, and that’s exactly where she finished as Simmons picked up a well-earned victory. Third went to Hank Hutto with Dannon Esco and Hale rounding out the top five.
Bobby Emory led flag to flag in the 20-lap Renegade feature, but it wasn’t without pressure. Billy Brown ran second early and appeared to have a car to challenge for the win, but he slowed suddenly on lap 11 and pulled out of the race.
Several cars now took up the fight for second now, but Emory had the measure of the entire field and held on for the victory. Parker Jameson wound up in second place, with Shane Hill third.
Fourth went to Spenser Darnell and Steve Guthrie, who charged from 14th place, finished fifth.
Sixth through tenth were Alexx Breazele, Larry Nabors, Scotty Tyner, Colt Smith and Daniel Jameson.
The 15-lap four-cylinder feature event figured to be highly competitive and it was. Dannon Esco qualified fastest and grabbed the early lead, but the No. 69 of Tommy Davis was running like a champion on the outside and he ran alongside Esco for several laps, keeping him honest.
A three-car crash in turn one saw the No. 21 of Travis Barbere tip over on his side, but he was uninjured in the multi-car melee.
Michael Webster, Chad Redding and Travis Shelton all took their turns doing battle near the front, swapping positions throughout the race with Davis, as Esco did his best to fend them off. Davis fell back as far as fourth before using a late race restart to power back on the outside and take the lead with just three laps left in the race.
Esco held on for second followed by Don Tavernia, Chad Redding and James Coggins. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Travis Shelton, Neil Meeks, Robert Hall, Ray Mullinax and Jack Hooper.
Robin Darnell led the first 20 laps of the 25-lap Super Stock race as Tim Sams in the No. 71 threw everything including a small kitchen sink at him trying to find a way around him.
The No. 4 of Darnell rebuked every challenge until lap 21 when Sams finally saw daylight on the inside and drove underneath for the lead. Sams’ lead lasted only a lap, however, as he made contact with the fourth-place running car of Ken Guthrie as he was lapping him and both cars crashed, ending up with damage.
This gave the lead and the win to Darnell, who held off Mike Mote for the final three laps to claim top honors.
Third place went to Dale Stancil with Stanley Pressley and T.J. Johnson comprising the remainder of the top five. Sams, Guthrie, Adam Rogers and Danny Gilbert rounded out the field.
The limited late models were the “nightcap” for the evening, setting up for their 75-lap affair with youngsters Colby Howard and Luke Sorrow starting in the front row.
Those two would be the story of the race, as Howard grabbed the lead at the outset and, just as his father Rodney had done earlier in the first late model stock race, held it for over half of the event.
Sorrow remained patient in second, keeping Howard close but not overworking his car or his tires. As the pair worked through traffic in the last third of the race, Sorrow seized the opportunity to turn up the wick.
With 15 laps left in the race, Sorrrow dropped to the inside and devoured his prey, taking the lead and driving away from the field to get the win in fine fashion.
Howard faded in the closing laps, allowing Andrew Cordell to finish second. Howard held on for third with Taylor Sorrow ending up in fourth place ahead of Bob Root, who was fifth.
Toots Welborn, Daniel Alvarez, Greg Tinsley, Tasha Kummer, Phillip Peter and Brad Burns completed the field as the final checkered flag of the evening waved before 9pm.
Howard’s car was disqualified in post-race tech, dropping him to the bottom of the finishing order.
When it was all over, seven different winners had graced Call Double Ought Bryan Ramey Victory Lane in front of a strong crowd and race one of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at Greenville-Pickens Speedway went into the history books.
Next Saturday, the limited late models return for another 75-lap feature, while the super stocks, renegades, pure stocks and four cylinders will also be on the card.
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Late Model Race One Finish – Chase Purdy (41), Trey Gibson (112), Dylan Hall (4), Bob Root (28), David Roberts (18), Rodney Howard (16), Will Burns (82), Ralph Carnes (40) Cody Haskins (2), Neil Meredith (36), Lance Gatlin (97), Tasha Kummer (35), Kevin Vassar (44), Austin Northcutt (29), Richard Starkey (8) and Taylor Sorrow (92).
Late Model Race Two Finish – Gibson (DQ’d in post-race tech), Purdy, Root, Kummer, Roberts ,Carnes, Meredith, Hall, Gatlin, Vassar, Starkey, Haskins, Burns, Northcutt, Howard and Taylor Sorrow (92).
Limited Late Model Finish – Luke Sorrow (9), Andrew Cordell (33), Colby Howard (16) – DQ’d in post-race tech, Taylor Sorrow (92), Bob Root (28) , Greg “Toots” Welborn (0), Daniel Alvarez (33) ,Greg Tinsley (37), Tasha Kummer (35), Phillip Peters (1) and Brad Burns (44).
Four-Cylinder FWD Finish – Tommy Davis (69), Dannon Esco (23), Don Tavernia (3), Chad Redding (1), James Coggins (25), Travis Shelton (2), Neil Meeks (17), Robert Hall (01), Ray Mullinax (03), Jack Hooper (63), Manual Molleda (14), Derek Fowler (53), Dallas Hollis (00) ,Sandra Tavernia (6), Jay Ivey (43), Bobby Lavair (5), Brian Messer (7), Michael Webster (04), Travis Barbere (21), Chad Tavernia (4) and Austin Heil (15).
Pure Stock Finish – Buck Simmons (71), Ashley Granata (28), Hank Hutto (88), Dannon Esco (23), Freddy Hale (4), A.J. Davis (04), Charlie Meinders (66), Brian Benton (16), Spencer Morgan (33).
Renegade Finish – Bobby Emory (56), Parker Jameson (85), Shane Hill (38), Spenser Darnell (4), Steve Guthrie (9), Alexx Breazele (88), Larry Nabors (26), Scotty Tyner (37), Colt Smith (45), Daniel Jameson (07), Doug Miller (19), Wendell Smith (42), Joe Allen (0) and Billy Brown (22).
Super Stock Finish – Robin Darnell (4), Mike Mote (84), Dale Stancil (20), Stanley Pressley (76), T.J. Johnson (98), Tim Sams (71), Ken Guthrie (32), Adam Rogers (18) and Danny Gilbert (34).
For more information about Greenville-Pickens, contact the track office at 864-295-5764 or visit their website at www.GreenvillePickens.com.
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-Greenville-Pickens Speedway Press Release / Greenville-Pickens Speedway Photo