IRVINGTON, Ala. — Although it was a week late due to being postponed by persistent rain showers, Mosquito Patch Night at Mobile International Speedway (MIS) lived up to the hype on Saturday night. With ARCA Mobile 200 replica jukebox trophies handed out to the winners – as well as a substantial paycheck – there was plenty to race for.
Barry’s U Pull It Pro Trucks
Starting the night on a high note was the drivers of the Barry’s U Pull It Pro Trucks who battled hard for 25 breathtaking laps to kick off the festivities.
Starting the race from deep in the pack following a 12-truck invert, it took Jake Moore just nine laps to catch then-leader and defending champion Okie Mason for the lead. Two laps later, the two would begin to battle around Alabama’s fastest half-mile.
The hard battling came to a head on lap 21 when Moore was finally able to get inside of Mason’s No. 6 truck. The two raced side-by-side all the way down the backstretch before Moore prevailed as he exited Turn 2 on the next lap.
Just when Moore thought the race was his to lose, a caution on lap 23 would wad the field back up again for a two-lap shootout.
Moore wouldn’t be denied on the restart, however, as he cleared the pack for the lead exiting Turn 2. The remaining two laps would be clear sailing for the young driver as he captured the checkered flag to jump start what should be a huge season for the Langham affiliated driver.
Jay Day Day, Howard Langham, Eric Courville and Okie Mason rounded out the top-five finishers.
Island Motors II Bombers
One season ago, it was all about BJ Leytham in the Island Motors II Bombers—as he won all but one of the division’s races at MIS. The Mobile native’s quest to continue his dominance took a turn during Friday evening’s opening practice as a mechanical failure left him without a ride for Saturday night’s race. A last-minute seat swap with his teammate Geno Denmark, however, would allow him to race.
Joining Kane Motorsports in the offseason, it didn’t take Matt Jackson very long to feel the effects of his new team. During qualifying, Jackson set a new track record for the Bomber division by recording a lap of 22.580 seconds. A full-field invert, however, relegated him to the rear of the field for the start of the 25-lap race.
After the invert, Michael Nelson started on the pole, but quickly found himself in second after being passed by Derek “Kane” Long entering Turn 1. Long’s time out front would be short-lived, however, as Jackson passed his teammate for the top spot two laps later. With the lead in hand, Jackson pulled away from the rest of the pack—but a lap 18 caution for the spinning car of Nelson in Turn 4 would erase it.
On the ensuing restart, Jackson wasted no time clearing for the lead by the time the pack entered Turn 1. Not far behind, though, emerged Leytham in the No. 88 in the second position.
A lap 23 caution for the spinning car of Rusty Powell, Jr. halted the race for the second time and set up a frantic three-lap shootout for the trophy. As Leytham spun his tires on the restart, Jackson quickly set sail with the lead and crossed the start/finish line first to capture the checkered flag and an ARCA-Mobile 200 jukebox replica trophy.
Long, Leytham, Brad Mosley and Tommie Blocker rounded out the top five finishers.
Bob’s Speedshop Sportsmen
The main event of the evening, the winner of Saturday night’s Bob Speedshop Sportsmen 50-lap feature not only took home a jukebox replica trophy, but also a one-thousand dollar check. From the drop of the green flag, it was highly evident that the drivers wanted the spoils in the worst of ways.
Before the snarling pack of cars reached Turn 1 on the opening lap, they were already racing three-wide for the lead down the frontstretch. With a strong run off the first set of corners, Johnny Greene emerged with the lead as a frantic battled for second raged on between Brannon Fowler and Lee “Red Dog” Reynolds.
Despite the hard battling, Fowler cleared Reynolds for the second position a lap later and quickly caught Greene for the top spot. With a strong run off Turn 2 and down the backstretch, Fowler emerged with the top spot and quickly extended it. While Fowler continued to pull away from the pack, the drivers behind him battled bumper-to-bumper until the race’s first caution waved on lap 33 for the spinning car of Michael Ledlow in Turn 2.
On the following restart, Fowler again cleared for the lead, but the best battle was for the second position as Reynolds and Steve Buttrick battled side-by-side for two full laps before Reynolds got loose and lost the position.
By lap 37, Buttrick had reeled in Fowler for the lead—and that’s when things got interesting.
With a strong run down the backstretch, Buttrick darted to the inside of Fowler’s No. 00 as the two entered Turn 3. With both drivers giving it their all, they would make contact—which sent Fowler sliding up the hill and Buttrick towards the grass on the inside of the track. With a perfect display of driving talent, however, the two never lost control—as Buttrick emerged with the lead after what can be most closely compared to Dale Earnhardt’s “pass in the grass”.
The second caution of the evening waved just two laps later following contact between Greene and Ledlow in Turn 4, and set up another shootout between Fowler, Buttrick and Reynolds.
On the following restart, Buttrick wasted no time clearning Fowler for the lead – and just as he thought he was going to set sail – the caution waved yet again as Reynolds was sent spinning in Turn 3 after contact with Ledlow.
On what ended up being the final restart of the race, Buttrick would not be denied as he quickly cleared Fowler for the lead once again and took off. Despite a hard last-minute charge from Fowler in the final two circuits of the race, Buttrick held on to capture the checkers and score the replica jukebox trophy and hefty check. Fowler, Greene, Ledlow and Reynolds rounded out the top-five finishers.
With ARCA-Mobile 200 festivities now complete, the official start of the 2015 season at Alabama’s fastest half-mile is now less than one week away. On Saturday night, March 28, the stars of the Modifieds of Mayhem tour; as well as the Sportsmen, Super Stock and Bomber divisions, will battle hard for early-season bragging rights.
About Mobile International Speedway: Mobile International Speedway is the longest continuously operating sports facility in Mobile County. It was built in 1964 and has presented weekly motorsports events every year since then. As an indication of increasing community acceptance and enthusiasm, both the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Mobile Sports Authority became MIS partners beginning in 2013.
Family attendance and participation have been the keys to the track’s continued success. Kids 5 and under are always admitted free to the grandstands. Family nights and family-oriented shows have always been staples of the annual MIS schedules. Over 30,000 people will attend the 14 scheduled MIS events in 2015.
-Mobile Int’l Speedway Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com