(Plymouth, IN) What a night of door-to-door, action-packed racing during Saturday night’s special at Plymouth Speedway! A high school graduate even missed his graduation ceremony to race in his feature in an attempt for a podium finish.
It all started with the Super Street feature where strategy played a part in Dean Baker’s win. Baker had to work on Bob McLean who took the lead right away and kept it for a majority of the race. However, on lap 12 McLean made a mistake, went high and Baker was able to quickly slide his car in the dirt on the inside to take over the lead. McLean kept moving backwards and Brandon Roundtree, who left his UMP Modified at home this week, was able to get around him in the next lap for the second spot. Roundtree and Short were racing each other in between turns three and four for the third spot prior to the halfway mark and were starting to spin when a caution came out for tire debris in that turn. They were able to keep their positions on the track as the field went back to green. As racing continued, David Short was able to sneak into the third spot as McLean continued to slip back. Michael Clark attempted a good effort to pass Short to get the last spot on the podium but he ran out of laps. Dean Baker won the feature in his first appearance at Plymouth Speedway this season with Brandon Roundtree in second and Short in third.
“It’s the same car we ran here last year, but we made some major changes and made it work tonight!” Baker said after his feature win.
In a packed field of UMP Modified drivers, pole-sitter Tommy Beezley II and Zeke McKenzie had a good battle for the lead once the green flag waved in the air but Beezley II had a strong car. McKenzie did everything he could do to get by Beezley II for the entire race. He tried up high and on the inside but McKenzie couldn’t get past Beezley II. Meanwhile, points leader, Jamie Lomax, was on his way through the field after starting sixth. He had passed McKenzie for the second spot but a caution came out on lap 14 after Christopher Anstead spun and the lineup reverted to the last completed lap. That put Lomax back behind McKenzie. Lomax put the pressure on McKenzie on the restart of the race but McKenzie slammed the door on his momentum. A caution came out on lap 19 of the 20-lap feature which set up the last chance to shake up the podium finish for the leaders, but it ended with Beezley II with the win, McKenzie second and Lomax with the third place spot.
“We started out pretty rough this season but we’re slowly gaining on it a little bit. We’re getting closer,” commented Beezley II.
The 600 Open Sprint feature had eyes on Billy Cribbs as he missed his high school graduation in Muncie to participate in this feature. Prior to the race he said that he practiced with his classmates for the graduation ceremony and when he stood on that stage he didn’t feel that’s the stage he wanted to be on.
“The podium is where I wanted to be,” said Cribbs.
Would he have what it would take to get there?
Dawson Stealy had the strongest car in the field and he proved that after powering to the lead on several restarts in the feature. In the middle of the race, Garrett Saunders and Stealy swapped the lead for two laps before a debris caution step up a crucial restart. Saunders was able to capture the lead after the restart but a costly mistake coming out of turn two a few laps later would put Stealy back into the lead. Saunders got loose coming out of turn two, went into the infield and rejoined the field only to run into the third place driver, Brad Nichols. That action caused the caution to come out which put Saunders at the tail of the field. That moved up the field one spot with Stealy back into the lead with Nichols second and Billy Cribbs in the third spot. In the closing laps, Cribbs was able to get by Nichols and Eric Saunders put on the moves to get by Nichols for third. Stealy won the hard fought race with the graduate, Billy Cribbs, with the second place finish and Eric Saunders with his first podium finish of the season.
“No risk, no reward,” said Stealy.
Billy Cribbs said his podium finish made his decision to skip his graduation ceremony the right one.
“There’s no place I’d rather be,” smiled Cribbs.
The Thunder Stocks feature had a bizarre beginning. On the opening lap, Kevin Kerlin got out of sorts coming out of turn two and got his car stuck on the tire barrier. His two right tires were on the top of the tires and his car was leaning off to the side. The race was red-flagged until track officials could help him break free. Once the field went back to green, Kerlin was able to continue in the race and led the first few laps! It wasn’t long when Bryce Shidler and Eric Brown went three-wide for the lead. Brown would win that battle and Kerlin moved to the second position and Shidler moved to third. Brown would lose the lead when he spun out of turn two on lap 8 and with Bryce Shidler’s previous pass on Kevin Kerlin, Shidler took over the lead. John Rhoads worked on Kerlin for the second place position after working on him for a few laps and aimed to take the lead from Shidler. Rhoads was able to close the gap and was side-by-side with Shidler on the last lap. Shidler was able to keep the lead for the win while Rhoads finished second and Brown claimed the last spot on the podium.
“We had seconds, thirds and fourths for most of the season but we’re on the top of the podium tonight,” said Shidler. We’re trying to stay consistent.”
The momentum of the action continues next Saturday when NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Justin Allgaier and David Stremme bring their Modifieds to go up against Plymouth Speedway’s best in the UMP Modified division. The “Mod Squad” night will begin at 7 p.m. ET. Come early and get a good seat. The gates open at 4 p.m. ET. For more information on ticket prices, visit www.plymouthspeedway.net.
– Plymouth Speedway press release. Photo credit: Stephanie Reichelt Photography