SALISBURY, N.C. – Patience, timing and a blistering late restart were the keys that helped Neal Allison unlock the door to victory lane at Millbridge Speedway Wednesday night during the finale to the HMS Motorsport Patriot Shootout presented by Osmond.
Allison, a product of the pavement-based USAC Eastern Midget Ass’n who switched to dirt micro sprints last year, picked up his third career micro win during the $1,000-to-win, 40-lap headliner at the sixth-mile dirt oval.
The Greensboro, N.C., teenager used a roaring launch on a restart with eight laps left to power past race-long leader Gavan Boschele on the very bottom groove in turns one and two. Once clear, Allison opened up his advantage as Boschele faded to a crawl with terminal mechanical woes.
From that point on, Allison held off a determined Dillon Welch – who charged from 15th to second after transferring in through the Last Chance Showdown – over a final six-lap dash to the finish for the win.
Allison’s Hall Tire Co.-sponsored No. 15 took the checkers four car lengths clear of Welch, who was wheeling NASCAR Cup Series rookie Chase Briscoe’s familiar No. 5 during the two-night affair.
It was a moment that Allison called the biggest win of his career so far.
“We just haven’t had the luck on Wednesdays here that we’ve had on the weekends,” said Allison, who won both Saturday micro races held at the track earlier this season. “I knew we had the speed [to do this]; it was great today and we finally got a chance. I felt I had a chance all race, because the bottom was getting better and they just weren’t going down there, so I kept at it and it finally paid off.
“I just stuck to what I knew was working on the last restart; I knew the 5 (Welch) was behind me and he had used the bottom to come from deep in the B-main … so I protected on the restart and now we’re here,” Allison added. “Hopefully this shows what we’ve got and what we can do going forward.”
Though Tuesday winner Brent Crews started from the pole after earning high-point honors following qualifying and heat races, it was Boschele who got the measure of Crews with a slice off the top side of turn two on the opening lap, working clear off the fourth corner and controlling most of the race.
Despite seven cautions and several, frenetic restarts over the first 32 laps, Boschele held strong and maintained the lead each time. The game-changing moment was on the penultimate resumption at lap 33, when Boschele lined up out front and Allison was on his rear bumper following a Nick Drake spin.
Boschele’s motor began to lay down on the approach to turn one, allowing Allison to duck to the low side of the corner and surge to the race lead, with Welch following him through to second place.
Two laps later, Boschele slowed to a crawl, necessitating the final caution flag of the night with six laps left and ending his hopes at a marquee victory.
“We don’t know what happened,” a dejected Boschele said after the race. “The motor just started bogging down there and it wasn’t running like it had been all night. It’s really disappointing.”
Allison then got away from Welch on the final restart, driving home to victory and leaving Welch to fend off a determined Buddy Kofoid down the home stretch for runner-up honors.
Though Kofoid found speed on the cushion in the final laps, Welch was able to negate the Penngrove, Calif., native’s pass attempt after the white flag with his tried-and-true approach of running the bottom.
“We were definitely tight at the end,” tipped Welch. “But we also know that this car, if there’s a bottom [groove] here is really, really strong down low. I feel like we’re the best car running the bottom here right now, so we set up for that and somewhat planned for that. It was right down there for what we needed. I felt like I was a little snug to run the top, as well … but when you pass 13 cars down low, it’s hard to leave that.
“I felt like we had a shot to win a couple of times, but just had some badly timed yellows that relegated us back a couple of spots,” Welch continued. “I’m super happy with second, though, given that our night started with being light after qualifying.”
Kofoid crossed the line third, followed by Ethan Burdett and Tim Nye. D.J. VanderLey, Nick Drake, Nigel Standish, Tylen Trammell and Eli Adams closed the top 10.
Crews’ night went south when he stopped under caution from fourth place with 25 laps complete. He went to the work area and was unable to return, scored 16th in the final rundown.
Prior to that, Carson Kvapil brought out the second caution flag of the night on lap 18 after getting upside down in turn two while running second. Kvapil finished last in the 18-car field.
Boschele kicked off the night by leading time trials with a lap of 10.132 seconds, while Allison, Crews and Kvapil won their respective heat races. Welch raced from eighth to win the Last Chance Showdown.
In other action, Brody Snyder made an inside pass of race-long Box Stock leader Karter Beattie with three laps to go in that division’s 20-lap feature en route to a $500 score in his No. 41 reminiscent of the late Jason Johnson’s ASCS sprint car.
Snyder bested Beattie by .492 seconds, with Jayden Cordell, Caleb Scarborough and Talon Pelfrey filling out the top five.
The next race at Millbridge Speedway will be Tuesday, June 1, featuring regular weekly racing.
HMS Motorsport Patriot Shootout presented by Osmond; Millbridge Speedway; May 26, 2021
Qualifying (best of two laps): 1. 5-Gavan Boschele, 10.132; 2. 11x-Brent Crews, 10.226; 3. 2v-D.J. VanderLey, 10.234; 4. 55x-Nick Drake, 10.327; 5. 17-Austin Barnhill, 10.350; 6. 2-Carson Kvapil, 10.362; 7. 15n-Neal Allison, 10.364; 8. 49-Aiden Price, 10.369; 9. 9r-Hayden Reeves, 10.378; 10. 45-Eli Adams, 10.385; 11. 61-Will Boprey, 10.404; 12. 9-Nigel Standish, 10.438; 13. 16-Matt Francis, 10.461; 14. 13-Brett Moffitt, 10.484; 15. 3-Caden Kvapil, 10.495; 16. 33-Joey Robinson, 10.501; 17. 42-Tim Nye, 10.502; 18. 55-Trevor Cline, 10.532; 19. 7s-Skyler Hunter, 10.548; 20. 14-Ethan Burdett, 10.572; 21. 21-Buddy Kofoid, 10.599; 22. 48-Coen McDaniel, 10.653; 23. 12-Andrew Tagliamonte, 10.811; 24. 48k-Coby Adams, 10.841; 25. 26-Aidan Turner, 10.845; 26. 14t-Tylen Trammell, 10.931; DQ: 5b-Dillon Welch, 10.419 (light at scales).
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Neal Allison , 2. Nick Drake , 3. Gavan Boschele , 4. Eli Adams , 5. Matt Francis , 6. Joey Robinson , 7. Coen McDaniel , 8. Aidan Turner , 9. Skyler Hunter .
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Brent Crews , 2. Tim Nye , 3. Will Boprey , 4. Ethan Burdett , 5. Tylen Trammell , 6. Brett Moffitt , 7. Andrew Tagliamonte , 8. Austin Barnhill , 9. Aiden Price .
Heat #3 (8 laps): 1. Carson Kvapil , 2. Buddy Kofoid , 3. Hayden Reeves , 4. Caden Kvapil , 5. Nigel Standish , 6. Dillon Welch , 7. Trevor Cline , 8. Coby Adams , 9. D.J. VanderLey .
Last Chance Showdown (12 laps, top four transfer): 1. Dillon Welch , 2. Aiden Price , 3. D.J. VanderLey , 4. Tylen Trammell  / 5. Skyler Hunter , 6. Aiden Turner , 7. Coby Adams , 8. Trevor Cline , 9. Joey Robinson , 10. Coen McDaniel , 11. Austin Barnhill , 12. Brett Moffitt (DNS), 13. Andrew Tagliamonte (DNS).
A-Feature (40 laps): 1. 15-Neal Allison , 2. 5b-Dillon Welch , 3. 21-Buddy Kofoid , 4. 14b-Ethan Burdett , 5. 42-Tim Nye , 6. 2-D.J. VanderLey , 7. 55x-Nick Drake , 8. 9s-Nigel Standish , 9. 14t-Tylen Trammell , 10. 45-Eli Adams , 11. 9r-Hayden Reeves , 12. 16-Matt Francis , 13. 5-Gavan Boschele , 14. 3-Caden Kvapil , 15. 61-Will Boprey , 16. 11x-Brent Crews , 17. 49-Aiden Price , 18. 2-Carson Kvapil .
Lap Leader(s): Brent Crews 0, Gavan Boschele 1-32, Neal Allison 33-40.
Hard Charger: 5b-Dillon Welch (+13)
-Millbridge Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Brandon Zumbach