Augie Grill had been in the same spot before, and admitted he made the wrong decision. He wasn’t going to let it happen again Sunday afternoon.
Over the last 30 laps of the Spring Explosion 125 at Montgomery Motor Speedway, Grill watched and waited. And he waited. And he kept waiting for the perfect time to pounce on Casey Roderick for the race lead.
Grill had tried to go for the lead earlier in the run, but pulled the reins back on his car, and himself. It was that quick, passing thought to ease up that Grill feels won him the race.
“He got his nose inside of me,” Grill said. “I thought to myself, ‘This is that threshold where I always make the wrong decision.’ So I decided to let him go, and run my pace. Low and behold, he got out there running hard and kind of used his stuff up. I stepped my pace up just a little there towards the end and was able to run him back down.”
But don’t think for a moment that Grill wasn’t a factor until the end. He set fast time in qualifying, and quickly worked his way from his eighth place starting spot to the lead. Grill took the lead for the first time on a restart on lap 41.
He dominated the middle portion of the event, until Roderick went to the whip on lap 86. Roderick dove under Grill heading into turn three and snatched the race lead away leading to Grill’s “threshold thought.”
While Roderick had confidence in his car, he knew “Mr. Montgomery” wouldn’t be satisfied with second.
“Augie was good here all weekend, but he is good here every weekend,” Roderick said. “This is his place. I am just thankful I was able to race him a little bit. I was trying to put him up on the outside and try to get him to wear his stuff out, but it kind of backfired on me. He is just too good here.”
Grill is no stranger to victory lane at Montgomery. He has multiple feature wins, including three Alabama 200 wins at the speedway, and a Show Me the Money Pro Late Model track championship.
Grill has felt comfortable on the half mile just west of Alabama’s capital city since his very first start at the facility years ago.
“The second race I ever drove was a Southern All-Stars Pro Late Model race here,” Grill said. “I started 10th and finished second. I don’t know if this place fits my driving style or what, we just always have ran well here. I don’t think we have ever had a bad race here. We’ve had cars that weren’t great, but the end result always seemed to work out.”
Perry Patino finished third, 2015 Show Me the Money Series Champion Brett Holmes came home fourth and early-race leader Justin South rounded out the top five.
The Spring Explosion 125 was the first event in the 2016 Show Me the Money Series at Montgomery. More than 30 Pro Late Models filled the pit area all weekend long, even after lingering rain on Saturday pushed the event to Sunday afternoon, giving track General Manager Stan Narrison an ear-to-ear grin.
“What I am happy about is the state of asphalt Late Model racing,” Narrison said. “All of a sudden, you are seeing people that want to race these cars. I think the best thing I see is not just that we had great success this weekend, but I see a trend happening with asphalt racing right now.
The Pro Late Models return to Montgomery Motor Speedway April 30 for round two of the Show Me the Money Series.
Spring Explosion 125 Official Results
|11)||33||Joe Bethea, Jr.|
|15)||13||Bill Bethea, Jr.|
|23)||X2||Dennis Reno, Jr.|
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com