An overcast afternoon was a welcome change to both drivers and fans as they descended on the farming community of Halifax Saturday evening . A great early crowd filed into the high rise grandstands that overlooks the iconic red clay high banks of Halifax County Motor Speedway.
Twenty drivers from 5 different states registered for round 3 of 9 with the SouthAtlantic DieselSteel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge as anticipation levels grew after the previous night’s rainout. Hot laps, qualifying, three heat races and then the 50 lap feature were the order of events from series director Jim Long Jr.In qualifying for the second straight event, Russell Erwin grabbed the top spot to get the $200 from Bryan Sullivan that set the stage for some of the best heat races seen in quite some time.Erwin and Michael Rouse would bring the field to green in the HGR’s Truck & Trailer Sales, Inc. heat.
After the initial start was waived off, Rouse would power out front and seemed to be in control before Erwin would get along side and produce a near photo finish but Rouse hangs on for the win.The Scott Service Company heat #2 saw a fabulous 8 lap war between Michael Batten and Shaun Harrell as they waged yet another incredible race before Batten took the checkers.Could heat race 3 live up to that previous 2? The answer was yes! Dustin Mitchell and Willie Milliken brought the crowd to their feet once again as these two put on a show for the ages! Mitchell would hold him off to grab the Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas heat race win.
As the field came over the hill in turn 4 they were led by Batten as he would pace the field in honor of Mark Batten as the crowd stood and saluted the long time engine builder whom we lost a few weeks ago. On the start Rouse chose the outside lane and after a side by side duel with Erwin for a few laps would pull to the point showing early muscle. A lot of eyes were on the intense battles behind those two as Milliken, Quade Racing #74, Brent Robinson and Christian Thomas were wowing the crowd with the masterful driving abilities going 3-4 wide at times.
Thomas had to start shotgun on the field after qualifying second but losing a driveshaft and missing his heat. Rouse continued to hold off Erwin as a light mist cast down on the speedway making drivers use lines much different than the opening laps. Robinson would get around Erwin late in the race but just before a caution the 22 was able to grab second back. That’s where the drama began. Erwin surprised the field by choosing the inside and putting Robinson outside where he had been so strong all night. Erwin would hold off Robinson as a heavier mist cascaded down setting up a classic final few laps. Rouse started slow the last 3 laps allowing Erwin to draw right up to the rear bumper as the two took the white flag. Rouse would hear the roar of Erwin’s power plant but would hold off the Commonwealth Bandit as the two crossed the line inches apart, very reminiscent of our inaugural race at Smoky Mountain Speedway!
Rouse was relieved in victory lane-
“I couldn’t see anything those last few laps, I was outta tear offs and I knew I was missing my marks because of the rain.” “I knew he had to be coming so I protected the top because it had been fast up there all night” Rouse on his performance- “ We’ve been good all year, my guys are making life easy for me and this MasterSbilt Race Cars has been bad fast all year.”
“ I’m looking forward to next week at Dixieland, I wanna back this win up with another one.”Erwin was pleased as well- “ We did all we could, the rain kinda helped us but we just needed one more lap .” Congratulations to those guys they did what they needed to, we were dead even all night long.”
Erwin looking ahead- “Big picture man, Big picture, we are all in on this deal ever since Jim announced it, we’re camping, spending time with the family but we want this championship bad, you just don’t find this kinda money anywhere else that’s why we’re devoted to this series.” Robinson was all smiles afterwards- “That was fun! We were good up top and I thought I could get Russell on that last one but he’s strong” “The top got pretty dirty especially when that rain got harder so it took away where we were fast”. Looking to next week- “Yeh I’m looking forward to going there(Dixieland), we’ve won a bunch there and our shop is only three miles from the track, we’re ready!” ———————————————————
Quade scored another top 5 finish keeping him within an ear shot of Erwin in the points race. Quade was involved in some heavy duty action last night but held serve in a crucial race.
Shout out to the 06 team for getting a driveshaft and parts changed to score a sixth place finish Daniel Tucker comes from the back to score his first top 5 Bandit finish. Shout out to D.j. Garrett and Lance Brasington for their 7th and 8th place finishes respectively.
Tough night for Milliken and Harrell who were running in the top 5 before retiring .
Clint Hodges has a rough night at Halifax after being involved in an accident. Hodges came into Halifax 5th in points.
-Next up:The Bandits have a quick turnaround this as they head to Dixieland Speedway NEXT Friday to makeup the rainout from this past Friday.
Halifax County Motor Speedway
June 12, 2021 Results
- Michael Rouse
- Russell Erwin
- Brent Robinson
- Derick Quade
- Daniel Tucker
- Christian Thomas
- Daniel Garrett
- Lance Brasington
- Willie Milliken
- Shaun Harrell
- Buddy Isles Jr.
- Cody Wright
- Mason Price
- Joey Cascell
- John Staton
- Michael Marlowe
- Andy Fries
- Dustin Mitchell
- Michael Batten
- Clint Hodges