( Sumter, SC) Cloudy skies and a blustery wind greeted both fans and drivers as the Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge made their first of three stops in the Palmetto state Saturday as stop number two of the #deuceswild tour found us at Vera Sissy Duke McAllister’s Sumter Speedway. The toast of the evening belonged to Mr Billy Cagle, a long time crew chief and mechanic for Ed Gibbons who called Sumter his home and was idolized by many in the surrounding area and throughout the racing community.
Thirty seven drivers from seven different states gathered in the spacious pit area as the sun made a brief but welcomed appearance on an unusually cool Saturday in April. HGR’s Truck & Trailer Sales, Inc. group qualifying would start the festivities and right off the bat, the track record of 14.600 was in jeopardy as Dustin Mitchell laid down a lap of 14.676 in group A. Quade Racing #74 was fastest in Group B but Mitchell hangs on to grab the $300 from Bryan Sullivan and Rage Fuel Systems Inc.
Four eight lap Bandit heats was up next on the docket with the top four in each heat transferring to the big show. Scott Service Company Heat one saw Mitchell and Cody Wright Racing #11 bring the 10 car heat to green. Mitchell would drag race Wright to turn one before pulling away to capture his second heat race win of 22’. Wright, Tyler Bare and Jesse Rockett would transfer with Mitchell. Heat two presented by Hardison Suspension Technologies saw Team Michael Batten Motorsports grab his first heat win of the season with Matt Long Racing, Dan Breuer and Steve Banal making it in. The Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas heat three saw the two good friends of Quade and Willie-Crystal Milliken on the front row. Quade would show muscle in this one as he pulls away for the dub follow by Milliken, Jay Sessoms and Justin Mintz. Scott Shirey Racing was in the fourth and final transfer spot before cutting down a tire with one to go. Robbie Emory and Brian Strickland would be on the front row for the final VP Racing Fuels heat. Strickland goes on to win his first heat of the season with Emory , Gray Parton and Russell Erwin in tow.
The Motul B mains would set up the final positions for the A main with two eight lap last chance qualifying races. Landen Zakalowski wins the first one with Gib Gibbons and Cody Wright making it in. Michael Alderman wins the second B main followed by Clint Hodges and Gabe Gables.
Twenty four cars took the green in the second annual Billy Cagle Memorial as a cold crowd came to their feet for much anticipated event of the evening. Mitchell jumps out to a commanding lead as he flexes the muscles of his C&R Motorsports / Team 32 Longhorn Chassis . On a lap seven restart, Arizona Sport Shirts Rookie contender, Jesse Rockett pounds the front stretch wall ending his night early for the second straight event. Michell would stretch his lead even further with Batten. Quade and Strickland following him through the tight corners . Lap 19 saw Matt Long bring out the yellow ending his night as well. Mintz would spin in turn four collecting Alderman, Hodges and Gibbons on the next restart bringing out a full field red flag. As the field closed in in the finish, Batten cuts down a right rear flat taking the white flag while running second but manages to limp his Longhorn Chassis home to a respectable eleventh place finish. Mitchell scored his third win overall in 22’, his second straight Bandit win, with Strickland, Quade Tyler Bare and Milliken rounding out the top five.
Mitchell on his win- “We’re just rolling, Corky has this thing on a rail and it’s a pleasure to drive. We found some stuff at the end of last year and it has paid off, we just keep working and plugging away.” Car owner, Corky Williams on the win, “I wanted this one really bad, Billy meant the world to me and my family and to win this one is extra special.” Mitchell is excited for round three, “It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the mountain but I couldn’t think of a better time to be going than right now, we’re ready to bring the cash back East.”
* Heartbreak city for Batten but he takes it well- “They knew we were here, I probably just slid the corners to much but if we came back tomorrow we’d know what to do. I’m really enjoying going to these different tracks and learning, we’ll just take this one on the chin and move on to Smoky Mountain.”
* Snakebit- For the second straight race Jesse Rockett has a fast car but his night ends much too soon. Hopefully luck will find this team soon and get them a solid run. They deserve it.
* Tyler Bare is showing signs of strength. A solid top five run signals a win isn’t far way for this Virginia hot shoe.
* Quiet night for Milliken as he scores his first top five and a good points night.
* Lance Brasington picks up the $100 from Furr’s Deli as the highest finishing rookie. Brasington started 23rd and rallied for a 12th place finish.
* Solid finish for Jay Sessoms and JAGS Motorsports team. He too will gain valuable season points after last night.
* Sumter Speedway saw one of its biggest car counts for late models in quite sometime much to the delight of Sissy McCallister.
April 23rd- “Rockin with the Stars Night” at Smoky Mountain Speedway
for round three of the #deuceswild tour.
Billy Cagle Memorial
- Dustin Mitchell
- Brian Strickland
- Derick Quade
- Tyler Bare
- Willie Milliken
- Robbie Emory
- Jay Sessoms
- Russell Erwin
- Gray Parton
- Dan Breuer
- Michael Batten
- Lance Brasington
- Derrick Rankin
- Cody Wright
- Gabe Gable
- Landen Zakalowski
- Clint Hodges
- Matt Long
- Justin Mintz
- Michael Alderman
- Gib Gibbons
- Jesse Rockett
- Steve Banal
- Mike Evock