( Halifax, North Carolina) A quiet afternoon on the border of the Tarheel and Commonwealth states, quickly turned rough as heavy thunderstorms and torrential rains rocked the small valley that Halifax County Motor Speedway sits in. Promoter Michael Wells made the call that the race would happen as the showers finally diminished and the sun broke through the clouds shortly after 7 pm.
The Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge was in town for their second stop of the 2022 season at the Red Clay Bullring as the tour reached the halfway point of the season. Due to time restraints, the decision was made to go straight into qualifying followed by features with no heats or LCQ’s. As the fans continued to file into the speedway, 23 cars staged up for HGR’s Truck & Trailer Sales, Inc. qualifying with $400 going to the pole sitter.
Willie-Crystal Milliken would lay down a blistering lap, 15.106, midway through the session that eventually held up and allowed him to nab his second career Bandit pole and the cash from Bryan Sullivan, Martins Pressure Washing and The Muffler Place. Michael Rouse was second followed by Team Michael Batten MotorsportsDustin Mitchell D8 and Tyler Bare.
The Bandit feature was first up in the feature order and as the drivers staged up rally style along the front stretch, heavy dew and anticipation filled the night air at the Bullring. A door to door start off turn four saw Milliken and Rouse lead the field to green bringing Batten and Mitchell in tow, as the fans who waited out the delay were repaid with some intense racing. Batten would sneak by Rouse early on then on lap 6, the Sweet Potato Express machine slowed in turn two. His bid for win number two on the year would have to wait as Rouse would retire.
On lap 10, Cody Wright Racing #11 and Mason Price tangled off turn two along with several others. Both drivers were running in the top 10 at the time. Things went south quickly for Batten on lap 17 as the Outlaw was collected by the lapped car of Joey Cascell forcing the Rocky Mount driver to the rear. Milliken continued to flex his power plant as Bare and Mitchell waged an epic battle for second and third. Robbie Emory and Derick Quade Racing #74 took advantage of the Dixie double file restarts and advanced nicely through the field bringing Derrick Rankin Racing #72 with them.
In what could have been a defining moment of the race, Milliken brought Bare and Mitchell with him to the back bumper of teammate Mason Price to put him another lap down. Price’s car breaks loose off turn four causing all three leaders to take evasive action to avoid him. Milliken would sustain slight right rear damage to his Longhorn Chassis but would continue. A late single file restart allowed Milliken to go untouched and snag his second Bandit win and $5400 for his effort. Bare was second , Mitchell third with Emory and Quade rounding out the top five.
“ We just don’t quit, it’s been a roller coaster ride all season with more lows than highs so this one is sweet” Said the Roanoke Rapids native. “My crew has been thrashing and they never gave up on their driver, we got some new shocks on this thing and I’ve never been more pleased with where we are right now.” Milliken on the track- “Michael (Wells) gave us a great track, you could race everywhere , most promoters would have locked the gate and went home with the rain we got but he stayed with it and the fans got their money’s worth”
* Cody Wright recovers big time after a lap 10 altercation to finish 7th and pick up the $100 for the highest finishing Rookie from Furr’s Deli.
* Arizona Sport Shirts Rookie points leader Rankin, starts 18th and notches a 10th place finish.
* Dan Breuer has another good night at Halifax, was up to third before setting for a sixth place finish.
*Lance Brasington comes back from a few spins to get a 12th place finish.
*Heartbreak for Batten after a lapped car costs him another podium and a good points night.
* Bare continues his consistent season by posting his fourth straight podium and his second runner up.
1. Willie Milliken
2. Tyler Bare
3. Dustin Mitchell
4. Robbie Emory
5. Derick Quade
6. Dan Breuer
7. Cody Wright (R)
8. Skeeter Liles
9. Brain Strickland
10. Derrick Rankin (R)
11. Bradley McCaskill
12. Lance Brasington (R)
13. Matthew Bissette
14. Mason Price
15. Trevor Peoples
16. Clint Hodges
17. Michael Batten
18. Joey Cascell
19. Michael Rouse
20. Joe Redford
21. Michael Alderman
22. Daniel Tucker
23. Jason Adams (DQ)
Lap Leader- Milliken 1-40
Pole Award- Milliken
Rookie of the Race- Wright
Hard charger- Brasington 23rd-12th
GEN 3 Performance Imaging Denah Strong-Wings of Hope Pink Spoiler Points Leader- Mitchell
Hard Luck Award- Batten
Car count -23
EP/ Bandit PR