(Fayetteville, NC) Another picture perfect Saturday in eastern North Carolina greeted fans and drivers as the pits filled to capacity for Fayetteville Motor Speedway’s third day of their annual Halloween Havoc event. Several different divisions were on hand from Legend cars to 305 sprints giving fans quite a selection of racing at the Carolina Bullring. It was also round 13 of the #deuceswild tour for the Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge.
Twenty seven drivers from six different states signed in for the 100 lap, $10,000 to win race, in the series’ first trip to the facility located in the All-American city. Practice kicked off the afternoon as the teams prepared for the biggest race of the season and also the longest. Loudon, Tennessee’s Jason Manley set the bar by laying down the fastest lap in practice in the final group of practice letting drivers know the track was speeding up as the day turned to night.
HGR’s Truck & Trailer Sales, Inc.. qualifying was next with everyone taking two laps in one group. Michael Batten would snag his first series pole with a lap of 14.843 putting him P1 for the first heat race. Batten also picked up $200 from Bryan Sullivan who’s brother Ricky Sullivan Jr was being honored in the 8th Annual Cash Money 100.
Scott Service Company heat one saw Batten and Willie Milliken on the front row. Milliken powered his way to the point in this one as the field stormed into turn one. Batten tried to battle back in several occasions as Robbie Emory started to close on him. Milliken gets the win putting him on the pole for the 100 lap showdown. Batten was second followed by Emory, Derick Quade, Brian Strickland and Chris Blackwell. Those six drivers transferred.
Heat two saw Michael Rouse and Daulton Wilson on the point for the 8 lap heat presented by Hardison Suspension Technologies. Rouse jumped out to the lead and tested his power plant early by racing out to a big lead. Wilson could never challenge as Rouse cruised to the win. Wilson was second, Manley third, Tyler Bare fourth John Eller fifth and Cody Wright Racing sixth.
The final heat had the two points leaders Dustin Mitchell and Derrick Rankin door to door for the Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas heat number three. Mitchell flexed the muscle in his C&R Motorsports / Team 32 Longhorn Chassis and power past Rankin on the drop of the green. Rankin drifted up high in turn two opening the door for Christian Thomas and Shaun Harrell to slip by. Thomas reeled in Mitchell but was unable to get by as the laps wound down. Mitchell gets the dub, Thomas was second, followed by Harrell, Rankin, Skeeter Liles and Daniel Adam.
The Motul Last Chance Qualifier would set the remainder of the field for the feature with eight cars vying for the last four spots. Daniel Tucker and Brad Rigdon brought the field to full song with Rigdon jumping out to an early lead. The Virginia driver was looking stout and the laps trickled down. Blake Sanderson and Carl Vaughan tangled off turn four bringing out a yellow and closing Rigdon lead. On the restart, Tucker tested the high side off turn two and powered by Rigdon on the final lap to capture the win. Rigdon was second, Dean Bowen third and Clint Hodges was fourth. Tucker received $300 for winning the LCQ courtesy of McClain Service Company.
So the field was set for the most prestigious limited late model show in the country after provisionals were given to Lance Brasington and Chris Radford. Before the feature started, fans were treated to an autograph session presented by Lee Hyundai that saw another standing room only crowd to greet the Bandits before they went green. Milliken and Rouse then led the field around the Bullring with each driver carrying the Stars and Stripes provided by the Wright Racing Team. Rouse and Milliken would swap the lead a couple times on the opening laps and the fans could do nothing but stand and roar their approval. Rouse would eventually get past Milliken and stretch his advantage. As the laps clicked off to 10, Wilson began his assault on the leaders by rim riding around the top side. The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regular caught Rouse sleeping on the bottom and pinned the Sweet Potato Express behind a lapped car to take the lead as the crowd went crazy. Wilson would bring the field to the mandatory red flag at lap 25 as the leader with Christian Thomas second. Teams scurried to their cars as the 10 minute break began. Several drivers made wholesale changes while many just added fuel.
Shortly after the red was lifted Rouse slowed on lap 33 making fans wonder what was going on with last week’s winner. Rouse would fall to the rear of the field as the green waived. The intensity level jumped dramatically as the field neared the halfway point. Thomas asserted himself to the point as after a restart as he become the fourth different leader. Derick Quade would go into a solo spin once again bringing out the yellow, Quade would also be relegated to the rear. Bare then began his dramatic run to the front following Wilson’s lead by using the top side,Bare would slice by Wilson on lap 55 after starting eleventh. Emory made his way into the top five and as high as second before getting into some mud thrown up by Wilson then getting cleaned up by Manley. All eyes were on Rouse who started his run from the rear after his crew loosened his gas cap to alleviate the miss in his motor. With 25 to go, Rouse had made his way back into the top five and was charging. Batten’s night came to a disappointing end as a wheel left his car after some contact on lap 80.
The final caution flew with 13 to go when Thomas came to a stop on the front stretch ending his great run with motor problems. The final restart saw Bare pull away from Rouse to score his second win of the season and his first Cash Money 100 win of his career. Quade rallies back to post a podium followed by Milliken and Dustin Mitchell who had a quiet but yet another consistent night.
“Man this thing was perfect tonight, we were good from the time we unloaded then at the break I knew we were in good shape” said the Rock Bridge Baths, Virginia driver. “My dad has helped me learn how to race these long races and race in the black and tonight that was a big help. Daulton (Wilson) came up beside me after I passed him and told me my tires were in good shape and I appreciate that, that’s the kind of stuff a professional does, I owe him one.”
Rouse was pleased- “They knew we were here tonight! We put too much fuel in it at the break and it clogged up the filter but we loosened it and we were good” said the round 12 winner. “Running second to that guy is good , we’ll take it, I think the fans got their money’s worth.”
Quade on third- “Well, I spun out on my own and got us in a hole once again but the way this track was tonight I knew I had a shot to get back up there. Gotta thank my guys and everyone on this car that help us , I thought we had a shot but we’ll settle for third.”
* Several drivers started deep in the field and rallied for good runs, Chris Blackwell started 16th and finished 9th. Brad Rigdon starts 20th and comes home 11th, Radford starts shotgun in the field and comes home 15th, and Bare starts 11th and wins. It’s the second straight race Bare comes from deep in the field.
*heartbreak for several as well, Batten with the messed up wheel, Thomas and Skeeter Liles with motor issues, and Wilson with the flat tire on the white flag lap.
*Rankin bounced back after a long week of motor rebuilding to get a strong 8th place finish and solidify his Rookie points lead.
* The track staff at Fayetteville had the track in pristine condition that provided fans with the “Race of the Year” for the series.
Up Next: SEASON FINALE- Beckley Motor Speedway Beckley, West Virginia, “Country Roads 50”
Lap leaders: Milliken, Wilson, Rouse, Bare, Thomas.
Furr’s Deli Rookie of the Race- Rankin
EP/ Bandit PR
Cash Money 100
- Tyler Bare
- Michael Rouse
- Derick Quade
- Willie Milliken
- Dustin Mitchell
- Shaun Harrell
- Robbie Emory
- Derrick Rankin
- Chris Blackwell
- Jason Manley
- Brad Rigdon
- Daulton Wilson
- Cody Wright
- John Eller
- Chris Radford
- Daniel Adam
- Christian Thomas
- Michael Batten
- Lance Brasington
- Brian Strickland
- Clint Hodges
- Daniel Tucker
- Bobby Liles
- Dean Bowen