Saturday, June 16, 2012
Powell Survives, Drives to First Career UARA-STARS Win at Newport
by Kassie Hughes
NEWPORT, Tenn. -- Roger Powell missed the "big one" to survive a chaotic and action-packed Jeff's Auto Sales 150 and take his first career UARA-STARS win at Newport Speedway on Saturday night. Rookie of the Race Trey Marcham finished second, followed by Darrick Coomer, Brandon Jones and Holley Performer of the Race Joey Herques, the only five cars on the lead lap.
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. claimed the Sunoco Pole with a lap of 13.069 seconds but failed to lead the opening laps as Anderson winner Scott Turlington took full advantage of his second starting spot to lead the opening circuits. Bassett and Turlington battled side-by-side on the Newport high banks for much of the first third of the event until the first caution of the evening came out for Cory Joyce's solo spin in turn two on lap 48.
Soon after the first restart, Chad Finchum climbed the left rear of Devin Jones' car exiting turn two and collected Josh Wright and Dillon Bassett in the process, leading to the first of two red flags of the evening on lap 67. Bassett and Finchum were able to continue with minimal damage. Wright and Jones were effectively done for the evening.
Turlington continued to fend off all challengers, including local favorite Kaleb Pressley, as the race eventually crossed two-thirds mark and slowly wound towards the conclusion. It appeared he was headed for his second consecutive triumph until a caution on lap 109 set up one of the most talked about, yet scary, finishes in UARA-STARS history.
With 36 laps to go, Turlington once again sprinted ahead of the pack, but the battle raged behind him. While Travis Swaim and Ronnie Bassett, Jr., were saving their out-of-control racecars in turn one on lap 133, Tim George, Jr. and Cory Joyce spun in turn three. As the leaders exited turn two, the two cars sat broadside in the racing line of turn three.
Turlington entered the accident scene nearly wide open and after locking up the brakes in an evasive emergency maneuver to avoid the driversí doors, spun, clipped both cars and sent debris scattering. Ronnie Bassett, Jr. also saw the accident at the last second and drove head-on into the incident, making heavy contact with at least one other machine and the outside retaining wall, erasing any shot he had at a third win in 2012. Eventual winner Roger Powell, Dillon Bassett, Kaleb Pressley and others also sustained damage in the incident. All drivers involved in the crash walked away.
Under the 25-minute red flag, Kaleb Pressley was being scored as the leader after entering the wreck in third place. But idle time on the track allowed the driver of the No. 54 to analyze the situation on his machine and the damage received while avoiding the incident turned out to include a rear trailing arm. Under the red flag, Pressley fired up his machine, crept down pit road, and elected to take the three-lap penalty for working on the car under the red flag. The decision eliminated him from contention for his first UARA win.
With ten laps to go, the field restarted for the final time and Roger Powell battled side by side with Trey Marcham for two laps until Powell emerged ahead of the rookie from Oklahoma. Despite a pair of last-lap challenges, Powell was able to hold off the No. 32 of Marcham and a hard-charging Darrick Coomer for his first career UARA-STARS win.
"I really don't know what to say, this is amazing, unbelievable," said the driver of the No. 23 ARM Trucking/Mansch Speed Ford in victory lane. "We knew we had the speed, it's just so hard to beat all of these guys. I really have to thank Trey for running me clean. I think he had a better car than we did and he could've easily taken me out, and I'm glad he didn't. He's a great racecar driver and I'm sure he'll be in victory lane before the year is over, too. This is just such a big win for everyone involved in our team, our families especially, who sacrifice so much to help make this happen."
"I can't say a whole lot right now," said runner-up Marcham in panting breaths after the race. "150 laps here takes everything out of you. I'm thrilled to come home second. I wish we could've gotten around the 23 (Powell), but to leave here finishing second after everything that's happened, I'm so proud of Roger Johnson and everyone on this team to get us to where we are."
The Jeff's Auto Sales 150 was slowed six times by caution and halted twice for red flag periods totaling 32 minutes. Five drivers finished on the lead lap and all drivers involved in incidents during the race exited their cars under their own power.
The next event on the calendar for the UARA-STARS is the Banjo Matthews Memorial 150 this Saturday, June 23, at Hickory Motor Speedway. NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Bobby Allison will be on hand to sign autographs as part of a four-division program that also includes the Southeast Super Truck Series, the Carolina Vintage Cars and the Allison Legacy Series.
For more information on the UARA-STARS, visit their website at uara-stars.com or call (828) 692-3833. Additional information is available via the UARA's social networking pages on Facebook (United Auto Racing Association) and Twitter (@uarastars).
NOTES OF INTEREST:
ROYAL FLUSH: While Roger Powell has shown speed in the past at UARA events, it was still a surprise to many that he claimed his first win at Newport on Saturday, However, the bigger story included him and the rest of the top five finishers in the Jeff's Auto Sales 150. All five drivers (Powell, Marcham, Coomer, B. Jones, Herques) claimed their career best finishes in UARA competition on Saturday night. Other career bests were Robbie Henry (8th) and Will Gallaher (11th).
ENGINE, ENGINE ISN'T FINE: Two teams experienced major engine issues during the weekend of the Jeff's Auto Sales 150. The No. 20 team of Cory Joyce blew up in Friday practice and didn't complete their engine change until 3am after a new powerplant arrived from Charlotte at approximately 9pm. The No. 14 team of Sean Rayhall experienced problems in qualifying and they were able to repair the powerplant before the race. After starting 21st, Rayhall had worked his way inside the top 6 before catching a piece of two incidents during the night.
DIDN'T WE JUST....: It generally is a few months between repeat visits to tracks on the UARA-STARS schedule. In 2012, the UARA has one event (Hickory) and 4 weeks separating repeat visits to Newport. The series will visit the high-banked bullring again on July 14. The good news is that the lunar cycle should be about the same and a full moon is not expected. After Saturday's event, many teams are wondering if some special stars or planets were aligned properly to create such an insanely memorable event for fans.
PROBLEMS FROM THE WORD "GO": The racing program on Saturday night started at 8pm with a local street stock feature. By 8:10, the racing program was halted. Travis Robinson was making his first start at Newport in the No. 53 street stock and on lap 2 he quickly learned why Newport is so intimidating. The rookie began his turn-in for turn one when suddenly something broke in the steering and the car shot straight for the outside wall. After multiple barrel rolls, the car came to rest on its roof on the apron of turn two. Shaken, Robinson was assisted from the car and was awake, alert, and talking to safety personnel in addition to his family via cell phone. He was transported to a local hospital for overnight precautionary observation. The subsequent delay for racetrack repairs lasted just over an hour.
JEFF'S AUTO SALES 150 UNOFFICIAL RESULTS:
1 23 Roger Powell 150 Running
2 32 Trey Marcham 150 Running
3 09 Darrick Coomer 150 Running
4 33 Brandon Jones 150 Running
5 26 Joey Herques 150 Running
6 44 Dillon Bassett 149 Running
7 99 Jake Morris 149 Running
8 41 Robbie Henry 148 Running
9 54 Kaleb Pressley 147 Running
10 28 Travis Swaim 147 Running
11 6 Will Gallaher 146 Running
12 58 Scott Turlington132 Accident
13 04 Ronnie Bassett 132 Accident
14 2 Tim George 131 Accident
15 35 Devin Jones 125 Running
16 14 Sean Rayhall 125 Accident
15 20 Cory Joyce 124 Accident
18 19 Chad Finchum 101 Suspension
19 4 Wayne Webb 90 Handling
20 88 Josh Wright 66 Accident
21 16 Tyler Laing 44 Transmission
22 9 Ben Rhodes 23 Overheating