Grass Root Nationals
Hatched three years ago as a way to give the oft slighted divisions-Street Stocks and 305 Wingless Sprints-their own stage to shine on, the Comp Cams Grass Root Nationals has grown into one of the premiere short-track events in the Southeast.
All three years of the two-division race evening have been at Riverside International Speedway, the 60-year-old, big 1/4-mile clay oval in West Memphis, Arkansas. The 2009 running of the Nationals saw a good crowd in the stands and a full pit area despite a sagging economy.
Greg Alexander proudly displays...
Greg Alexander proudly displays the checkered flag after taking top honors and a $1,000 payday in the Street Stock feature.
The TCI Automotive Street Stock division was first up on the evening's card. Forty-two entries from three states entered the event all with hopes of nabbing the $1,000 top prize. Greg Alexander from Blytheville, Arkansas, earned the R.E. Technologies/Ray's Auto Collision Fast Qualifier honors and then promptly drew a one car inversion for heat race action. As a result, all of the heat races for the Street Stocks would see the green flag without an inversion.
You know you have a good night of racing when you've got five heat races. Not surprisingly, Alexander won his while Lance O'Brien, Terry Gray, Justin Glover, and Mike Bowles also claimed heat race wins. Alexander and O'Brien earned the front row for the 20-lap feature event.
In the feature, Alexander took the lead at the drop of the green flag with O'Brien, Glover, and Gray in pursuit. The first 12 laps of the event would go caution-free as Alexander maintained the top spot with second through fifth positions being hotly contested as the leaders battled through lapped traffic. Lap 12 would see the caution flag wave as Terry Gray's night came to an end with mechanical woes.
Dalton Davis survived cautions...
Dalton Davis survived cautions and red flags en route to his $1,000 victory in the 305 Wingless Sprint feature.
On the ensuing restart, Alexander motored away from the field and would build as much as a half-a-straightaway lead before O'Brien started reeling in the leader. With five laps to go, O'Brien was on Alexander's rear bumper and would pressure him to the checkered flag, but was unable to make the pass. Following Alexander and O'Brien across the finish line were Glover, James Godsey, and Bud Ward.
The Racing Head Service 305 Wingless Sprint Car division saw 23 competitors sign in to battle for the $1,000 top prize. Jan Howard from Byhalia, Mississippi, started the night by becoming the R.E. Technologies Fast Qualifier. Unlike Alexander in the Street Stocks, Jan drew an inversion of four cars for heat race action.
Dale Howard, Dalton Davis, and Corey Ray each picked up wins in heat race action with Howard and Davis earning the front row for the main event. Davis took the lead at the onset of the feature with Howard, Corey Ray, Henry Gustavus Jr., and Jan Howard in tow. The early stages of the event would be plagued by several cautions and red flags including flips by Ryan Harrison and Jan Howard, and as a result the race was shortened by five laps to a distance of 20 laps.
Davis went on to pick up the win in his No. 12 Maxim over Dale Howard, Gustavus Jr., Ray, and Troy Dow. The $1,000 payday was the richest of his young career.
In keeping with the spirit of the Grass Root Nats-giving these unsung heroes of Saturday night their due-here are the finishing orders for both features races.
Racing Head Service 305 Wingless Sprint Cars
3.Henry Gustavus Jr.
TCI Automotive Street Stocks