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Golden Isles Speedway

Madden survives flat tire for Golden Isles victory

February 7, 2014, 4:23 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor
Chris Madden's car, leaning on a flat right-rear tire, takes the checkers. (thesportswire.net)
Chris Madden's car, leaning on a flat right-rear tire, takes the checkers. (thesportswire.net)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Feb. 7) — When Chris Madden sensed that his right-rear tire was deflating with 10 laps remaining in Friday’s nightcap at Golden Isles Speedway, the Gray Court, S.C., figured his chances of winning the Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing feature were over. | Complete Speedweeks coverage

But a tire that survived just long enough — along with an unexpected boost on the final restart — allowed the polesitting Madden to hang on to win the season’s first points race on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

“I never have won one like that,” said Madden, who earned $10,000 for his sixth career Lucas Oil Series victory. “I’ve come up short a bunch of times, but never won one.”

Madden’s car was clearly laboring exiting the corners over the final 10 laps, and a late caution set up a two-lap shootout with Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., looming in second place.

But getting a little breathing room when O’Neal was surprised on the final restart, Madden’s No. 44 with the flashy new yellow graphics won the race to the checkers at the high-speed 4/10-mile oval in southeast Georgia.

“I didn’t figure we’d ever make it, but we did,” a relieved Madden said in victory lane after officially leading 50 laps.

O’Neal, who ran side-by-side with Madden for several laps early without finding a way past, settled for second in a race he believed he’d have won with one more circuit. “I don’t think he had another lap in it,” O’Neal said with a laugh.

Golden Isles favorite Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., recorded his second third-place finish of the day while eighth-starting John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., was fourth and Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., rounded out the top five.

Madden outjumped Pearson at the outset and, after two early cautions, the third-starting O’Neal moved in to challenge. With Madden in the outside groove and O’Neal staying down low, they ran wheel-to-wheel several laps before Madden edged away by the 10th lap.

Competitors began to filter into the lower groove with Madden firmly in control through the race’s middle stages. But when Madden caught up with the slower car of Ray Cook, he couldn’t find a way past, and signs of tire problems began to appear in the final 10 laps.

When a lap-48 caution reset the field, O’Neal was aware that Madden would be vulnerable with two laps remaining. But because his one-way radio communication from series officials wasn’t working, the last green flag caught him off guard.

“My Raceceiver didn’t work, and I was paying attention, and I kept thinking, 'Man, he’s got a tire going down.' And I was looking at that and I didn’t even look at that (green) light … and I seen that, and I was like 'Oh man!' I pretty much blew any shot we had,” O’Neal said. “I thought, 'Man, I’ve got him, that tire’s going flat.' But he hung in there and made it.”

The race was slowed by a three cautions, the most serious for Devin Moran’s turn-four spin on the second lap that collected Jonathan Davenport, Friday afternoon’s race winner who set fast time for the evening event but was hampered by a flat tire in his heat race.

The 50-lapper's caution appeared on the second lap when Billy Moyer pulled up with a flat right-rear tire and the last yellow on lap 49 when Tim McCreadie stopped atop turn four.

Lucas Oil’s action at the Super Bowl of Racing concludes Saturday with another $10,000-to-win event. Hot laps begin at 5 p.m.

Notes: Madden’s Bloomquist Race Car is powered by a Clements Automotive Engine and sponsored by Century Plastics, Henderson Amusements, Cushman Paint & Body, Hamrick’s of Gaffney, Ohlins Shocks, Hypercoils and VP Fuels. … Madden’s previous Lucas Oil victory also came in Georgia last October at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock. … Madden will compete in Saturday’s action with the day-glo orange rear spoiler that signals him as the points leader in the Keyser Mfg. Point Leader Challenge. … Runner-up Don O'Neal was making his first series points race start for Clint Bowyer Racing; he drove the MasterSbilt house car previously. ... Sixteen drivers finished on the lead lap and 18 were running at the finish. … Jason Fitzgerald of Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t qualify for the Lucas Oil Series feature, but he won the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series feature for Crate Late Models, earning $2,500.

Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing: (1) Chris Madden, (2) Don O’Neal, (3) Earl Pearson Jr., (4) John Blankenship, (5) Gregg Satterlee, (6) Vic Coffey, (7) Steve Francis, (8) Eddie Carrier Jr., (9) Jimmy Owens, (10) Kenny Pettyjohn, (11) Steve Shaver, (12) Brandon Sheppard, (13) Brian Shirley, (14) Dennis Erb Jr., (15) Ray Cook, (16) Randy Weaver, (17) Billy Moyer Jr., (18) Jason Hughes, (19) Tim McCreadie, (20) Brady Smith, (21) Jared Landers, (22) Russell Brown Jr., (23) Jonathan Davenport, (24) Devin Moran. Fast qualifier (among 34 cars): Davenport, 15.041 seconds. Heat race winners: Madden, Pearson, O’Neal, Moyer Jr. Consolation winners: Smith, Davenport. Provisional starters: Cook, Hughes.

Preliminary race results:

Consolation races

First consolation: Brady Smith, Brandon Sheppard, Jared Landers, Ray Cook, Jason Papich, Chad Hollenbeck. Scratched: Jason Fitzgerald, Albert Cosnahan, Casey Barrow.

Second consolation: Jonathan Davenport, Brian Shirley, Randy Weaver, Mike Benedum, Jason Riggs, Ricky Weiss, Jason Hughes, Dennis Franklin, Mike Stadel.

Consolation race lineups

(12 laps; top three transfer)
First consolation
Row 1: Brady Smith, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Ray Cook, Jason Papich
Row 3: Jared Landers, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 4: Chad Hollenbeck, Albert Cosnahan
Row 5: Casey Barrow
Second consolation
Row 1: Randy Weaver, Brian Shirley
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Dennis Franklin, Jason Hughes
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Mike Stadel
Row 5: Jason Riggs

Fourth heat

Continuing a successful day, Billy Moyer Jr. got the jump on fellow front-row starter John Blankenship and cruised to victory in the final heat. He had nearly a full straightaway lead by halfway while Blankenship had his hands full with sixth-starting Dennis Erb Jr. late in the race. But Blankenship escaped when Steve Francis, who lost third to Erb earlier in the race, rallied back to steal the spot. Francis slid under Erb entering turn three in the final laps and both drivers got sideways with Erb nearly losing control. Secondary contact from Francis helped straighten Erb's car, and they continued the side-by-side battle with Francis eventually regaining the position. Erb showed a little displeasure with Francis on the cool-down lap. Brian Shirley finished a distant fifth in the caution-free race.

Finish: Billy Moyer Jr., John Blankenship, Steve Francis, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley, Ricky Weiss, Jason Hughes, Mike Stadel.

Third heat

Becoming the first runner to outran Jonathan Davenport this weekend, track favorite Earl Pearson Jr. cruised to victory in the third 10-lap heat. His fellow Longhorn driver Davenport held the second spot until lap nine when he pulled up above turn two with a flat right-rear tire, forcing him to the pits. Kenny Pettyjohn took advantage to finish second with Eddie Carrier Jr. and Steve Shaver getting the other transfer spots. Jason Riggs lost the fifth spot on the eighth lap when he spun in turn one; he continued without drawing a yellow. Besides the caution for Davenport, a lap-three yellow appeared when fourth-starting Dennis Franklin spun inside turn four.

Finish: Earl Pearson Jr., Kenny Pettyjohn, Eddie Carrier Jr., Steve Shaver, Randy Weaver, Jonathan Davenport, Dennis Franklin, Mike Benedum, Jason Riggs.

Second heat

Don O'Neal survived first-lap contact with Jimmy Owens in turn three and pulled away for an easy heat race victory. Owens ran into trouble midway through the race when he slammed the turn-three guardrail, but he was able to keep going and finished third behind Devin Moran. Home-state driver Russell Brown Jr. nabbed the final transfer spot. Brandon Sheppard was running second when he rolled a left-rear tire off the rim; he pitted in the infield and returned to finish fifth after the late-race caution.

Finish: Don O'Neal, Devin Moran, Jimmy Owens, Russell Brown Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Jason Papich, Jason Fitzgerald. Scratched: Casey Barrow.

First heat

Looking for redemption after a subpar afternoon outing, Chris Madden survived an onslaught from Gregg Satterlee and Vic Coffey on the last lap to win the first 10-lap heat. Madden had a nice margin most of the way, but Satterlee turned up the heat in the high groove and Coffey charged down low as they were all over Madden in the final laps. Madden went high exiting turn four on the last lap and held on with Satterlee, Vic Coffey and Tim McCreadie transferring to the main event from the caution-free prelim.

Finish: Chris Madden, Gregg Satterlee, Vic Coffey, Tim McCreadie, Brady Smith, Ray Cook, Jared Landers, Chad Hollenbeck, Albert Cosnahan.

Time trials

Afternoon winner Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., topped 34 qualifiers Friday evening at Golden Isles Speedway’s Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing in the nightcap of a doubleheader for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Davenport tripped the clock at 15.041 seconds and will start on the pole of the first of four heat races. The other heat race polesitters: Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C.; three-time and defending series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn.; and Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark.

Friday evening’s action continues with four heat races, a consolation race and the 50-lap main event paying $10,000-to-win, the first points event of the season.

Davenport captured Friday afternoon’s 25-lap opener, and event postponed by rain on Thursday night. Davenport, who lowered the track record Friday morning, led all the way for a $5,000 victory in the non-points event.

Pre-race notes

Eddie Carrier Jr. went to a backup car after burning a piston in the afternoon prelims. … Several other teams had work to do on damaged cars after the afternoon session including the cars of Mike Stadel, Ricky Weiss and Dennis Erb Jr. … Casey Barrow’s car showed heavy smoke during his time trial laps. … The NeSmith Chevrolet Series Crate Late Models are also in action with a full program with a $2,500-to-win feature. … Limited Late Model and super street divisions are also in action with hot laps and feature events. … The weekend’s Lucas Oil action is scheduled to conclude Saturday with another $10,000-to-win feature; hot laps start at 5 p.m.

Heat race lineups

(10 laps; top four transfer)
First heat
Row 1: Chris Madden, Gregg Satterlee
Row 2: Vic Coffey, Jared Landers
Row 3: Ray Cook, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Chad Hollenbeck, Brady Smith
Row 5: Albert Cosnahan
Second heat
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Don O'Neal
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Russell Brown Jr.
Row 3: Devin Moran, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 4: Casey Barrow, Jason Papich
Third heat
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Kenny Pettyjohn, Dennis Franklin
Row 3: Eddie Carrier Jr., Randy Weaver
Row 4: Steve Shaver, Mike Benedum
Row 5: Jason Riggs
Fourth heat
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., John Blankenship
Row 2: Jason Hughes, Steve Francis
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Mike Stadel

Time trials (unofficial)

First group
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.072
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.155
Gregg Satterlee (22), Rochester Mills, Pa., 15.357
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.394
Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 15.450
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.504
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.536
Russell Brown Jr. (00), Valdosta, Ga., 15.577
Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 15.578
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 15.603
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.655
Jason Fitzgerald (1F), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.742
Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 15.822
Casey Barrow (98), Savannah, Ga., 15.928
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 15.991
Jason Papich (91P), Nipomo, Calif., 16.114
Albert Cosnahan (4u2), Guyton, Ga., 16.243
Second group
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.041
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.194
Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.316
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.323
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 15.352
Jason Hughes (12), Westville, Okla., 15.376
Dennis Franklin, Gaffney, S.C., 15.388
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.399
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va, 15.412
Brian Shirley (81), Chatham, Ill., 15.435
Randy Weaver (116), Crossville, Tenn., 15.545
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.565
Steve Shaver (5), Vienna, W.Va., 15.811
Ricky Weiss (7w), Winnipeg, Manitoba, 15.845
Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., 15.894
Mike Stadel (81), Rapid City, S.D., 16.094
Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 16.156

Feature lineup

Row 1: Madden, Pearson
Row 2: O'Neal, Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Satterlee, Pettyjohn
Row 4: Moran, Blankenship
Row 5: Coffey, Carrier
Row 6: Owens, Francis
Row 7: McCreadie, Shaver
Row 8: Brown, Erb
Row 9: B. Smith, Davenport
Row 10: Sheppard, Shirley
Row 11: Landers, Weaver
Row 12: Cook, Hughes
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