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Daily Dirt 02/08/2023 11:23:53

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November 11
Senoia Raceway,
Senoia, GA
Sanction: Castrol FloRacing Night in America (Peach Bowl) - $20,000
Information provided by: Robert Holman and series reports (last updated November 12, 11:49 am)
Ending drought, Bronson survives for Senoia win
Peach Bowl
  1. Kyle Bronson
  2. Spencer Hughes
  3. Garrett Alberson
  4. Dennis Erb Jr.
  5. Hudson O'Neal
  6. Tyler Millwood
  7. Wil Herrington
  8. Brandon Sheppard
  9. Ricky Weiss
  10. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  11. Ashton Winger
  12. Mike Marlar
  13. Tyler Erb
  14. Dylan Knowles
  15. Brian Shirley
  16. Will Roland
  17. Russell Erwin
  18. Sam Seawright
  19. J.R. Moseley
  20. Cla Knight
  21. Chris Madden
  22. Dale McDowell
  23. Ryan Gustin
  24. Carson Ferguson
presented by
Kevin Prater/praterphoto.com
Kyle Bronson takes the checkers for his $20,000 victory.
What won the race: Winning 366 days after his previous victory, Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., led all 50 laps Friday at Senoia Raceway’s Peach State Classic opener for a $20,000 Castrol FloRacing Night in America victory. Bronson, who won Senoia’s weekend opener last year, staked his claim as a top contender for Saturday’s $53,053 winner’s purse in the finale. Spencer Hughes finished second and 11th-starting Garrett Alberson was third.
Key notes: Bronson notched his first career Castrol Series victory. ... The race was slowed by nine yellow flags, twice for cautions that saw second-running cars eliminated. The first incident came on the 11th lap when a flat left-rear tire struck for Chris Madden, the second on the 40th lap when Ashton Winger dove under Mike Marlar in turn-three, the resulting contact sending Marlar pitside. ... The track forged ahead with the event despite significant rain from Tropical Storm Nicole, using tarps to cover the surface and then a helicopter to help dry the track. ... The event and series concludes Saturday with a $53,053-to-win, $1,053-to-start finale.
On the move: Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., started 11th and finished third; Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., started 19th and finished fourth.
Winner's sponsors: Bronson’s Rocket Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Brandon Ford, Brandon Collision, All Florida Real Estate Group, Racecar Engineering and Lucas Oil.
Points chase: After Senoia Friday: 1. Brandon Sheppard (699); 2. Ricky Thornton Jr. (543); 3. Bobby Pierce (536); 4. Mike Marlar (500); 5. Tyler Erb (471); 6. Garrett Alberson (468); 7. Hudson O’Neal (438); 8. Dennis Erb Jr. (297); 9. Brandon Overton (288); 10. Spencer Hughes (284).
Current weather: Overcast, 66°F
Car count: 52
Fast qualifier: Tyler Millwood
Time: 13.594 seconds
Polesitter: Ashton Winger
Heat race winners: Ashton Winger, Spencer Hughes, Mike Marlar, Kyle Bronson, Chris Madden, Cla Knight
Consolation race winners: Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley, Dylan Knowles
Next series race: November 12, Senoia Raceway (Senoia, GA) $53,053
Editor's note: Corrects winner’s engine builder.
From staff reports

SENOIA, Ga. — Senoia Raceway was the perfect place for Kyle Bronson to put an end to his year-long drought. And the Brandon, Fla., driver was quick to thank his crew, family and car owners Wayne and Shirlene Hammond after Friday's Castrol FloRacing Night in America victory on the opening night of the Peach State Classic.

"I'm just glad they didn't give up on me," Bronson said. "It's been a rough year here, man."

Putting the pain of a winless season behind him, the 32-year-old Bronson led all 50 laps from outside the front row, staying ahead of some feisty action behind him in grabbing a $20,000 payday and his first Castrol tour victory (last year's Peach State Classic wasn't a tour event).

Battling a track surface soaked by Tropical Storm Nicole, Bronson fought off multiple challengers and took the checkers 0.893 of a second ahead of runner-up Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., while 11th-starting Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., finished third. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, whose heat-race miscue forced him to rally from 19th in the main event, was fourth and Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was fifth despite contact from fast qualifier Tyler Millwood as he took the checkers, sending O'Neal's car spinning into turn one.

Not around at the finish of the caution-plagued race were two of Bronson's biggest challengers. Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., suffered a flat left-rear tire on the 11th lap that knocked him from contention, and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., saw his chances go by the wayside after contact from Ashton Winger in turn three with nine laps remaining.

Bronson will be among the favorites when everyone returns Saturday for the tour finale that pays $53,053 to the winner in the richest event on the second-year Castrol Series.

"It's awesome, you know. It's $20,000," Bronson said in victory lane. "We're close to home, only four hours from home. I really look forward to coming here. I know these guys will have this Grade-A facility here tomorrow."

Bronson entered a 1-race-old Rocket Chassis that carried him to victory.

"We've been racing our other car a little bit and we've been having a couple ignition problems and (team owner) Wayne (Hammond) told us to get this other car out this week and we tested a bunch this week," Bronson said. "I put my Integra Shocks back on — like I said, those guys have been helping me a ton, and Rocket Chassis, Mark Richards and Steve Baker, they always helped me a ton. My guys, they bust their butt here. I've got Tanner, Josh, Sonny and my beautiful wife, all my kids. Wayne and Shirlene, they gave me everything I need to win here."

Getting the jump on the pole-starting Winger at the outset, Bronson controlled most of the race comfortably, but Marlar pulled within three-tenths of a second just past the race's midpoint.

"At the beginning there, (I) just trying to drive the car as straight as I could and not wear to tire out because we all put soft tires on here tonight. I just didn't want to slide my tire much and get my tire too hot there," Bronson said. "Then I seen Marlar down there digging in the bottom and I knew how to move down there in (turns) three and four. But I had a really good car and I felt like we could pick it up a little bit."

He credited the track crew for whipping the surface into shape at a track that's typically dry and slick rather than so moist that drivers had to stop during a midrace caution to replace mud-caked helmets. That the race happened at all was in doubt just hours before the event.

"They busted their butt here the last couple days. I was looking (at weather forecasts) Monday, Tuesday, I was like 'There ain't no way these guys are racing.' But they proved me wrong. They work harder than anybody in the country, I can promise you that," said Bronson, looking forward to Saturday's action. "I think we gotta tune the car a little bit. It's definitely a different condition than we ever seen here before, but you know, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking (forward) to the challenge. I love this place and I'm just ready to get going tomorrow."

The third-starting Hughes slipped back to fifth early before inching back to the front and avoiding pitfalls that eliminated others.

"With all the weather they had and the short time they had to get it ready, I can't complain any. It was way better than what it could have been for sure. But hats off to Kyle, he was real good all night tonight and I'm glad to see him finally get him one. We'll just patch this thing back up and get ready for another day tomorrow," the runner-up said. "I'm sure the racetrack will probably be a lot different tomorrow, too. We've just gotta go back to the drawing board and just get a little bit better. If this condition comes around again, I know we definitely, we've got some things we can improve on. Hopefully we can work on it and maybe pick up one spot tomorrow."

Alberson started in the sixth row but broke into the top five before the halfway mark.

"That was pretty intense right there. Man, this car was really good. As soon as we gassed up out there, I felt like I was passing cars. I had good grip and I could rotate pretty good. I was really happy with it," he said. "I'd say they'll have (the track conditions) a lot different (Saturday), so we're going to see a couple of different sides of this place for sure. My car's been pretty good here in the mud lately, so hopefully we can turn around and have it good for the slick. We'll see what we can do."

The race was slowed by nine yellow flags, including for the cautions that saw the demise of Madden and Marlar, who headed pitside after his lap-41 scrape with Winger.

"I really think I could've won the race there," a disappointed Marlar said, saying he "got run over" by Winger.

On the ensuing restart, Winger broke exiting turn four, collecting Ricky Thornton Jr., and another quick caution appeared when Thornton Jr. spun in turn one after pitting to make repairs.

Other cautions appeared for a slowing Ryan Gustin on the ninth lap and a same-lap slowdown when Tyler Erb had a pair of flat rear tires. A lap-15 caution flew for a slowing Cla Knight (shock issue) and a lap-21 yellow appeared when Sam Seawright slowed with body damage after running as high as sixth.

The final caution appeared on the 49th lap when Ricky Weiss had a right-rear flat and stopped between turns three and four.

Notes: After leading the first eight laps of the first heat race, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., pulled-in after a late caution and went to the scales early, apparently thinking the race had ended. Erb Jr. tagged the field but could only recover to finish fifth in the final two laps, but transferred to the feature by winning a consolation race. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist (problem with hia steering rack while running second in a consolation), David Breazeale (broke driveshaft leading a consy), Devin Moran (who failed too transfer by one spot in a consy in his Jeremy Bullins-owned ride), Mason Zeigler, Payton Freeman, Austin Horton, Joseph Joiner, Morgan Bagley, Pearson Lee Williams and Parker Martin. ... To battle the tropical storm, the track used tarps to cover the surface before the rain Thursday and used a helicopter to help dry the surface Friday. ... The night's program was hampered because of the difficulties in removing disabled cars from the track. Tow trucks couldn't get enough traction and a skid-steer was employed to pull cars pitside.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Winger, Bronson
Row 2: Hughes, Madden
Row 3: Marlar, Knight
Row 4: Seawright, Millwood
Row 5: McDowell, Roland
Row 6: Alberson, Gustin
Row 7: Moseley, Sheppard
Row 8: Thornton, O'Neal
Row 9: Herrington, T. Erb
Row 10: D. Erb, Shirley
Row 11: D. Knowles, Ferguson
Row 12: Erwin, Weiss

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