Hayden Cardwell heads to a $10,000 victory at East Alabama.
What won the race: Pole-starting Hayden Cardwell of Knoxville, Tenn., led all 50 laps unchallenged to win Sunday's $10,000 51st annual Alabama State Championships at East Alabama Motor Speedway. Cardwell collected his first career Crate Racin' USA feature victory after crossing the checkers 2.669 seconds ahead of 15th-starting Mark Whitener, who extends his series points lead.
Quotable: “That man right there, Chip Vineyard and Corbin, they bust their butts on this thing and I’m just the lucky one to drive it,” Cardwell said. “This thing pretty much drove itself all weekend, other than (the engine) getting hot, kinda had us worried there. All in all, I’ve never seen this place, but it was a great decision to move (the race) to the night time. I know we led the whole race, but the track seemed to be good enough where there could’ve been racing behind me.”
Key notes: Second-starting Lucas Ruark settled for third after being overtaken by Whitener on a lap-36 restart. ... Seventh-starting Trynt Lloyd worked his way by 20th-starting Jake Knowles in the closing laps to round-out the top five; Knowles finished sixth. ... Ricky Culpepper rebounded to finish seventh after leaving the turn-two racing surface while running fourth on a lap-seven restart. ... Jesse Enterkin and Montana Dudley each improved four positions, finishing eighth and ninth. ... Allen Styck trailed Cardwell in the early laps before fading to finish 11th. ... Mario Gresham soldiered on to finish 12th after having the entire right-side of his car torn off in a multicar incident on lap six. The melee started when seventh-running Russ Ogletree spun at turn-two exit, collecting Gresham, Jordy Nipper and sending Whitener spinning to avoid contact; Nipper continued to finish 13th after completing 40 laps. ... Jody Knowles was running seventh when his engine expired on lap 36, drawing the race's fifth and final caution. ... Booger Brooks finished 15th after spinning to bring out the first yellow on lap five; hometown racer Jimmy Thomas lost his engine at the same time and pulled off. ... Sunday's 50-lap feature lasted 34 minutes, with 11 drivers completing the distance and 12 running at the finish.
On the move: Cody Overton of Evans, Ga., started 19th and finished fourth.
Winner's sponsors: Cardwell’s Chip Vineyard-owned CVR Race Car is powered by a Hendren Racing Engine and carries sponsorship from Vineyard Landscapes, Stanco Equipment, Duplissey Racing, Pro Shocks and Fastlane Signs & Graphics.
Points chase: After EAMS: 1. Mark Whitener (1,342); 2. Jake Knowles (1,176); 3. Mario Gresham (1,146); 4. Jackson Hise (1,010); 5. Hunter Peacock (962).
Current weather: Clear, 90°F
Car count: 42
Fast qualifier: Hayden Cardwell
Time: 15.520 seconds
Polesitter: Hayden Cardwell
Heat race winners: Ricky Culpepper, Allen Styck, Hayden Cardwell, Lucas Ruark
Consolation race winners: Chase Edge, Ty Ellis
Provisional starters: Dalton Dowdy, Jordy Nipper
Next series race: September 29, Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL) $3,700