EASTABOGA, Ala. (Jan. 15) — Polesitter Michael Page of Douglasville, Ga., beat Brian Smith of Barbourville, Ky., into turn one on the opening lap and then survived a lap-49 caution, holding off Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., at the checkers while leading flag-to-flag to earn his first-ever Ice Bowl victory and a $6,000 payday Sunday evening at Talladega Short Track.
Jason Hiett of Oxford, Ala., was third, followed by Smith and eighth-starting Jason Welshan of Maryville, Tenn.
Improving on his sixth-place finish from a year ago, Page led the full distance of the 26th annual event, keeping McIntosh at bay while relegating his fellow Georgian to a second straight runner-up finish in the January classic.
Page's debut in the Troy Baird-backed Sweet-Bloomquist car couldn't have gone any better. He set the overall fast time for the weekend, won his heat race and took care of business from lap one of the main event.
"(I thought) just let me get him on the start and then I'll be alright. Just stay calm," said Page, who knew going in that maintaining track position around the bottom of the third-mile oval would be key.
"I'm gonna try to get myself out front and set a pace where I don't get run over and just try to be smart and keep the car straight," Page said earlier in the day, admitting that negotiating backmarkers could prove difficult as well. "Lapped traffic is gonna be really hard. That's another thing; trying to get through lapped traffice without burning up our tires."
His only threat came early in the race amid lapped cars. Heavy traffic on lap eight allowed McIntosh to close the gap, but when Page slipped buy the backmarker of Scott Crigler, he was able to gain some breathing room.
A caution waved on lap 12, however, giving Page a clear track while forcing McIntosh to deal with Hiett. Hiett moved into second on the restart and held the spot for nearly 30 laps before McIntosh was able to repay the favor on a restart following the race's fourth yellow flag.
Though McIntosh gave chase, Page had clear sailing until the fifth-and-final caution, which flew on lap 49 when Shane Tankersley pulled up lame in turn two. That set up a green-white-checkered finish, which Page handled easily.
Notes: The race was slowed by five cautions. The first flew on lap 12 for John Ownbey. Brian Ligon brought out a yellow on lap 13 and the third caution waved on lap 31 when tight racing between Riley Hickman, Jason Welshan and Shane Tankersley resulted in a flat right rear tire for Hickman, who was running fifth at the time. Brian Conner and Tankersley brought out the final two cautions. ... 2016 Ice Bowl winner David Brannon of Elora, Tenn., was an early retiree after transferring to the feature through a consolation race. ... TST track champion Tim Roszell was the first driver out of the race.
Other feature results
Limited Late Model finish: Reuben Mayfield, Todd Hernandez, Johnny Ridings, Adam Cummings, Jason Lively, Ryan King, Brandon Haley, Cole Smart, Dalton Polston, Matt Tharp, Dustin Stewart, Jason Cardwell, Jay Schiller, Cory Hillman, Chris Fernell, Dakota Weeks, Mark Page, Steve Vann, Scottie Pritchett, Drew Kennedy, David Kay, Oakley Johns, Jonathan Chapman, Mark Knight, Justin Litchford.
Crate Late Model finish: Brandon Williams, Riley Hickman, Ronnie Johnson, Jimmy Elliott, Jeff Helms, Matt Black, Adam Gauldin, Eric Hickerson, Sid Scarbrough, John Ownbey, Kevin Sitton, Colton Horner, Kyle Clifton, Zach Shannon, Steve Kirk, Zack Graham, Andy Picklesimer, Cruz Skinner, Bobby Mills, Jason Britton, Pierce McCarter, Michael Arnold, Cale Conley, D.J. Brassfield.
Michael Page topped 50 cars in qualifying for the 26th annual Ice Bowl at Talladega Short track with a lap of 13.589 seconds around the third-mile oval and went on to win the first heat race Saturday afternoon. The heat race victory gave Page the pole position for Sunday's $6,000-to-win 50-lapper.
Other heat race winners: Brian Smith of Barbourville, Ky.; Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga.; Jason Hiett of Oxford, Ala.; and Will Roland of Jasper, Ga.
Page jumped ahead of fellow front row starter Riley Hickman of Ooltewah, Tenn., and kept the defending Southern All Star champion at bay through the duration of the 10-lap heat. Former Ice Bowl winner Tim Roszell, of nearby Anniston, Ala., finished third, to claim the final transfer spot in his heat.
Defending Ice Bowl winner David Brannon, of Elora, Tenn., finished fourth in the fifth heat and will have to transfer through a consolation race if he is to have a chance to repeat his 2016 victory.
Each of Saturday's five heat race winners started from the pole in their respective prelims on what was a bottom-dominant track.
First consolation (top three transfer): Chris Noah, Brian Connor, Josh Adkins, Jeff Fields, Dylan Hoover
Second consolation (top three transfer): David Brannon, Dallas Cooper, Scott Crigler, David Siebers, Luke Hoffer, Christian Hanger
Third consolation (top three transfer): Todd Morrow, Jadon Frame, Mack McCarter, Lucas Burns, Donald Johns, Denis Reno Jr.
(Top three transfer)
Row 1: Brian Conner, Chris Noah
Row 2: Josh Adkins, Jeff Fields
Row 3: Bo Shirley, Cody King
Row 4: Gathan Burns, Justin Shipley
Row 5: Skip Freeman, Dylan Hoover
Row 6: Carder Miller, Jim Harrah
Row 1: Dallas Cooper, David Brannon
Row 2: Levi Ashby, Scott Crigler
Row 3: Luke Hoffner, Jason Adkins
Row 4: Bo Eaton, David Siebers
Row 5: Joey Standridge, Christian Hanger
Row 6: Mason Oberkramer, Benjy Shaw
Row 1: Jadon Frame, Todd Morrow
Row 2: Joey Reid, Donald Johns
Row 3: Colten Miller, Mack McCarter
Row 4: Brian Smith, Andy Standridge
Row 5: Cass Fowler, Lucas Burns
Row 6: Dennis Reno Jr.
Heat race results
First heat (top three transfer): Michael Page, Riley Hickman, Tim Roszell, Brian Connor, Todd Morrow, Scott Crigler, Cody King, Brian Smith, Joey Standridge
Second heat (top three transfer): Brian Smith, Brian Ligon, Jimmy Elkins, Dallas Cooper, Josh Adkins, Donald Johns, Jason Adkins
Third heat (top three transfer): Donald McIntosh, Jason Welshen, Douglas Stewart, Jadon Frame, Levi Ashby, Bo Shirley, Mack McCarter, David Siebers, Dylan Hoover, Denis Reno Jr.
Fourth heat (top three transfer): Jason Hiett, John Ownbey, Eric Granger, Chris Noah, Joey Reid, Luke Hoffner, Gathan Burns, Andy Standridge, Christian Hanger
Heat five (top three transfer): Will Roland, Shane Tankersley, Dillon Crim, David Brannon, Jeff Fields, Colton Miller, Bo Eaton, Skip Freeman
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Will Roland (22), Jasper, Ga., 14.073
Skip Freeman (15X), Pell City, Ala., 14.119
Dillon Crim (75), Eastaboga, Ala., 14.129
David Brannon (33), Elora, Tenn., 14.187
Jeff Fields (16), Argon, Ga., 14.287
Lucas Burns (27), Attalla, Ala., 14.365
Shane Tankersley (21), Morganton, Ga., 14.384
Colten Miller (19M), Birmingham, Ala., 14.458
Bo Eaton (3x), Blue Ridge, Ga., 15.138
Benjy Shaw (18), Tellicao Plains, Tenn., NT
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 13.659
Douglas Stewart (21), Eastaboga, Ala., 13.736
Jason Welshan (29), Maryville, Tenn., 13.779
Jadon Frame (J8), Winchester, Tenn., 13.861
Dylan Hoover (99), Vandalia, Mo., 13.907
Mack McCarter (71), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 13.938
David Siebers (18), Chapel Hill, Tenn., 13.976
Bo Shirley (111), Gadsden, Ala., 14.034
Dennis Reno Jr., (2X), Clay, Ala., 14.443
Levi Ashby (1A), Cumberland Furnace, Tenn., 14.564
Michael Page (18x), Douglasville, Ga., 13.589
Riley Hickman (R1), Ooltewah, Tenn., 13.686
Tim Roszell (25), Anniston, Ala., 13.732
Todd Morrow (T1), East Ridge, Tenn., 13.783
Brian Connor (77), Augusta, Ga., 13.809
Scott Crigler (12), Alton, Mo., 13.831
Joey Standridge (56), Tellico Plains, Tenn., 13.851
Brian Smith (6), Sand Rock, Ala., 13.927
Cody King (62), McDonough, Ga., 13.933
Carder Miller (69), Salem, Va., NT
Brian Smith (7), Barbourville, Ky., 13.604
Brian Ligon (4), Augusta, Ga., 13.640
Jimmy Elkins (07), Talladega, Ala., 13.872
Dallas Cooper (35), Talladega, Ala., 13.889
Josh Adkins (35A), Talladega, Ala., 13.996
Jason Adkins (6), 16.297
Donald Johns (66c), Hohenwald, Tenn., time unavailable
Mason Oberkramer (93), Brosley, Mo., time unavailable
Cass Fowler (9), Alworth, Ga., time unavailable
Justin Shipley (08), Douglasville, Ga., time unavailable
Jason Hiett (1), Oxford, Ala., 13.690
Eric Granger (G9), Dallas, Ga., 13.787
John Ownbey (A19), Cleveland, Tenn., 13.789
Chris Noah (376), Rainbow City, Ala., 13.932
Christian Hanger (29), Winchester, Tenn., 13.996
Gathan Burns (19), Piedmont, Ala., 14.052
Joey Reid (A1), Leeds, Ala., 14.209
Luke Hoffner (97F), Tubotville, Pa., 14.238
Andy Standridge (156), Tellico Plains, Tenn., 15.392
Jim Harrah (14), Fayetteville, Ga., no time