BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Feb. 5) — Leading only two laps — the first and the last — Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., got his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks off to a winning start with a $7,000 victory in Golden Isles Speedway’s Edwin Coggins Memorial.
In a non-points Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race where it appeared Jonathan Davenport (mechanical failure on lap 10) and Brandon Sheppard (steering woes on the final lap) both appeared to have winning cars, Carrier came out on top in the first of three nights of action at the Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing.
Carrier’s last-lap pass was a shocker.
Sheppard, of New Berlin, Ill., was leading comfortably when he got into the soft clay on the high side of the 4/10-mile oval, folding under the right-front corner of his nosepiece and hampering his steering. He had a chance at recovering on the backstretch, but skittered high in turn three and four while Carrier zipped underneath to win the race to the checkers.
"I think Brandon went in on the last lap there and might've gotten up over the cushion down here in (turns) one and two," Carrier said. "If you got up in it, it was hard to get back out of it."
Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., followed Carrier past the faltering Sheppard on the last lap to grab second while Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and 14th-starting Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., rounded out the top-five in a race on a rugged track that tattered the cars of virtually every competition. Only eight cars completed the 30-lap distance and three drivers who ran in the top five were among retirees.
Carrier started third and found himself quickly out front when polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., in his return to the Dunn-Benson team, got sideways in turn one, briefly collecting Davenport and triggering a scramble up front.
The fifth-starting Sheppard took advantage of the scramble to move into second behind Carrier, then took the lead on the second lap and quickly moved into lapped traffic in the high-speed conditions.
The fast-qualifying Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who started outside the front row but slipped back to fourth, recovered to move into the second spot and chased down Sheppard, moving past on the backstretch and diving into the lead in turn three on the seventh lap.
But Davenport’s smoking car began overheating during a caution three laps later. He pulled off his helmet and a push truck shoved his car back to the pits, handing the lead back to Sheppard.
From there, Sheppard kept an array of challenges including Carrier, Pearson, Scott and 10th-starting Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., in check, stretching his lead and surviving a lap-24 tangle with the lapped car of Austin Kirkpatrick in turn one.
Bailes and Pearson (power steering) were among contenders pulling up lame in the final laps while Carrier kept plugging away in second, the perfect position to take advantage of Sheppard’s problems on the final lap.
"I knew it was bound to happen because running above the cushion is never a good sign," Sheppard said, "but I had to go for it."
The feature was slowed by a four cautions, the first for a bad first start and the second on lap 10 when the fifth-running Scott and lapped car of Donald McIntosh collided on the frontstretch, sending competitors scattering amid traffic. The third yellow appeared when McIntosh pulled up lame on lap 24 and the fourth for the lap-26 slowdown of Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., who ran as high as fourth in his first start for car owner Troy Baird.
Action continues Friday with the second round of the Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing with a $10,000-to-win Lucas Oil event, the first points race of the season on the national tour. Hot laps are scheduled for 5 p.m.
Notes: Twelve of 24 starters were running at the finish. ... Runner-up Stormy Scott, the Rowland Racing teammate of Jimmy Owens, said he ran out of faceshield tear-offs in both the heat and feature. ... Three-time Lucas Oil champion Jimmy Owens retired after five laps. ... Chris Ferguson, a provisional starter who drove the Doug Sanders car after breaking a powerplant in his heat race, completed three laps and was the first retiree. ... Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., won the Limited Late Model feature; Scott Bloomquist, driving a Cecil Eunice car, was in contention but pulled pitside.
Devin Moran topped Austin Kirkpatrick in a two-car race, shortened to four laps when the other starters scratched. They'll transfer to the main event along with two fast qualifying provisionals (going to Chris Madden and Chris Ferguson, who will drive the No. 42 of Doug Sanders).
Finish (top four transfer): Devin Moran, Austin Kirkpatrick. Scratched: Chris Ferguson, Jay Sessoms, Kyle Bronson, Jason Papich, Mack McCarter, Cale Simons, Jared Landers.
Chris Brown won a first-lap duel with fellow front-row starter Steven Roberts (making his first Super Late Model start) and pulled away for a victory. Roberts was second followed by transferrees Russell Brown Jr. and Donald McIntosh. Former Golden Isles winner Chris Madden, who had a flat tire in his heat, started on the tail but managed only to come up to fifth. Doug Sanders spun exiting turn two for a second-lap caution.
Finish (top four transfer): Chris Brown, Steven Roberts, Russell Brown Jr., Donald McIntosh, Chris Madden, Kelly Guy, Dan Schlieper, Doug Sanders.
Earl Pearson Jr. will start on the pole in the 30-lap feature, but he’ll have his hands full with fast qualifier Jonathan Davenport, perhaps the most impressive heat winner. … Chris Ferguson’s trip to Golden Isles came to a quick end when he broke a motor leading a heat race, his car going up in smoke after one lap. “It’s the story of my career, I think. Ever since 2009 I’ve broke leading big races so … I guess the heartbreak isn't as bad as it used to be, because I’m kind of used to it now.” Without another powerplant he’ll regroup and plan to start racing around his Mount Holly, N.C., home next month. “It’s definitely tough whenever you know you can run with these guys,” Ferguson said, tired of the heartbreak. “Maybe one day I’ll reach my full potential. I’m only 25 years old.” … Austin Rettig of Sikeston, Mo., was among drivers who got banged around in the final heat race, but he managed to stay on the track for a fourth-place finish and transfer to the main event. “It feels really good. I don’t really like how it happened — a lot of work (to do before the feature),” said the 20-year-old, who is considering a rookie run on the tour. Crew members pounded on the car as he spoke. “It’s a big accomplishment for us. This is our first Lucas Oil show ever.” … Delaware driver Kenny Pettyjohn salvaged third in his heat race despite being caught up in a pair of early accidents. “I didn’t have anywhere to go either time,” Pettyjohn said of the tangles with Kyle Bronson. “This is a tough way to start (Speedweeks),” said Pettyjohn, who excused himself to work on his car. “I better get back at it."
Consolation race lineups
(12 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Steven Roberts, Chris Brown
Row 2: Donald McIntosh, Russell Brown Jr.
Row 3: Dan Schlieper, Kelly Guy
Row 4: Doug Sanders, Chris Madden
Row 1: Austin Kirkparick, Chris Ferguson
Row 2: Jay Sessoms, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Devin Moran, Jason Papich
Row 4: Mack McCarter, Cale Simons
Row 5: Jared Landers
Steve Francis inherited the lead when polesitter Chris Ferguson went up in smoke after completing the first lap, then cruised to a victory in a race with only four cars finishing. Kenny Pettyjohn survived a rugged race to finish third just behind Billy Moyer Jr. while Austin Rettig got the final transfer spot. The first two starts were scrapped when Kyle Bronson got into Kenny Pettyjohn (first in turn three, then in turn one); Pettyjohn solldiered on but Bronson and Jason Papich retired before completing a lap.
Finish (top four transfer): Steve Francis, Billy Moyer Jr., Kenny Pettyjohn, Austin Rettig, Chris Ferguson, Kyle Bronson, Jason Papich. Scratched: Jared Landers.
In a battle royale among Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Davenport and Scott Bloomquist, Owens took control early, but the fast-qualifying Davenport made an outside pass exiting turn four at the midway point and led the rest of the way. Owens settled for second while Ross Bailes took third from Bloomquist after a lap-six restart. Bloomquist got the fourth and final transfer spot. Jay Sessoms stopped in turn two on the sixth lap to draw the prelim's lone caution; Devin Moran retired early.
Finish (top four transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens, Ross Bailes, Scott Bloomquist, Austin Kirkpatrick, Jay Sessoms, Devin Moran. Scratched: Cale Simons, Mack McCarter.
Polesitter Eddie Carrier Jr. broke away from an early battle and cruised to a 10-lap victory in the second prelim. He had a full straightaway lead after four laps while Don O'Neal struggled to keep up behind in second. Gregg Satterlee took second from O'Neal on the seventh lap while O'Neal ended up third, just ahead of Mike Benedum, who got the final transfer spot. Second-starting Chris Madden pulled pitside on the second lap with a flat left-rear tire.
Finish (top four transfer): Eddie Carrier Jr., Gregg Satterlee, Don O'Neal, Mike Benedum, Chris Brown, Russell Brown Jr., Kelly Guy, Chris Madden.
Polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. fought off a fiesty challenge from Stormy Scott — and then Brandon Sheppard — for a victory in his first competitive laps for Dunn-Benson Racing since 2006. The fourth-starting Scott nearly pulled alongside a few times while working the high and low grooves, but he nearly spun entering turn one just past the halfway point, then nearly got into the outside wall in turn four a lap later. Sheppard took advantage to take second and moved in to challenge late, finishing two lengths behind Pearson. Scott and Dennis Franklin got the other two transfer spots. Doug Sanders spun in turn two on the fourth lap for the race's lone caution.
Finish (top four transfer): Earl Pearson Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Stormy Scott, Dennis Franklin, Steven Roberts, Donald McIntosh, Dan Schlieper, Doug Sanders.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Franklin
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Stormy Scott
Row 3: Steven Roberts, Dan Schlieper
Row 4: Donald McIntosh, Doug Sanders
Row 1: Eddie Carrier Jr., Chris Madden
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Russell Brown Jr., Chris Brown
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Kelly Guy
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Devin Moran
Row 3: Ross Bailes, Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 4: Mack McCarter, Jay Sessoms
Row 5: Carl Simons
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Steve Francis
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Kenny Pettyjohn
Row 3: Austin Rettig, Jason Papich
Row 4: Billy Moyer Jr., Jared Landers
Jonathan Davenport, winner of last year’s Lucas Oil opener at Golden Isles, got off to a good start in the 2015 opener by setting fast time among 33 entries at the the 4/10-mile oval.
The Blairsville, Ga., posted a lap of 15.172 seconds and he’ll start on the pole of the third heat race. Other heat race polesitters: Earl Pearson Jr., Eddie Carrier Jr. and Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C.
Because Wednesday’s practice was cancelled, officials planned to give drivers two rounds of hot laps before Thursday’s time trials, along with an additional hour of practice at the conclusion of the non-points event. … Jay Sessoms of Stanley, N.C., had engine problems in his first hot-lap session, but returned for his second session. … Jason Papich of Nipomo, Calif., was towed off midway through his first hot-lap session after his driveshaft broke in half, but he was back out later. … Chris Ferguson's car pulled up lame in turn three during his second session. ... The track had new clay added during the off-season, and conditions looked a bit rough during the first hot-lap session. … Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., isn’t entered Thursday with plans to start the season with Friday’s points event. ... Track lighting has been moved outside the track and a new concrete wall was placed inside the existing guardrail. ... Limited Late Models are also in action (they'll also run the next two nights with Southern Thunder Late Model Series sanctioning). ... Scott Bloomquist is subbing for an ill Cecil Eunice in the Limited division. ... The frontstretch light standards briefly malfunctioned toward the end of hot laps. ... The Edwin Coggins Memorial honors a long-time dirt racing supporter who died during last year's event at Golden Isles.
Time trials (unofficial)
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.347
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.657
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 15.838
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.957
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.001
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.136
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.166
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.202
Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 16.256
Russell Brown Jr. (00), Valdosta, Ga., 16.378
Dan Schlieper (s9), Sullivan, Wis., 16.548
Chris Brown (21), Spring, Texas, 16.671
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 16.714
Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., 16.725
Doug Sanders (42), Springwood, N.C., 17.372
Kelly Guy (28), Thomson, Ga., no time
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.172
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 15.220
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.607
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.758
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.844
Kyle Bronson (40b), Brandon, Fla., 16.051
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 16.082
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.087
Ross Bailes (5e), Clover, S.C., 16.182
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 16.263
Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Ocala, Fla., 16.338
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif., 16.388
Mack McCarter (51), Sevierville, Tenn., 16.527
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.538
Jay Sessoms (84), Stanley, N.C., 20.887
Cale Simons (c2), Leesburg, Ga., no time
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., no time