Martin Works His Freedom Tour Magic Again at Wichita
The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume III, No. 73
Lonnie Wheatley, WICHITA, Kan. (August 21, 2015) – Yuma, Arizona’s Mike Martin might just have a new favorite track after wiring the field in Friday night’s 30-lap USAC Southwest Sprint Cars Third Annual “Freedom Tour” feature event atop the 3/8-mile 81 Speedway clay oval.
It was a virtual repeat of last year’s “Harold Leep Memorial” main event with “The Magic Man” leading all 30 laps en route to the $2,500 payday aboard the Sherwin Williams No. 16 Maxim.
“I love this place, it’s awesome to win here two years in a row,” Martin There’s nothing like a little home field advantage. Or in this case, home track advantage.
This time, Martin had to fend off Tijeras, New Mexico shoe Josh Hodges much of the way to preserve the victory.
“He (Hodges) has spent most of the summer racing back in Indiana and it has definitely paid off, I knew he was there,” Martin explained. “I felt like I had the bottom covered pretty good, but I was concerned that the middle might start working for him.”
Hodges made several moves to Martin’s outside, but was never able to make it stick.
“I don’t know exactly what it is, but I usually go good on hammer down racetracks like this,” Martin said after his second triumph of the year.
After several cautions in the opening 11 circuits, the final 19 rounds ran off in non-stop fashion. And after fending off some Hodges bids, Martin ultimately slipped away to a half straightaway advantage as Hodges, Charles Davis, Jr., Ryan Bernal and Brady Bacon all battled for position in his wake.
Battling through some traffic along the way, Davis, Jr., finally slipped underneath Hodges on the 27th round to capture runner-up honors in the Massey Motorsports No. 50 with Hodges settling for the show position in his No. 74x.
Bacon moved into fourth just past the midway point with Bernal rounding out the top five.
Series: USAC Southwest Sprint Cars “Freedom Tour”
Track: 81 Speedway (Wichita, KS)
Car Count: 24
Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses): Brady Bacon (2), Charles Davis, Jr. (2), Ryan Bernal (1).
Heat Moments: Pole starter Dennis Gile dodged disaster at the start of the first heat race when he climbed Harli White’s left front with right rear getting into one. While Gile went on, White slowed to bring out a caution but rejoined and ultimately tried a slider on both Gile and Stevie Sussex in the final corner. Gile crossed back under for third with White nipping Sussex for fourth; After Andrew Deal slipped off turn four to set up a green-white-checkered in the first heat, Jeremy Campbell got some air in turn two after climbing a Sussex right rear. Campbell landed safely and continued on; After Fred Mattox slid off the top of turn one in the second heat, the final two heats ran off without incident; Front row outside starter Davis, Jr., got the jump on Martin in the heat two restart and went on to the win. Second worked to Martin’s advantage as the six-car invert landed him on the pole of the feature event.
“A” Main Cautions: Five
7 laps – Andrew Deal stops in turn four and is done for the night.
8 laps – Wyatt Burks surrenders fourth-place when his left rear tire explodes after contact from Ryan Bernal’s right front getting into turn three. Burks rejoins the field after a quick tire change.
Lap 8 restart – Fred Mattox goes for a hard ride in turn two. He walks away uninjured.
9 laps – T.J. Cain slips off the track in turn one.
11 laps – Cain off the track again in two.
“A” Main Hard Charger: Harli White was best of several drivers to gain a handful of positions with a run from 12th to seventh.
Best Supporting Role: Matt Sherrell wired the POWRi West Midget feature, taking the win ahead of Bob Harr, Cody Brewer, Harli White and C.J. Johnson. Full recap on MidgetMadness.com at http://www.midgetmadness.com/sherrell-shines-at-81-speedway/.
The Box Score…
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon (2), 2. 74x-Josh Hodges (3), 3. 13-Dennis Gile (1), 4. 17w-Harli White (4), 5. 21az-Stevie Sussex (6), 6. 10c-Jeremy Campbell (5), 7. 31d-Andrew Deal (7), 8. 67-T.J. Cain (8).
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (2), 2. 16-Mike Martin (1), 3. 19-Patrick Stasa (4), 4. 77m-R.J. Johnson (5), 5. 31-Casey Wills (3), 6. 22-Koby Barksdale (6), 7. 29-Michael Bonneau (7), 8. 26m-Fred Mattox (8).
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 56-Ryan Bernal (1), 2. 11w-Wyatt Burks (2), 3. 5-Tye Mihocko (4), 4. 7-Shannon McQueen (6), 5. 20-Shon Deskins (5), 6. 78-Chris Bonneau (8), 7. 21-Ryan Kitchen (7), 8. 42-Warren Johnson (3).
“A” Main Finish (30 Laps): 1. 16-Mike Martin (1), 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (5), 3. 74x-Josh Hodges (3), 4. 99-Brady Bacon (6), 5. 56-Ryan Bernal (4), 6. 7-Shannon McQueen (9), 7. 17w-Harli White (12), 8. 77m-R.J. Johnson (10), 9. 78-Chris Bonneau (14), 10. 20-Shon Deskins (15), 11. 19-Patrick Stasa (7), 12. 5-Tye Mihocko (8), 13. 10c-Jeremy Campbell (18), 14. 22-Koby Barksdale (15), 15. 11w-Wyatt Burks (2), 16. 29-Michael Bonneau (20), 17. 21az-Stevie Sussex (13), 18. 31-Casey Wills (16), 19. 13-Dennis Gile (11), 20. 67-T.J. Cain (22), 21. 26m-Fred Mattox (23), 22. 31d-Andrew Deal (19), 23. 42-Warren Johnson (24), 24. (DNS) 21-Ryan Kitchen (21).
Lap leaders: Mike Martin 1-30.