I can't believe I'm starting a news update with asphalt news, but sometimes ya just gotta. I guess we all knew it was just a matter of time before Mike got his first feature win of the season, but he did it with style last night, after some pretty ugly incidents earlier in the night. Qualifying went great with Mike setting fast time once again, and some lucky bastard rolled an 8 for the inversion. He's a good looking guy, but a little short and stout, but enough about me. ;-) The heat race was rather uneventful other than a little body damage on the right rear from a little wheel hop and drifting into the outside car of A.P. Ren. We had made some changes to the car for the feature and decided to use the pursuit for a little testing. Damn, if we only had that decision to make again. A wild slide kept Mike from destroying the car when A.P. Ren spun into turn 3. That was the good news. Soon he'd get the nose torn up when John Ambrose decided to go straight into a turn and shortly after that, Ambrose blew an engine spinning right in front of Mike. Another wild slide saved most of the car, but the rear took a pretty hard hit. With help from some other teams, we thrashed to get it back together for the feature. It looked like a "regular" night at your local dirt track. ;-) We joked that he'd have to win to have "rivet money" to put the car back together this week, and Mike seemed determined to do that at the drop of the green. By the end of the first lap, he was in 4th place and digging for more. When he got to 2nd, he was looking for a way around the leader when Ryan Tedesco moved to the outside, trapping Mike on the bottom. A daring 3 wide move (yea, 3 wide on pavement! ;-) ) to the bottom of turn 2 put Mike in the lead, and he never looked back. What an awesome run!!! A huge THANKS goes out to all of those that came over to pitch in to get the car ready for the feature. There truly are real racers at the asphalt tracks too I guess. Now, I think the car looks fine, and hell it even won looking like that, but Mike plans to make it purrrty again this week. I just don't get this stuff yet I guess. ;-)
Hilltop had it's share of awesome action this week too. Things heated up in the Late Model heat races when Jeff Gress went back to his destructive ways and ran over the car of Thomas Baker. After getting 2 cars torn up by Gress last season, I guess Baker had finally had enough, and showed Gress some "luvin" on the back stretch at the end of the race. Luvin hell, he drilled him! Now, I've never thought it was a great idea to do something like that on the track, especially after the race, but I can't say that I wouldn't have done the same damn thing. I'm sure Baker would agree that it wasn't the smartest thing to do since it did quite a bit of damage to his car and dropped him to Gress's level for that minute in time, but the bastard had that coming to him. While Gress has been known to put on a wild show, he's also become known as the guy nobody wants to be near on the track. Tear up your own shit and nobody cares, but start beating the hell out of other cars, and they seem to consider you a serious threat. I'm happy to say that due to the group support of other Late Model drivers, the threat has been removed from Hilltop, at least for a while. * SEE Footnote* There was plenty of kickass action on the track to take your mind off the controversy, and the Late Model feature probably topped the night. Rick Bond seemed bound for glory when he jumped out front and held off Markham all around the track. Behind them was an awesome 4 way battle between, Lee, Peltz, Conley, and Meyers. They went 4 wide off the turns lap after lap before getting sorted out with Meyers headed to the front. Spud stole the win right at the line, denying Bond what he'd work so hard for the entire race. What a freakin race!! Next week Hilltop brings you the "Little Guys Night Out" special featuring the Mod Lites, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, and Late Models. Be there!!
I hear that the shit has hit the fan about the whole Gress/Baker incident. I figure I'll try to clear it up as best as I can. This information is based on what I witnessed first hand, what I confirmed from Jeff Norris, and of course my own opinion. Before things get out of hand and blame is thrown around, people should get the facts of the story. Not one, but many drivers got together and talked to Jeff Norris about the problem. They gave him the choice of losing all of them, or the cause of the problem. Easy choice if you ask me, and if Gress isn't a dirty/dangerous driver why would so many get together in the decision? Do I think that Baker should have been loaded up for the night too? Well maybe, and I honestly think he would have understood, but from the support he got from the other drivers I'd say the track handled it pretty well. Ask yourself what you'd do in Baker's situation after Gress destroyed one of your cars last year within weeks of tearing up the other one. Thomas knows what he did was stupid, but how long would you let somebody tear your equipment up before finally standing up for yourself? Baker is not the only person that has experienced the out of control driving and lack of "give a shit" that Gress displays every week. From the sound of things, Baker and the others have had enough, and obviously they're not alone in that opinion. Racing is costly enough without some pinhead out there using everybody elses car for a guard rail. A rookie might be expected to slip up and cause some problems, but this guy just refuses to give a damn about anybody else that happens to be on the track with him. That's a huge difference and should not be tolerated at any track. I know I won't miss having him around, and the races should be a bit safer now. Enjoy!