Willard awarded Rattler 150 trophy
Last March, Charlie Bradberry almost let victory in South Alabama Speedway's annual Rattler Late Model race slip away. Near the conclusion of last year's event, Bradberry's Monte Carlo slipped up the track in turn four, allowing Duwayne Middlebrooks and Regan Baker to slide by. When Middlebrooks and Baker spun while fighting for the lead with two laps to go, Bradberry got a second chance and held on for the win. In this year's 27th annual Rattler, Bradberry slipped again, this time in Victory Lane, and there was no second chance.
After holding off Wayne Willard and Jason Hogan for an apparent second win in the early season event, Bradberry wheeled into Victory Lane. As his crew gathered around to celebrate, South Alabama Tech man Paul Willoughby saw Bradberry slip an item from inside the car to Crew Chief Mike Shelton. When Shelton refused to produce the item, Bradberry was disqualified for "refusal to allow inspection of part removed from car during post race activities." The winner's trophy was removed from atop of Bradberry's roof and placed on Willard's.
The action leading up to the post race activities was simply outstanding. Willard entered the race as the favorite after setting the fast time in qualifying. Inversion put Willard fourth in the starting line up and Baker grabbed the lead from pole sitter Middlebrooks as the field headed into turn one.
Baker led the first 10 laps before Willard charged into the lead and built a comfortable margin. Cautions were the only thing that kept the field close.
During the middle portion of the 150-lap race, David Hole had a rocket and put several cars a lap down, including Wayne Anderson, William Wambles and Dale Little. Hogan wrestled the lead from Hole on lap 98 and led until Willard regained control on lap 109. Willard held the lead until a lap 134 caution, when all of the leaders except Bradberry, pitted for fresh tires.
With 15 green laps to go, Bradberry led Willard, Hogan, and Hole on a four-car breakout. With eight laps to go, Hole slapped the front stretch wall, ending his hopes for a win. Willard was all over Bradberry, looking for a way to take the lead. Each time, Bradberry slammed the door. Willard took one last shot coming to the checkers, but Bradberry crossed the line with Willard diving to the inside. Hogan was just behind in third.
As the crowd cheered and waited to congratulate the winner, the discussion between Willoughby and Shelton was just beginning. Moments later, the stunning announcement was made and Willard's celebration began.
The official order of finish put Baker third behind Willard and Hogan. Fourth went to Wambles with Hole holding on to fifth.
In local features, Kevin Rehwinkle held off 2002 Super Stock Champion Jody Henderson to win an exciting 50-lap Super Stock Feature. Jessie Reed took the lead at the start, but it became evident early on that Reed was too loose to last all 50 laps. Rehwinkle, starting 11th, began making his move to the front on lap 13. He took the lead from Reed on lap 25. Henderson, also coming from the rear, was able to stay on Rehwinkle's bumper the remainder of the race, but was unable to wrestle the lead away. Rehwinkle crossed the line a half car length ahead of Henderson. David Ashley was third with Brian Fuller fourth and Ken Pettis fifth.
Shep Lucas took the lead from Doug Rogers on lap 40 and went on to win the 50-lap Modified Feature. Jamie Ater led the first two laps before Rogers took control. Rogers led the next 36 laps, but his handling seemed to go away as the race wore on. Lucas and Jeff Godwin were able to close to Rogers' rear bumper and as the trio headed out of turn four on lap 40, Rogers suddenly slowed and headed to the pits for the evening. Luacs then held off Godwin for the win. Rege Hellett was third with Ater fourth. Rogers was credited with fifth.
In the 35-lap Vintage Feature, Curtis Galbreath grabbed the lead away from Steve Joyner on lap 27 to take the win. Galbreath started at the rear of the field, but steadily made his way forward, moving into second on lap 22. He then ran Joyner down and made an inside move to take the lead. Joyner held on for second, followed by Phillip Anderson, Scott Johnson and Teddy Sasser.
In the Street Stock Feature, Chad Roberts got inside of Derek Deese on lap 19 and went on to win the 35-lap Feature. Deese had held the lead from the start, but had to settle for second. The next two finishers were disqualified in post race inspection. Todd Valdez crossed the line third, but was disqualified due to an illegal carburetor.
Tim Hudson was disqualified for being too light. Their DQ's moved Wesley Griffin into third, Mickey Davis to fourth and Brian Martin to fifth.
In Friday's Roadrunner Feature, Todd Boswell led the first lap, then retook the lead on lap 17 when leader Ricky Osborn retired from the race. Boswell led the remaining 14 laps but failed post race inspection due to having illegal springs. Jerry Hudson was awarded the win. Kim Bishop led five laps early in the race and finished second. Will Mack was third, followed by Ricky Chandler and Joseph Chandler.
Saturday, 2002 Roadrunner Champion Sam Smith led flag to flag to take the win. Boswell made the necessary changes to his car and came back to finish second. Osborn was third with Hudson fourth and Dean Shaw fifth.
In the Mini Sportsman Feature, Scott Daughtry took the lead from Mike Cherry on lap nine, and then held off Allen Cherry for the win. Allen Cherry made several attempts to steal the lead away, but Daughtry held off the challenges. Mike Cherry held on for third with B.J. Fountain fourth and Dwayne Maloy fifth.
Racing continues March 15 with heats and features for the Super Stock, Modified, Vintage, Street Stock, and Roadrunner classes.
For more information, contact the track at (334) 565-3539 or visit the web site at www.southalabamaspeedway.com.