Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SPORTS>>Local shines in shootout

Leader sportswriter

Local drivers dominated the racing card at Beebe Speedway on Friday night.

The factory-stock A-main feature came down to a trio of hometown drivers, while Cabot’s Mike Millwood took his third straight victory in the mini-stock feature.

Another Beebe driver came up big in the E-mod feature when Tommy Burkhead, one of few drivers able to keep his nose clean, won his first feature race of the year. Searcy’s Gage Raines won the hobby feature.

E-mods and turns one and two added up to disaster, as the economy feature came down to a one-lap shootout after six failed attempts to start the race.

Beebe’s Blake Jones and Searcy’s Lane Cullum started on the front row after winning the first and second heats. Jones had a lot to gain from his starting spot after points leader Robert Woodard broke down in the heats and was a no-show for the feature.

There were three attempts at an initial start, but the drivers couldn’t complete a full lap without a wreck. That made the next restart single-file, which ended with another caution on lap two.

Jones jumped out to the lead on the initial start, but a caution when Kyle Russell’s car stalled to bring out the yellow caution flag and force another double-file start. Cullum took the advantage on the first complete restart, but that was negated whenTodd Joslin’s No. 81 car stopped on the backstretch.

The complexion of the race changed completely on the next complete restart when Jones and Cullum made contact and spun in turn one. Both cars were able to continue but went to the back of the line on the single-file restart.

That moved Jay Jenkins to the point with Burkhead behind him in second. Burkhead was able to execute a pass for the lead on the first lap of the restart before the yellow flag waved again on the next circuit, this time for a three-car incident involving Kelton Sanders, Jerry McIntire and Doyle Ainsworth.

Burkhead drove conservatively once he took the lead, as Beebe driver Ryan Redmond worked past Jenkins for second on the next restart. The sixth caution came out on the third lap when fourth-place runner Chris Dollarhide spun in turn three.

Instead of waving a green-white-checkered flag to finish, flagman Gary Stephens showed his disgust with the field by waving the white flag to begin the final restart, reducing the race to a one-lap shootout.

Redman challenged Burkhead on the final lap, but Burkhead kept his black 2B machine in the middle of the track to hold his line and prevent Redman from building momentum. Cullum worked his way through the mess to a thirdplace finish, while

Jones’ night went from bad to worse when his F3 car came to a stop on the backstretch on the final lap.

Jenkins fell to fourth in the final rundown while Joey Gee completed the top five.

Curtis “Hollywood” Cook won the modified feature after starting seventh in the nine-car field.

Veteran Mike Bowers started from the pole but shut down entering turn one on lap two to bring out the caution flag. Bowers went to the pits and came back on, but pulled into the infield mid-way through the race as the only retiree.

Robert Baker assumed the lead for the restart, but soon faced a challenge from Beebe’s Jody Jackson. Jackson made his way around Donnie Stingfellow on the restart and took the lead from Baker on lap four.

Cook was right in Jackson’s tracks until he looked inside of the leader on the eighth circuit. Jackson’s line prevented Cook from making a move inside, so the driver of the No. 601 car moved up top and took the lead on the next lap.

Points leader Randy Weaver made his way up to second with four to go when he gave Jackson a nudge out of turn four, but Cook had already pulled out to a straightaway lead by that time.

Jackson held on for third while early leader Baker had to settle for fourth. Romance’s Todd Greer completed the top five.

Gage Raines dominated the hobby feature to take a flag-to-flag victory ahead of Jacksonville’s Todd Sherrill and Dan Blanchard, while Beebe’s Ricky Wilhite won the factory feature when early frontrunners Larry Wise and Jacob Kurtz, also of

Beebe, made contact entering turn one and spun out.

Danny Garringer had a quiet second-place run while Wise recovered and finished third.

Mike Millwood has gone from sentimental favorite to class dominator in the mini-stocks. Millwood earned fast qualifier in the heats and never looked back from his top starting spot in the feature. Beebe’s Jim Atcheson briefly challenged for the lead, but Millwood pulled away for his third-straight victory ahead of Atcheson and Paul Shackleford. Millwood also won in Plumerville on Saturday.

Lynn McDonald won Friday’s powder-puff race.