Armadillo Nationals is All Bowers!
Kilgore, Texas (August 4, 2001) – Mike Bowers capped the most profitable weekend of his career by winning the 10th Annual Armadillo Nationals at Lone Star Speedway and he did so before the largest crowd to ever witness a late model race at the big half-mile oval. Bowers, from Sheridan, Arkansas was the second fastest qualifier, won his heat, topped the dash for cash and led every lap of the feature to sweep all of the bonus money posted, bringing his weekend total up to $10,500, the biggest win of his career. But despite the domination, Bowers still faced some anxious moments at the weight scales as he barely cleared weight before being signaled on to victory lane. Tonight’s victory was the 3rd O’Reilly SUPR victory of Bower’s career but his first since 1993.
Bowers credits his success to a good baseline setup in his Hatfield-powered GRT and a hardworking team. “We’ve been on this same setup for a few weeks and we’ve been real good on it and didn’t know what to expect so we just came here on it and it happened to be what we needed. I’d like to thank Ed Jordan, Ed Rhinehart and my crew (Mark Flynn and Jimmy Jennings) they’ve just done a super job. I just couldn’t do it without all of them, it’s a team not a one man deal.”
And while Bowers appeared to be in control of the race for most of the night, Mike Boland made a late race charge to make the race interesting. Boland, who elected to run a softer left rear in the feature, appeared to have the right setup for the end of the race but Bowers was able to hold off the challenge. After a big win last weekend at the Mike Head Jr. Memorial race at the Talladega Short Track, Boland was glad to record another solid finish in his Keith Craft-powered Warrior. “I’m just super glad to finish second. I know a lot of guys had problems but we was good right there at the end. I had to save; I went with 11’s on the left side, 55’s on the right, probably softer than anybody on the left side. The first of the race I just stayed in the wet part with my left side trying to save the tires. I moved up and it helped. There at the end I started running right in the middle and it was a lot better right in the middle, it still had a little moisture in the middle. I could run through the middle of the corner a little quicker than Bowers was doing.”
Tony Cardin driving in Michael Coleman’s backup car recorded a solid third place finish. Cardin started seventh alongside Boland and floated around just inside the top 10 early in the race before making his way forward. Cardin, the 1991 SUPR Champion, led a champion’s reunion of sorts as 7 of the 9 former SUPR Champions were on hand competing this weekend (Doug Ingalls, Cardin, Donald Watson, Ricky Ingalls, Butch Patton, David Ashley and Jay Blair).
Ronny Adams, passed 13 cars en route to a 4th place finish, a finish that was more impressive as Adams had to fight his car as it had picked up a bad toe in about half way into the race. Adams and Doug Ingalls were engaged in one of the more spirited battles for position late in the race when Doug began to slow with a broken rear axle. Still Doug was able to hold on to 7th place and he still passed 13 cars and claimed the Lloyd Wild Jr. Logging Hard Charger award on the basis of having started further back in the field.
The current Top 10 in the O’Reilly SUPR Championship standings had an uncharacteristic off night, as Rob Litton was the only car to record a top 5 finish. Litton steadily worked his way to the front, passing 11 cars to grab 5th ahead of Ricky Ingalls, who pitted twice and was still able to work his way back into the top 10. Kenny Merchant, who was Mike Bower’s closest competitor over the first half of the race, began to fade late as his motor began to smoke from the second lap one. The motor kept running strong but Merchant began to fade as the race went on. He nearly made it to the finish line when his motor finally expired as he exited turn 4 on the checkered flag lap. Merchant coasted across the finish as a pack of racers quickly closed in. Merchant held on to his 8th place finish but as the pack started dodging Merchant, Jack Ambern was left with nowhere to go and he made solid contact with Merchant. Neither driver was hurt but a tough way to end a race.
Jay Blair saw his chances for a victory go out the window when his J-Bar assembly broke on lap 16 while he was running third. The bad break also cost Jay in the O’Reilly SUPR Championship standings as he now trails David Ashley by a score of 2137 for Ashley to 2124 for Blair.
Ashley had a solid top 10 run going until Donnie Barnhart and Ashley got together in turn 4 on a restart on lap 17 and Ashley was forced to restart at the rear. Ashley was able to continue but with only limited success, finishing in 14th position, the last car on the lead lap.
Scott Slay appeared to be a solid threat to win, running in the top 5 right from the get go but his air cleaner came off on the track on lap 22 with Slay running a solid third at that point. Slay entered the pits so that his crew could check over his car, but he would retire just 10 laps later.
Donnie Barnhart was the other driver who appeared to be capable of running down Bowers but his night on lap 33, just 5 laps after he had taken over 2nd place from Merchant. Barnhart slowed when he broke a rod in his motor. “We got up there and run him down but like I said I won’t take anything from him, I don’t know if I’d of gotten around him but we’d of given him a race.”
49 SUPR Late Models were on hand with Jay Blair topping the field in qualifications with a fast lap of 18.00 seconds to claim the GRT Top Qualifier award. Six heats were run with the winner of each heat transferring into the Dash for Cash. Jay Blair topped the first heat – a race that saw two big wrecks. Walt Butler took a hard ride into the turn one wall when his front suspension broke and then 2 laps later Steve Latson’s car drifted to the outside heading into the same corner and he got up on the wall before coming to a rest on his roof. Latson would make repairs and return for Saturday night’s consolation race only to drop out early again. Latson was named the B&K Underground Hard Luck recipient.
Heat 2 was a preview of the run to the checkers in the feature as Mike Bowers held off Mike Boland to take the win. Heat 3 saw David Ashley top Dennis Duncan while heat 4 saw Kenny Merchant best Donnie Barnhart. Chris Wall once again looked strong in winning the 5th heat over fellow rookie competitor Odie Green and Scott Slay claimed the 6th and final heat over an impressive Jack Ambern.
Donald Watson and Marlon Wild survived an attrition fest in the first last chance race by keeping their cars at the front of the pack and then Doug Ingalls and Jon Mitchell grabbed the final two transfer spots when James Ward, in his very first O’Reilly SUPR Late Model event dropped out while leading with just 4 laps to go. Ward, driving Kennith Crowe’s backup car, was solidly in first place when his driveline snapped in two ending his night.
For further information regarding the 2001 OReilly SUPR Series contact Greg Holmes at 225-275-5040 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
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