Nation grabs SportMods feature to cap off Budweiser Nationalsbakersfield
The second day of the 31st annual Budweiser Nationals at Bakersfield Speedway featured six highly competitive racing divisions filled with a plethora of talented drivers.
It was the perfect recipe for an exciting night of action on the third-mile clay oval.
The highlight of the evening was the 30-lap Hobby Stock main event, won in thrilling fashion by Rich Denman of Coalinga. Denman didn’t take over the lead until Lap 29. He spent several laps battling with leader Michael Scruggs following a late-race restart. Finally, after making a hard charge down the backstretch, Denman dove his car hard to the low side of the track and then eventually slid up in front of Scruggs, who led the first 28 laps, going into Turn 1.
“Unbelievable,” Denman said. “Mike drove a hell of a race. He was fast. I noticed he was getting a little bit loose coming off late in the race. I just kind of waited and waited and waited. He just kind of left the door open and I stuck it on the bottom. Thank God she held there.”
Bobby Quinton, Clay Daly, and Kevin Collier finished third through fifth.
The 40-lap IMCA Modified main event was almost as exciting as the Hobby Stock race.
Mike Johnson and Brad Pounds battled at the front the field for 38 laps until contact between the two caused Johnson to spin out and Pounds to be sent to the back of the field for questionable driving by race official during the ensuing caution.
That opened the door for Rick Childress, Jr. to win the race following a green/white/checkered finish.
“We won a championship this year,” Childress said. “I felt we were really strong last night. Just got tied up early. Just couldn’t get through it. We got a little lucky at the end, but we got through it clean without tearing stuff up. That allowed us to be there at the end.”
Robby Sawyer was third. Mark Carrell took fourth and Ethan Dotson placed fifth.
Brady Bell bested Justin Crockett to earn his third straight Pro Stock victory of the year at the track.
Bell took over the lead on Lap 13 of the 30 lap race when he passed Crockett on the backstretch. Crockett started on the pole and the led the first 12 laps.
After spending most of the race in close proximity of each other, Bell pulled away late and beat Crockett to the checkered flag by 1.592 seconds.
“I don’t know what to say,” Bell said. “It’s pretty special.”
Chris Smith finished third. Billy Simkins was fourth and Clay Daly took fifth.
Jason Nation dominated a caution-free Sport Mod feature. The Bakersfield driver started on the pole and led the entire race.
Nation’s biggest challenge was working his way through lap-traffic late in the race, which he did flawlessly.
“I just knew if I didn’t miss my marks I’d be good,” Nation said.
Clint Reichenbach was second followed by Jordan Hagar, Michael Johnson, and Wayne Dotson.
Bobby Hogge capped off the 31st annual Budweiser Nationals on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway by winning the Late Model main event.
Hogge’s second win in as many nights came after his car suffered wing damage during a multi-car pileup in Turn 3 on Lap 24. The Salinas driver slowed down and swerved to try and get around the wreck but couldn’t quite maneuver through it cleanly.
Drake, who was running a lower line on the track, managed to escape the incident unscathed.
However, even with a wounded car Hogge was able pull away from Drake and the rest of the 19-car field soon after the ensuing restart and was first to the checkered flag by .652 seconds.
Hogge started second and led all 30 laps.
Drake, who won five of the six Late Model race’s at the track during the regular season, was second. Nick Bartels finished third. Tony Toste placed fourth and Jeremy Shank took fifth.
“I’m just blessed to be able to drive good equipment like this,” Hogge said. “…We did have a good starting spot. I knew the outside lane was going to be where to be on the start and all had to do was get to the rubber first and try and hold these guys off.”
Earlier, Steven Johnson passed Troy Patee for the lead with nine laps remaining to win the 30-lap IMCA Stock Car main event.
Patee led the entire way until Johnson powered past him on Lap 21.
Johnson, the division’s 2016 track champion, went on to finish .475 seconds ahead of runner-up Chad Johnson.
Patee was third followed by Keith Heaslet and Devan Jones.
“The track was awesome,” Steven Johnson said. “I never raced on one these tracks with this type of car, but it was amazing. First lap, I jumped on the brakes too hard. Killed the car. Had to go to the back and work my way forward. It was fine.”