FALK GOES TWO-FOR-TWO
He’s a part-time competitor. But C.E. Falk is becoming a full-time winner.
Falk scored his second win in two starts Saturday night at Motor Mile Speedway, expanding upon his perfect winning percentage in the Valley Paint-Benjamin Moore/WSLS 10 150.
“It’s great. I’ve been coming here for years, racing against Philip [Morris] and Lee [Pulliam]… it’s hard to beat those guys,” Falk said. “We travel around, and the car has been flawless so far this year. So I’m looking forward to coming back up here when the No. 1 car comes back, too.”
It was night where the abnormal became commonplace. The anomalies began in qualifying, with the top ten machines all clocking in under 16.00 seconds. Josh Berry’s JR Motorsports entry earned the Price’s Body Shop pole award with a blistering 15.85 hot lap, and led a field of 20 Bull and Bones Late Model Stock Cars to the green.
But the showcase race will be remembered for what didn’t happen.
The 150-lap event went caution-free for the opening 117 laps of the contest, an unparalleled occurrence in 2012. The lead was exchanged three times; Matt Waltz surpassed Berry on lap 5 to lead his first laps of the season at the .416-mile oval. From fourth, Falk eclipsed Waltz for the top spot on lap 22. Waltz would regain the lead later in the race, only to surrender it to Falk during a late-race restart.
A pair of insignificant cautions dotted the latter portion of the race, with the final yellow staging a double-file restart 11 circuits from the checkers. For a fleeting moment, Falk’s lead was in jeopardy, as the frontrunners fanned out three-wide down the back straightaway. The battle for first rapidly became a duel for second as Falk coasted to the win, .059 seconds ahead of Waltz.
“It was a blast out here tonight—I’m glad I finally got to lead some laps,” said Waltz. “It was just a great race.”
Like Falk, Berry and the No. 88 Speedco team have become impressively consistent. Berry notched his third consecutive third-place finish Saturday night.
“I’m pretty disappointed. I don’t know if I had anything for C.E.; he was pretty fast. I’m kinda tired of finishing third. We’ve been consistent and good, and we’re getting better… so I’m happy with that,” Berry said.
Kris Bowen, in his 2012 debut, finished fourth. Mike Looney, the only other winner this season, rounded out the top five.
Falk will continue to run a partial schedule at Motor Mile Speedway. But make no mistake, Falk is points racing….although the Motor Mile Speedway track championship is secondary to the WHELEN All-American Series National Championship race, of which Falk is a contender. Falk is anticipated to garner a high ranking when the point standings are released in May.
IN OTHER DIVISIONS
COLLISION PLUS LIMITED SPORTSMAN
It was a race nobody could win.
Barriers were broken Saturday night in the 50-lap Collision Plus Limited Sportsman feature…figuratively and literally.
Six cautions and two red flag periods culminated in three green-white-checkered restarts that capped the most bizarre finish to a race in recent memory at Motor Mile Speedway.
The race itself took nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete…staggering considering that the first 28 circuits were caution-free.
In fact, only two cautions slowed the pace of the race, until a skirmish for first on lap 49 triggered a cascade of carnage.
After two laps of intense, white-knuckle action for the top spot, leaders Karl Budzevski and Matt Taylor tangled exiting turn two. Taylor’s No. 7 re-routed Budzevski’s No. 26 into the inside retaining wall, and the racing incident that ensued collected all of the top three contenders, along with several other front-running machines.
“This whole deal…the craziest thing I’ve been involved with,” Taylor said afterward. “Budzevski—that was a racing deal. We got together. I’m sure he’s not real happy. But we were racing for the win. I had a third place car, and I was trying to win with it.
“The other stuff…I don’t have a clue what happened…”
Budzevski’s impact was so severe it splintered the inside wall on the back stretch. After a lengthy red flag period to repair the damage, racing resumed on lap 50, and the first of three finishes to the feature ended in an exhilarating, three-wide photo finish.
Clipped by Travis Hurt, leader Scott Lancaster looped the No. 22 up the turn four banking coming to the checkers. Track officials subsequently unfurled the yellow flag, nullifying the finish and sending the race to its second green-white-checkered restart.
Preston McGhee and Kyle Dudley were the beneficiaries of the dustup, and the pair restarted on the front row. The good track position was short lived; a stuck throttle sent Dudley crashing into McGhee at the end of the back stretch, with each incurring significant impacts against the turn three wall.
The race would undergo its second red flag period.
“Green-white-checkered, you know? I got up under him going down the back stretch. When I went down in that corner, I was gonna run him hard; I definitely didn’t intend on doing that,” Dudley said about the ill-fated pass. “The throttle just stuck on the floor.”
“His throttle did stick, because when we hit the wall up there, it was still wide open,” McGhee confirmed. “But it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.”
At the restart, the new front row consisted of young guns Kyle Barnes and Caleb Davis. The complexion of the race had changed completely, with a top five comprised of drivers unaccustomed to the front of the field.
Calamity would strike thrice. In a banzai move, Davis collided with Barnes as the two leaders dove into turn three, and as Barnes spun up the banking, Cody Kirby escaped the melee unscathed, sprinting to his first career win at Motor Mile Speedway.
“I can’t even put into words how much this means. Everybody here, we’ve been busting our butts for the past four years. We’ve had some terrible luck,” Kirby said. “I thought maybe later on in the year we might be able to pull a win off, but not this early in the season.
“It was a crazy night, but we’ll take ‘em any way we can get them.”
Steven Weeks and Bryan Reedy also netted career-best Limited Sportsman efforts, tallying finishes of second and third, respectively.
Story revised on 5-2-12
Rocky Yates outlasted Doodle Lang to win the New River Nissan MOD-4 feature, with Drew Holdren posting third. A rare caution-free UCAR feature went to Patrick Janney, with Rodney Howell and Keith Rowland rounding out the top three.