After all the pain and struggles he has endured in recent years, the former crew member for Rick Crawford earned some well-deserved joy on Friday the 13th at Five Flags Speedway.
The “Mad Dog” scored his first win in Pensacola in a number of years by using lapped traffic to pass Chris Cotto with 11 laps remaining and pull away down the stretch of the 50-lap Modifieds Mania feature. Series points leader Donnie Hamrac finished third.
“I tell you, we (did) great tonight,” said Maddox, who earned a cool $1,500 for the victory.
“It was a long time coming. It’s just been a good night. I’m glad the rain didn’t stop us.”
Mother Nature tried her hardest to take all of the checkered flags for herself, but track officials successfully waited out a 90-minute delay.
When the Mods finally got under way, Billy Melvin started on the pole after fast qualifier Donald Crocker (17.821 seconds) set the invert on the 15-car field when he rolled a “6” on the die.
Melvin maintained his lead for the first half of the race despite immense pressure from Chris Cotto, who won the last Mods race in May at America’s Favorite Home Track.
As Cotto began to get antsy behind Melvin, Hamrac made up ground on the duo.
“I love this place,” Hamrac said. “You have to sit there and manage your tires. It’s a driver’s track. This track is fun.”
Mevlin certainly was not the fastest car, but his deft driving at protecting the inside groove had him out front.
Cotto finally maneuvered by Melvin, using just a couple of inches of space, on Lap 29. But instead of making it back-to-back wins, Cotto started to surrender ground to a hard-charging Maddox.
Lapped cars only served to make it worse when Maddox took the lead on Lap 39.
“I can’t believe we gave that away,” a disgusted Cotto said. “That lapped car got us.”
Modifieds 50-Lap Feature Results—1. Mike Maddox, 2. Chris Cotto, 3. Donnie Hamrac, 4. Brandon Howell, 5. Korey Ruble, 6. Kevyn Terry, 7. Donald Crocker, 8. Nathan Ingersoll, 9. Josh Goodwin, 10. David Neale, 11. Ken Hickman, 12. Michael Swilley, 13. Billy Melvin, 14. Kevin Peel, 15. Scooter Grice
Watching Rob McLendon at Five Flags is like watching Michelangelo inside the Sistine Chapel.
To say the motorcycle driver is in his element at the half-mile, banked oval would be a gross understatement.
McLendon won his third race as the Motos made their second appearance in three months. He bettered John Cohorn and Van Rayburn for the victory Friday.
“I dang sure loves this track,” a very appreciative McLendon said. “Thank you fans who stayed out here. I’m sure you’re here for the Mods, Sportsmen and Bombers, but we seriously appreciate you being around. It means a lot.”
Rayburn shot out to the lead as the green flag dropped on a standing start. Cohorn quickly moved up to second while McLendon bided his time in fifth.
The trio really started to lay the bikes down in the turns, putting McLendon in his comfort zone.
He crept up to third and went outside of Rayburn to take second. He wasted little time in looking for the lead and got there on Lap 5.
“I love riding this thing and it feels good to win in front of the home crowd,” McLendon said.
The cream of the West Florida Coatings Sportsmen class continues to find their ways to the top.
And above them all these days is Brannon Fowler.
The Molino driver made his second trip to Victory Lane this year by scoring a 20-lap feature win Friday at Five Flags Speedway.
Fowler, who is the current track champion, boasts a healthy lead against Steve Buttrick in the series points standings.
Buttrick, in a borrowed car finished fourth, behind runner-up Shanna Ard and third-place finish Calvin Cook.
“That was hard fought,” Fowler said. “I had fun racing Shanna. It was a good points night. Man, this was a good victory.”
Fowler battled door-to-door with Ard, who led for much of the race, until finally slipping by on the inside on Lap 14.
“I’m glad the night is over with,” Ard said. “We waited long enough. It feels like next week to me.”
Cook, Ard’s teammate in Tina Davidson’s stable, was just tickled to be on the podium once again this season.
“We’re getting the hang of it,” Cook said. “This class is tough, real tough.”
Sportsmen 20-Lap Feature Results—1. Brannon Fowler, 2. Shanna Ard, 3. Calvin Cook, 4. Steve Buttrick, 5. Ethan Hardin, 6. Steven Allday, 7. Marty White, 8. Dayton Sidner, 9. Thomas Faddis, 10. Wayne Burkett
Just when all hope had appeared to vanish, Brandon Burks discovered redemption.
A night that began so bitterly for Burks ended sweetly, as the Milton youngster claimed his second consecutive Butler U-Pull-It Bombers 20-lap feature win.
Burks passed Michael Nelson, the eventual runner-up, on the final lap down the back straightaway to claim the victory an inch closer to the series points lead held by Gary Goodwin, who finished third Friday.
“Man, that was a tough one,” Burks said. “I thought there was gonna be a big wreck on that last one. But I held on and was able to sneak on in there. It was a long, crazy night. I’m glad everything calmed down.”
Only after the race saw its share of cautions, include a nasty seven-car pileup midway through the race.
Leonard Craig, Tommy Lowery, Robert Balkum, William Davis, Brian Lane, Joshua Johnston and Brian Lane were all involved. Suddenly, a 16-car field was cut almost entirely in half.
Nelson, the U.S. Marine, took the lead from Kenny Williams when the veteran driver got a terrible restart.
Burks and Goodwin were close behind in fourth and fifth, respectively. Williams recovered nicely after his bobble and was hounding Nelson’s bumper on Lap 17 when disaster struck.
Williams had the run on Nelson coming out of Turn 3, but instead of forcing the issue, Williams thought better of it and backed off.
It was a classy move, but Williams was not rewarded for his savvy skills. He cut a tire and that opened the door for Burks, who pounced on Nelson.
“We definitely did some racing,” Nelson said.
Goodwin started 10th and was following a familiar script early one, climbing to fifth by Lap 4.
But he began having troubles getting around Robert Balkum for fourth and abruptly pitted road as a caution came out with eight laps completed.
“We cut a tire early in the race,” Goodwin said. “Oh well, we’ll take a third. That’ll work.”
Bombers 20-Lap Feature Results—1. Brandon Burks, 2. Michael Nelson, 3. Gary Goodwin, 4. Ryan Fowler, 5. Leonard Craig Jr., 6. Tracy Soles, 7. Hunter Ward, 8. Tommy Lowery, 9. Matt Culbertson, 10. Joshua Johnston, 11. Robert Balkum, 12. Kenny Williams, 13. Brian Lane, 14. William Davis, 15. John Kevin Merritt, 16. Rick Thompson