Race Capsule: Peltier takes the crown in the World Crown
The Scoop: 300 laps is a long way for late model races, but the crown jewel event at Jefferson, Georgia's Gresham Motorsports Park is just that length. Past races have seen this event run in segments, with inversions, and with caution laps not counting. Not this year. Track officials decided to make the event more like a traditional race, much to the liking of many I spoke to. GMP stalwart Bubba Pollard won the pole for the race that has eluded him for years. Fellow Georgia driver TJ Reaid (also winless in the WC300) started 2nd. The race went green almost two hours late because rain delayed qualifying and opening ceremonies. Reaid took an early lead, before Pollard got it back and late model star Augie Grill drove up to 2nd. Grill and Pollard dueled side by side for many laps, before Grill's No. 112 took the lead and started mowing down lap cars. The race distance took a toll on the light 23-car field. Allen Karnes and Rodney Benefield fell out very early, as did Dalton Grindle. Other drivers suffered similar fates. GMP first-timer Chad Finley blew a motor, ending his night. John Hunter Nemechek had an oil leak, pitted, and then got electrocuted by a loose coil that shocked the roll cage of his car. He went numb in his arms for a while, but is okay. Grill also pitted with an oil leak, but returned to the race on the lead lap, but out of contention. Donnie Wilson went to a backup car after an electrical fire in practice and retired from the WC300 early with problems. Mike Garvey also pitted for extensive repairs and eventually retired. Past WC300 winner Russell Fleeman went to a backup car, after his primary handled poorly. He finished nine laps down in 15th. By race's end, only six cars were on the lead lap. Southern Super Series race officials decided that they would throw a competition yellow every 100-consecutive green flag laps run, so they did so on lap 100. Chase Elliott, who started in the back of the top 10, smoked the field off of pit road. Grill, who had given up the lead just before the yellow, came out 5th, Pollard (the new leader) 7th. Both took four tires to Elliott's two and eventually took the lead spots from the 2012 winner of the race. The race stayed green for about 50 laps, before race control red flagged the race to find a car that was leaking oil. Officials forced Grill and Nemechek to pit, as both were losing oil. Soon after the race resumed (with Elliott and Reaid back in the lead after pit stops), Grill, charging from the back, spun Chris Fontaine into the wall, bringing out the race's final yellow around lap 183. Elliott, Reaid, and Pollard are among those that stay out, but Peltier pitted for his last set of tires. Pollard eventually took the lead after the green, but Peltier clawed back through the top 10 to battle for the top spot. Peltier takes the lead for the first time on lap 209, but Pollard recoils and fights hard until finally getting the top spot for one lap on lap 267. Peltier lost the lead by getting forced low, but crossed back high and, with the help of lap traffic, and took the lead back on lap 268. On lap 270, Pollard manages to swing high again and take the lead and starts to pull away and have the race in hand. On lap 274, as the leaders lap Daniel Hemric and Kyle Benjamin, Peltier manages to get the high line, force Pollard down low, and take the lead on lap 275, with Benjamin used as a pick. While Pollard stays close, he can't catch Peltier and the Concord, North Carolina driver takes car No. 26 to victory lane over Pollard's No. 26 to win the 30th annual Slack Auto Parts World Crown 300 presented by Peach State Freightliner and Ford Power Stroke Diesel. Pollard was 2nd, Reaid 3rd, and crowd favorite Elliott 4th. The rest of the top 10 were Austin Theriault (for Brad Keselowski Racing), Augie Grill, Kyle Benjamin, Daniel Hemric, Anderson Bowen, and Hunter Robbins.
140 Characters or less: Who? Preston Peltier wins #WorldCrown300 @GreshamMP over Pollard. Some say it was best Crown ever. Seemed that way.
Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Preston Peltier - He didn't lead the most laps, but he chased down the car that did and a driver who just about has won the most races at Gresham in recent years. Peltier was coming back from a broken leg and said his arm strength was not where it should have been, making his win over Pollard that much more impressive.
North Korean Missile Dud: Russell Fleeman - Primary car stunk, backup car was just as bad or worse. He finished nine laps down, when he should have been a lead lap contender.
Never Fear, Underdogs Are Here: Preston Peltier - Peltier may not have been an underdog, but he certainly was a dark horse and joined the ranks of Justin Wakefield (2010) and Chris Wimmer (2011) as drivers not on the radar's of many that won the WC300.
You Can Comeback, But You Can't Stay Here: Bubba Pollard - Drivers that got lapped didn't have a chance Saturday, so there aren't any big comeback stories in the race. Pollard gets the award for driving from 7th to 1st and gained several more spots on another restart after losing spots on pit road. Passing at GMP is hard and Pollard certainly has that art mastered…well…almost.
Wheel of Misfortune: Mike Garvey - Every time the No. 1 Goodson Racing team and Garvey come to GMP, a snake bites them. Garvey was never fast all weekend, fell a lap down early in the race, and then eventually retired on lap 185 with some kind of mechanical problem. That is an expensive 17th place finish.
Head-Scratcher Crown of Thorns: John Hunter Nemechek - After pitting with an oil leak, Nemechek jumps out of the car and lays down behind the pit wall. A coil came off of the car and surged through the roll cage, shocking the 16-year-old, who was resting his hand on the bar. His dad, NASCAR driver Joe, said he had never seen anything like that in all of his years racing, he told Speed51.com. John Hunter is okay, after first experiencing numbness in his arms.
Ghost Driver: Daniel Hemric - He entered the race as the Southern Super Series points leader, but lost the points lead to Pollard, after finishing 9th. His No. 98 Carswell Motorsports won this race in 2010 and Hemric, who has two SSS wins this season, was my pick to win Saturday. Instead, he finished a lap down in 9th.
NSCS 140 or less: Kyle Busch finally wins at the Glen. Keselowski loses again but gains in wild card. Ragan respectable, as was Papis.
NNS 140 or less: Kyle Busch wrecks on first lap at the Glen, paving way for Keselowski to win for 4th time in his last four NNS starts. Sorenson impressive 16th.