A warm and sunny afternoon greeted drivers, teams and fans at the new Florence Motor Speedway played host to the final scheduled daytime race before the summer stretch.
The first of two 40 lap features had 16 cars on the grid. Casey Kelly sat on the pole with a time of 16.644 seconds. Zack Miracle qualified second got ahead of the field early on as the race went green from flag to flag. This feature was the first-ever Late Model Stock win for the Zack Miracle team. He had won at Florence in a Limited Late Model before. Most of his supporters wore T-shirts that had his name on them, still had a Bandolero style car printed on the fabric. Miracle will likely be in victory lane again if the team continues to improve. After the race one victory, Zack Miracle drew a number resulting in a nine-car field inversion.
After exciting features from the Super Truck race, won by Lucas Williams, and the Mini Stock event won by AJ Sanders, it was time to start Late Model Stock feature number two. The inversion had Janson Marchbanks and R.A. Brown starting in the front of the field. The high line became the preferred line of racing after the track got more heat into the surface. The rubber from the other classes and the warm Pee Dee air baked the Hoosier compound into the asphalt towards the top of the banking. Jamie Weatherford took the lead early. The bottom of the track was a difficult place to get the correct amount of grip on restarts.
Marchbanks shuffled to fifth position, where he and most of the frontrunners duked it out for several laps. R.A. Brown snagged the lead on lap four. Drivers Robbie Mew and Sam Scarpelli suffered mechanical issues early and fell out of contention without a yellow flag. Positions two through six had a hard time getting away from each other. Casey Kelly, Jamie Weatherford, Janson Marchbanks, and Jeremy McDowell all raced close enough to have a blanket thrown over them. Plenty of two and three-wide battles occurred in that part of the running order. The caution came out for a stopped car on lap 29.
The ensuing restart gave Gray Court South Carolina’s R.A. Brown the line he needed to spout ahead of the field. R.A Brown won the second 40 lap feature and put on a little smoke show for the fans before pulling into victory lane.
“Starting on the outside helped us,” Brown said. “A couple of guys got off. It’s for sure sketchy when you dip your right rear wheel off there (turn two). We’ll continue to support Steve and Florence. I don’t think we’ll win a track championship, but I would like to thank T&R Motors LLC.”
The charger division finished out the day of racing. The warm temperatures began to cool as cloud cover set in over Timmonsville. It was undoubtedly difficult to set the car up for the temperature swing that the old-school track surface in Florence county underwent as the skies became overcast. Davey Hatchell started on pole with an 18.798 second lap time. The field took the green and clicked off circuits. On Lap 16, Brian Owens suffered a mechanical issue that brought him to pit road. Hatchell led the first 17 laps before Talon Gallimore got to the front.
Bad luck for the pole sitter manifested when Davey Hatchell and Bobby Tumbleston III made contact in turn four. Hatchell spun out in front of the field who scrambled to avoid the stopped car. Unfortunately for longtime FMS competitor and son of former track owner Robert Powell, the Hatchell machine was directly in his path. Powell collided into the door with his front end.
Bobby Tubleston III got forced to go to the rear of the field for causing the caution. Some of the front runners shuffled to the back, but Talon Gallimore maintained the top spot on the ensuing laps. Connor Lee and Archie Adams Jr. made contact on lap 24. Both cars corrected before spinning. Talon Gallimore won the 30 lap Charger feature to close out the show at Florence Motor Speedway.
“I was running the outside groove,” Gallimore stated. “The second groove is where it’s at today during the race. Hopefully, we can start taking some more wins and finish them off if we can.”
Florence Motor Speedway induced tight racing through the field. The heat in the track and the high groove were factors in the way the racing played out. Steve Zacharias and his crew have been working to make FMS more fan-oriented. The press box has a new roof and new movie theater-style seats. Bathrooms are in the works. Plans for a paved parking lot have been in consideration. If Autism Awareness weekend at FMS was an indicator, the racing is the show. Amenities will continue to develop as time goes on. As the lights come on and the sparks fly, Florence Motor Speedway is on track to continue to make headway as a premier short track destination in America.