With a guaranteed spot in the October 19th, Rodney Cook Classic on the line Ace Speedway points leader Ryan Millington preserved his tires for the first half of the race and won a hard-fought battle with Justin Carroll to win $5,000 Friday night.

Millington qualified on the pole and led laps early but a caution on lap five would begin an attrition filled race as Justin Hicks got turned around as he and Dustin Rumley made contact in turn two. This stacked the field up as several contenders picked up damage including Hicks, Will Burns, and Justin Snow. Bob Saville’s night came to end as his car had heavy damage.

Saville was the only car not to make the call back for the restart but many cars were worse for the wear after the early incident. As the cars came back for the restart, officials waved off the start but Layne Riggs got into the back of the leader Millington causing heavy cosmetic damage to his nose and hood that would play a factor later.

Once the cars finally got to restart it wasn’t long before Riggs made his move and by lap 15 was the races second leader. Riggs was out front but the damage to his nose had pushed his hood up in front of his windshield. He would remain in the lead until a lap 48 caution when Trevor Ward, who was running up front, stopped along the backstretch due to a mechanical issue.

Ward’s car would be done for the night but he wasn’t as Mike Bledsole was getting hot inside his car and brought it down pit road where Ward would jump in and finish the race for him. Meanwhile Riggs, who was still leading, headed down pit road to fix the damage to his front end giving the lead to Carroll.

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From there Carroll would be a mainstay at the front of the field but behind him, Millington had slipped back to seventh before the lap 48 caution and now with cars in front of him falling out found his way to fourth for the restart. Millington had been saving tires but his team was also concerned about his brakes fading earlier in the race.

Millington was on a mission from there but in front of him was Jacob Heafner who was having a great run but on lap 58 his night went up in smoke and he was done. Millington moved to second and now Riggs rallied to third.

Justin Carroll (57) and Ryan Millington (15) would swap the lead a handful of times in the closing laps before Millington would take the lead for good with five laps to go to win the Prelude to the Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway on August 16, 2019. (Kimberly Austin photo)

Millington would ride behind Carroll until lap 90 of the 100 lap contest when he moved Carroll up the track and took the lead but Carroll wasn’t done. Carroll came right back and returned the favor as the two traded the lead several times over the final laps with Millington eventually getting the best of Carroll and pulling away to win.

Caroll would finish second with Ward rallying to finish third in relief of Bledsole. Riggs and Rumley completed the top five with only six cars finishing the race after 12 started.

Millington knew he had a good car and was glad to take home the win over Carroll.

“We had a really good car tonight,” Millington told RACE22. “I had to save a little bit more than I anticipated lap 10 to 50 I’d say but we had what it took there at the end and that’s all that matters.”

Ryan Millington was elated in victory lane after winning the Prelude to the Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway on August 16, 2019. (Kimberly Austin photo)

Carroll was all smiles after the great battle at the end.

“That was an incredible battle with Ryan,” Carroll told RACE22. “We’ve had a lot of battles like that between here at Ace Speedway and back at Hickory Motor Speedway. We put a lot of races like that. I think through all the races we’ve had like that we’ve never wrecked each other. We’ve moved each other but that’s respectful racing.”

Carroll admitted he might not have saved enough at the end.

“Got a little free there,” Carroll explained. “I got a little free in and that’s where he was able to really charge on us and that was the difference-maker. He also saved a little there at the beginning and we tried to get out front and set our own pace. That could have maybe been the difference maker also. We were about six or seven laps short but that was a good race.”

Ward was just riding in his own car early on but had a rocker arm come loose ending his night. He made the most of his relief driving effort for Bledsole after getting situated in the car.

“He (Bledsole) was getting tired there at the end,” Ward told RACE22. “It happened to be at the right time as I broke a rocker arm and he said ‘get in my car’. He’s got a good car and I think if I had figured it out earlier we could have won with it.  It’s pretty crazy, I was trying to find his radio hookups and fans and not go a lap down. Pretty different story to talk about tonight.”

Cover photo by Kimberly Austin.

Unofficial Results:
1 – Ryan Millington #15
2 – Justin Carroll #57
3 – Mike Bledsole #15
4 – Layne Riggs #99
5 – Dustin Rumley #88
6 – Dean Fogleman #71
7 – Jacob Heafner #95
8 – Trevor Ward #02
9 – Justin Snow #0
10 – Will Burns #41
11 – Justin Hicks #61
12 – Bob Saville #8