It was a rather chilly day for the month of April, but fans and drivers still showed up in droves to witness the second running of the Billy Cagle Memorial. All eyes were set on the headlining Steel Block Bandits, who would race on the night for a $5,007 grand prize for the winner. Those in attendance saw the highest car count in the late model division that has been seen in over a dozen years, a whopping thirty seven cars, all chasing the same goal. Among those drivers were regional stars the likes of Dustin Mitchell, Willie Milliken and Shun “Oreo” Thomas, as well as local favorites like Justin Mintz and Dalton Hodge.
Milliken led the field in hot laps, posting the fastest lap time at 15.680. Qualifying was a different story, Dustin Mitchell set the fastest overall time at 14.675 seconds, just shy of the track record which sits at 14.600 seconds. Behind Mitchell and taking the fastest time in group B was Derick Quade who posted a 14.763 second lap time. The Bandits then hosted four heat races which saw Mitchell, Quade, Michael Batten and Brian Strickland take the checkers first. Following that was a set of b-main events, in which the top three cars would transfer to the Billy Cagle Memorial. Landon Zakalowski, Michael Alderman, Gib Gibbons, Clint Hodges, Cody Wright and Gabe Gabel would all make it in through the b, with two series provisionals being handed out to Lance Brasington and Mike Evock to round out our twenty four car starting field.
When the green flag dropped on the 40 lap feature, it was clear which driver had the upper hand. Mitchell was able to escape his pursuers and establish a lead that would grow to two seconds before a lap eight caution brought the field to a halt. Mitchell picked right back up after the restart quickly catching lapped traffic with Michael Batten and Derick Quade in tow. A second caution flew at the lap 18 marker. Following the restart there was a pile up at the entrance to turn three, breaking the hopes of many contenders including the hard charging Justin Mintz. The race was restarted at the halfway point, Mitchell still the leader. He continued to have Michael Batten and Derick Quade in chase, but a new challenger was emerging in the form of Brian Strickland. Strickland battled with Quade, eventually getting the better of him, moving into the top three with just a handful of laps to go. As the white flag waved, Mitchell was still your leader, but Michael Batten who was running in the second spot had a tire go down getting into turn one. Strickland and Quade were able to get around him before coming back to the line. Dustin Mitchell led the race from green flag to checkered flag, securing his third $5,000+ win of the season and his first at Sumter Speedway. Finishing second was Brian Strickland, third went to Quade, Tyler Bare and Willie Milliken rounded out the top 5.
We also had six local divisions racing on the night.
Thunderbomber saw Walter Anderson take his number 57 to victory lane. In Extreme 4, Zach Byrd was able to drive away from an intense battle with Bruce Denman victorious. Econo 4 saw Thomas Ingle get his first career victory, beating out Joe Green, Willie Hill, Brandon Glisson and Eugene Vaughn rounding out the top five. Super Street saw Cayce’s Drew Shealy go to victory lane with Ryan Winn, Banjo Duke, Tony Truett and Ronnie Stephen rounding out the top five. Mod 4 saw Aaron Weed capture victory over a stout field of cars. Rounding out the night, Street Stock saw Cameron Holloway lead flag to flag en route to his first win of the year.
Sumter Speedway is off this coming weekend in celebration of Easter. They will return on April 23rd and will be headlined by the Carolina Sprint Tour, a 305 sprint car series that puts on spectacular shows every time they venture into Sumter County.