posted March 11, 2002 09:17 PM
Steve Russell Takes Rebel Challenge Checkers
Columbus, Mississippi-The 2002 racing season at Columbus Speedway was
ushered in with cool northerly winds howling but hot racing action took
place on the track. The inaugural Rebel Challenge by Brown Engineering began
what will be a long and exciting 2002 Weekly Racing season at the 3/10's
mile high banked oval. The two day event saw 172 teams from across the
Southeast on hand to compete in the various classes in action at Columbus
Speedway and featured wild action that would see four different cars get
upside down during the Saturday night competition.
The main event of the evening would see Steve Russell of Pontotoc,
Mississippi top the 61-car Super Late Model field and take home $7,250 in
prize money for the 50 lap Rebel Challenge Super Late Model Championship
win. Russell driving his Jeff Cooley Trucking/Victory Lane Race Parts
sponsored Brown Engineering powered GRT would lead the event in flag to flag
fashion but having to hold off the constant threat of competitors. Early in
the event Russell and fourth place starter Bill Frye would make contact
going into turn three at full song after a caution flag had just been
thrown. The incident which saw the #66 of Bill Frye catapult off the top of
turn three and roll causing major damage and eliminating Frye for the
The race would once again begin to heat up after the red flag period for the
Frye incident, as the always potent Mike Boland had began a furious march to
the front from 11th starting position. Boland, using his customary bottom
line around the racetrack while Russell was riding the extreme rim of the
track in turns three and four and "riding the see-saw" using the bottom in
turns one and two. By lap 20 the race was on for the lead with Boland
hounding Russell, nosing beneath, and pulling side by side on numerous
occasions. Boland would actually pass Russell for the lead in lapped traffic
on lap 39 but the caution flag flew which negated the pass. Boland would
challenge for the lead for the remaining ten laps with an ever present David
Breazeale sitting in third place waiting for the leaders to slip, but the
two cagey veterans did not make a mistake.
Russell crossed the stripe a scant car length ahead of Boland with Breazeale
completing the podium. Timmy Yeager of Harrodsburg, Kentucky made his
initial Columbus Speedway trip rewarding with a strong fourth place finish
and Laurel's Jason Smith rounded out the top five. The "Wild Child" James
Dean finished sixth followed by Meridian based hotshoe Rodney Wing in one of
his better showings at Columbus in seventh. Pole sitter Anthony Rushing
fought an ill handling racecar all night long to finish eighth. Arkadelphia,
Arkansas driver Keith Craft finished ninth with Berry, Alabama's Scott
Shepherd having a very respectable top ten finish.
Rebel Challenge action got underway on Friday night with Pole Qualifying
which would see Anthony Rushing of Kosciusko, Mississippi take home the
Performance Engine Works $500 Fast Qualifier bonus after Rushing topped the
59 Super Late Models who took time with a 14.22-second lap around the Johnny
Stokes prepared high banked oval.
Six Super Late Model Qualifying Races were run Friday night as well. The
Qualifying Race winners were Anthony Rushing, Steve Russell, James Dean,
Bill Frye, Ricky Williams, and David Breazeale.
Super Late Models transferring to the Main event through the two B-Main
events on Saturday night were Eddie Rickman , Robbie Bilbrey, Raymond
Merrill, and Scott Dedwylder.
Rebel Challenge Super Late Model finish:
1-Steve Russell 2-Mike Boland 3-David Breazeale 4-Timmy Yeager 5-Jason Smith
6-James Dean 7-Rodney Wing 8-Anthony Rushing 9-Keith Craft 10-Scott Shepherd
11-Scott Dedwylder 12-Ricky Williams 13-Chris Wall 14-Robbie Bilbrey
15-Kenneth Crowe 16-Tombo Callahan 17-Raymond Merrill 18-Anthony Burroughs
19-Mark Stokes 20-Eddie Rickman 21-Kelly Hanvey 22-Bill Frye
The Mississippi Modified event was perhaps one of the best races this
division has ever provided at Columbus Speedway. It was an epic battle of
two Jason's and the winner was first time visitor Jason Sullivan of Reagan,
Tennessee taking the win over Ethelsville's Jason Hollis. The two battling
drivers used completely different lines with Sullivan using the extreme
upper edge of the speedway with Hollis on the bottom while the strong
twenty-car field did battle. The event would see three wide action all over
the speedplant during the entire 20 laps with Hattiesburg's Ben Stephens
coming home third. Gordo's Tommy Kizziah had a fine fourth plce finish as he
has quickly adapted to the open wheel racecars and Lexington, Tennessee's
Nick Hart completed the top five finishers.
The Mini Stock Main event would see a familiar face in Victory Lane as
Sulligent's Buddy Glover would once again pilot his Ford Mustang to the
point and fend off West Point's Scott Gable by mere feet at the stripe for
another Columbus Speedway win. While the two leaders rumbled for the win
throughout the majority of the event, Robert Sanders of Tuscaloosa finished
in third after post race inspection found the apparent third place finisher
illegal which subsequently moved Sanders into the top three for the evening.
West Point's James Inmon picked up a fourth place finish in his first outing
of the 2002 season and Keith McCool was fifth rounding out the top five in
the seventeen car field of 4-cylider powered racecars.
The Street Stock feature would see 'The Wanted Man" Lee Ray of Columbus have
to earn this Rebel Challenge win as competition was the name of the game
with thirty-two entries for the weekend's event. Ray would have to hold off
early challenges from Danny Gable and then constant pressure from Millport's
Bryan Fortner to cross the stripe first. Trimm of Columbus would take home
third place honors behinds Fortner. Gable finished fourth followed by Chad
Nickoles completing the top five finishers in the always competitive Street
Stock class at Columbus Speedway. The Street Stock class Spring Championship
is coming quickly and a "must see" event on Saturday night March 30th.
The Pro Street win went to Decatur, Mississippi area dominator Chris
McElhenney. Unlike Dale Jarrett, McElhenney drives a truck, a Pro Street
Truck that is and is tough to beat everywhere he competes. After post race
inspection was concluded the remainder of the finishers were Columbus'
Jeremy Shaw followed by Detroit, Alabama's Frank Cox. Tupelo's Paul Robinson
was fourth with Kosciusko driver Ricky Russell taking the number 3+3 to a
fifth place finish. The Pro Street class has undergone significant cost
reducing rule changes for the 2002 season and the class is expected to be
rejuvenated this year, after growth stagnation had set in because is growing
The wild and crazy two person Cruisers saw double duty over the weekend with
main events on each night. Action on Friday night would see the tandem of
Josh Edwards and Brady Sanders setting sail for the feature win. Craig
Murray and Kenneth Roach were second with Bob Phillips and Donald Atkins
completing the top three finishers. Jimmy Brasfield and Joe Fondren were
fourth and Jeff Wellford and Andy Williamson completed the top five.
The Saturday night action saw another big field on hand with twenty-two
Cruiser teams signed in to battle for the checkers. The team of Richard and
Ross May would take the win in another Cruiser slugfest that even featured a
car flipping on the backstretch. The team of Jeff Wellford and Andy
Williamson was second with Friday night's winners Josh Edwards and Brady
Sanders in third. Joe and Rose Weeks finished a strong fourth with Chad
Fortner and Danny Hulone in fifth.
The Pro 4 win went to 2001 Track Champion James Blakney of Carrolton with
Steve Lowe crossing the line for second place honors. Jimmy Beachler was
third with Joe Sudduth and Marcus Owens completing the field.
Columbus Speedway will be in action this Saturday night March 16th with the
first point's event of the 2002 Columbus Speedway Weekly Racing Series with
a Full Racing Program on tap including the "Slamrock 30" presented by
Valvoline for the Super Late Models. All divisions will be in action. Racing
action is scheduled to begin at 7pm. For more information please call the
Columbus Speedway event hotline at 662-241-5004 or visit the Columbus
Speedway Internet home hosted at www.midsouthracing.com .