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Author Topic:   Mears wins TRL Don Crowell Salute, nabs series points lead
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Total posts: 5556
posted May 13, 2002 09:44 AM UIN: 16262997
Mears wins TRL Don Crowell Salute, nabs series points

MOULTON, Ala. (May 11) - Most drivers aren't crazy
about inversions. Mark Mears is no exception. When the
Topless Racing League - which sets its first three
rows of the feature starting grid by an inverted dash
for the top six qualifiers - rolled into Moulton
Speedway, Mears expected to be in the dash - he just
thought he'd be starting a little further back.

Mears, coming off of two straight wins at Moulton was
the defending race champion and a favorite to repeat.
But his qualifying lap on Moulton's choppy 1/3-mile
was sub-par by the Decatur, Ala., driver's standards.
As it turned out, his qualifying lap was just right,
placing him on the front row of the dash. Mears went
on to win the eight-lap sprint, setting up his
flag-to-flag victory in the 40-lapper. He earned
$2,500 for the win.

After the feature the Mears' camp still wasn't sold on
the inversion theory, but they weren't complaining

"You need to get rid of the inversions," joked Bill
Mears, Mark's father and car owner. "No, we love 'em,"
he quipped. "At least it's the same for everybody."

Once at the head of the pack, it was business as usual
for Mears. He fought off early-race challenges from
Mississippi hotshoe Steve Russell and Lewisburg,
Tenn., driver David Gentry before winning the
caution-plagued main over Byron Michael, 12th-starting
Kelly Hanvey, Bill Mahan and defending track champion
Mark Sartain.

Russell started fourth but moved by Michael and Gentry
early to pressure Mears. He stayed in the leader's
tracks - often looking inside - before rear suspension
damage ended his night. Gentry's run in the top three
came to an end on lap 27 with motor problems, leaving
Michael to chase Mears.

Race notes: Mears' first-ever TRL victory came aboard
a C.J. Rayburn Race Car, powered by a Brown
Engineering Spec engine. His ride was made easier by
Hoosier Tires and Koni shocks. . Mears is backed by
Rayburn Race Cars and his family-owned Pioneer
Roofing. . Notables missing the main included 2001
Rick's Series champion Marty Hardy, who was leading
his last-chance race when he almost looped his Tony
Barker-powered GRT. Hardy corrected the problem,
falling back in line in third, but the yellow flag had
already been displayed, relegating him to the rear of
the field. Moulton veteran Dickie Miller and former
track champion Dale Ledlow also failed to qualify. .
Brandon King earned the $200 Gray's Bar-B-Que Smokin'
Lap Award for being the fastest qualifier. . Mears
pocketed $100 for winning the LPD Trailers Quick-six
dash. . Tim Hixen collected the Boyd-Built Fabricators
Break of the Race award after suffering a tough break.
An accident during the final practice session left
Hixen unable to compete in the main. He earned $50 for
his hard luck. . The win was the 89 of Mears' career.
. 17-year-old Ronny Lee Hollingsworth qualified for
the main but when problems arose with his car he had
to jump in his father's machine and start at the tail
of the field. . Mears now has a 60-point lead over
David Gentry in the TRL points race. . North Alabama
Speedway promoter Noland Smith piloted a car normally
driven by Jackie Walker. . Byron Michael's
second-place run came while utilizing a Jay
Dickens-prepared limited Late Model engine.

Don Crowell Salute
1. Mark Mears
2. Byron Michael
3. Kelly Hanvey
4. Bill Mahan
5. Mark Sartain
6. Brandon King
7. Danny Peoples
8. Doug McKleroy
9. Danny Christian
10. Keith Hays
11. William Burns
12. David Gentry
13. Anthony Burroughs
14. Steve Russell
15. Jon Miller
16. Paul Miller
17. Ronny Lee Hollingsworth
18. Randy Ice
19. Kevin Gill
20. Steve Ross
21. Jim Cochrane
22. Jeremy Taylor
23. Noland Smith
24. Tim Hixen

Fast qualifier (among 34 cars): King
Dash winner: Mears
Consolation race winners: Ross, Burroughs

1 Mark Mears 231
2 David Gentry 171
3 Keith Hays 161
4 Kelly Hanvey 157
5 Kevin Gill 136
6 Jody Summerville121
7 Bill Mahan 120
t8 Byron Michael 114
t8 Ricky Williams 114
10 Clint Smith 105

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