PAIGE, Texas (March 25, 2016) There will be celebratory Ice Cream in Texas as Tennessee’s Brandon Hanks made his 47th career Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour A-Feature start a memorable one, parking the David Smith Racing No. 84 in Victory Lane at the Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas.
Certainly a “Good Friday” to remember, the 20 year old driver was in tears as he came out of his No. 84 machine, “I just don’t know what to say, this is unbelievable. Oh my God, we’ve come a long way,” said Hanks. “My last win was in November, 2012 at my home racetrack. We work so hard. I work two jobs. We’re farmers and I Powder Coat. I work all week long to do what I love to do and God has put me through so many trials, and it’s made me who I am, and my family who we are. This is what I love to do and I just can’t thank God enough. He’s placed everything perfect for me, and I knew something big was coming. I’m just at a loss for words right now.”
Gridding the field second, Hanks played the part of the hunter as pole sitter, Josh Baughman, shot out to the lead. Finding traffic in only a matter of laps, the Fischer Body Shop No. 17 railed the top of the Cotton Bowl Speedway.
Caution on Lap 8 for Johnny Herrera whose engine expired under the bonnet of the MVT No. 45x, the caution was quick to return on Lap 9 for Seth Bergman who slowed in turn three. Seth went to the work area with damage to the nose wing of the car, but was not able to beat the green flag to resume the feature event.
Taking off to another commanding lead, traffic was the topic of the race. Slowed by the back markers, Baughman’s lead was under fire in a matter of laps. Working Lap 16, Hanks was on the back bumper of Baughman for the top spot. Following in Josh’s tire tracks, the pair broke rank on Lap 18; going slide for slide at both ends of the three-eighths mile oval.
Taking over the point on Lap 19, Hanks pulled away slightly, but the lead would be short lived as the pair began throwing wicked slide jobs. Over and over, the pair battled around slower cars, exchange the lead as much as three times a lap before the red flew on Lap 22 for Tommy Bryant who flipped off turn two. Tommy was okay.
Resuming with eight laps to run, Hanks kept the No. 17 at bay on the restart, but again, traffic was only a matter of time as the pair set a torrid pace around the Texas oval.
On the back of the field with five laps to run, Josh worked every angle; trying to find a way back to the lead. To the white flag, Baughman was full out with victory in sight, but it was not to be as the No. 17 slammed the concrete exiting turn two with the right side tires; sending Josh end over end several times. Josh was able to walk away from the crash.
Putting the Keith Dobbs Motorsports No. 15h of Sam Hafertepe, Jr. to the back bumper of the No. 84, Brandon held off any last lap charges, claiming victory by a margin of 1.885 seconds.
“We were really good early when we could work the middle a little bit, but when we got stuck on the top we just didn’t have anything for those guys. They were better than us but hats off to those guys; they did a hell of a job. It’s awesome for Brandon [Hanks] to get his first win here. I know how it feels. It’s a pretty good feeling so hopefully those guys enjoy that tonight, and we’ll work on this thing a little bit harder and try to get where they are tomorrow night,” said Hafertepe who advanced to third from seventh in tour standings, 17 points away from the lead.
After suffering a DNF this past Saturday at the Devil’s Bowl, Travis Rilat brought the Shoptheboss.com No. 29 home third. Talking about the race, Travis said, “This thing here, it was just on the edge. It’s real close to being on the wall or in the wall but it was a good track tonight. We had a good time.”
Scottie McDonald crossed fourth with Brad Loyet from 15th to complete the top-five.
Hunting around in the top-five for most of the night, Oklahoma’s Wayne Johnson ended up sixth in the City Vending No. 2c, and in doing so has taken over the lead in the National Tour driver standings. Matt Covington was seventh from 16th and moved to second in points, 15 markers behind Johnson. Garnering Hard Charger on the night, Illinois’ Steven Russell came from 20th to eight with Ray Allen Kulhanek from 21st to ninth. Morgan Turpen completed the top-ten.
A field of 33 drivers made their way into the Cotton Bowl Speedway with four Heat Races going to Brandon Hanks, Terry Gray, Wayne Johnson, and Travis Rilat. The night’s B-Feature was won by Logan Forler who ended up 12th in the A-Feature. Following a crash in his Heat Race, Blake Hahn took a provisional into the A-Feature. John Pate was the regional provisional based on 100% attendance in 2015 with the Gulf South Region.