SPORTS >> Memorial race finally completed at Beebe
By JASON KING
Leader sports writer
Benton’s Jared Landers took the win in the fourth annual Scrapp Fox Memorial modified championship at Beebe Speedway on Friday with a perfectly executed slide job on Casey Findley with seven laps to go.
Findley had taken over the lead on lap 14 when he went three wide with Landers and polesitter Tim Crawley for the top spot. The three battled from lap 12 to lap 14 until Findley squeezed the 17F machine between the two regional drivers to take over the lead. Landers’ only hope of catching Findley was a caution, which he got on lap 29 when Ricky Anderson spun in turn two.
“If that caution had not come out, he would have won, that’s all there is to it,” Landers said after the race. “I didn’t have anything to lose on that restart by trying to slide up in front of him. I figured there was enough moisture up top to stop me.”
Some drivers would have been upset with such an aggressive move late in the race, but Findley displayed true sportsmanship after the race was over. He was the first to congratulate Landers in the tech area afterward, and was all smiles after his strong performance.
“I feel really good about how we ran against these guys,” Findley said. “They are professional drivers, so for me to go out and run that well really gives me a lot of confidence only being a week to week driver myself. Before the night started, I came in here thinking I would be happy with a top ten, but when you get out front and lead for a while, it kind of changes your outlook. He timed that pass just right, there wasn’t a lot I could have done without wrecking both of us.”
After two previous attempts at running the Fox feature, rain threatened to postpone the race again on Friday. Fortunately, however, the only rain shower to hit the track came early enough to not spoil the track, or the spirits of the fans who had waited so long to finally see the race.
Tim Crawley led the field to the green flag, and led the first twelve circuits. Crawley and outside polesitter Landers quickly built a gap between themselves and third-place Robbie Arnold.
After running strong for the first few laps, Arnold began to quickly drift back. The culprit revealed itself on lap five, as smoke began to pour out of the engine of Arnold’s 49 machine. The Batesville driver limped around for a few more laps, but had to pull off by lap 10, and was done for the night.
Crawley and Landers soon had a new threat to worry about, as Findley made his way from his sixth-place starting position to challenge the two frontrunners. On lap 12, fans witnessed something that has not been seen in any of the previous runnings of the SFM, a three-wide battle for the lead. Findley threaded the needle for three laps, squeezing the nose of his Mr. Fish car between 06 of Landers and the 87 of Crawley.
After almost getting crunched between the two cars heading into turn one on lap 14, Findley then charged through the corners and made his way around both cars to take over the lead. Once out front with a clean racetrack, Findley began to separate himself from second-place Landers.
The lap 29 caution bunched the field back up, and gave Landers one last shot at Findley with seven laps remaining. Landers took advantage of the restart, setting himself up for a slide job on Findley into turn two that would have made a 410 sprint driver green with envy. Findley tried to keep the momentum, drifting high enough in two that the back of his car scraped the outside retaining tires as he exited the corner.
Landers drove the preferred line for the final seven laps, holding off Findley to claim the $3,000 payday. Crawley surrendered third to Chuck McGinty in the final laps, with Mike Bowers completing the top five.
Findley also took second in the weekly modified feature race run later that night. Searcy’s Tyler Stevens led from the opening lap until lap 14, when a lapped car pulled back on the track from the infield in front of Stevens, causing the leader to wreck. Findley assumed the lead, but couldn’t hold off veteran Mike Bowers on the final lap, giving Bowers his second win of the season at Beebe.