Friday, March 8, 2019

PixelatedBITS: Leftovers from the 55th Alabama 200

Running an iconic paint scheme at the iconic Montgomery Motor Speedway, Jo Jo Wilkinson paid tribute to newly minted NASCAR Hall of Fame driver, Davey Allison during the 55th Alabama 200 on March 2, 2019 (Daniel Vining/PixelatedSPEED)

By: Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (March 8, 2019) -- The 55th Alabama 200 proved to be a solid start to the 2019 Show Me the Money Pro Late Models Series at Montgomery Motor Speedway, and the Modifieds of Mayhem Tour. Augie Grill won a record-extending fifth Alabama 200 and Donnie Hamrac led flag to flag in the Modifieds. Further throughout the field, however, there were a few stories to touch on that I’d like to showcase in this installment of PixelatedBITS: Leftovers from the Alabama 200.

Pollard and House Fall Out After Massive Runs

Without question, the steepest competition in the Alabama 200 for Augie Grill came in Bubba Pollard. Pollard set the fast time, by a long shot, in qualifying… and was right on Grill’s tail throughout the night. That night, and excellent run, ended on lap 162 when the Georgia driver was forced to retire early due to a mechanical failure.

Pollard was unavailable for comment after retiring.

Michael House, the former Fairgrounds Speedway Champion in Nashville, Tennessee, had a very strong on March 2nd. House was solidly in the top five throughout the event, and for a time, found himself in second place with a convincing shot at challenging eventual winner Grill. His race was cut short very late with a mechanical failure that sent him behind the wall with only a handful of laps remaining.

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, I missed what happened to Michael House during the race, but was able to catch up with crew members following the race, who were still trying to diagnose the problem. Understandably, the team was dejected by the outcome, but looks to return the next event with the knowledge that their racecar is capable of winning.

Paul and Davidson Fall Victim of Accordion Effect 

Lap 140 of the Alabama 200 was very eventful. During a restart following a yellow for Nick Jenkins who crashed in turn three, Jackson Boone spun his tires while the field behind him came up to speed. As a result, Ryan Paul had nowhere to go, except square up the rear end of Boone. In the ensuing melee, the excellent run for Paul, who was sixth at the time, and Texas driver Chris Davidson came to a dramatic end. Paul was left in turn one, unable to drive away, while Davidson brought his machine behind the wall. Davidson had been a top five car all night until that point.

Paul attributed the incident to the slow starts by leader Grill. The slow starts forced Boone to be in the wrong gear coming to the green.

Paul and Boone politely discussed the events of lap 140 following the race just outside the tech shed. The two shook hands before parting ways.

Patino and Eldridge

Perry Patino was all smiles going into the Alabama 200. Ready to continue to build on the momentum gained from last season, Patino’s goal going into the race was to stay clean, finish all the laps, and use some strategy to put himself in contention.

Unfortunately, the race proved to be a challenge for the Montgomery driver. On lap 9, Patino found himself spinning in turn two thanks to a flat right front tire.

One hundred laps later, on lap 109, Patino once again found himself falling victim to a flat tire, but this one sent him spinning and into the wall in turn three. The damage was light, but enough to end his night.

While the damage to Patino’s car was modest, fellow competitor Aidan Eldridge ended the night with a mangled machine after hard contact in turn four on lap 63. Eldridge was making his second start at Montgomery Motor Speedway, and had been fighting the handle on his Fury racecar all night in the machine’s maiden voyage at the speedway.

Speaking with Eldridge afterward, he was understandably disappointed, but vowed to return and continue to improve.

Wilkinson and Porter Tangle in Turn Two

Jo Jo Wilkinson carried an onboard camera for the Alabama 200. The 2018 Show Me the Money Series Rookie of the Year was fighting some handling issues, waiting for the next caution to pit for adjustments. Turns out that she was the next caution, after being hit and spun by Tyler Porter in turn two on lap 98.

The incident ended both driver’s night, and the hit left Wilkinson with sore left arm.

“I’m okay,” she said. “My shoulder’s kinda sore but it’s okay. He (Porter) just spun me in turn two and slammed into me.”

Porter wasn’t exactly eager to comment following the crash. He told us reporters to “... go somewhere else and look at someone else’s car.”

Alabama Gang Represented in Alabama 200

The Alabama Gang was well represented in the Alabama 200. Jo Jo Wilkinson, a native of Hueytown, Alabama, sported a throwback paint scheme honoring fellow Hueytown racer, the late Davey Allison.

“My dad and I wanted to do something special, not only for me and my family but for all of the Hueytown community,” Wilkinson told Speed 51 earlier in the week. “Since he had just been honored into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it was a really big deal in Hueytown. We had just seen Davey’s name all over town and thought it would be really cool to do a throwback scheme on our Late Model. We had done plenty of throwback schemes for Davey, Bobby, and others when we were in go karts so we just thought it would be nice to honor Davey this weekend.”

The other Alabama Gang connection came in Justin Bonnett. Bonnett is the son of David Bonnett, brother to Neil Bonnett… both original Alabama Gang members. Bonnett raced his number 12 modified in the Modifieds of Mayhem Bicentennial 50 to a fifth place finish.

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