MONTGOMERY, Alabama (June 6, 2020) — In perhaps his best performance ever behind the wheel of a Pro Late Model, Christopher Tullis won Saturday night’s MidSummer Classic 100, round two of the 2020 Show Me the Money Pro Late Model Series season at Montgomery Motor Speedway.
To get there, Tullis had to defend the lead on eight separate occasions in a race that had nine cautions and two red flags.
“We had a hotrod all night,” Tullis said in victory lane. “It feels so good to finally get one of these here… I’ve been coming here for so many years that this is just a cool deal.”
The two main challengers for Tullis came from runner up Jake Garcia, who came into this race after having won the last Pro Late Model race at Montgomery in March, and Giovanni Bromante, who finished second in the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway just a couple of weeks ago.
“I really enjoyed racing with both of them,” he said. “The 81 (Bromante), that was just good hard racing right there. I’d race him the same way tomorrow. Jake, he’s just good around here. I don’t know what it is but something just clicks for him. He was giving me all I had. I was running for my life there in the last ten (laps).”
Garcia indeed gave Tullis a run for his money after starting 15h and methodically working his way toward the front to be in contention late. But before we tell that story, let’s outline the race, overall.
For the second night in a row, Kyle Plott was the fast qualifier, repeating the speed he showed on Friday in Pensacola. It was local hotshoe Bill Bethea, however, that led the field to green after the top eight redraw. Bethea led the opening seven laps of the race before giving way to Pensacola winner, Chris Davidson. At the same time, Tullis, who started fourth, moved into the second spot.
The race’s first yellow came on lap nine for Brandon Curren, who would end his night in 28th place, last in the field.
On the first restart of the night, Tullis and Bromante both passed Davidson, dropping him to third.
Davidson would pit on lap 29 when the race’s second yellow flew for Bill Bethea after he slowed due to a transmission failure. Davidson’s night ended here with a fuel pump failure.
Tullis, restarting as the leader for the first time of the night, chose the outside line and then raced side-by-side with Bromante before clearing him on the backstretch on lap 30.
Two laps later, the caution flew for the third time as the driver of the number 3 car, Jim Weber, made heavy contact with the turn one wall, ending his night and bringing out the red flag for the first time in this race.
Continuing to choose the outside line on the restart, Tullis once again maintained his lead.
On lap 74, caution number four flew for a spin by Justin Caton in turn two. On the ensuing restart, Tullis and Bromante made heavy contact throughout turns one and two, stacking up the field behind them, resulting in Colin Allman spinning on the backstretch bringing the yellow back out for yellow number five.
Still on lap 74, Tullis was able to cleanly clear Bromante, but another scary moment erupted as Ryan Paul was seen riding the wall in turn three after contact with Jordan McCallum on the backstretch. McCallum had a part failure that caused his car to hook Paul, sending both hard into the wall. McCallum’s car stopped with the roof ripped off while Paul’s car continued on it’s wild ride. This was the second red flag of the race.
After a clean restart on lap 74, Tullis led while Garcia charged from fourth to second, then ran down the leader. Garcia caught Tullis with 19 laps to go and the pair began a side-by-side battle for several laps. Just as Garcia was taking the lead from Tullis, the caution flew yet again, the race’s seventh, for a stopped Colin Allman in turn three. Because the lap was not completed, the lead went back to Tullis.
On the lap 87 restart, Tullis and Garcia once again fought neck and neck for the lead, until the race’s eighth yellow flew for JoJo Wilikinson, who was stopped at the bottom of turn two.
With 10 laps to go, Tullis cleared Garcia and Garcia in turn had to hold off a resurging Bromante as Tullis began to pull away.
The race was slowed one more time, the ninth time, for a Jeff Dawkins crash in turn three.
On the final restart, Tullis was able to cleanly get away from Garcia. Meanwhile, Perry Patino found his way around Bromante late to snag third. Modified driver Jim Wall rounded out the top five.
– The Midfielder: This week’s Midfielder goes to Brandon Brillant. Another one of the drivers that also raced on Friday at Five Flags Speedway, Brilliant started in 13th in Montgomery and finished smack in the middle of the pack, in 14th.
– Jim Weber trucked down from Illinois to compete in the races at both Five Flags on Friday and Montgomery on Saturday. Weber had the legendary Gary Balough as his honorary crew chief. In Pensacola, Weber ran a clean, yet uneventful race finishing 10th. In Montgomery, things went awry after a hard crash in turn one, destroying his car. Weber climbed out okay, and was credited with a 25th place finish.
– Grant Thompson completed a successful debut in Pro Late Model racing after doing the double between Pensacola and Montgomery. After a seventh place finish in Pensacola, he duplicated that result in Montgomery, finishing seventh for Grand American Race Cars and Augie Grill after almost having to drop out of the race at lap 74 due to overheating. The way that sequence turned out, however, fell right in the lap of the driver from Mobile. During lap 74, there were three yellow flags and a red flag period. This gave the number 112 machine plenty of time to cool off and rejoin the race, without ever losing a lap on track.
– Jim Wall, from Huntsville, Alabama, returned to the seat of a Late Model for the first time in seven years. Always a contender in the Modifieds of Mayhem, Wall ran a competitive race, finishing in 5th.
STREET STOCKS: The first 10 laps was chock full of shuffling among the field before Charles Davis and JC Cleckler separated themselves away from the pack. Following a lap 14 caution for a spinning Drew Murchinson in turn four, Davis was able to check out and easily take the win in the 35 lap Street Stock feature. JC Clecker finished second followed by Daniel Jacks in third.
PRO 4: Eddie Dodd led wire-to-wire to pick up his second win this year, beating out Dustin Knowles and Josh Mcelhone in a barn burning Pro 4 35 lap feature.
Results of the MidSummer Classic 100 at Montgomery Motor Speedway:
|1.||12 – Christopher Tullis|
|2.||35 – Jake Garcia|
|3.||51 – Perry Patino|
|4.||81 – Giovanni Bromante|
|5.||91 – Jim Wall|
|6.||4 – Kyle Plott|
|7.||112 – Grant Thompson|
|8.||43 – Daniel Dye|
|9.||2 – John Bolen|
|10.||11 – JoJo Wilkinson|
|11.||1 – Gage Rogers|
|12.||59 – Billy Melvin|
|13.||20 – Chase Johnson|
|14.||12 – Brandon Brillant|
|15.||88 – Bobby Reuse|
|16.||2 – Jeff Dawkins|
|17.||67 – Colin Allman|
|18.||7 – Justin Caton|
|19.||9 – Harrison Halder|
|20.||11 – Jordan McCallum|
|21.||18 – Ryan Paul|
|22.||29 – Hunter Wright|
|23.||43 – Justin South|
|24.||21 – Jason Furrow|
|25.||3 – Jim Weber|
|26.||14 – Chris Davidson|
|27.||20 – Bill Bethea|
|28.||00 – Brandon Curren|
– Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining
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