Posted: Wednesday, June 18th 2014 at 2:00pm
Hagar Races to Helton Memorial victory at East Alabama
By Jacob Seelman
Derek Hagar raced to his sixth USCS Sprint Car win of the season in Saturday night's Randy Helton Memorial at East Alabama Motor Speedway. / Photo: Chris Seelman
PHENIX CITY, AL - On a night when the number 27 was recognized in many different ways, Derek Hagar used the numerology of the evening to further extend his already sterling 2014 record.
Hagar, the defending United Sprint Car Series Outlaw Thunder Tour champion from Marion, AR, streaked past Johnny Bridges on the opening lap of Saturday night's 7th annual Randy Helton Memorial 27 lap main event at East Bay Motor Speedway in Phenix City, AL and never looked back, leading wire-to-wire to pick up his sixth USCS win of the 2014 season and his fourth consecutive win in the series.
Hagar also became the first driver to win the Randy Helton Memorial twice, following his win a year ago in the prestigious event.
Appropriately, the victory in the 27 lap contest was Hagar's 27th career win, matching the car number Helton campaigned for multiple years on the USCS tour before his untimely passing in March of 2008.
"This is really, really cool," Hagar said in victory lane. "Randy was a friend to everyone in the sprint car pits. I got my first win ever in the series here in 2007 racing against Randy, and this race is so special. It's one that everyone wants to win and I'm honored to have two of these trophies now. It's a special night for us."
Hagar who initially started in the fourth position, said, "I'm not sure what happened on the start there; all I know is the 47 (Eric Riggins, Jr.) and the 07 (Bridges) got a little crazy there on the opening lap the first two times. Third time was the charm for us though, we got out front there and that was that."
Bridges started from the pole and led the field to the green flag, but hopped the left-front tire of Riggins on the initial start, forcing a second try to get the race going. On the second try, chaos struck in the form of a six-car melee in turn 4 that started on the front row and swept up Riggins, Brian Thomas, Terry Witherspoon, Bob Auld, Clint Weiss, and Jeff Willingham, who flipped end over end but came to rest on all four wheels. Willingham climbed out of his car uninjured.
As Hagar drove away from the field, a three-car battle for second raged behind him between Terry Gray, Bridges and Riggins, Jr. Riggins ultimately inherited third place on lap 16 when Bridges spun in turn 2 while trying to lap Pendergrass, Georgia's Brian Thomas to bring out the only caution of the night.
That set up a restart which gave Gray and Riggins a shot to catch Hagar and battle for the win, but the Arkansan would not be denied. Gray had to settle for second, with Riggins finishing in third position. Morgan Turpen finished in fourth place, with Terry Witherspoon in fifth.
Bridges held on despite a fading car to come home sixth, with Brandon McLain in seventh. Brian Thomas was scored eighth at the checkered flag, with veteran Bob Auld racing his way to a ninth place finish. Clint Weiss completed the top ten finishers.
Riggins Jr. kicked off the night’s racing action by scoring the win in the Hoosier Speed Dash. Riggins then backed up his dash win by grabbing the first heat victory, while Derek Hagar drove to the checkered flag in the second heat. After first heat winner Riggins pulled a zero in the inversion draw, Johnny Bridges scored the K&N Filters Pole Award.
USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour
East Alabama Motor Speedway - Phenix City, AL
1. #1A - Derek Hagar - Marion, AR
2. #10 - Terry Gray - Bartlett, TN
3. #47 - Eric Riggins, Jr. - Charlotte, NC
4. #10M - Morgan Turpen - Cordova, TN
5. #43 - Terry Witherspoon - Jacksonville, FL
6. #07 - Johnny Bridges - Cherryville, NC
7. #21B - Brandon McLain - Indian Trail, NC
8. #67 - Brian Thomas - Pendergrass, GA
9. #83 - Bob Auld - Largo, FL
10. #0X - Clint Weiss - Jesup, GA
11. #4 - Jason Troutman - Vale, NC
12. #28 - Jeff Willingham - Ripley, MS
13. #99 - Tanner Witherspoon - Jacksonville, FL
14. #12C - Collin Cabre - Thonotosassa, FL
DNS: #33 - Joe Larkin - Suwanee, GA
DNS: #51 - Jay Dunham - Grovetown, GA
Link: USCS Sprint Car Series
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