Posted: Monday, September 1st 2014 at 8:00am
Aguilar battles to win in USCS Road To Atlanta finale
By Jacob Seelman
Joey Aguilar, seen here from an earlier victory, scored the USCS Road To Atlanta victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway Friday night. / Photo: Jacob Seelman
HAMPTON, GA – The hotter the summer has gotten, the hotter Joey Aguilar has been on the race track. Aguilar, nicknamed “The Ace” for his cool head behind the wheel and stellar record in sprint car competition, blasted away from the K&N Filters Pole Position and masterfully diced through lapped traffic en route to his third United Sprint Car Series victory of the season during Friday night’s 2nd annual Wind Creek Casino/Hotel Wetumpka Sprint Car Shootout 50-lap A-main at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The race, contested on the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring” oval built into the Speedway’s front stretch, took place under the lights following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying and served as the finale to the 2014 USCS “Road to Atlanta” Asphalt Thunder Tour pavement mini-series.
Aguilar, a Tampa, FL native, started on the pole but had to endure five cautions and several dicey restarts before pulling away during the stretch run to claim an emotional and hard-fought victory.
“Man, let me tell you, last Saturday (our car owner) pulled the car that we won the two most recent USCS pavement races (at Anderson Motor Speedway in Williamston, SC) with and we didn’t even think we were going to be able to race this weekend,” a choked-up Aguilar said in Victory Lane. “This crew though, they pulled this car, the “Silver Bullet” we call it, out of mothballs and put it together in four days – and look where we are now.”
Aguilar said the win was a surreal moment and one that would stick with him for years to come.
“This is unbelievable; it’s by far the biggest win of my career. Thanks to Atlanta Motor Speedway, the fans and the USCS for putting this show on. I don’t even know what to say. Wow.”
Ten-time series champion Terry Gray was held up in lapped traffic with 15 laps to go and was unable to mount a challenge for the win in the closing laps. Gray chased Aguilar home in the runner-up position, with hard-charging Michael Miller, from Ocean Springs, MS just behind him completing the podium in third.
Morgan Turpen rebounded from being involved in an opening-lap crash to finish fourth and claim the 2014 USCS “Road to Atlanta” Asphalt Thunder Tour pavement championship. Turpen becomes the first female champion in any division in USCS sanction history.
“We had to work insanely hard for this one tonight we got flat spun out on the opening lap and I was a little worried before we got rolling again but we just dug deep, man, and we pulled it out,” Turpen said. “This means everything to me and to my team. It’s my first championship ever but I hope it’s only the beginning.”
Jake McLain was the final car on the lead lap and rounded out the top five at the checkered flag.
Johnny Gilbertson rebounded from being involved in the opening lap crash that collected Turpen to come home in sixth, with Tim Perry finishing seventh. Brandon McLain ran eighth at the twin checkers. Local favorite Jay Dunham, from Grovetown, GA crossed the line ninth and 15-year-old Nick Snyder completed the top ten in his first-career pavement 360 sprint car race.
Snyder’s run was made more impressive by the fact that he did not originally plan on competing in the night’s event. His team prepared the car in less than an hour upon arrival to the track for Friday’s afternoon practice sessions.
Turpen was the provisional pole-sitter after getting her time back from qualifying, but after a four came up in the inversion draw, Aguilar received the K&N Filters Pole Award and starting position.
For more information on the United Sprint Car Series, visit USCSRacing.com.
USCS Sprint Car Series
Atlanta Motor Speedway - Hampton, GA
Race Results - Aug. 29, 2014
1. #11 – Joey Aguilar - Tampa, FL
2. #10 – Terry Gray - Bartlett, TN
3. #4M – Michael Miller - Ocean Springs, MS
4. #10M – Morgan Turpen - Cordova, TN
5. #67 – Jake McLain - Indian Trail, NC
6. #22 – Johnny Gilbertson - Dover, FL
7. #36 – Tim Perry - Mooresville, NC
8. #21B – Brandon McLain - Indian Trail, NC
9. #51 – Jay Dunham - Grovetown, GA
10. #116 – Nick Snyder - Marco Island, FL
11. #12H – Kent Wolters - Tipp City, OH
12. #12 – Kris Davis - Burbank, OH
13. #28 – Jeff Willingham - Ripley, MS
14. #06 – Bill Moore - Mt. Ulla, NC
15. #11X – Tom Paterson - Argos, IN
16. #33 – Joe Larkin - Suwanee, GA
Link: USCS Sprint Car Series
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