Harpole and Higgins win again at Aztec Speedway
By Lynn Hensley
Saturday night at Aztec Speedway was the place for repeat performances. JJ Harpole and Rex Higgins made it to victory circle again this week thus keeping their season at Aztec Speedway perfect in their respective classes. And the stands were full of fans…again.
In the IMCA modified 25 lap feature, JJ Harpole took over the lead on lap 7 and went on to win the second race of the season at Aztec. Harpole did have a little break as Danny Bradford in his familiar #111 blew a tire while in the lead on the 7th lap. Bradford had taken the lead on lap 2 by jumping to the high side of a dry-slick track and blowing on by from 5th to the front in two turns. His misfortune with the flat tire handed the lead over to Harpole but it wasn’t over yet. Harpole, Michael Higgins, Regan Tafoya, Zach Hamilton and Tyrone Yazzie raced one of the closest races in years. The lead changed three times in one lap by three of these drivers. For several laps the race could have gone to any of these drivers. Michael Higgins, in one lap, was the leader and dropped to 5th and came back to 2nd and then 3rd…..and the others were doing the same! It was a fun race for them and a great one to be seen by the large crowd of fans. At the checkers, Harpole was the victor with Regan Tafoya 2nd and Michael Higgins in 3rd. In fourth was Tyrone Yazzie (in Jason Keelers’ car #73) and fifth went to Zach Hamilton, a former Southern sport modified champ. Rounding out the top ten spots were: Kevin Faddis, Andy Goodenough, Doug Goodenough, Alex Kennedy, and Bob Harter.
In the NMMRA non wing sprint 30 lap feature, Peralta, N.M. driver, Ronnie Smith came through to take the win in the final laps of a shortend feature. The race went from 30 to 25 to 20 laps as caution flag after caution flag flew. The race saw a red flag after only 2 laps of racing when Jon Taylor, LC Kesterson, Jordan Mattson and Nick Rael all came together in turn 3. All drivers were ok with only one driver able to come back onto the track. Nick Rael was later black flagged because his crew changed a tire after the car was towed to his pit. Several confrontations between cars brought out the yellows. One was Kristy Smith and Austin Mansfield with both of them continuing on. Jessie Baker and Tom Ball spun causing another yellow. As they went to the back under yellow, Baker was black flagged for hammering on the back end of Ball’s car. Robert Marfia in his #6 lead most of the green laps but was passed with only a few to go in some heavy traffic on the back stretch. The drivers had more than one lane of racing as the track had taken rubber and gotten faster. At the checkers, Ronnie Smith was the leader with Jason Grady in 2nd and Marfia had to settle for 3rd. Fourth was Jason Tanner and Steve Nix 5th. Good finish for Smith as he ran 6th or 7th for most of the race. A total of 26 cars were on hand with 25 taking the green flag. The finishing order from 6th on was: Randy Smith, Tom Ball Josh Grady, Austin Mansfield (R), David Burns, Kristy Smith, Stephan Spiak, Bo Baker (in a Chuck Jackson car), Tim Knight, Cody Cambensy (Tucson, Az.- Nascar Truck series driver), Bill Mitchell, Grant Garagon, Nick Rael, Jessie Higgenbotham, Glen Brace, Jessie Baker, Jordan Mattson, LC Kesterson, Jon Taylor and Dea Peek (DNS). The NMMRA will return to Aztec Speedway in July.
The IMCA southern sport modified 25 lap feature was also a caution fest with 8 yellow flags thrown. Joey Klemish in the only Mopar powered car at Aztec Speedway took the lead on lap 3 after passing RL Henley’s #2. Klemish lead the rest of the way for his feature win in the sport modified #22. Klemish was strong as he started back in 7th spot and moved up quickly. Brandon Tenski, last week’s winner, looked like he had the car to win with again, but he was charged with causing a yellow on lap 3 and sent to the back of a 16 car field. Tenski worked his way back up for a good 2nd place finish. In 3rd was Ryan Henley and fourth was Julie Boettler. Randy Eitel took 5th. The rest ran like this: Kristy Cochran, RL Henley, Roger Cordary, Ryan Henley, and John Currier in 10th.
The IMCA stock car 25 lap feature gave us our second repeat winner of this early season at Aztec. Rex Higgins in the familiar #ak47 came from his 13th starting position to pass Frankie Hendershot late in the race and go on to win. Frankie looked as though he might have this one in his hip pocket until the ‘green machine’ started chasing him. Higgins worked on Hendershot for several laps until he finally got his car under the #5h coming out of turn 2 with less than 2 laps to go. For Rex Higgins, it’s a clean sweep at Aztec this year. Behind Hendershot for 3rd was Richard Trujillo, 4th went to Lee Moss and fifth was Steffan Carey. In 6th, Kenny Hendershot with Danny Stevenson 7th. Eighth went to Shane Devilbiss followed by Jeremy Bradley and Luke Rowe. This race saw only 2 cautions.
Next Saturday, Aztec Speedway will be the setting for a tractor and truck pull. Come out and spend the day. Pulls begin at NOON. The big HP tractors will pull at 6pm. Be sure and tune in to 92.9 KRWN radio at 5pm on Saturday for “Racin’ with Lynn”. The guest this week will be a surprise…………….
Posted by Lynn Hensley on May 9, 2012, 11:11 pm
The NMMRA feature at Aztec Speedway was unofficially won by Ronnie Smith of Peralta, N.M. But, during a clean up of a 4 car crash early in the race, Ronnie Smith exited the track and went to his pit. Smith thought he was waved off the track, but he was actually just being waved up and around the accident scene. Unfortunately Ronnie went to his pit and even exited the car. After discovering it was all a mistake..Smith strapped back in and returned to the track and went on to win the feature. All of this was later discovered by the NMMRA officials. Their rules state that one may not go to their respective pit stall during the race and return to racing. Therefore, Ronnie Smith was stripped of the win, the points, the money and even the trophy. All other drivers in the race were moved up one spot thus making Jason Grady of Farmington, N.M. the winner.
Winners – May 5, 2012
IMCA Sport Modifieds:
IMCA Stock Cars: