When the Frostoberfest weekend was rescheduled to run on October 15th, the pro late models were left off the schedule as Flamboro Speedway tried to fit in as many other classes into one day as possible. Shortly after the conclusion of Frostoberfest, it was announced that the late models would be running their triple-50 lap features as the Grisdale Triple Crown on October 29th. Joining the pro late models would be the mini stock division as they would run a twin 30 lap invitational to close out the season. Sunny skies and cool temperatures greeted Billy and the #86 pro late model team and Samantha with the #81 mini stock as they arrived at Flamboro Saturday morning. Fellow late model driver Steve Laking had stopped at the shop in the morning to give Samantha a hand loading her car and noticed the #86 mini still sitting in the shop so he decided to get his truck & trailer and take the #86 with the intention of running it if Ken didn’t have any objections when he arrived at the track with it. Steve was given the thumbs up and he joined Billy, Samantha and Billy’s brother Rich in his #72 mini stock as they got ready for practice.
Billy was very happy with the handling of the late model during his practice sessions and as a result no adjustments were made. Samantha’s car was a little loose and the practice sessions were used to tighten up the car with a variety of adjustments. Though Steve found himself in unfamiliar territory with the mini stock, he quickly adapted and after some tips from Billy, a carburetor adjustment and an adjustment for a tight condition in the corners, he picked up his lap times considerably and all three drivers prepared for qualifying. Though the late models are used to running time trials to set their fields, things would get changed for the mini stocks as they would also run single car qualifying laps to set the field for their first 30-lap feature. The late models would take to the track first with Billy running a time of 16.264 seconds to qualify 6th out of 20 cars. Samantha led the way for the Spira Racing mini stocks as she qualified 2nd on the outside pole and Steve qualified 5th respectively.
The first 50-lap feature for the late models had Billy moving up to start 5th as the #89c dropped to the tail-end of the field after a driver change. Billy held on to the 5th position throughout the first 30 laps that produced five cautions and although he was under increasing pressure from the #89c who had made his way up to the 6th , Billy made a move to drive inside the #8 to take over the 4th. One lap later the hood came up on the #50 causing him to slow on the front stretch and bringing out the caution yet again. Restarting on the outside, Billy made a great move on the restart heading into turn 1 as he was able to find a small gap in the inside lane as he hit the brakes and dropped down into single file. The #76 led the way with 5 laps to go followed by the #37, #81 and Billy in 4th, however with 4 laps to go the #81 made it past the #37 for 2rd followed by Billy who moved up to the 3rd position where he would finish.
The first 30-lap feature for the mini stocks was up next and as the field came to the green flag, Samantha got caught in the outside lane dropping back into 4th and Steve dropped back into 8th before the first caution came out on lap 5 for the #63 who spun through the grass off turn 1. On the ensuing restart the Spira Racing teammates started to make their way towards the front during a long green flag run as Samantha moved up to 3rd while Steve made his way up to 5th. On lap 24, Sam passed the #50 for 2nd but in the end she wouldn’t have enough to pass the leader and would finish 2nd while Steve finished 6th.
The second 50-lap feature for the late models saw the lead lap cars inverted putting Billy back in 11th followed by the #76. The #81 did not return as he broke a trailing arm mount and he would be done for the day. With the #86 seeming to come to life during the second feature, Billy made his way up to 6th and was looking to crack the top-5 as he moved inside the #29 heading into turn 3 but contact between the two sent the #29 into the #17 and that would collect Billy in the process resulting in heavy front end damage to the #86. The team jumped into action as Billy brought the car into the pits where the hood was removed, a section of the front bumper was cut off, and the team’s supply of bungee cords and duct tape was exhausted before Billy was sent back out on track restarting at the back of the field. On lap 8, Billy made his way up to 12th and was inside the top-10 in 10th by lap 15 where he ran until lap 43 when the #50 made a small mistake that allowed the #8 and the #86 to make their way by, putting Billy up to 9th where he would finish. Returning to the pits, the team went to work to finish piecing together the front end as well as they could with what they had to work with and Billy would be ready to go for the third and final feature after also resetting the toe that had been knocked out.
Just like with the late modes, the lead lap cars in the final feature of the night for the mini stocks would be inverted with Steve lining up 9th and Samantha in 13th. After a quick caution on the restart all hell broke loose on lap 6 as the #71, who had just taken the lead, bounced off the wall coming out of turn 2 collecting a number of cars including Steve in the #86 as Samantha was able to avoid the carnage. Steve brought the #86 to the pits just to have things checked over and despite a considerable dent in the nose and the tail-end being considerable shorter than when he had started, the only issue was the radiator fan hitting a pulley so it was removed and Steve headed onto the track in 8th while Samantha had moved up to 2nd by avoiding the carnage. While Steve tried to make his was back up through the field, Samantha was locked into a fierce battle with the #50 for the lead. As the two cars battled nose to tail and pulled away from the field, Samantha tried to multiple times to get a run on the inside of the #50 but she wouldn’t be able to make the pass. On lap 23 with only 7 laps remaining, Samantha was able to finally make her move inside the #50 and as she took over the lead, was able to pull away to bring home the victory and the overall mini stock championship. Despite the earlier damage and having to make his way back up through the field, Steve was able to bring the #86 home in 5th to also finish 5th in the overall point standings.
With the nose being held together by duct tape and bungee cords, Billy lined up the #86 on the pole for the last race of the 2016 season. The #8 would get the jump on the initial start putting Billy 2nd which meant he would restart in the outside lane after the first caution on lap 3. The #3 moved past Billy on the restart followed by the #37 dropping Billy back to 4th and then it was a train going by on the preferred inside lane lead by the #89c, #76, #15 and the #27 dropping Billy all the way back to 8th before he could get cleared to get down into the inside lane. A long green flag run would follow until contact between the #89c and the #3 would send the #3 around bringing out the second caution. Despite being an involved car, the #89c was allowed to keep his position and this worked out well for Billy as he would now restart on the inside in 5th. On lap 37 the #37 moved inside the #8 for 3rd and Billy followed him to take over 4th. What followed next was an epic battle between Billy and the #76 for the 3rd position. With the #76 battling not only for the position but for the overall championship, he would block Billy in every corner and despite the appearance of the #86, it was handling well and its all Billy could do to stop the car from turning the #76 as he would get a better run on him going into each corner. With contact between the two as Billy gingerly tried to move the #76 out of the way, pieces of the #86 were coming off the front of the car including the air box that came out of the car and landed up by the wall. Though Billy was able to get alongside the #76 on the final lap, he would not be able to complete the pass finishing 4th. At the end of the race the #76 was penalized one position for blocking which would have moved Billy up to 3rd;however they put in a formal protest about a previous incident on the track and for some reason the track reversed their decision allowing the #76 to keep 3rd while Billy would finish 4th. Despite having a rough second race Billy was able to bounce back to finish 4th overall in the Grisdale Triple Crown standings.
The 2016 season has come to an end and we would like to thank everyone involved with our race program as without the support of our sponsors, team members, family and friends, we would not be able to make this happen and we are very grateful for all of the continued support. As a side note, we are pleased to announce that Lucas Oil has just made a commitment to return as a very valuable product sponsor for our team in 2017 and we would like to thank them for their many years of support. Our winter rebuild is underway and that consists of taking the cars apart, repairing any damage, refurbishing or replacing parts, building any spare bumpers, repainting and then rebuilding the cars so that we start off next season providing safe cars for our drivers and doing our best to put good looking cars on the track to represent our sponsors. The winter rebuild is an important part of our program that not only teaches our drivers the hands on skills that they will be able to use in any future endeavors but also shows them how to develop a work ethic and a sense of pride and accomplishment that will allow them to succeed in any career path as they develop into mature and responsible adults.