Natural Bridge Speedway
Leavell wins at Natural Bridge, Fries gets title
NATURAL BRIDGE, Va. (Sept. 9) — Joey Leavell of Waynesboro, Va., raced to his fifth Steel Block Bandits victory of the season Sunday at Natural Bridge Speedway, earning a $1,500 victory in the tour’s season finale.
Tanner Kerr of Winchester, Va., finished second in the 30-lap races while Andy Fries of Mercersburg, Pa., wrapped up the series championship with his third-place finish. Ricky Wells of Appomattox, Va., and Glenn Elliott of Sykesville Md., rounded out the race’s top-five finishers.
Fries entered the race leading Walker Arthur of Forest, Va., by a mere eight points. Arthur, the defending series champion, trimmed Fries’s lead to two points with his heat race win during the night's prelims, setting the stage for a two-man points shootout in the feature event.
Phillip Woods led the 24-car field to the green, but it was Kerr who had the lead at the end of lap one.
Lap two, however, proved to be the turning point in the championship battle as Arthur, who was running in the top four, went high in turn one and struck the guardrail. The contact ruptured his fuel cell, and he was forced to take his car to the pit area and ending his bid for a third-straight championship.
As Fries battled his way toward the front from his 12th-place starting position, things got exciting up front as well with Leavell moving to the inside of Kerr to grab the lead on lap five. Leavell maintained the lead for the remainder of the race to claim the victory and move atop the all-time Bandits win list at six wins.
Steel Block Bandits @ Natural Bridge: (1) Joey Levell, (2) Tanner Kerr, (3) Andy Fries, (4) Ricky Wells, (5) Glenn Elliott, (6) Mike Ayers, (7) Josh Roberson, (8) Chris Barger, (9) Billy Beachler, (10) Tim Stalnaker, (11) Jeremy Coffey, (12) Greg Roberson, (13) Kenny Greer Jr., (14) John Michael, (15) Charles Wyant, (16) J.R. Overstreet, (17) Philip Woods, (18) Ted Keher, (19) Ricky Almond, (20) Tommy Hoy, (21) David Watts, (22) Walker Arthur, (23) Gerald Davis, (24) Gerald Wolfe. Heat race winners: Leavell, Roberson, Arthur.