Day leads way in BMS open wheel event

By Jeff Birchfield
star staff
jbirchfield@starhq.com

  BRISTOL -- Wade Day swapped the lead three times with Drew Calhoun in the final 10n laps before pulling away over the final four circuits to win at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night in a 30-lap race for INEX Thunder Roadster open wheel machines.
  "It's such a special atmosphere here at Bristol, even when you walk in the place," said the 31-year-old Elizabethton driver. "This place is something. I got a call last night from Ron Humble to drive this car. I said, 'Sure, I'll get in and drive it.'
  "If all else ended right now, I could say I won a race at Bristol."
  Starting on the outside pole Day, driving a red No. 08 machine powered by on the first lap and paced the first seven circuits before being passed by Calhoun, the two traded the lead on four occassions in the middle stages.
  Day slipped back to third after contact with South Carolina driver Jim Reyburn.
  Day, who led the ASA stock car series National Standings earlier in the season, found himself back in second place after Reyburn contacted a backrunning car on lap 20.
  Day retook the top spot on lap 21, only to be passed by Calhoun one lap later. Day swooped back under Calhoun on lap 26.
  "Believe it or not the draft was huge in those cars," said Day. "The motors don't have a whole lot of power, so it was all momentum. When I was behind him I could drive around him and when he was behind me he could drive around me.
  "I rode behind him about three laps before I drove under him. I kind of held him on the outside to let him burn the right rear tire off."
  Calhoun made a final bid on lap 28, but hit the turn two wall after exiting the corner too fast.
  "That was close racing," said Calhoun, a 17 year-old from Southern Pines, N.C. "We ended up breaking our left front spindle when we went down on the apron, but I was having fun while it lasted. Luckily, it was only three laps to go and I was able to hang on to it."
  Day, who had previously raced at BMS in the Dash Series, said that experience helped him when racing the Thunder Roadsters, a spec car with the only adjustments to springs and tire pressures.
  "Just getting to go around this place, it's a totally different animal than anywhere else I've been," he said.
  Bob Jarvis slipped by Calhoun to finish second. Calhoun came home third, with Mike Ferre and Max Ericson rounding out the top five.
  A 30-lap race for Pro Challenge Series cars, miniature race cars powered by Kawasaki motorcycle events built to resemble NASCAR machines followed.
  Another local driver, Brad Housewright of Kingsport, driving a replica of Sterling Marlin's No. 40 Coors Light Dodge, started the race on the pole and led all 30 laps.
  "There ain't nothing like this," said Housewright, a 1994 graduate of Sullivan North High School. "I'm the first one to do it in these cars so I guess it's a track record."
  Despite leading the whole race, the finish showed a half-car length win over second place Jamie Blanton.
  "Lapped cars weren't giving us any room," Housewright said. "We about wrecked a couple of times. It was pretty crazy out there."
  Six heat races for the UARA Late Model Stock cars Frito-Lay 150 to be held later in the night preceeded these races.
  The first four finishers in each heat was guaranteed entry into the feature as was the top two qualifiers Joe Buford and Lee Tissot from earlier in the day.
  The first heat race saw hometown driver Nate Monteith pass Travis Miller on lap 12 for the fourth and final transfer spot to gain entry into the feature. The top three finishers in the heat were Josh Adams, Dennis Queen and Clay Greenfield.
  Heat race number two saw Steven Wallace, son of former Nextel Cup champion Rusty Wallace, lead all 20 circuits. Pulling out to a full straightaway lead, Wallace by lap 13, the cars were bunched up when Marty Ward spun.
  Wallace held off the cars of Jamey Caudill, Benny Hamlett and Kirk Leone to win the second heat. Local dirt track racer Vic Hill of Greenevile came up a half a car length behind Leone in the battle for the transfer spot.
  The trend ended in the third heat when pole winner Deac McCaskill was passed by Bo Miller and Jason Grant at the start. McCaskill worked his way past Grant to the back bumper of Miller, but Miller held on for the win.
  Grant finished third with the final spot going to Stephen Gahagan.
  A strong local contingent made up the fourth heat. UARA points leader Jason York won the race with former Kingsport Speedway track champions Keith
  Stiltner and Jeff Berry finishing second and third respectively.
  Virginia driver Terry Allison, Jr. with former Happy Valley High football player Mel McKay on his pit crew and Abingdon driver Caleb Holman tangled off turn two battling on the eighth lap. Holman careened off the wall hard.
  Allison continued and wound up getting the final entry into the feature.
  Defending NASCAR National Weekly Series Champion Mark McFarland gained entry in the fifth heat with a third place finish. Jonesborough's Robbie
  Ferguson wasn't as lucky, coming in sixth. Winner Mark King, Jamie Yelton and Timothy Peters also made the feature.
  Abingdon driver Eric McClure, who made his Nextel Cup Series debut earlier this year, was entered in the main event by finishing second behind Andy Johnson. Ashley Huffman took home third.
  Pole sitter Nick Hutchins was eliminated after losing a left rear wheel and collecting the car of Brent Raymer, who came back to take the final transfer.
  A full report of the Frito-Lay 150 will be in Monday's Elizabethton STAR.