LUCAMA, NC -- Joey Throckmorton turned a qualifying trick in to a feature race treat, surviving a wild sequence of events in the closing laps of Sunday’s Halloween Spooktacular at Southern National Motorsports Park to score the victory.
After qualifying in 13th due to a flat tire during group qualifying, Throckmorton methodically worked his way through the field while saving tires. He put himself in position to take advantage of Andrew Grady’s late race misfortunes on a restart and worked his way up to second and then passed Clay Jones for the lead on lap 60 in the 75 lap race and went on to score the victory.
“That was the plan all along, to save, save, save and save some more,” Throckmorton said in Victory Lane. “We took advantage of everybody that messed up and the longer we got, the more squirrelly they were getting so, to beat Clay, that’s crazy. He’s the man. Just look at his stats this year.”
The potentially decisive moment came on the restart following Tony Grady’s lap 47 accident when race leader Andrew Grady had problems on the restart and slowed off the pace.
“It looked like Clay was a little better there,” Throckmorton explained. “I just followed him and everything worked out good. We had a flat tire in qualifying and started 13th so it is what it is.”
Clay Jones, who won the Limited Late Model championship at Southern National in 2013 and scored the track championship at Wake County Speedway, finished in the second position. After the race, he said the team missed the setup just a little bit.
“We missed it a little bit,” Jones stated. “We couldn’t get in the corner as good as some of the others. We had a great drive off. We missed it just a bit. I can’t thank my guys enough. They work their tails off week in and week out. This is for them. This is a big group effort. We’re one big family. We go everywhere together. We run well, we all run well together.”
Haley Moody, fresh off a championship season in the Limited Late Model division at Southern National, raced her way from seventh to third to score a confidence-boosting podium finish.
“It was a good race for all of us,” Moody remarked. “I probably didn’t have anything for Joey. He had a really good car, saved his tires. Clay was really good all day. We just didn’t have enough at the end to do something with them. We had a really good car. I wish we could have won but a top three is good.”
A serious incident occurred on lap 47 when Tony Grady’s car got airborne drove up in to the catchfence, red flagging the race for a prolonged period of time. The elder Grady, who qualified on the pole for the race, was okay after the incident. He had been working his way up through the field after a lap 20 incident when he spun off the front bumper of eventual fourth place finisher Rusty Daniels.
“I don’t know what happened,” Grady said. “We came off the corner and I was deep in traffic from earlier incident with the 16 car. I don’t know what the hell Rusty’s thinking. I love Rusty to death but I have no idea what the hell he was thinking. We were just riding and he just turned me. We got back up to eighth or ninth and still could have won this race.
“A black car got sideways and we almost got three wide. I got tucked up behind him. I think someone pushed me in the back and everything broke loose. When I hit the fence, I put it to the floor to get out of it. Then I felt cold air on my feet before I finished sliding and that’s never a good sign. I thought I was upside down and apparently, I almost was.”
Tony Grady had been leading the race prior to the incident with Daniels – the first of his two problems in the race. That incident allowed his son, Andrew Grady, to take the lead and he’d dominate the middle stages of the race before fading with a problem late.
“I’m not sure what happened on the restart. I’m not sure if I lost brakes or what. It just kept sliding and sliding and Pembelton just center-punched me and sent me to the rear. I drove back to sixth. It was a pretty good night. They knew we were here. Led a lot of laps and we’ll be back in a few weeks.”
Andrew Grady was also miffed with the veteran Rusty Daniels.
“Racing with Rusty Daniels, that’s what you’re going to get. If you’re better than him, he’s going to wreck you. That’s just how it is. I raced against him all year. He’s wrecked me twice and he just destroyed my dad’s car.”
Daniels rebutted to the criticism by saying both Tony and Andrew had brake-checked him during the course of the race.
“I went to pass Tony and Tony brake checked me and that’s why he got wrecked,” Daniels said. “That’s the bottom line. Andrew brake checked me later today too so that’s just the way it is.”
There had been some confusion over the weight of Clay Jones’ car in postrace technical inspection but, after calculating the number of laps run under caution when weighing the car, as is standard operating procedure at Southern National, Jones’ car was deemed legal.
Official Race Results
1. #21 Joey Throckmorton
2. #15J Clay Jones
3. #50 Haley Moody
4. #16 Rusty Daniels
5. #M3 Shelton McNair
6. #1G Andrew Grady
7. #05 Alex Fleming
8. #29 Robert Bruce
9. #4 Adam Resnick
10. #19 Brandon Hobbs
11. #51 Corey Walker
12. #00 Brian Pembelton
13. #52 Travis Greene
14. #03 Chris Elliott
15. #24 Josh Bryant
16. #99 Zach Henshaw
17. #14 Rusty Ruddock
18. #27 Mike Chambers
19. #0 Steve Mendenhall
20. #4T Tony Grady
21. #98 JD Eversole
22. #4G Thomas Chappell
23. #20 Donald Brace
24. #02 Casey Pope