Ballenger wins Steelhead Nationals

With a packed grandstands and over 30 of the best Steelhead Late Model drivers on hand, the air might have been chilly but the racing was red hot.
Jed Emert set fast time in sportsman qualifying with a 16.317 second lap. After a quick false start, it would be Zach Sise who would take control of the 15 car field ahead of Emert and the newly crowned Sportsman Champion Clyde Stanton who held down the third spot. Emert was on go from the start as he worked the low line under Sise trying to get the top spot. Trouble for Cody Brake who pulled off early with mechanical issues ending his night early. The caution waved for Josh Sneed who went for a spin slowing the pace. Back under green, Stanton dove under the #98 of Emert and took the second spot away but it wouldn’t last as Emert took the spot back moments later. Scary moment as #56 of Hugh Scalf crashed hard off the exit of turn two. The driver would be okay but his car wasn’t so lucky. Brad Seagle started outside the top 10 but he was putting on a driving clinic as he had already worked his way into the top five by the halfway point. Travis Fults had his #t0 machine hooked up as he tried to reel in Emert for the runner up position. Emert had kept the pressure on Sise from lap one and it paid off as he used the low line to take the lead with just two laps left and went on to pick up the win.
1: #98 Jed Emert
2: #9 Zach Sise
3: #C11 Clyde Stanton
4: #31 Brad Seagle
5: #T0 Travis Fultz
6: #35 Matt Tharp
7: #50 Adam Mitchell
8: #3 Floyd Self
9: #50 Jonathan Miracle
10: #26 Brandon Gardner
11: #79 Josh Sneed
12: #41 Richard Bailey
13: #56 Hugh Scalf
14: #9 Derrick Meadors
15: #58 Cody Brake
DNS: #68 Brandon Starnes
Up next was the 20 lap Classic Car feature. John Stevens had won back to back races coming into the weekend and picked up where he left off by winning the heat race earlier in the day. Adam Pressley took the lead of the 8 car pack with Stevens, Joe Keck, Eli Keck and Lee Merritt in chase. It wouldn’t take Stevens very long as he moved into the top spot in the opening laps. A caution for Joe Keck would slow the pace as the #78 had to retire for the night because of a leak. Back under green and the fight was intense for third with Merritt and Eli Keck battling it out. The top four put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack as the laps ticked off. Pressley would keep the pressure on Stevens and make a dive under him coming off turn 4 on the last lap but wouldn’t be able to get it done. 
Classic Car
1: #7 John Stevens
2: #22 Adam Pressley
3: #9 Lee Merritt
4: #8 Eli Keck
5: #88 Richie Overholser
6: #18 Rusty Welch
7: #44 Chris Nix
8: #78 Joe Keck
Up next it was the 10th annual $3,500 to win Steelhead Nationals. Cory Hedgecock, the defending champion was not on hand so the door was wide open for a new winner. Layne Clifton would set fast time in qualifying with a 15.894 second lap. Chase King picked up a big win a few weeks ago and he was hooked up again as he moved himself into the runner up spot behind Rusty Ballenger who took the lead on the start. Layne Clifton qualified on the pole but had some work to do as he slipped back a couple spots. The night would come to an early end for Bobby Mays who pulled into the infield. Ballenger was setting a blistering pace and found himself in lap traffic fast. Jason Cardwell has had a rough 2016 season but had a great run going as he was top five all night long. The caution would wave slowing the pace allowing everyone to catch their breath. Last weeks winner Dakotah Knuckles had moved up through the pack but lost a couple spots as the laps ticked away. Chase King and Layne Clifton battled it out for the runner up spot behind Ballenger who inched away with the lead. Josh Henry barely cracked the top 20 in qualifying but what a strong race he had going as the #B00 crew had made the right adjustments as Henry had rocketed up inside the top 7. The “Milkman” was back as Mike Weeks worked over Jason Cardwell trying to get himself into the top five. Ballenger had ran away from everyone but a caution on lap 32 slowed the pace. Jason Manley qualified in the 10th spot but just like Henry had made the right changes to get his #32 hooked up. Manley had cracked the top five by lap 40 with his sights set on the top three. Ballenger would use his crate engine to pull away in the final laps and pick up his second Steelhead Nationals win. 
Steelhead Nationals
1: #29 Rusty Ballenger
2: #44 Chase King
3: #23 Layne Clifton
4: #32 Jason Manley
5: #07 Jason Cardwell
6: #K37 Mike Weeks
7: #B00 Josh Henry
8: #73 Trevor Sise
9: #69 Carder Miller
10: #21k Dakotah Knuckles
11: #5j Jesse Lowe
12: #39 Eddie King Jr
13: #21 Johnny Ridings
14: #23 Tim Damron
15: #144 Chris Barton
16: #63 Josh Collins
17: #c5 David Crabtree
18: #66 Jordan Rodabaugh
19: #12t Dan Tipton
20: #72 Barrett Lowe
21: #72 Derrick Ranklin
22: #90j Jason Trammell
23: #97 Bobby Giffin
24: #25 Bobby Mays
DNS: #41 Justin Gravley
DNS: #51 Mack McCarter
DNS: #J0 John Owenby
DNS: #31 Greg Estes
DNS: #15 Austin Atkins
DNS: #2x Anthony White
DNS: #8 Chris Chandler
DNS: #2 Mitchell Childress
DNS: #171 Kyle Courtney
DNS: #7 Heath Alvey
Black Brown earned the pole in Open Wheel qualifying. After a quick debris caution on the start, it would be Jeff Watson who put the #11 on top of the scoreboard ahead of Brown, Jody Puckett and Jimmy Dalton who rounded out the top three spots. Jeff Hamby picked up back to back wins earlier in the year and was back with another strong run as he worked the low line under Dalton for the fourth spot. The top three began to inch away from the field as the laps ticked away. Wayne James had his hands full with Jamie Mosley as the #11 went past taking the spot away. The moment of the race came on lap 9 as the two leaders got together and went for a spin. The caution would be called on Brown who went to the rear. It wouldn’t be an easy ride for Watson as Jody Puckett had taken over the second position and was all over him for the lead. Brown moved himself back into the top four after having to go to the rear earlier. Watson would hold on to pick up his first win of the season. 
1: #11 Jeff Watson
2: #J3 Jody Puckett
3: #99 Blake Brown
4: #15 Jeff Hamby
5: #2 Jimmy Dalton
6: #4 Wayne James
7: #11 Jamie Mosley
8: #17 Brandon Ramsey
9: #22 Shawn Hubbard
10: #50 Amos Bunch
DNS: #16 Logan Hickey
The final race of the night would be the 20 lap Street Stock feature. Rocky Ogle put his #9 machine on top of the qualifying sheets. Last weeks winner Austin Neely found trouble early as he got caught up in an accident with Brian McDanial and Jeff MCLemore. Neely would get the worst of it as he had to take the slow ride on the hook and was done for the night. Under green and Ogle took the top spot ahead of the 2015 Street Stock Nationals champion Welsey Lester. Chris Rickett got caught up in an accident last week but was strong as he worked over Lester for second just behind Ogle. Trouble for #88 of Eugene Norton who spun in turn four and was done for the night. Rickett showed everyone how strong he was by taking the second spot away. Trouble for Ogle as the leader slowed in turn 4 with what looked like a broken part on the rear of his #9 machine ending his night early. With Ogle out of the race, Ricket would inherit the lead. Shannon Emery had a great battle with Dale Watson for the fourth position as the field passed halway. Rickett would hold off Lester and Freddy Hillard to pick up the win. 
1: #36 Chris Rickett
2: #06 Wesley Lester
3: #74 Freddy Hillard
4: #11 Dale Watson
5: #m2 Shannon Emery
6: #21 Wendell Spence
7: #J3 Jeff McLemore
8: #r13 Johnny King
9: #24 Jeff Ferguson 
10: #53 David Beeler
11: #59 Brian McDanial
12: #4 Dwayne Wilkerson
13: #9 Rocky Ogle
14: #88 Eugene Norton
15: #33 Philip Nichols
16: #3 Austin Neely
DNS: #83 Cody Thompson

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