After coming so close in the GAS season opener last month, Russell Fleeman finally grabbed his first win of the season Saturday night at Peach State Speedway, as he ran away with the Spring Fling 100.
“It feels so good to be back in victory lane,” Fleeman said after the win. “We’ve tested, we’ve struggled a little bit. We had a flat leading the race the last time we were here. We got our game on this past week, and came to the track focused, and it paid off. We’re real proud of it.”
Fleeman said despite having had a strong car in the season opener at Peach State on April 5, he still had some worries when the series returned to Jefferson.
“We tested up here, and during the day, we had some showers on the track, and it seemed to change the track a little bit,” the Dacula native said. “But we played our cool there at the beginning of the race, and the car came to us. I’m very proud.”
Fleeman fell back early in the event, as Jefferson’s Joey Senter pushed his car out front early, followed by Decatur’s Ryan Seig. Seig took the lead from Senter on lap 17.
Fleeman soon found his groove, worked his way around the Senter, then went to work on Seig. At one point, the two leaders went three wide with a lap car in the middle as they fought for the top position. On lap 41, Fleeman finally made the pass on Seig for the top spot.
Once he got out front, there was no looking back. Fleeman moved away from the field, as Wes Burton, Richard Johns and Jefferson’s Nick Potts began to make their way through the field.
The first caution of the night flew just nine laps in, as Josh Atkins of Cumming spun on the backstretch. Another spin several laps later by Tony Clark slowed the event for a few laps.
The most serious accident of the night occurred at the entrance of turn one, as pole sitter T.J. Reaid and Braselton’s Jimmy Garmon tangled and spun. Two more cars would become involved in the melee before it was over. Garmon was able to continue, but Reaid’s night was over.
On the restart, Burton got a great jump, picking up two spots and giving Fleeman his only real challenge of the night. But Fleeman soon cleared all traffic, and moved away from the Kannapolis, NC, driver.
As Fleeman led the way, a serious battle began to develop for fourth place between Senter and Johns. Towards the end of the race, Johns and Senter were fighting side by side as they tried to negotiate the lap car of Garmon. The two cars touched, and Johns backed off to allow Senter to regain control. The two would continue to fight to the checkered flag.
In the final laps, Burton began to reel in the fast Ford of Fleeman. But when the checkered flag fell, Fleeman was over two and a half seconds ahead of second place. Seig finished third, while Senter held off Johns for fourth.
Rookie Kyle Mitchell came home in sixth position, while Potts finished seventh. Watkinsville’s Zac Kittle recorded his best GAS finish of the year with an eighth, with Roger Delp and Chris Whorton rounding out the top ten.
The GAS series next heads to the Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele on June 7. They will return to Peach State on July 3.
Local divisions also competed at Peach State Saturday night. In the sportsman division, Robbie Gunterman came back from a bad start to take the win, beating out Chuck Cooper and Keith Barrett at the finish.
In the truck series, Steven Mothershed was leading the pack until something went wrong with his truck, handing the lead to Mike Davidson. Davidson spent the rest of the race fighting with Wes Whitfield of Homer and Matthew Rouse for the win. Rouse came out on top, holding off Whitfield, Davidson, Andy Gaddis and Joel Townsend at the finish.
Mike Davidson had the car to beat in the Outlaw Late Model class, holding off Hoyt Stephens for the win. Terry Martin took home third, while Russell Shore and Bryan Hardeman rounded out the top five.
Jefferson’s Steve Hill won the Mini Stock division as he held off William Earnest, Spanky Hicks, B.J. Thrasher and Tim Greer for the win.
The next event for Peach State Speedway is May 24, as the National Vintage Racing Association will bring their classic racers to the Jefferson high banks. Local divisions will also race that night.