The reigning Southern All-Star Series champion Billy Ogle Jr., of Knoxville, earned a hard-fought victory over Ray Cook Saturday night at Cleveland Speedway. The Blount Motorsports racer held on as a last-lap tango brought the fans to their feet for the 23rd Grant Adcox Memorial finish.
After settling for a number of runner-up finishes during the first half of the season, Ogle hasn’t had any trouble finding his way to victory lane during the second half of the year, driving to his fourth consecutive victory Saturday night for a $3,500 victory in the one-third mile oval.
Ogle, earned his second S.A.S series victory of the season in topping Cook and Derek Ellis, of Chatsworth, Ga., at the finish. Riley Hickman of Ooltewah was fourth, with Skip Arp of Georgetown rounding out the race’s top five finishers. Starting from the pole, Ogle outdueled Cook, of Brasstown, N.C., with bold move to the high side entering turn one on the opening lap. Ogle took control in the early laps while Cook fell back to fourth. Ellis and Mark Douglas, of Knoxville, initially gave chase to Ogle, but were unable to match the leader’s torrid pace. However, the resolute Cook quickly stormed back into contention, grabbing third from Douglas on lap three then taking second from Ellis on the fifth circuit.
In short order, Cook closed to the rear spoiler of Ogle’s car but his charge was interrupted on lap eight, when a caution flag waved for two unrelated accidents that occurred at the same time. Series points leader Randy Weaver, of Crossville, and Brett Miller, of Greenville, banged off of one another as they each tried to avoid another car in turn four. Hometown driver Lamar Scoggins and Brian Hickman, of Soddy-Daisy, came together on the back straightaway. Miller was forced to retire from the event but Weaver continued after multiple stops to receive repairs during the caution period. The cars of Scoggins and Hickman were heavily damaged and would be unable to continue. The two drivers were uninjured, but did pause to exchange some heated words before heading to the pit area.
Once the race resumed, so did the battle for the lead. Cook drew near to Ogle on multiple occasions only to lose ground shortly after. But a lap-31 yellow flag allowed Cook another chance to make his move for the top spot. Ogle got away briefly after the green flag again came out, but Cook reeled him back in. Finally on the last lap, Cook was able to pull briefly alongside out of turn two. But, Ogle used the high line to power away on the backstretch and drive on to the win.
In other racing action Hickman went on 30 minutes later and collected the $1,200 LLM/Crate special event of the night. Lee Harbin won the Hobby feature, Jody Hixson won the A-Hobby race and Cleveland’s Jamie Cross won a shortened Pony feature. FWDs didn’t race and will have double features next weekend.