Don Young wins EAMS Helton Memorial
East Alabama Motor Speedway: June 20, 2008 - Phenix City, AL - On a night to remember, twenty year-old Don Young from Bartlett, Tennessee battled his way to victory lane in the 2nd Annual Parts Plus United Sprint Car Series Randy Helton Memorial Race at East Alabama Motor Speedway on Saturday night. It was the 2007 Parts Plus USCS Rookie of the Year driver’s career-first feature win in the series. The night’s events commemorated the racing career of former United Sprint Car Series racer Randy Helton who passed away suddenly in March of 2008. Young bested several of the Nation’s top winged 360 sprint car drivers including the previous night’s feature winner (at Penton Raceway), Terry Gray from Bartlett, Tennessee who finished in the runner-up spot after leading the first six laps of this speed contest. While in the lead on lap seven, Gray encountered a lapped car that slowed his progress momentarily and Young raced past into the lead. Young never looked back and endured several later caution periods with Gray and the June 13th Riverside Speedway feature winner Marshall Skinner from West Memphis, Arkansas on his rear bumper.
After each re-start Young raced out to a five to six car-length lead infront of the two past series champions. Young’s final test came when the caution flag flew on lap twenty-eight when Brian Thomas blew a left rear tire of his #67 sprinter and came to a halt just past the flag-stand. This set up a green-white-checkered dash to the finish line. Young would then prove he was ready for his first visit to the USCS victory lane. The race re-started with defending Champion, Terry Gray and past Champion and former East Alabama Motor Speedway feature winner, Marshall Skinner tucked in behind as the the green flag flew. Young once again raced away from the two veterans to finish three car lengths ahead of Gray with Skinner in-tow behind them in third place.
In sort of a déjà vu finish Gray who was the runner-up in the 1st annual Randy Helton Memorial Race collected the runner-up spot pay check this time, followed by Skinner who finished in the third position this time around just like last year. Second-generation sprint car driver Matt Linder from Hoschton, Georgia who finished in the fourth position may have had the fastest car at the end of the race, but ran out of laps. Linder raced from a twelfth place starting position to finish fourth and garnered the Lunati “Crank It Up” Award for passing the most cars in the main event. Rookie sensation Justin Carver from Drummonds, Tennessee had another impressive run with a win in the Parts Plus Power Dash, a second place finish in the Butlerbuilt Second Heat Race and a fifth place finish in the main event.
The next group of finishers was led by talented eighteen year-old Florida young gun Matt Kurtz from Jacksonville, Florida in sixth place. Kurtz was followed by seventeen year-old rookie driver Jon Stinson from Memphis, Tennessee who also continues to improve and impress while in a solid the fifth position in the National point standings. Veteran racer Brad Wickham from Rutherfordton, North Carolina who moved up in the National standings into sixth position after the weekend’s back to back double points events, finished in the eighth position in this race. Veteran sprint car racer, Bob Auld from Largo, Florida finished in the ninth position and rookie sprint car driver Dennis Lykins, Jr. from Peachtree City, Georgia rounded out the top ten drivers.
Rookie of the Year point’s leader Justin Carver won the 6-cars, 6-laps Parts Plus Power Dash. Don Young also raced to the win in the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat. Seven-time series Champion, Terry Gray collected the victory in the Butlerbuilt Second Heat. The Hoosier Tire Young Guns award for the top finishing driver under twenty-five years old in each event went to the 20 year-old Don Young. Seventeen year-old Justin Carver garnered the RE Technologies Rookie of the Race honors.
Just as a year ago, the race was won by Jeremy Scott from Franklin, Georgia. Scott at the time was another driver who had not scored a victory in the series. Last season’s 1st Annual Randy Helton Memorial Champion retired after winning the event. Scott was in attendance at the 2009 event as a crew member on two sprint cars.
The next race for the Parts Plus United Sprint Car Series Outlaw Thunder Tour traveling troop comes in just six days on Friday, June 26th at the famed Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, North Carolina ( near Charlotte, NC ). That event is part of a two-night Carolina “Summer Shootout” weekend that also includes a stop at Travelers Rest Speedway in Travelers Rest, South Carolina ( near Greenville, SC ) on Saturday, June 27th.
Submitted By: Adam Ulrey