HAMPTON, Ga. — The hotter the summer has gotten, the hotter Joey Aguilar has been on the race track.
Aguilar, nicknamed “The Ace” for his cool head behind the wheel and stellar record in sprint car competition, blasted away from the K&N Filters Pole Position and masterfully diced through lapped traffic en route to his third United Sprint Car Series filtercharged by K&N victory of the season during Friday night’s second annual Wind Creek Casino/Hotel Wetumpka Sprint Car Shootout 50-lap A-main at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The race, contested on the quarter-mile Legends oval built into the Speedway’s frontstretch, took place under the lights following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying and served as the finale to the 2014 USCS “Road to Atlanta” Asphalt Thunder Tour pavement mini-series.
Aguilar started on the pole but had to endure five cautions and several dicey restarts before pulling away during the stretch run to claim an emotional and hard-fought victory.
“Man, let me tell you, last Saturday (our car owner) pulled the car that we won the two most recent USCS pavement races (at Anderson, S.C.) with and we didn’t even think we were going to be able to race this weekend,” a choked-up Aguilar said. “This crew though, they pulled this car, the ‘Silver Bullet’ we call it, out of mothballs and put it together in four days — and look where we are now.
Ten-time series champion Terry Gray was held up in lapped traffic with 15 laps to go and was unable to mount a challenge for the win in the closing laps. He finished second. Michael Miller was third.
Female sprint car star Morgan Turpen rebounded from being involved in an opening-lap crash to finish fourth and claim the 2014 USCS “Road to Atlanta” Asphalt Thunder Tour pavement championship.
Turpen becomes the first female champion in any division in USCS sanction history.
“We had to work insanely hard for this one tonight — we got flat spun out on the opening lap and I was a little worried before we got rolling again but we just dug deep, man, and we pulled it out,” Turpen said. “This means everything to me and to my team; it’s my first championship ever but I hope it’s only the beginning.”
Joey Aguilar, Terry Gray, Michael Miller, Morgan Turpen, Jake McLain, Johnny Gilbertson, Tim Perry, Brandon McLain, Jay Dunham, Nick Snyder, Kent Wolters, Tipp City, Kris Davis, Jeff Willingham, Bill Moore, Tom Paterson, Joe Larkin.