Right Place, Right Time For Sheldon Barksdale

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Sheldon Barksdale in victory lane Friday at Thunderbird Speedway. (Phil Race Photo)
Sheldon Barksdale in victory lane Friday at Thunderbird Speedway. (Phil Race Photo)

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Sheldon Barksdale was in the right place at the right time Friday, allowing him to win his second Ameri-Flex/OCRS Sprint Car race of the year at Thunderbird Speedway during the fifth annual Harold Leep Classic presented by Carter-Maxwell.

Barksdale was in the right place at the right time when race leader Whit Gastineau coasted to a stop in turn three with two laps remaining. Barksdale assumed the lead on the lap 19 restart and picked up his second Ameri-Flex / OCRS Sprint Car victory of the season on the opening day of the 5th annual Harold Leep Classic presented by Carter-Maxwell.

“You hate to win it like that sometimes and I hate it for Whit,” Barksdale said. “Those guys were really fast tonight. I don’t think we would have had anything for them. It was unfortunate for him, but sometimes you take them how you can get them.”

Ameri-Flex/OCRS points leader Zach Chappell jumped into an early lead in the 20-lapper with Gastineau right behind. Gastineau closed on Chappell and the two battled wheel-to-wheel before Gastineau finally took over on lap four.

The move avenged two earlier loses last weekend to Chappell. Gastineau was on a rail all night turning 19-second lap times as he cruised to a win in his heat race and soon was pulling away from the field in the feature.

On lap nine, Chappell pulled off on the backstretch with mechanical problems and Barksdale took up the chase. However, with two laps remaining Gastineau suddenly lost power bringing out a yellow flag. Barksdale led the final two laps for the victory.

The win was much needed for the Barksdale Overhead Door team who drove back home to Norman, Okla., last Friday with a totaled race car, dropped the engine into a backup car and then drove back to Nevada, Mo., to race on Saturday.

“Tonight was huge for us,” Barksdale said. “Last week was rough losing our best car then trying to get this thing out the next night and really struggling.”

“We went to work this week and put in a lot of hours and it paid off for us. That is all you can ask for. We definitely improved and made the car a lot better this week.”

The Thunderbird half-mile is the largest track on the Ameri-Flex / OCRS schedule and one that Barksdale really enjoys.

“I like it,” he said. “It is a fun track. We have two wins here. I like the chance to get on a big half-mile. It is something different. It is fun to get up to those speeds.”

Jase Randolph was second after starting on the pole. Shane Sellers charged his way from 15th to finish third, Alex Sewell was fourth and Andrew Deal fifth.

The finish:

Sheldon Barksdale, Jase Randolph, Shane Sellers, Alex Sewell, Andrew Deal, Terry Easum, Avery Goodman, Joe Bob Lee, Alison Slaton, Whit Gastineau, Kinzer Edwards, Casey Buechler, James Shoun, Mike Goodman, Frank Taft, Zach Chappell, Jaiden Hughes, Perry Pickard, Cody Jarvis, Bailey Hughes.