||Garvey Navigates Cautions to Collect Emotional GARC Bounty, Papa John’s 100 Win
Five Flags Speedway hoped to add some heat to the Blizzard Series this week with a little cash incentive.
The nation’s elite Super Late Models were happy to oblige.
In one of the more heart-pumping Blizzard races in recent history, Mike Garvey rose above the aggressive 30-car field and a caution-plagued affair to capture
the Papa John’s 100 on Friday.
Garvey collected the $513 bounty Five Flags put up for grabs to end the 13-race Blizzard streak that Grand American Race Cars had boasted.
“You just have to keep your focus and concentrate and hit your marks,” said Garvey, whose chassis is made by Port City Racecar. “Anything can happen on
the restarts. I was nervous at the end. Thankfully, it all worked out.”
Thankfully, despite the 100 lapper being marred by 10 cautions. Garvey managed to avoid the lot of them, making his move on Augie Grill on Lap 75.
Grill was preoccupied with Casey Smith and when the pair couldn’t shake each other, Garvey pounced from his third position.
“Augie and Casey were beating the (heck) out of each other,” Garvey said. “The opportunity presented itself and I was just trying to get to the end of the
Garvey held off T.J. Reaid and David Rogers for the checkered flag. Rogers, the veteran who has raced the Snowball Derby nearly 30 times, was looking for
his first career victory at Pensacola’s high banks.
Rogers was running second down the stretch, but gave way to Reaid on the final restart.
Reaid made a valiant effort to catch Garvey on the final green flag dropped with 98 completed laps, but he failed to make it stick in any of the turns.
There were several sets of fireworks on the speedway all night. The first battle between Smith and Grill whet the appetite for drama later from another set of
Grill started on the pole after fast-qualifier Bubba Pollard (16.713 second) rolled a six to set the invert. Smith wasn’t far back and quickly worked his way to Grill’s bumper. The duo exchanged some unpleasantries earlier in the week and then exchanged paint all over the track Friday. The lead see-sawed between Smith and Grill for much of the race until Smith, running second at the time, came to pit row because of a flat tire. “Pensacola one of those places you love to hate it,” Smith said earlier this week. “You almost dread to come here, but you know you’ve got to because it’s like going to Daytona.” Smith rallied to finish sixth while Grill finished 17th because of tire issues himself late in the race, even having to stop at the top of Turn 4 late in the race that brought out the final caution.
A tactic that irked the night’s big winner.
“We probably should’ve been outta here a half-hour ago,” Garvey said. There was no reason for Augie to stop at the top of the track like that. I almost hit
The other ongoing melee that scarred the night came between two-time Allen Turner Pro Late Model series track champion D.J. VanderLey and Grant Enfinger, who boasts a NASCAR deal this season.
The two first got into each other and brought out the caution on Lap 73. Enfinger and VanderLey were in a close race for seventh and Enfinger ended up on the short end of it, spinning in Turn 4. It happened right in the middle of the turn and once again caused a chain reaction of cars sliding all around to avoid the yellow’s catalyst — a running theme throughout Friday evening.
While they were under caution, Enfinger’s No. 82 passed up his assigned spot to reach the side of VanderLey’s No. 4 up Turn 3 as sharing unpleasantries.
It didn’t end there, though. In fact, it only got worse. Much worse.
In the final laps, while the field was coasting under yet another yellow, VanderLey appeared to dive-bomb Enfinger in Turn 2.
“With four laps to go,” VanderLey said, “(Enfinger) was behind us off (Turn 4) and drove us into the wall until he hit us. I spun. I hit back under caution. It
sucks it happened. Our car was great. We started 24th and had climbed up as far as (sixth). It was an extremely clean race for the most part for us.”
Things got even uglier between the two as track officials reported that as Enfinger was getting out of the car, VanderLey drove into him again.
“That’s about the hardest I’ve been hit in the back,” Enfinger said. “I was trying to get out from the guard rail and he fires it up and tries to hit me. I guess he was trying to hurt me. I tried to get in at him through the window, but he sped off of course.”
Enfinger, who finished 18th, was able to escape injury. VanderLey’s actions earned the Auburn honors college sophomore a disqualification for
Security had to be called to separate the two crews in the pits.
Garvey’s patience and ability to avoid any of the fracases brought tears to the eyes of car owner Tracy Goodson.
A choked-up Goodson watched his guy pose for photos with the winning trophy from his nearby golf cart.
“I can’t describe it,” said Goodson, who owns several local businesses. “We’ve had a hard couple of years.”
Garvey and Goodson have teamed up for the last three years, but Garvey’s recent relocation to Pensacola has turned things around for the team.
They won the Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series opener at the famed half-mile, asphalt oval last month.
“Mike’s killed himself working on these cars,” Goodson said. “I knew once he got down here full time, he’d get back going. Mike does what it takes to get
the car to Victory Lane. I can’t say enough.
“He deserves it and the whole crew deserves it. It’s pretty awesome. He’s the best short-track racer in the nation.”
Garvey certainly backed that opinion up Friday night.
Papa John’s 100 Results—1. Mike Garvey, 2. T.J. Reaid, 3. David Rogers, 4. Bubba Pollard, 5. Austin Theriault, 6. Casey Smith, 7. Donnie Wilson, 8.
Josh Hamner, 9. Dennis Schoenfeld, 10. Chris Davidson, 11. Kyle Benjamin, 12. Hal Martin, 13. Anthony Sergi, 14. Gary Sullivan, 15. Danny Bagwell, 16.
Allen Karnes, 17. Augie Grill, 18. Grant Enfinger, 19. Michael Lance, 20. Daniel Webster, 21. Clay Alexander, 22. Jeremy Pate, 23. Troy Grisaffi, 24.
Brandon Odom, 25. Dwayne Buggay, 26. Tyler Miles, 27. Logan Boyett, 28. Tony Clark, 29. Jimmy Garmon, DQ. D.J. VanderLey