Garcia Puts Hammer Down, Wins 2nd Straight Allen Turner PLM 100admin
Garcia Puts Hammer Down, Wins 2nd Straight Allen Turner PLM 100 at 5 Flags
By Chuck Corder
Every year, seemingly like clockwork, somebody separates themselves from the rest of the Allen Turner Pro Late Models pack at Five Flags Speedway.
Last year, it was Matt Craig. Before Craig, it was Casey Roderick. And before Roderick, both Jeff Choquette and Bubba Pollard enjoyed magical seasons in the sibling class to the Super Late Models.
This year’s breakout star is Jake Garcia. And while the 16-year-old from Monroe, Ga., is already a fan favorite—after all, Garcia won the PLM track championship in 2019—he is coming into his own in 2021.
Garcia made it two wins in a row Friday at Five Flags when he shredded a 21-car field in the third Allen Turner PLM 100 feature of the season. He passed Jett Noland on Lap 51 and put a stranglehold on his rivals by quickly opening a comfortable lead. Garcia has now won three straight Late Model races, including his first career Southern Super Series Super Late Model race in Cordele, Ga., last week.
“It feels good!” Garcia said in Victory Lane. “Three in a row doesn’t happen often. I’m proud of our guys. Every week, getting the car better and working on stuff. Hopefully, we can keep improving and getting some more wins.”
Defending PLM track champion Chris Davidson finished an impressive runner-up after restarting at the tail end of the field with 49 laps completed. John Bolen enjoyed an impressive run to finish third.
It appeared as if Mother Nature was going to be the big winner earlier Friday. After officials successfully finished drying the track, another band of showers came through. It see-sawed all night, delaying not only the start of the race but qualifying for close to three hours.
Qualifying was eventually scratched because of the rain and the field was set using practice times from Friday afternoon. Those hot laps came on old tires, though. Each team got fresh ones for the race and Garcia made the most with his.
“The car was really good,” Davidson said of his piece. “We had some problems, but it was fun. Lotta green flag laps makes it fun.”
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
Brannon Fowler’s roller-coaster season is back on track and he is ascending toward the top again.
Fowler won five consecutive The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen features to start the year at Five Flags Speedway. But it had been nearly three months since he had celebrated in Victory Lane.
That drought ended Friday at Pensacola’s high banks. Fowler took the lead on Lap 4 and dominated the 25-lap feature to capture win No. 6.
“We’re getting there,” Fowler said of returning to his early-season form. “We’ve been working hard this past month. We had a few hiccups along the way, but it was good tonight. I’m proud of the way it drove on these old tires.”
Jim Pokrant and Maddox Langham rounded out the podium in second and third, respectively.
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Parker McDonald has enjoyed an impressive rookie season in the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks division.
He had finished in the top five in more than half of the 10 features this season, including a string of podium performances, coming into Friday night at Five Flags Speedway. The young driver from Theodore, Ala., was destined to earn his first career win sometime soon. But, no one would have predicted the route McDonald took to reach Victory Lane at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
McDonald took over P1 midway through the 20-lap feature when Caleb Burkett and Robert Loper, the leaders at the time, crashed in front of the rest of the field. McDonald moved to first and didn’t have to break a sweat in claiming his first Five Flags checkered.
“I’m shocked!” sad an excited and exhausted McDonald, who celebrated by standing on the roof and stagediving into the arms of friends and family. “This took a lotta hard work from everybody who works on this car, and I’m glad I got here.”
Cameron Leytham finished second and Loper rallied after the incident with Burkett to finish third. While Loper bounced back, Burkett wasn’t as lucky. It was a two-car breakaway with Burkett holding a slim lead against Loper when things took a dramatic turn. The pair entered Turn No. 4 nose-to-tail when a tire came off Burkett’s car and catapulted his No. 24 in the air when it rolled underneath it. A frustrated Burkett, who was looking for his second straight victory, was able to walk back to his pit while his car was put on the hook.